The logbook – part 2

Back in January, I decided to start writing on a logbook. The idea was to make it easier for me to write down things I thought were important about my day. Think of it as a minimalist version of a diary or journal.

The fact is, I haven’t been keeping up with it as I wanted. The first two months, I did it every day, it worked. But then I left my logbook in my backpack, and I didn’t write on it for over a month!

Why haven’t I been keeping up with it? Well, it is a new thing, and I didn’t spend enough time on it to help it become a habit. I know this because I’ve read The Power of Habit book by Charles Duhigg but haven’t applied what I’ve learned about it. At least not yet.

Another one of my habits that has stopped being one is reading at least one book every month. I’ve been doing this for a while, but this habit stopped being one since the middle of last year. I need to get back on it. I enjoy reading books and everything that comes with it.

I stopped reading at least one book every month because I replaced this good habit with another one, streaming content and social media. That’s right, with everything that was happening last year, COVID-19, the elections, police brutality, etc., I found it easier to watch the news, social media, and streaming content than to read books. What a waste of my time.

I did not come to this realization on my own. I knew I was spending more time than ever on social media and streaming content. Still, I didn’t do anything about it until I read this post by Om, where he mentions a video by Max Joseph showing us beautiful bookstores and, more importantly, an easy-to-follow method to read more books.

Reading books is something I enjoy, but with so much content available these days, it’s hard not to get distracted by it. I am going back to my reading habit, I’ll start by reading for 30 minutes to an hour each day, and the logbook, well, I’ve been writing on it every day again for about a week now. It feels good.

Are you an amateur, enthusiast, or a pro?

Many of us have hobbies, things that we enjoy doing but not necessarily spend a lot of time, money, or much effort. Some of us have other passions where we dedicate more time, more money, and a lot of effort; I think we can call ourselves enthusiasts on those topics.

Professionals are defined, I think, by the fact that they will get paid in exchange for the work they do. For example, a professional photographer is that person who gets paid to photograph products, people, homes, etc.

An amateur photographer will take photos, get a good camera, although not an expensive one, and probably won’t get too deep into the world of photography.

Now, and this is my opinion, an enthusiast photographer is that person who might be as skilled as a professional photographer but doesn’t yet do it for a living while still dedicating a fair amount of time to this task, and enough money to get a better camera, or cameras.

Who cares about this? I am not sure. I am writing this because I was thinking about my progression as a photographer, and while I don’t do it for a living, I spend a lot of resources on it.

This all came up when I decided to update my bio on Twitter and Instagram. I was about to type “amateur photographer” but changed it to “enthusiast photographer.” It fits better.

After all of these years, countless hours, trips, money spent on equipment, walks, etc., I think I have graduated from an amateur to an enthusiast. It also sounds better, right?

Started using a logbook

This year I started writing a logbook to capture daily events, so far it’s been working well, it’s really easy for me to write daily events and other things and just do about a small page per day. I write down things like the food I ate, important events, meeting summaries, etc. Anything that I think I should record I add to this daily logbook.

Logbook: an official record of events during the voyage of a ship or aircraft

definition by Oxford Languages

The logbook is easy to maintain, I’m using this Moleskine 12 month daily planner, its small size makes it easy to carry. Also, the small size motivates me to write down on a page every day knowing that it will fill out quite quickly.

logbook image

This is not going to replace my journal or the planner I use for work, instead, it’s just an easy way to write down highlights of my day in a quickly and effortless manner. I have been doing this just for a week and it’s already paying off as writing down these specific daily events help me remember them better.

logbook image

I’ll report back and tell you how it’s going later after using the logbook for a few more months.

Looking for a simpler blogging platform

For years I’ve been using WordPress for all my blogging needs. But lately, every time I log in to WordPress and try to write a new post, I’m annoyed by all of the administrative options. I get it; they are useful, but I want to get basic analytics and an editor for my blog, that’s it.

I’ve been looking at other options such as Ghost, Tumblr, Posthaven, Substack, Medium, and even launching a custom-written blog. At first, I thought using a Ghost instance hosted under my DigitalOcean account will work, but it didn’t.

Let me explain, I like DigitalOcean, and the Ghost blogging platform seems reasonable, but like WordPress, Ghost has been adding more features and making the blogging platform less simple.

Posthaven is also another blogging platform that looks interesting. The founders promise to keep it simple and not selling the company to anyone, which I appreciate. However, Posthaven looks a bit abandoned. The last post in their blog as of the writing of this post, it’s from 3 years ago.

I also signed up for Substack, but it’s not what I am looking for after looking closely. Substack targets their platform to people who have newsletters or want to charge for their content.

I’m writing these words using the Ulysses app, and I wish there were a service out there that will allow me to publish these words directly from my text editor to a web page previously configured with my custom domain; that’s it. Now, the Ulysses app allows me to publish my writing directly to WordPress and other platforms, but I still have to deal with WordPress at the end of the day.

Maybe there is something out there that I haven’t discovered yet, or perhaps I should write or customize one of the many open-source blogging apps available out there. I don’t know.

I want to start writing more and manage my blog less. I know it is possible, and maybe I’ll find what I am looking for within WordPress; maybe the Post by email feature will suffice, but if you have any other suggestions, please send them my way.

Cheers.

My favorite writing apps

I recently spent some time trying to find the right writing app, I ran across many of them, and while a few were very good, it wasn’t until I ran across the Bear app that I decided to stop looking.

This app makes writing enjoyable to write, and how is that you ask? Well, it has a clean interface, a not-distraction mode, markdown syntax support, and many other features such as multiple options to share, export, etc.

I have tried other writing apps before, for example, before discovering Bear I was using iA Writer, another excellent writing app. While I still use iWriter when I’m on my iMac, I started using the Bear app because it has free versions for both macOS and iOS. iA Writer supports not only Apple operating systems, but also Windows and Android, and while they offer free trials, iA Writer doesn’t have free versions. I’d gladly pay for the software I use, that’s why I paid for iA Writer for my iMac.

Other Writing Apps and Tools

Another writing tool I use every day is Grammarly, their web interface is pretty good; it is fast and clean. I started using Grammarly out of necessity since English is my second language, a tool to help me fix grammar errors, and the like is something necessary. Grammarly also offers a keyboard for iOS and a browser plugin, but in my opinion, none of those work as well as the web version. Grammarly web is an excellent tool to check your writing, but as of now, it isn’t as good as the Bear app or iA Writer for writing.

WordPress is another place where a lot of my writing takes place, and until recently, their blog post editor was my primary writing editor. I use WordPress for blogging, and their editor has improved quite a bit. It’s a good text editor, it also supports markdown, which I appreciate, but it lacks some of the features the other two writing apps have. For example, the WordPress text editor is great for writing content for your blog, but it is not mean to be used for writing and then exporting your text.

What about MS Word and Google Docs? Well, I use those too, and while they are great for general note-taking or long-form writing, their interface feels dated, and unless you take time to remove some options, the editor will be very busy, it’s not a great writing experience. Other tools I use to take notes and to write ideas are OneNote, DayOne, both awesome apps but not for general writing.  

The ideal writing app

It’s not a surprise that the perfect writing app would be, at least for me, an app that combines the best of the apps I enjoy using for writing. The ideal writing app for me would be one that incorporates the following:

 • The clean design and the distraction-free environment of iA Writer

 • The export features, smart data recognition, rich keyboard shortcuts of the Bear app

 • The AI-powered writing assistance of Grammarly,

Now, if we can combine all of those things into one application, it would be a very valuable application to me and many other writers. B

What’s your ideal writing app? Are there any other apps you use and enjoy?