Rambling on… ink lifespan to journal platforms

I worry little these days if I don’t know the answer to questions asked of me when presenting a talk. Don’t get me wrong, I try if I can, but I have no problem replying that I’ll find out and get back to them. Of course, I’m also asked questions that I hadn’t thought about before but can stumble through my answer (like when the 3rd grader at Chloe Clark Elementary asked how my great great great grandmother feels about her diary being online – or their classmate who asked if she liked the book I wrote (in 2014), she who died in 1874).

Earlier this week I enjoyed speaking with community members who attended my Zoom talk on journaling and well-being, sponsored by West Linn Public Library. Two questions were asked in “chat” that I couldn’t effectively answer. Instead, I promised I’d find out and “report back.” So – here we go. And if you weren’t able to attend, or simply hadn’t heard about it in the first place, the library has kindly shared the recording, which I have embedded below or can be viewed directly on YouTube.

But first, the questions:

What do I think of online journals? I knew little about this platform prior to Tuesday night. Looking into the various options now, I agree they seem interesting. Here’s some of the most popular online journals and diaries

I found several sources recommending “Penzu” as the best, but advise you, if interested in an online journal or diary platform, to look at reviews and determine features you like: evaluate free v. those with fees, privacy and so forth. Certainly most provide options to select your format and style, save it online, and most give you privacy password options. For me, because I now write so much of my work on a device, I find it very helpful that my phone notes app (which I can dictate into if on a walk or even (carefully) in my kayak) easily syncs with my iPad and computer, because all are Apple products, and by using iCloud it is always accessible. But that’s just me.

What pens are best – will ink survive the test of time? This next question I found even more interesting. On the one hand I’ve never thought about this before, and yet I am pleased that my own 50+ year journals that I have written are all legible, no matter what favorite or cheap pen I wrote with at the time.

Not quite my earliest … a basic Bic and still legible.

Yet, it is an interesting question, and if we want to ensure more than half a century, I too searched this. I tend to select favorite pens by both how they feel in my hand and the look of the ink on paper, and other than not wanting pens that bleed, haven’t considered other factors. George Melrod (not to interrupt but is George real? Only time I heard “Melrod” was when, decades ago, Meier and Frank issued a credit card to my spouse identified as Russ Melrod – rather than Axelrod. But I digress...) shared a recent article titled just that: 12 Best Pens for Journaling for 2021. Melrod evaluates factors: precision, bleeding, color options, gel options, markers, and other pen traits. This article didn’t seem to address the longevity of ink question, however. It turns out that it is a larger question as the paper, ink and storage of the journal all contribute to the longevity of our written work. Here’s a fairly interesting Q&A on Can Ink Last 100 Years? Sounds awfully complicated. Me? I’ll think I’ll stick with the pens that feel right and my basic computer and devices. At the moment I don’t have any intentions of tossing out journals as I get older, and perhaps my own daughters will have to decide what to do with them. Yes, there are a few secrets, but at the moment I’m not particularly worried about them. And the ink? Yes, still mighty legible going back to the handwriting in my first diary from the 7th grade.

Looking for some tips or motivation for your own journaling? I hope the talk below helps. Let me know, too. For, as I repeated several times, I do believe in the power of writing. For each of us, in whatever way it happens.

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