Since the start of 2013, I’ve been on the journaling bandwagon, and I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect journal app. I’m not of the feeling that one app is going to suit everyone, though, or even fulfill all my needs. With daily questions to encourage more thoughtful journaling and even more questions to download, I decided to give Roller Journal a go. Will the gimmick get old or will Roller Journal win a space on my home screen?
I’ve Got a Question for You
Start a new entry by tapping the question in the upper right. That’s right, the question in the sidebar isn’t just for show and is there for you to answer. Your new entry will open up with space for you to type, but your question will stay right up there at the top under today’s timestamp.
Roller Journal’s daily question for you will be pretty open ended, and I like to use them as a jumping off point to write about whatever happens to be on my mind at the time. If you don’t feel inspired by the day’s question or just don’t really have an answer today, don’t worry — it’s not a one-off. You can pretty much get at all the questions in Roller Journal whenever you’d like.
Just tap Another Question right above the iPad’s keypad, or if the keypad isn’t visible, tap Another Question at the bottom of the screen. You can also hit the new entry plus sign up top, and that will start a new entry with a new question for you. I’ve cycled through ten or fifteen questions until I found one that suited my mood, so there’s no pressure to answer any one question in Roller Journal before you’re allowed to move on to the next.
If you have something to say that doesn’t fit any of the questions, tap Free Form above the keypad. Roller Journal will open up a new blank entry for you, and you can write whatever you want. There aren’t any rules, and since there’s no limit to how many entries you can do in a day, you can still answer a question after you’re finished your free form entry.
Tracking Your Answers
Roller Journal keeps track of some stats for you, such as when you’re most likely to write in your journal and on what days. If you find you need to clear a few minutes to spend with Roller Journal, you can look to your most prolific time of day. You can even schedule a reminder in the settings so you don’t miss your best writing time.
You’ll also be able to see how many words you’ve written in how many entries over how many days, in the form of Milestones. This not only lets you know if you’re keeping up with your journal, but Roller Journal also gives you a goal to shoot for by counting down how far you have to go to reach your next milestone. Chipping away at that word count, arbitrary though it may be, feels pretty good and can give you the push to keep journaling when you don’t really feel like you have too much to say.
It’s possible you’ll end up answering the same question more than once. Over the course of about a week and only five or so entries, I answered the same question twice and didn’t even notice, but I could just be really unobservant. Rather than feeling stale, though, I liked repeating the same question, because Roller Journal keeps track of that, too.
Click on the clock icon inside any question entry, and Roller Journal will display all the answers you’ve ever given to that question. I liked seeing how my thoughts and feelings had changed over time or, less existentially, just reminiscing about my experiences from a week ago that I’d completely forgotten because I have the memory of a goldfish.
More Questions? You Got ‘Em!
If you want more questions to answer, and I really can’t blame you there, you can buy them in packs through in-app purchases. Roller Journal is a pretty inexpensive app, and if you end up getting as much enjoyment out of it as I do, it’s not a bad idea to support the developers.
I went into this skeptical about the question packs, so let me put both our minds at ease. You get a themed pack of fifty questions for $0.99 — that’s two cents a question. Not bad, in my book, and you get a preview of three of the questions to make sure they’re really what you’re looking for.
If you decide you don’t need or want the additional question packs, though, you’ll be happy with the twenty defaults. It’ll take a while to get through all of them, and once they start coming around again, you probably won’t even notice the repeats. Even if you do, it’s fun to answer the same questions and see how your answer changes from day to day and month to month.
Like any good journaling app, you can create a passcode and set reminders to actually write in your journal. Roller Journal doesn’t let you add pictures, though, and it can’t triangulate your location based on the position of the sun and the two cats that hang out in your backyard. Don’t get me wrong, I like all those features and have a journaling app that can do all of that, but to be honest, I don’t do that much actual writing in that app.
Roller Journal is about writing. That’s not to say it’s a stripped down UI, just you and a blank screen. Roller Journal is a much warmer, friendlier place to be; it encourages you to settle in and really think about what’s going on with you and in your life. Then you write it all down. If you’ve tried other journaling apps, or even actual journaling with a pen and paper and it never quite seemed to stick, I recommend Roller Journal. Even if you have a good journaling habit going, I’d still recommend Roller Journal, because you might be surprised what a little prompting will produce when you sit down to write.