Using One Big Text File OBTF for daily blogging and journal

This might be of interest to anyone that blogs and/or keeps some sort of daily note. I’ve been trying this out since early February and it’s working really well for me. I’m sure it’s not for everyone.

Here’s how it works:

I’ve got one file, OBTF.txt in iCloud and access via Textastic and iA Writer on the iPad, sometimes my iPhone. When I wake my iPad in the morning I tap a shortcut widget to run a Shortcut that copies the current date, weather and a list, all in markdown then switches me to Textastic. The OBTF.txt is always open so I just paste it in. That entry becomes the anchor for that day. I just add on to it as an interstitial type entry for the day. So it looks like this to begin with:

2024-6-15 | Saturday

64°F and Sunny

  • 6:00 AM Breakfast

I just add time stamps to the list during the day for basic activity tracking and occasional random thoughts. If I start writing something that I want to turn into a blog post I’ll pause the writing, note that I’m going to blog it and then copy it above that day’s interstitial journal.

Then the blogging goes like this. If I’m going to write something that may not get posted same day it goes above the current day’s entry and looks like this:


I start writing my post or I paste in what I just copied…

I may finish it off in one go or come back to it during the day. Sometimes it might not get published ever or for a few days. It just sits with other drafts, each tagged in the top section of the document. I’ll often add tags to drafts so I can skim to find it later.

When it’s ready to be posted I change the draft tag to published and it gets moved under that day’s interstitial journal entry. I add a couple of keyword hashtags to describe the content of the post.

Now, the cool thing about doing this in Textastic is that there is a handy little “Symbol Browser” at the top of Textastic that I can tap to get a scrollable list. Which shows hashtags, headers, etc. So at a glance I can flick through to find what I want via previous days’ dated entries or any published post under those entries. Of course Textastic also has keyword search. Screenshot of the Symbol Browser taken a couple months ago:

Other details of the blogging process:

  • I use Shortcuts! I often link blog excerpts from Safari and use a Shortcut that grabs the headline, url and selected text as an excerpt, all formatted in markdown.
  • I switch to Textastic and paste it in the OBTF. Then add any comment I may have. Then I select that text, tap Share from the contextual menu then choose a “Publish to Blog” shortcut.
  • This shortcut uses the selected text to make a new text file in my blog folder in iCloud so that all my posts are both in the OBTF as well as individual files in iCloud. The shortcut then opens up a new post page in I just paste it in, select any categories and hit publish.

Thats it! To summarize, at the end of every day I have that day’s interstitial journal entries as a list and under it any blog posts published, all tagged. Any unpublished drafts were adde above and tagged. Any published posts were also turned into individual text files and are stored in a blog folder iCloud.


This is great. Thank you for sharing it. I used to use a spiral notebook the way you use your OBTF, and I’ve always wanted to map that workflow to a digital approach. This might be something I adopt.

I wrote all that as a pretext for giving you the only comment I really felt passionate about: 100 points to you for great use of the word interstitial. Love it.


Interstitial journaling is great:


Of course interstitial journaling is a thing. Of course!

Well, whoever discovered the concept, named it right.

look forward to reading the articles.

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Thank you for sharing this in such detail! It reminds me of the way Logseq’s Journal or the Daily Notes Editor plugin for Obsidian display daily notes, except it’s all in one file.

I still keep my daily notes as separate files (so far!), but I set up my journal like this, with one big markdown file for each year, in reverse chronological order so I’m always adding new entries at the top of the file.

I add the months as H2s and the ISO-8601 dates as H3s, so I can navigate the whole thing and jump to any date using the outline view in Obsidian’s right sidebar (which is present in the Mac, iPad, and iPhone apps), similarly to the way you’re using Textastic’s symbol browser.

Now you have me considering keeping my daily notes in a single file, too.

Btw, I’m curious why you decided to use a .txt extension rather than .md, since you’re using markdown syntax…

There’s an Interstitial Journal plugin for Logseq to automatically insert the bullet and current time, and several ways to duplicate that functionality in Obsidian.

Why not have a new text file for each day? I use the Daily Note in Obsidian and this works well.

I’m really liking the single file. Something about having a single file for everyday seemed inefficient after awhile because each file had so little in it. Having it in one file makes it so much easier and tidier. And because it’s just markdown/text, the file size is still tiny.

As for the file extension, I usually use Textastic and iA Writer, neither of them care if it’s a txt or md file and render the markdown regardless but I’m not sure why I actually chose txt. :rofl:


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I keep revisiting the idea of OBTF, but I don’t think it’s for me. I’m fine with having lots of tiny individual files per day (I think…).

I’ve been doing interstitial journaling for work on and off for I think about a year now. I’m not consistent with it, but I’ve made it clear to myself this isn’t a record of all my thoughts throughout the day, it’s just when I need a bit of extra thinking space.

On busy days with lots of meetings, or days where I have a clear set of frictionless tasks to complete, I don’t tend to do it (my workflow means meetings are already logged in my daily note, and I just tick tasks as done and add a note if one is necessary). To be honest I don’t tend to go in daily note much at all on those days except to mark tasks as complete. On those days I don’t need it so much as I tend to already know what I need to do.

On days where my mind is flitting between ideas like a bee, or where I’m stuck on something, I find interstitial journaling really helpful. On those days, my daily note becomes the central hub of my work, and serves the purpose of both keeping my tasks front and centre and becoming the desk pad that I doodle on. Except that instead of doodling I write down what I’m meant to be doing, why I’m struggling, and what I think my next course of action is. It’s weirdly helpful, even if I just end up writing something like “I can’t remember where I read about X and search is bringing up a big list. I’m going to go make a cup of tea and see if I can think of another word to narrow search down.” The act of taking a step back, judiciously planning the next action and recording it, seems really helpful sometimes. (I suspect it’s like how making surgeons work through a checklist even if it’s a surgery they’ve done hundreds of times before improves outcomes. It focuses your mind.)

Of course sometimes I end up back in the daily note 20 mins later having had a cup of tea, eaten a muffin and found a new interesting article that wasn’t what I was searching for, and I have to refocus and tell myself to go back to the task at hand!

TL;DR It’s worth experimenting with interstitial journaling, especially on days when you’re stuck with a task. It might feel a bit silly writing down seemingly pointless things, but treat it like rubber ducking and see if it helps you work through a problem.

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Check out Bebop. It’s made for this.

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I guess you don’t use any type of linking to other files. I’m using Obsidian and when I do a weekly review, I use the calendar feature which will allow me to look at each days daily note. I can then see in the graph view all the files I worked on that day via the links. That would be impossible if I used one file for every day.

One principle of computer programming is modularity. And I think it also applies in this case too. Having lots of small files allows you to add links and discover relationships between files and the ideas behind them.


Everything old is new again. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reminds me of the early days of “living the plain text life.”

Lifehacker website, Merlin Mann, Gina Trapani, and many others. And, of course, the Mac Power Users podcast, which started me down the road to plaintext.


They’re both plaintext, but the advantage of .md is that it tells apps (and users) that a file contains markdown syntax, and it’s useful for setting a default markdown editor, which can then be separate from a default text editor.

It’s very weird that iA Writer as a specialized markdown editor defaults to saving as .txt and you have to change it to .md in the settings. Imo it’s a disservice to people just getting started with markdown, who may then end up with hundreds or thousands of files they later need to change the extensions on to work properly with other markdown apps.

That’s not an issue for your OBTF, of course, because there’s only one file you’ll ever change it on. :wink:


This is a really common technique among folks using Emacs org-mode. One neat thing org-mode can do is parse todo items buried anywhere in a text file, for example in task related notes, and display the todo in the agenda view. Selecting that todo item in agenda view will take you to the item in your notes. Very handy.

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I don’t think so. For one thing, some folks use other extensions for Markdown besides .md. I use a .txt extension for all my Markdown files as Markdown is not really a file format the way .jpg or .docx is, for example. It is a plain text document that does not require any specialized viewer or editor to work with it.

So far the only place I could not use .txt was in my experimentation with Obsidian.

This thread reminds me of this blog post— seems like a great way to do things if you are so inclined.


Yeah, I don’t link to files at all. Each day’s interstitial journal is a pretty simple list of items I’ve done/am doing. I’m not as busy as most folks. Then above and below that list of items are blog posts in draft form or in published form.

I’ve tried Obsidian a few times and the last time stuck pretty well. I still use it. But have not used the relationship building all that helpful yet. I just don’t have that need at the moment.

I wouldn’t think the one text file would even come close to working for you!

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It is most useful for me at work. I have notes for each project I’m working on, so when I review the daily notes, I can see which day I worked on which project. I also have notes for important people, so I can also see who I met with on each day. It’s really powerful.

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To be clear, in my last sentence I was referring to the One big text file working for you. In your use case I can totally see how the individual files and linking out to other files for relationship knowledge would be the better option.

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I understand that the underlying file format is the same, but I can point to specific advantages of using the .md extension on files containing markdown syntax, and specific disadvantages of using the .txt extension on the same files, one of which you ran into when you tried to use them in Obsidian.

Can you point to any specific advantages of using the .txt extension on markdown files over using .md, or disadvantages of using the .md extension on the same files?

Yes, but it’s becoming very uncommon because .md has become the de facto standard.