Writing has always been a dilemma for me, despite having chosen it as my profession after graduating from college. This choice may come as a surprise for some, as I’m not any good at keeping a journal either. A blog pressures me more into updating it regularly since it is accessible to the public, and the knowledge of people reading forces me to keep up and improve my posts and their quality. But a journal is another story. You are only responsible for yourself, and it’s so easy to just tell yourself you’re tired and will write the next day. It requires self-discipline that takes years to master. There are also the days when you have nothing to write about.
But traveling to an exciting destination changes all that. During my first solo trip to Ho Chi Minh City, I had limited internet access and only my notebook by my side. I was alone, with no one to talk to. The languages I heard were incomprehensible to my ear. But I embraced being alone. When I had something to say, but no one out there to listen, my pen and pencil were there to bring out all the ideas flowing through my head.
Ho Cho Minh was also a great source of inspiration. I found more than enough topics to write about—from the very fact I was a woman traveling alone, to the similarities of the city to my hometown of Manila, to the delicious yet affordable Indochina cuisine. In just one day, half of my notebook was already filled with overflowing thoughts, unexpected insights, and article ideas that had publishing potential. Traveling forces one to write, which is why a journal is absolutely necessary. And unlike a blog where you end up editing yourself in between, a journal lets you write continuously, letting each idea flow into the next. Observations turn into insights, and insights transform into all kinds of analysis.
A blog may provide the gratification of publishing and interaction, but a journal captures the ideas and descriptions that provide traffic to these online posts. How does one start to write about a place if he or she doesn’t have the ideas to back it all up? Also, travellers do not publish everything on a blog. There are experiences we would rather keep to ourselves. These events are more precious when kept in private, and only told to one’s closest friends.
Not to mention, a journal is much easier to lug around. Travelers don’t have to worry about a laptop getting stolen.
Whether it’s convenience, free thought, or creativity you’re after, a journal offers all these without compromising one’s writing.