A change to my Org Mode journaling

Keeping up with a journal every day is hard. I’ve tried to make it easier by using capture templates in Org Mode. My usual approach is to have the capture template create a “datetree” entry in my Daybook.org file. This works well for short, individual entries like the following:

** Received the Hasselblad back from David Odess
   <2017-06-24 Sat>
   
   Total cost: $1,244
   
   He fixed and CLA'd the 500C/M, 80mm, and the older A12 back
   

I’ve been trying to write longer posts every day, so the capture template approach wasn’t ideal. I needed a way to write journal entries as more than just headlines. A few years ago I was writing at 750words.com and I liked the pressure and style of just making sure I wrote at least 750 words every day. The only thing that mattered was getting the words out. I didn’t have to care what to write about or that it was written well or, hell, that it was even coherent.

There are a couple problems with using 750words.com. First, I’m more concerned about privacy these days, so I don’t want everything sitting out on their server somewhere. More importantly, I prefer writing in Emacs to writing in a browser.

I made a few changes in order to use Emacs more like 750words.com.

I want my journal entries to be individual .org files, one for each day. As it happens org-journal by Bastian Bechtold works that way by default. Org-journal lets me open today’s journal file by hitting C-c C-j any time. A new file is created if one doesn’t already exist. I can simply start typing and it goes at the end of the day’s entry.

I’ve changed a few of the default org-journal settings. For example, I don’t want a timestamped heading to be created each time I trigger a new entry. Here are my settings…

 '(org-journal-file-format "%Y-%m-%d.org")
 '(org-journal-time-format "")
 '(org-journal-time-prefix "")

To keep an eye on my word count, I installed wc-mode which displays the buffer’s word count in the modeline. To get a running word count I can use the command line and simply run the following in the journal directory…

wc -w *.org which outputs something like this…

496 2017-06-23.org
788 2017-06-24.org
 80 2017-06-25.org
1364 total

This all works great. Some day I’d like to create a way to better visualize word count and missed days over time, but for now this is an improvement over the capture template approach I was using.