Guest Post – Marsha Ingrao is back with Journaling Part 2 – Online Journaling

Guest Featured Author


I am thrilled to have back here, author/blogger Marsha Ingrao with her promised Part 2 post about Journaling. Many of you should remember that Marsha was here a little while ago posting on how to journal and she said she would come back and share all about how to journal online!

Online journaling is different than journaling in a notebook, and Marsha is going to tell us about how to journal online, what are the most effective tools for journaling, how to keep your online journals private, and lots of other juicy tips. So now I give you Marsha:


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


The purpose of this article is to outline the benefits of online journaling.


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.

Online Journaling - Marsha Ingrao


“ 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.”

Journaling Makes Sense If You Want More Out of Life

Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, suggests that forming keystone habits can change your life. A keystone habit  means “small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”


Journaling online may well be the keystone habit that would change your life in many ways. Five hundred words a day would mean you could write a book in just 100 days.


Maybe you want to lose weight. Doctors and nutritionists ask yo 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.


Humans Pass 70,000 Thoughts Through Their Heads Each Day


Dr. Deepak Chopra, a “rigorous, skeptical scientist, acknowledged some error in his measurements and said that humans process “60,000 to 80,000” thoughts daily.  Discover Magazine


Does it seem like the great ideas that flit  through your brain each day are gone? You are right, most of them become inaccessible after a short time. We can only hold seven ideas in our heads at a time.


Naturally, not all of those 70,000 thoughts are worth recording, 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.


Online Journals Work Faster To Keep Up with YOUR Brain

An online journal can help your brain crunch those 70,000 diverse thoughts each day.


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 of them, Mgjacob 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 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. Journalists 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 reasons you might want to use an online journal.


1. Secrets Make An Online Journal Essential

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. An online journal can be encrypted so that even if someone found it, he our 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.”

2. Online Journals Can Be Accessed Through Any Computer

Unlike a paper journal, you can write in your online journal from anywhere you have internet access. 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.


3. Journal Software Adds Features that Improve the Online Experience

Here are just a five online journal software companies recommended by LifeHack.

Quora writers have several additional recommendations.


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, I experimented with Penzu to write this article. I also checked out Google Calendar. 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 the same look in Google Slides.


Long ago I used Evernote, but opted to use Google Drive instead, but you can record directly into Evernote. Over five years ago I tried recording minutes to meetings. 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.


3. Multi Media Works In Online Journals

This morning I called on Siri to make a note. You can’t do that with a hand-held journal. I recorded on my phone’s text program, but Evernote works better because you can organize your notes.


This feature also makes journal writing accessible for visually impaired writers or people who can’t use their hands. My mother’s 92-year-old cousin writes every day and uses Dragon Naturally Speaking. The professional version of this program works well for recording and transcribing podcasts.


With almost all online journaling programs you can add photos, videos and sound recordings making the online journal more versatile than the paper one.


4. A Hand-Held Journal Is Never There When You Need It

You read that you should keep your journal within reach, but not necessarily right in sight so you can get it when those diverse thoughts float across your mind. However, you broke the rule and left it on your desk when you went for a ride.


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 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

5. Organization Is Easier With an Online Journal

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.


In a paper journal, this task is daunting, but it is not difficult online. With the versatile, but simple Google Drive application, it is easy to create an index using a Google Spreadsheet.


“Search” is on every program out there. Search spoils us for the real world, doesn’t it? Not only does our journal get lost, so do glasses, food, clothes, toys. Maybe some day everything will have searchable chips in them.


For now enjoy the online ability to search for words within your journal. 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, chapter of your next book, or email..


6. Journal Writing Focuses on Quantity Not Quality

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.


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.


7. How’s Your Handwriting?

Your handwriting may be great, but if you are a student now, the chances are likely that you are not learning handwriting. Soon people may all have to sign their names with an X. My husband’s signature looks like he could write prescriptions. It is totally illegible.


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.


8. 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. 🙂


9. 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. Voila all you need to do is go back and record your thoughts about each picture.


On 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. It has a screen for doodling. Partner that with 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.


10. Online Links Turn Your Journal Into a Research Project

Online research has gained credibility over the years. You can find almost anything, even journals, online. If you are writing in your journal, and you have a question, the internet is there to help you. List the links for reference.


11. 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.


12. Ways to Use a Journal

Assuming that you hate to write, and have never kept a journal, Rosella LaFevre wrote a post for Huffington Post listing thirteen ways to use a journal. Here are some of them with added prompts and a few extras.

  • Record daily events. Don’t forget the date. (every meal deserves a picture, every hike, every garden, every decorating job)
  • Small victories (conquering ant bites, winning a poker tournament, talking your husband out of buying a Porsche.)
  • Turning goals into todos (write a guest post, clean the kid’s bathtub, go to Hawaii
  • Favorite quotes (install Momentum for daily quotes and pictures around the world.)
  • Notes (grocery list, family todos)
  • Affirmations (notes you want to send to people)
  • Books to read (take a screenshot of the book or list of books or cut and paste your friend’s email recommendations into your journal.
  • Movies to watch (ditto books)
  • Networking info ( business cards, photograph them or scan them.)
  • Questions (Why haven’t I kept a journal before this?)
  • Problems (You don’t have any? Refer to the last bullet)
  • Drafts (not in your attic, that would classify as a problem.)
  • Add Mood, labels, and Emojis to help you recreate the day.
  • Tell yourself the truth. There’s no need to lie to your journal if you are fully protected. If you don’t feel comfortable writing something, don’t. But be honest in what you write.
  • Write naturally without worrying about grammar, spelling or even if it makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, call it poetry.

13 Cautions

  • Keep your password safe. I use a spreadsheet file called something other than Passwords to record all my files. I keep them in code form so that I know what they are, but if someone should break into my computer, they would have a hard time understanding what the codes are. I also keep them coded in my handwritten journals. Since codes change from time to time, the journal I am currently using has my current passwords only, and only those I use the most.
  • Some people scribble faster than they type. For those happy scribblers voice recognition programs help you avoid typing, but not without some humorous mistakes. Just ask Siri.
  • Too much computer usage causes eyestrain. So does too much reading and writing out of books. The lighted screen may cause headaches. Some would suggest to limit your journaling to 20 minutes in the morning. Others would set a word limit, like 500 or 1,000 words.
  • You may remember less of what you journal online. That’s when labels, files and search engines come in handy.


14. Does Your Online Journal Smell Good?

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 twelve benefits benefits and several cautions of using an online journal. The most important thing to remember is that “slow progress is better than no progress.” Anomyous


Start your online journal today.


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Wow! Thank you so much Marsha for this amazing article contribution. I so appreciate the research you’ve done to compile this most informative article on Online Blogging.

Marsha Ingrao

About Marsha:

Before becoming a consultant in history and English language-arts, Marsha Ingrao taught grades K-5 for many years. Marsha journaled to work through the tragedy of her first marriage, which ended in the death of her husband at the age of forty-seven from a rare genetic disease. Encouraged by doctors not to have children, she whined to her journal as she also kept it crammed with lesson plans, poetry, news, prayer requests, drawings, Bible studies, and lists.


She retired in 2012, wrote Images of America, Woodlake, blogs, and volunteers in her community through several service organizations.  She and her second husband live in the foothills of California with their dog, Kalev and two cats.

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Woodlake – Images of America

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