Writing Journal: Enhance Your Productivity With 2 Useful Apps

Wish you could be more productive? Your writing journal can help. You can use your journal to relieve stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed by tasks and deadlines.

A former writing student contacted me recently about procrastination. She said: “I’ve got too many deadlines. I’m ready to quit writing and get a day job. Is there an app which could help me to feel more in control?”

Over the years, I’ve hunted for the perfect app I could use as a writing journal, research organizer, task manager, and calendar. Currently I’m using two apps to manage all that.

Use two apps as a combo writing journal to manage deadlines

Deadlines are part of the writing life. They’re a good thing, because it means that your writing is in demand. Unfortunately, deadlines can lead to procrastination, when you have so much to do that you can’t get started.

Two apps can help: Logseq and Obsidian.

Logseq helps me to conquer feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed. Obsidian helps me to manage information, so that I can organize research materials and drafts, and get more done.

Let’s look at how you can use Logseq as part of your writing journal.

Logseq: instant linking for your thoughts

At its core, Logseq is an outliner—but it’s much more than that.

I first used Logseq several years ago at a very early stage of its development. Although I liked it, I found Obsidian more useful, so discontinued using Logseq.

At the end of last year, Obsidian began to overwhelm me. I couldn’t face looking at everything. There was too much to do.

Recalling that with Logseq, you get a BLANK slate each day, I downloaded the app. My memory from 2020 was that Logseq operated in a browser; so much had changed. Within a couple of days, just by using tags and pages, and creating links, my stress vanished.

Here’s the thing, Logseq links my blocks, in the background. Yippee! I don’t have to see everything, all at once. Logseq does its linking out of sight. But when I click on a page or a tag, Logseq shows all the references, in context.

That’s huge for me.

Here’s why. For the past 30 years, I’ve been searching for a Lotus Agenda replacement. Back in the day, Agenda was more than an information manager, it helped you to think. I adored it.

Written in DOS; Lotus Agenda linked text “items”. An item could be anything, it was analogous to a “block” today, as used in apps like Obsidian, Roam Research, and Logseq. But DOS was Agenda’s downfall. The world switched to Windows; Lotus nuked Agenda, replacing it with a horrible piece of junk, Lotus Organizer.

Finally, in Logseq, I’ve found my Lotus Agenda replacement.

Does Logseq work as a writing journal? YES.

Each day is a fresh new page for your writing journal.

You can add material to each day without headings, but I use a “daily” template. (My thanks to a Twitter user for the template inspiration.)

Currently, my daily writing journal template has three headings: Log (links, ideas, research); Agenda (emails, phone calls, meetings, in-progress projects); and Inbox (general scratchpad). Here’s how to create templates in Logseq.

So, if Logseq is my writing journal, why do I need Obsidian?

Writing from go to whoa in Obsidian

Both Logseq and Obsidian use Markdown.

The big benefit of Markdown is that it’s just plain text. Not only can you read the text in many editors, Markdown can be converted to a multitude of formats with a single click.

So, how do I use Obsidian as a writing journal?

Obsidian is for my research materials and writing projects, from go to whoa. Not only can I brainstorm and develop ideas, I can create folders for projects. Each document in the app has its own Obsidian URL, so I can link to any document from Logseq, and vice versa too.

Here’s an example of how that’s useful. I have a “word count” page in Logseq. I link to project pages in Obsidian from Logseq, so I can add the number of words I write in each project each day.

At the end of the month, I can query Logseq to get details about my productivity (or lack of it): how many words I’ve managed in a project, how many projects I completed that month, and so on.

You can extend Obsidian with plugins. To help me to write and journal, I’m currently relying on:

  • Longform: it helps you to manage long projects like books;
  • Word Sprint: sprinting keeps you writing;
  • Outliner: you can add headings, and easily manage long documents (I remove the headings later, if I’m writing fiction, but they help me to navigate documents).

You may be wondering whether you need two apps to manage your journal.

Do you need two apps for your writing journal?

No, you don’t. Either Logseq or Obsidian may help you.

Perhaps neither suits you. One of my writing students uses MS Word. Another uses the Notes app on his phone. We’re all different.

Experiment until you find an app, or a combination of apps for your journaling. If they enhance your productivity and creativity, and inspire you, you’re golden.

Have fun. 🙂

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