How Can I Keep a Personal, Private Journal Online?
You've talked about keeping a work diaryand an awesomeness journal, and I'm sold. One question: How can I set up my journal so I can edit and update it online on my phone or laptop without the world seeing it? I want a diary, not a blog!
Keeping It To Myself
Dear Keeping It To Yourself,
You're right - there are mental, creative, and emotional benefits to writing, even if you never let anyone see what you've written. We've discussed how even jotting down a few positive things every day can make a huge impact in your life. Still, keeping a work diary or a personal journal isn't exactly something you'd want anyone to stumble on. You specifically said you wanted anonline journal, so here are some ways you can get the flexibility to write and update when and where you want to without worrying that prying eyes will read it.
Use Apps Designed for Private Journaling
Keeping a private journal used to mean writing in a notebook with a lock on it, or that you kept in a locked box. That's no longer the case, and there are plenty of apps and web services that offer privacy and portability.
Penzu started off as a simple, password-protected online journal, but the service is much more than that now. In addition to a password-protected journal that only you can read, you can also share specific posts with individuals if you want them to see them, or you can leave everything private and locked down. You can search past entries, add photos, customize the layout and look of your journal, and if you're willing to spend a few bucks ($20/yr) you can get a Penzu Pro account, which offers iPhone, iPad, and Android apps so you can update on the go, full encryption for your journal, multiple journals and the ability to search all of them at once, reminders to write, and much more. Best of all, everything is locked down by default, so you can write what you want, when you want, wherever you want to, without worrying someone might stumble onto it.
- Day One is a simple, elegant journaling app for OS X and iOS that encourages you to write every day. It's specifically designed to help you keep a journal, and it comes packed with tools that make it easy to update your journal whenever the mood strikes. From a menubar drop-down that lets you start writing instantly to a fully featured editor for the iPad, Day One will help you start and stick to regular writing. It'll cost you a few bucks ($10 for the Mac App, $5 for the universal iPhone/iPad app) but if you use it every day, it's worth it.
These are just the tip of the iceberg: there are plenty of services that offer free journaling apps, but the kicker is whether they're available for your preferred platform or your mobile device. If you can't find any that work for you, it might be time to take your thoughts to the web, but just make sure they're locked down.
Start a Blog, Just Keep It Private and Locked Down
If you really want the ultimate in flexibility, publishing apps, web-accessibility, and other authoring tools, you might just want to start a blog. That doesn't mean your blog has to be viewable to anyone but you, or even public at all. Most popular blogging platforms likeWordpress, Livejournal, Squarespace, and even Tumblr allow you to create completely private entries or entire blogs that only you can see. That way you can leverage the free webapp and any mobile apps available (and there are tons for the major platforms) to update when you're at your computer, on your phone, on your tablet, or on the go.
Alternatively, if you don't want to trust a free, hosted blogging service, you can always download blogging software like Wordpress, Habari, Joomla, or Drupal and host it yourself, either on your own server at home or with a compatible web hosting company. Then you can control your own content, make it as public or as private as you choose, and access your journal anywhere. As long as you keep it locked down, you get all the features of a free blogging platform or an expensive journaling tool, just all under your control.
Go Simple with an Encrypted Text File Stored in the CloudIf fancy journaling apps and blogging platforms turn you off, or you just want something a little easier to get your arms around, there's an easier option: Just write in your favorite text editor or word processor and keep the your journal entries onDropbox.
Dropbox is password protected, and there are clients for every OS and every mobile platform available, so you never have to be without your journal. If you keep your journal in a file format you can edit on any device, like a simple text file or rich text document, you can open it and update it on virtually anything, whenever the mood strikes. For ultimate privacy, go a step further and encrypt your journal 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.
Another benefit this method offers you is that you can use some great writing tools to keep your journal updated and to boost your creativity. For example, OmmWriter is available for Windows, Mac, and iPad, and has long been one of your favorite distraction-free writing tools. It's flexibility also extends to daily journaling, and while it's not designed specifically to be a diary, it does give you a great writing environment that's designed to help you relax, get your thoughts out, and be creative. The app even has audio tracks and custom keystroke sounds to help you focus, and you can save your files as text files in Dropbox. Whatever app you choose, this method may be the simplest, but it's probably the most flexible.