Atsushi Yamamoto

Vim as a journal

Previously I published the take aways from writing journals, and in this post I will go over my writing set up.

There are many schools of thought on which medium to write journals on (e.g., physical journal, audio recordings, etc). I like using text files for couple reasons:

  • Search. It’s nice to be able to look for certain events.
  • Storage. Every journal entry is stored on Dropbox.
  • Analysis. Lets me answer questions like “How many journal entries did I write this year?”

The biggest draw for me is the writing experience. As I’m already fairly experienced with vim text manipulation, I can write my journals swiftly. It ultimately lowers the barrier for me to write consistently.

While Vim excels at the editing experience, it’s lacks built-in organization features. This is where vim-wiki comes in. Here’s the overview of the features:

With VimWiki, you can:

  • Organize notes and ideas
  • Manage to-do lists
  • Write documentation
  • Maintain a diary
  • Export everything to HTML

There are three features I use the most:

  • Index file (<Leader>ww)
    • The index file for your journal project. You can think of this as the “top page” for your journal. I use it mainly to add random notes.
  • Create a new daily diary file (<Leader>w<Leader>w)
    • Creates a file with the name
  • Load diary (<Leader>wi)
    • This page lists all the journal files you’ve written under the “./diary” directory
    • It automatically parses H1 Markdown header as the title so I standardize all titles to be in the format like <Day of the week> MM/DD @ <Main event of the day>


Using a template

I use file as a journal template. The following vimscript achieves three tasks:

function! LoadVocab()
  return systemlist('shuf -n 1 ~/Dropbox/wiki/diary/vocab.txt')
function! JournalHeader()
  return "# " . strftime('%a') . " " . strftime('%m/%d') . " @"
nmap <Space>l :r ~/Dropbox/wiki/diary/<CR>gg"=JournalHeader()<C-M>p2j"=LoadVocab()<C-M>pgg

Writing plugins

Here are other plugins that help me write better in vim (h/t to @reedes) on GitHub

Do you also write a lot on vim? Feel free to reach out with your tips & tricks!