Using the Emacs Deft package for topic journals

One of the first Emacs packages I tried was Deft. As a long-time nvAlt user, Deft felt like home, except in Emacs.

I started putting all kinds of notes into Deft. I used it as a kind of inbox for everything. It quickly became a mess, so it fell out of favor. I switched to using a giant file with Capture templates to make jotting things down easier.

Re-reading Derek Sivers' post Benefits of a daily diary and topic journals got me thinking that Deft might work well for “Thoughts on” topic journals.

I (mostly) emptied my Deft notes folder and started fresh. Now, each file in my Deft notes directory is based on a single topic. After a couple weeks, it looks like this:


There are no hard rules about what constitutes a “topic”. I know them when I see them. Some topics so far are large, e.g. “Linux”, and some are smaller, e.g. “LogStash”. There are a few old reference notes still in there, which I think is fine.

I like this setup. It works as both a technical diary of sorts and as a running commentary on how I’m thinking about specific topics.

Over time I’m sure I’ll refactor things, and that’s fine. At least it’s no longer a mish-mash of one-liners, random thoughts, and dozens of other bits and bobs without rhyme or reason.

I like the idea of “Topic Journals” and Deft is a nice way of keeping them.