Here’s a Secret About Online Journaling
“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” — J.M. Barrie
“ A journal is meant to collect your ideas and observations on any number of things and put the happenings of each day into writing. In this way, you can better remember what you did, what you thought, and what was happening when you were younger.” https://penzu.com/what-is-a-journal
If you never journal, you’ll lose your past. Journaling is as old as the art of writing. But is technology making it better? That’s for you to decide after you read this article.
Reason #1 Online Journaling Gives You More Out of Life
Most of you already journal online and don’t even realize it. If you blog, use Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, you have started an online journal.
Maybe you want to lose weight. Doctors and nutritionists ask you to journal your food intake for a day week or month. Built into your regular journaling routine, you could be a healthier you in just a few months.
Maybe you want to be happier. My friend whose husband’s brain cancer has reached the stage past effective treatments started a gratitude journal on Facebook.
What do you want to do or be? Start journaling, and let electronics help you do it.
Reason #2 Focus Your Thoughts
Does it seem like the great ideas that flit through your brain each day are gone?
It’s no wonder. Humans process 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. If you think you’ve forgotten something, you are right, most of them become inaccessible after a short time. We can only hold seven ideas in our heads at a time. Journaling helps us focus on what is important.
Naturally, not all of those 70,000 thoughts are worth recording or investigating, but if you want to capture more of those little puffs of idea bubbles, you might consider adding the online journal to your journaling repertoire.
Reason #3 Online Journals Work Faster than Handwriting
An online journal can help your brain crunch those 70,000 diverse thoughts each day. They can organize them in an instant – A-Z or in a table by categories.
The interest in journaling has surged with the use of computers. For example, over 10,000 people read a forum which asked Google why it hadn’t created an online journal application.
One woman summarized her needs to the Google engineers.
I am looking for a function where I can maintain information like
- medical records of kids, parents for fever, health checkups, treatments, surgeries, BP, cholesterol, Sugar records, etc., so that I can look for patterns in the data.
- events occurring in my family and friend circle.
- tags for messages and store into categories.
- financial notes on payments and renewals
- details of holiday trips with snaps
- auto location tags and manual corrections
- audio, video, still photos to be added to notes
While Google has not created a specific product for online journaling, there are many Google products you can use. Writers have developed journals using Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides and Calendar. Other companies have also designed products for journalists.
There are numerous advantages to keeping an online journal in addition to or instead of a hand-written journal.
The purpose of this post is to list a few reasons you might want to add an online journal, not necessarily replace your paper journal.
Reason #4 Consider Encrypting Secrets
Just like Penny on the Big Bang Theory, every journal writer may inadvertently write something in their journal that is not for public eyes. Or they wish they could hide their private thoughts. A paper diary is not the place for secrets.
An online journal can be encrypted so that even if someone found it, he or she could not read it.
Influencers who write for LifeHacker advise online journal writers to encrypt their writing much like the military does.
“One way to encrypt your journal is with TrueCrypt so you really are the only person with access to it. Doing so trades some portability, since you’ll have to decrypt it before you can update or edit it, but it definitely keeps it secure.”
Reason #5 Online Journals Can Be Accessed Anywhere
While most people don’t carry a bulky or a small notebook with them everywhere, few people leave a room without their phone. It takes little effort to record what you want to say or text into your phone.
Some phones are even waterproof. Sean Hollister writes, “When inspiration hits in the shower (all my best thoughts are #showerthoughts), I don’t need to dry off before I jot them down.” Cnet
Unlike a paper journal, you can write in your online journal from anywhere you have phone or internet access. Most phones have aps that allow you to access your journals on your phone. It may surprise you to find out how many aps there are for journal writing. I recommend and use several products in Google Drive as my journal. However, journaling software is as ubiquitous as journalers.
Reason #6 Journal Software Features that Improve the Online Experience
Here are four online journal software companies recommended by LifeHack. These programs have attributes that make them easier to use for some people.
Quora writers have several additional recommendations.
- WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr Don’t forget that your blog is also a journal and may be private or public
Unlike a handwritten journal, with most online journal formats you can share your post with multiple recipients. You can also allow them the privilege of adding to your journal entry.
Even though my top pick is Google Drive or Word in OneDrive, I experimented with Penzu and Google Calendar to write this article. Both Google Drive and Calendar are private unless you choose to share your entry.
Penzu allows you to lock your entries for free. For a price they encrypt it for you. They remind you by email to write in your journal. Unlike Google Docs, it has a fancy journal like cover. You can create a similar look in Google Slides.
I used Evernote because it allows you to record audio directly into it. Five years ago, when I tried it, transcribing notes was not a feature of the application. Transcribing by hand is like trying to use a pedal sewing machine to outfit a cast of 100 players in a school play that is scheduled next week. There are programs that allow you to record your voice and transcribe it for you.
Reason #7 You can Embed Multi-Media into Your Journal
Online journals are scrapbooks on steroids.
With almost all online journaling programs you can add photos, videos, and sound recordings making the online journal more versatile than a paper one. Online and mobile journals make journaling accessible to people who can’t write because of visual or physical impairments.
Dragon Naturally Speaking works well for those who can’t type and want to journal. I have tried this program as well. You have to train the Dragon to understand you. It might not understand a different voice. The professional version of this program works well for recording and transcribing podcasts.
Reason #8 “Search” Makes Locating Items and Organizing an Online Journal Easy
“Didn’t you write down all those figures about the house in your journal?” my husband asked. He might have been a little grumpy when I couldn’t find them.
We are in the process of investing our retirement nest egg into a rental. It’s a big step. I remembered writing down the figures, and eventually, I remembered that I wrote them on the back of an envelope that was handier than my paper journal. I found the envelope in the trash.
Experts say to resist the urge to organize when you are in the throes of the random act of journaling. However, the power of the journaling experience is to review what you have written from time to time. Every two or days is best so that you don’t miss something urgent that you needed to do.
Isn’t the ability to search for words within your journal wonderful. For that matter, if you use Google Docs as your journal, you can search your entire Drive to see how often you come up with a specific word. As you review and organize, you can filter out less useful ideas, even cut and paste the best ones into a new journal entry, blog post, comment, a chapter of your next book, or an email. The possibilities for using your journal are endless.
Reason #9 Having Enough Space Is Not an Issue
Don’t you hate getting to the end of your paper journal right in the middle of a great thought? Have you bought a new journal? Can you find one? Even if you have a stack of them waiting for you, which one are you going to choose? Your thought bubble just burst.
When using an online journal, space is not an issue. There is no illegible scribbling at the bottom of the page or between lines or vertically in the margins. You can write as much as you want and you won’t run out of paper. However, you can add comment notes electronically if that helps you.
Reason #10 How’s Your Handwriting?
If you have dysgraphia as I do, online journaling relieves the stress of bad illegible writing. Your handwriting may be great, but students today don’t even learn cursive and their printing is poor. Soon people may all have to sign their names with an X. My husband’s signature looks like he could write prescriptions.
While illegible writing is a great way to encrypt your hand-written journal, it’s not effective if YOU can’t figure out what you wrote. For people like me who are dyslexic or have graphic dysfunctions, keyboarding doesn’t solve all the problems with writing and legibility, but it helps.
Speaking of handwriting. as a former teacher we struggled to find ways to help boys to write. Reason #11 helps with that.
Reason #11 Boys Like to Journal Online
CBS News reported statistics showing that boys and men are less likely than girls or women to excel at reading and writing. Using computers improves that statistic for both reading and writing. It’s a gadget. It has buttons and gimmicks.
If you struggle looking at a blank page, journal products give you some starts, and the internet itself can infuse you with brilliant ideas. Once your brain gets going, inertia takes over and off it goes.
If you like journaling online, then you will do it. That’s what’s important. Always Write. Write quickly, Turn off the grammar nazi. Write lots. Edit later or not at all.
Reason #12 Photograph Notes Instead of Writing Them
Photographs integrate so well with an online journal. If you are at a conference and you don’t want to write notes, take a picture of the screen, and paste it into your journal. Voilá, all you need to do is go back and record your thoughts about each picture.
One of the disadvantages of an online journal is that you can’t doodle. Or can you? Doodle on anything, take a picture of it, and paste it into your journal. Or use Google Keep Notes, which is comparable to Evernote. It has a screen for doodling. All you need is a touch screen computer, and doodling is back in business. Another way to appease the doodle instinct is to get an online sketch pad or a phone that has a stylus.
Reason #13 Online Journals Can Go Public Instantly
You might think that journals should always be private. But consider the ship’s log on Star Trek which reminds us that journals often have very public uses.
Those of you who watched the TV series House might remember the episode in which a patient consistently blogged about her strange illness. House had been banned from the case, but kept up via blogging. He even instructed the woman’s assigned doctors through his comments on the patient’s blog. Eventually the clues they found about her symptoms led to a proper diagnosis and ultimate cure.
Different software programs give journalists the option to share a journal entry or the entire journal.
Cautions About Online Journaling
There is always the naysayer, the other side of the story, and that is true of online journaling as well. I’d love for you to play devil’s advocate in the comment section.
Caution #1 Sensory Overload
Too much computer usage causes eyestrain. The lighted screen may cause headaches. Some would suggest limiting your journaling to 20 minutes in the morning. Others would set a word limit, like 500 or 1,000 words.
Caution #2 Sensory Deprivation
Touch and smell may be the only sensory competitions in which your online journal cannot compete with a print journal.
At first you might consider that touch might also lessen the appeal of the online journal. But those who have typed on a computer all their lives, understand the feel of well worn keys. The same feelings emote from them as from a well worn pair of shoes with scratches and holes that make them more comfortable.
Like a paper journal, notes, stickers, and covers add character to the computer. Virtual notes, stickers and covers do the same for the online journal. But does an online journal emit an odor? Are there online pheromones?
Sorry, no there are not.
Can you live without the smell and feel of your journal?
Most writers journal. You might prefer to use only a print journal or you might choose an online journal. There are many tools to use when you journal. Using them is a matter of what is most convenient and pleasing at the time. This post outlined ten benefits and only a couple of cautions of using an online journal. The important thing is that your journal is comfortable for you. Who knows, maybe long after you are gone, your journal will help a historian rediscover the past.
Start your online journal today.