Dear Queer Diary: It’s Take Your Journal To Cyberspace Day

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px

Header by Rory Midhani

I have been known to scour flea markets for antique postcards, I don’t own a television, and I am proud to announce to the world that I possess at least three colors of sealing wax. All things considered, I think it would be fair to say that I am an old-fashioned kind of gal.

And yet, the fact that you are reading this on the interwebs suggests that I am not exactly a Luddite. (Luddite, incidentally, is one of my favorite terms, recalling as it does the memories of my high school advanced placement European history class, in which we memorably used paper puppets to act out the events surrounding the end of the Hapsburg dynasty). Indeed, my dear queer diariests, I believe that the world of technology is almost as glorious and seductive as my girlfriend’s pheromones—which is saying something.

Love letters sealed with wax are a great way of telling someone you appreciate their pheromones. Via PaperMonkeyPress

Love letters sealed with wax are a great way of telling someone you appreciate their pheromones
(via PaperMonkeyPress)

In the last three years alone, I have purchased an iPhone, created and maintained a somewhat infrequently updated Twitter account, and, most recently, experimented with taking my love of journals online. Since Sunday, September 22, 2013, I have faithfully recorded the events of (almost!) every day on what has to be one of the least high tech of high-tech journaling services, an almost-three-year-old website called 280Daily.

The concept is extremely simple. Every day, I get 280 characters—essentially, two tweets—to sum up the events of the past twenty-four hours. The site saves my entries, which are accessible only via my login, and I can look back on them later, search them for particular words or phrases, and feel accomplished at having written a miniature diary entry (almost) every day for the past 75 days.

All the events of your day, in a box, to the left. Via 280Daily

All the events of your day, in a box, to the left (via I was really dying to know that I had used the word “the” 98 times (via 280Daily)

One of the main reasons I started using 280Daily was that it was free, but now that I’ve proved to myself that online journaling has merit, I am starting to consider shelling out a few of my hard-earned dollars to invest in additional services. While the upgraded version of the site I am already using doesn’t seem to have any particularly thrilling features I can’t live without, other options beckon from the shiny faux-metal world of the app store.

My reasonably superficial research indicates that there are about a bajillion different diary apps out there in the world, but only a few of them seem exciting enough to justify putting down my ballpoint pen and lined-paper notebook. A long, long time ago, on an Autostraddle far, far away (and not yet beautifully redesigned!), Ali wrote about Day One, whose pretty screenshots have me drooling on my keyboard. While the simplicity of my 280Daily experience has been nice, I am definitely into the idea of fonts and formatting and a smoother mobile experience—and this seems like the one to beat.

If I started using Day One, would my life suddenly be filled with sunlight and glamorous-looking bananas? Via AppSafari

If I started using Day One, would my life suddenly be filled with sunlight and glamorous-looking bananas?
(via AppSafari)

The other journaling app most likely to get me to fork over the moola might be the intriguingly social-media-integrated Momento, which automatically syncs with Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, etc. in order to create a complete narrative of your life on the web. The dedicated journaler in me balks at the “passive” qualities of Momento, by which the app automatically compiles the social media aspects of your journal; however, my desire to exhaustively document is thrilled by the way my painstakingly filtered Instagram photos and occasionally clever tweets might effortless coexist with the other events of my day in a digital format.

Never fear, my dear queer diarists! Even the most miraculous of high-tech journaling experiences will never succeed in getting me to give up my pens and pencils (and sealing wax)! However, I am full of curiosity about your experiences with these journaling media and/or any others. Do you type your daily reflections and synch them to the mysterious cloud? Tap them into your Android while you’re on the subway? Photograph your special Evernote Moleskine notebook pages in order to save them forever and ever? Tell me everything in the comments!

Dear Queer Diary, is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We’ll be cracking open our tiny notebooks and breaking out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

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Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.


  1. Ooh this is really cool! I love journaling, but I find that I’ll go a while without writing anything because I think I don’t have the time for it; I associate writing in my journal with a long, introspective essay about my day. As hesitant as I am about journaling online, I might have to give this a try…it’d be a good way to get me back into the groove of writing.

  2. Love this! I already tweet more than any one person probably should (I believe I just sailed past 24,000 today) but am looking into some sort of short-form digital chronicle for my next short-lived new year project.

  3. I was intrigued by the sound of the Day One app, but when I clicked on the link it didn’t work. I’m not even upset, though, because OMG AUTOSTRADDLE’S 404 PAGE.

    I don’t know how to HTML or I would add screenshots.

    Just…go click the Day One link, guys.

      • The Day One link worked for me but I really wanted to see the 404 page so I clicked all the links I could find… and hit gold with the link under the header image. All I can say is YES.

    • Ooh, yeah I did 750 words for a brief period of time, and always mean to get into it again. I’m in grad school and found that free-writing was really useful for motivating me to actually. write. something. anything.

    • (Belatedly…)

      I do this every morning (in addition to my creative writing and my online journal), but I stopped using the website because I started doing it just for the badges, not for the actual writing, so I switched to OmmWriter in the privacy of my own computer.

  4. So, this is cool. I used livejournal back in the day, and I was reading my stuff from way back when and realized that woah, it’s really useful to journal but I ONLY JOURNAL WHEN OTHER PEOPLE (mainly people who are not involved in day to day interactions) READ MY SHIT. I really can’t get myself to write stuff down without knowing someone else is reading it. But maybe doing something online will help?

    • I have the same issue–and just came across my old livejournal the other day. For me, the idea of writing for an audience (hopefully of people that I don’t know) gives my writing merit. I struggle to write thoughtfully when I know the words will not be read by anyone but myself. I’m not sure why this is-and it is a habit I would love to break. Glad to know I’m not alone!

  5. I’m 24; I’ve journaled via hand since I was 9, and took to online journaling when I was 13 because I typed faster than I wrote. I really wanted a LiveJournal, but that was when you had to pay for an account. So I jumped around from blurty to ujournal to insanejournal, etc., until LiveJournal finally started opening free accounts. I’ve had a LiveJournal since March 2004 and haven’t looked back. I’ve written 1,702 journal entries, received 5,742 comments, and posted 27,829 comments.

    Unfortunately, LiveJournal has declined in popularity in recent years because of transfer of ownership and the new owners not listening to the users and what they wanted, introducing ads, frequent downtime, and the introduction of twitter and tumblr. It’s pretty much a ghost town now. A lot of the friends I made on there have jumped ship basically, and communities are dropping in activity. This includes my own LJ because of grad school taking over my life. Maybe I’ll pick it back up again when grad school’s over. But I don’t plan on ever deleting my LJ :).

    Also you can get a twournal”> made.

    • I cut my baby blogging teeth on LJ. But now it’s Dreamwidth all the way. (Well tbh now it’s Autostraddle, which is the reason my DW hasn’t been updated in months, but I still love the site nonetheless.)

    • So, I know this is way late and you might never see it, but: wanna be LJ friends? I love my LJ and I still update it very regularly. (My contact info is in my profile…)

  6. LiveJournal 4 lyfe. I used to actually blog about my day, took a break because “my life is boring” aka I stopped putting down every small detail of my day but still visited for the communities, and recently I started using it again as more of a to-do list (which I guess reflects what’s happening?)

  7. Well I am the one who submitted their tablet and digital pen as their digital journal so I am already there; but, not sure if it counts as you are talking about online journals and such.

  8. Evernote Moleskine- yup! I have to keep a reflective log for my MA, which in honesty is probably the most personal thing I have written since I was 14 and my star trek captains log journal/diary was filled with pages of “I really like Laura, just as a friend though…I’m not gay or anything” hmmmm.
    I like that I can add stuff to Evernote. Photos or extra notes from my phone/computer and it functions well for my uni work in that way, plus the mokeskine doubles up as my sketchbook so it’s great for coalescing everything into a whole. The software feels far from perfect though, or maybe I haven’t used it enough to get used to it. I tend to write and snap and save bits but find ordering it into useful groups less easy. Need to get the tag thing worked out. Having a paper version was paramount to me, so aside from bugs that makes it worth it.
    P.S. My old sketchbooks were all sealed with wax…hooray for the old ways.

  9. I just signed up for 280Daily. Normally I don’t do online jouraling, but I like the idea of 280 characters to sum up the day. Then I can elaborate in my paper-and-pen journal. :D

    • That is precisely the reason that I am intrigued by this option. I’m going to try it for a while and see what I think.

  10. I actually first started using tumblr as a journal, just because it was really easy to set up. But then things got more social and I started biting my tongue more because people could see my words, so now it’s just a text file that I don’t share. Which is hard, because I find it easier to write when I know there’s an audience, but I’ve been slowly getting used to it. In a way, it’s easier – I only have to write the important parts and never have to go out of my way to explain anything that someone who isn’t me wouldn’t understand, so I can really just go straight to dumping all the feelings out.

    • More clearly – my *journal* is a text file on my hard drive, not my tumblr. My tumblr doesn’t exist anymore.

  11. So is there anything out there these days that has the kind of gradations of privacy that Livejournal has and has a growing community? Writing semi-publicly is pretty satisfying to me in ways private apps and archives don’t match. Tumblr and Twitter are too binary with only the single public/private distinction; WordPress’s protected posts seem too flimsy. Facebook technically has quite an array of privacy features (it’s like they’ve been reconstructing LJ’s features over time) but I just don’t trust it.

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