Which is Better? Digital or Pen & Paper?

I frequently joke that we have more screens in our home than people. Technology is a part of our lives and we can fully appreciate all the efficiencies and conveniences that come from our devices. From reading books to playing games and getting fit, there is a device and an app for almost everything you can imagine. 

When I started my business creating guided journals, I thought I could just sit down and do it on my laptop in a few days, being very familiar with the software and the principles of design. I hit a roadblock. Strangely, I just couldn't put my ideas and thoughts together the same way I could with a few markers and some glue. 

What I've learned from doing my journals the "old-fashioned" way:


The pace is slower. It forces your mind and body to slow down and really connect with your spirit and mind. It will also give us a sense of when times were slower, perhaps when we were younger and learning how to write. It brings us back to simpler times, which is helpful when we journal about complex events or circumstances. Our minds become more open to our bodies when we write and does better in a calmer environment. In every marking, we can admire our own handwriting as part of who we are while our story is told at our own speed. 


The sense of smell is said to be the most closely linked to memory. Smells can evoke particular memories and can be extremely valuable when journaling. The smell of the pages, the pen or the crayons can bring back good or not so good memories. If the memories are good, we can use its strength and insights to deal with our current situation. If the memories that the smells trigger are not so great, it might be time to journal through those experiences so that we can heal and move forward from them. 

Words and meanings 

Our internal vocabulary speaks louder than autocorrect or autofill. When we use our own words, we are able to speak to ourselves with more meaning. We can let our imaginations run free on the page, think of colours and images that are true to our journey. A rose to me will mean something completely different to another journaler. The same way our words have context to our own being. 


We use our devices for a multitude of tasks. The statistics suggest that we look at our phones 85 times, for up to 5 hours a day. When we pick up our phone or other devices, our minds are conditioned to look at our social media, reply to email and look up videos online. Not to mention all the work that we do on a daily basis in front of our screens.  With so many inherent distractions on our devices, it could take away from our mindfulness when journaling. We can manage our information overload better and gain pinpointed focus when we use an item for only one purpose. Our minds become less cluttered and we can clearly find the message from within ourselves. Becoming unplugged is a major benefit that comes from pen and paper journaling. 


Relying on a high-speed connection or WiFi in order to journal with pen and paper is not necessary. A paper journal is our companion that can be placed in our backpack, purse, desk at work or next to us on in a bedside drawer. It is always within reach when we are looking for that deeper connection with ourselves. We connect physically with the journal in our hands and we can go back and read our thoughts and insights at any time. There is no interruption in service from a third party or loss of our thoughts when we forgot to save our progress. The connection to yourself is completely within your control. 


This is certainly one of my favourite parts of paper and pen journaling: DOODLES! According to Sunny Brown, "when the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don't have when you're in linguistic mode".  Studies have also concluded that doodling can free up short- and long-term memory, increase attention spans as well as improve content retention. Doodling also provides us with creative insights as the mind is free to wander through the pen and onto the paper. 

The same way in which there are no right or wrong ways to journal, the method of journaling follows the same logic. The main goal is to gain insight into a difficult life situation. 

#journaling #whichisbest #paper #digital #oldfashioned #mentalhealth #challenges #empowerment #unplugged


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