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We've probably all thought it was a good idea at one time or another. Taking a pile of words that have been strung together in some reasonable order, slapping them up on a geocities account, and letting anyone that has the mental capacity to point and click take a trip through. Some are in it for the glamour, some are in it for the hits. But there comes a time in every online writer's life where they must sit down and face a simple fact...

It just doesn't matter.

That's right! If you're writing a web journal, hoping and praying to get the big links, the big hits, it will cross your mind at least a few times that all you're really doing is taking a keyboard and masturbating your ego. It's at those times that you'll feel awkward and wonder just what the hell you've been doing spending all this time composing your personal thoughts. This is the fork in the road, kids. Time to choose.

Option One: You just don't care either. That's okay. Nobody is going to call you a loser for still wanting to do it (at least not to your face). There are plenty of personal rewards to writing a web journal. The personal gratification. Getting strange emails from strange people. Seeing just how far up you can get on a Google search. Good for you. Keep it up.

Option Two: It's over. Maybe you've pissed some people off and you just want them to leave you alone. Maybe taking the time to write the journal seems more like a chore than a habit. Maybe you felt like part of a community before the mindless twelve-year-old bloggers came along, spewing their verbal diarrhea all over the Internet. Or possibly you're just incredibly lazy, and can't bring yourself to throw some sentences together, drag out that FTP client, and stick it up there.

If you're choosing the latter...

It's time to Quit.

You've found the node for you. I can understand that, even with the best intentions, this can be a hard decision. I kept a web journal for three years, and have just crossed back over from the dark side of the Internet myself. I'm here to tell you that many others have given up their web journals and are living happy, productive lives. You can be one of those people, too! All you need to do is follow a few simple rules, and you'll be free as well!

Step One - Letting Go: It's better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all. No matter how much you love those little HTML-encrusted bits of yourself, it's now time to tell them to get lost. Looking at your site every day isn't going to make you feel any better. For some of us, this could be as simple as removing it as the startup page of your browser. For some others (like me) it could involve letting the Internet alone for a few days. But whatever you do, don't go back there for a while. It'll still be there. Trust me.

One must also give up reading journals. Because the basis for a majority of the online journaling movement is the trade of gossip, still being in the loop will only make you want to want to jump back in. Stay committed, and leave all those juicy tidbits alone. They're not good for you anyway.

Step Two - Dropping the Drama: Let's be honest with ourselves. Writing a web journal involves a whole bunch of melodrama. Who wants to read entries about what someone ate, or where they went? That's not why you started writing, was it? Of course not. You started writing because you were angry, or sad, or depressed, or whatever other emotion made you feel all bubbly and saucy inside. That's what made putting it on the Internet so damn fun in the first place! Well, welcome back to reality. What passes for intellectual currency in diaryland isn't going to hack it out here. You're going to have to put that back in the regular old journal sitting by the bed. If the thought that no one will ever read it makes you very sad, then why are you quitting in the first place?

Step Three - Filling the Gap: Writing a web journal take a lot of time. Time that is now empty and screaming for attention. It's very important that it is not spent thinking about all the wonderful things you could be saying in your web journal.

For people that can never seem to find enough time in the day, this is a small issue. But, if you’re like me, the ennui is a bit much to take. The best thing that I found to take care of both the time and the itch to write something is right here in front of you. Sure, there is a whole world of difference between those nasty web journals and Everything2, so be careful. Read around a little bit, do the university tour, and give it a shot. You can already write, you might as well put it to good use.

Step Four - Retaining the Commitment: You're well on your way to living a web journal free life. Unfortunately, the hardest part is yet to come. Because, much in the same way that people who quit smoking have cravings, you will as well. People have been known to go months, even years, between starting up again. This urge to pick up where you left off is very strong, but one that you too can overcome.

Make a list of the reasons that you chose to get out of the life, and imbed them in your head. Run through them when you feel yourself at your weakest. Seek out the support of friends and family who didn't understand why you were writing that silly journal in the first place. Be strong. Remember, nobody likes a quitter.

Congratuations, you're now Web Journal Free

Now get out there and do something useful with your life!

Another Way to Quit Your Web Journal

Even if you keep writing your web journal for whatever reason, as described in "option one" above, you'll still quit eventually. No, really, I'm serious. 100% Guaranteed. Bear with me.

In a fit of under-socialization, I thought maybe joining the ezboard goth community that several of my friends spend several hours a day on would be a good way to interact with some new people. Nevermind that I'm not a goth: I lack pretentiousness, I don't call myself "Lord"-anything, I don't even own much in the way of black clothing. I wanted to be social, and didn't want to get up off my lazy ass to do it.

So, I opened an account and started clicking around, paging through posts just like I used to do on the BBSs. Within an hour after starting, I felt like Lloyd Dobler after his encounter with the guys at the Gas'N'Sip: "That was a bad idea." I couldn't connect with any of the posts, let alone the people behind them. There were too many in jokes and references to events I wasn't around for. I tried looking at profiles, trying to get the history, even linking out to home pages to see what I could see, but all to no avail. Most members of this online community also kept LiveDramas, which held ream upon boring ream of everything that online journals are famous for. Goths, who knew? Then, rather suddenly it seemed, I ran into an "In Memoriam" page for someone who had, after years of cancer and chemotherapy, died. And on that page I saw a link to the deceased's online journal.

...Click.

As I read through her journal, I began to get uncomfortable. That nice looking girl with the magenta wig smiling out at me from the profile was past tense. I was reading a strange, extremely long epitaph she unknowingly wrote for herself. I can't explain how surreal (even creepy) it felt to read about somebody's daily life and times - their mudane thoughts and feeling spelled out in all their glorious plainess - viewed from the perspective of their being gone. She wrote her last entry about a month before she died, sounding upbeat despite her pain and fear.

A week later, I ran into this node. As I finished reading it, I thought of a girl with a magenta wig, and I knew "option one" would work just as well as "option two": no matter how much you write, eventually you'll have to stop because you'll be too busy pushing up bitwise daisies.

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