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Juicy Journals & Wild Words
Juicy Journals & Wild Words : Journaling Online

Juicy Journals & Wild Words

Tips to Journaling Online

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers

I just started my own blog a few months ago to promote my writing and artwork. So far, it's been interesting. I find that my voice online is much different than the raw wild voice in my own journals, and with good reason. While no one may ever read my handwritten journals kept in stacks all over the house, anyone, anytime could read my blog. Family members, future employers, business associates, even my husband. So I wanted to touch on some issues specific to keeping a blog, or online journal, today.

I went to blogger.com to set up a free blog. There are many other sites that will let you do the same. Use Google to help you find some choices. Shop around a little, explore, and find a setup you are comfortable with. I've found this site to be very user friendly and easy to manage. The site itself is a cinch to navigate, and I had my own blog set up in about 10 minutes. If you'd like to check it out, visit me online at stealingplums.blogspot.com.

I was originally inspired to do this by my editor, our own Chris Dunmire of Creativity Portal. Always looking out for her writers, she had a few pointers to share:

"One of the first things you'll need to do when you set up a blog through Blogger is choose a Web address, and I'd recommend you establish something that sounds professional, like your name.

"On a professional blog, keep it professional. Include links to your articles on the Creativity Portal, photos of your artwork, and other work samples. If you choose to post occasionally to inspire your audience, do so, but remember to keep your personal life (especially very personal details about your relationships, jobs, etc.) off the blog.

"Some people choose to have a photo of themselves on their blogs, but it's not mandatory or necessary if you have reservations about having your picture online. Remember, everything you post on the Internet can be found by anyone, present or future, that may become part of your life — including prospective employers. A quick search through Google will give anyone wanting to know your online activity associated with your name lots to look at. Think of your blog as an online portfolio and Web site that represents you."

Thanks for the great advice, Chris!

If you choose not to put a photo of yourself online — and there are many good reasons for protecting yourself in this way — you can scan pictures of your artwork, add photos of inspiring places, or use clip art, different colors, and fun fonts to wake your blog up visually.

But what of the problem of voice? You have to be careful what you say and post on the Internet — as Paris Hilton recently discovered, your actions and words can come back to haunt you if you are too revealing. Is it possible to maintain one's unique voice in the buzzing hive of the world-wide web? I contend that it is… and I know that it's a tricky proposition.

This is an excerpt from a journal entry I recently wrote: "You want me to help you find your true voice? Write like you are telling a story to your best girlfriend over a drink…" That advice is all well and good if you're writing in a notebook that no one will ever see — for, as men fear, we tell our girlfriends everything — but you wouldn't necessarily want to tell your girlfriend the same stories you would tell your future boss. In writing how-to books, we are often called upon to imagine the ideal reader, and write for her. On the Internet, you would be wiser to imagine your old auntie or your new boss reading your blog — and edit accordingly before you post. This can also help you to decide whether or not to post those fabulous pictures from your bachelorette party online. (My advice would be to leave them in the photo album.)

That being said, you don't have to sacrifice your unique style or voice to create a blog. Sadly, many do just that, leaving them with a blog that reads more like a resume. In fact, it can be an ideal way to share your poetry, stories, and scribblings with a wider audience, and even garner professional interest in your work. While it may not be advisable to share the most raw and personal details about the fight you had with your hubby last night, you could write a poem about rage and disappointment — without mentioning any names — and post it online, with little fear of reprisal.

Another journal excerpt: "You ask me what my voice sounds like, and I answer… a raw scream ripped from a wildcat's throat at midnight, a rusted and broken smoky squawk, like a raven's call. I put on a mask every day, I never say what I mean. Often when I am speaking, I feel that the voice I am hearing is not my own; the words I utter are sweet lies… I only tell my real truth to the page." If you are creating a blog, I would suggest that you become comfortable with sweet lies, half-truths, and masks. It does not do well to expose yourself too fully to the world online — that's the kind of thing that can come back and bite you later, in a very sensitive spot.

It is true — I only tell my real truth to the page. It will be preserved in my illegible scribble for generations to come in the raw, uncut version in my journals. The truth is there, for any who can decipher it… but to put it all online? I don't think so. You can be damned sure that I edit that page of bone-hard truths before I post it on my blog. Recently, several members of the police force right here in Durango were fired for posting inappropriate content, including details of an arrest which should have been kept confidential, on their MySpace webpages. The truth did not set these officers free — it got them canned. If you think the virtual world can't affect the "real" world, think again.

It's a fine line we walk on that sticky spider's web. While the Internet has given us many gifts, it can also be a dangerous place to tell the truth. Some words on truth, taken from a journal excerpt: "I learned a long time ago that the truth is something best confined to the page… the truth, if told in the wrong way or to the wrong person, at the wrong time or the right time or anytime — causes a lot of trouble. Rather than setting you free, it has actually trapped and punished me, or hurt me, when I boldly dared to speak aloud and tell the truths that can cut you." I would beg you to keep this in mind when you create an online journal or blog. If you want to tell the hard truths that cut to the bone, by all means, rage away on the page. This is the life-blood, the crimson elixir — the stuff from which all good writing is made. Keep it safe, there between the covers of your be scribbled notebook… and think twice before you post it online. •

© Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »

4/25/08