There are two main problems I have with the content I tend to produce for this site:
- There isn't enough of it.
- It isn't personal enough.
Yes, I write up the occasional post about travels or big events, but it isn't enough. I really enjoy casting an eye back over the things I've done at the end of the year, but I can't do that properly if I'm lacking good coverage of what I've done in what I've written (does that make sense?). In other words I need to write more about my life. At the same time, I feel a pressure to write an "article" that has some inherent worth. It's either a way to discuss my thoughts, share an insight I've found elsewhere (or had myself), provide tips/tutorials, or promote something I'm proud of. Daily life doesn't neatly fit into those categories because it's different. It's just recording the things that I find interesting, primarily for me. I don't care if that content is read by other people, that isn't the point, but this website is inherently geared towards public access.
Of course, what I'm talking about is basically journaling in the traditional sense: aka a diary. I've kept those in the past (though never digitally), but the daily aspect of them tends to make for dull reading. At the same time, a weekly update is a bit too overwhelming. So I thought I'd try one step up again, writing monthly overviews. The idea was that I could write "as I go" in small bits and then publish the lot at the end of the month. I actually began writing this very post in January as a way of both announcing that plan and being the foundational February entry. Here's what I said about the idea:
I'm not committing to "every month", but when I have the time I'd like to jot some notes down. A bit like the old MiM format, the idea is I can write as I go, and then post whenever. That has all the same issues of "never done" syndrome, but who knows, maybe it'll work out.
Spoiler alert: it didn't work out. I've gone down this route before. I even mention Month in Media right there, but still didn't really pay attention to what I was saying, which was that MiM posts became way too unwieldy. I've written about it before, but to recap: they ended up becoming too long, too complicated, and too frequently unpublished. There were months I wrote a dozen reviews and none of them saw the light of day, simply because I never got around to writing the final part. It was demoralising and a monumental waste of time.
Luckily, it only took two weeks for all the old bugbears to rear their ugly heads this time. I became annoyed that I'd written four separate "entries" but it looked like I hadn't published anything since mid-January. At the same time, I was getting anxious about being a week behind schedule and feeling pressured by the format to get back on it. Anxiety and annoyance are not elements of a successful plan!
So, over the weekend I decided to end the experiment... and create an actual Journal section right here. Instead of monthly roundups, I'll just write when I have the time and have something to share, and can publish them immediately. That means I'll get little dopamine hits of accomplishment each time, which should help reinforce the behaviour. I've also designed that section to be functionally apart from my normal writing, so that I don't have to worry about making it "worthy" in some way. If you're reading my Journal, you know you're getting direct insight into me and my life, nothing more.
Plus, it's divided by date. It's a little sneaky, but that helps me feel okay skipping things and retroactively filling others in. I'm not looking for a linear feed, just a record, so publishing dates shouldn't matter. If you're interested, I'm not doing this in any particularly clever way; in fact I'm still using the published date, it's just I'm manually adjusting them to be the journal date instead. Simple. You can check it out here.
I'm still working on the new section behind the scenes but it's functional for now. Stuff like an RSS feed will come in the future, but as it isn't intended for public consumption I didn't see it as a priority. I'm toying with the idea of adding some other elements to it, such as bookmarking and notes, but they may end up somewhere else instead. That's the fun thing about having your own website: you can make it do what you want, when you want to. It's been fun reminding myself of that.