The Journal Newsletter
- Tips & Tricks
- Writing Prompts
- Article: Journaling as a Means to Personal Transformation
- Submission Information
This month Chuck Gallozzi of http://www.personal-development.com gives us an article describing how to use “Journaling as a Means to Personal Transformation.”
As always, there are new writing exercises from Susan Michael, and Tom Plunket has submitted a tip for using The Journal. So be sure to check those out, as well.
Thank you for supporting DavidRM Software’s The Journal!
TIP: Launching The Journal minimized
Submitted by Tom Plunket
Every morning when I come in to work I like to launch The Journal so that it’s easy for me to pop the window up and add to the day’s entry. However, when I first come in I don’t have anything to write, and if I defer opening The Journal, it often slips my mind all day.
Therefore, I have edited my The Journal shortcut to launch The Journal in minimized mode. In my setup that drops it right into the system tray.
Right-click on the shortcut, click properties, and change the Run field from “Normal” to “Minimized”.
by Susan Michael
Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style using “non-descript” as your title.
Poetry Exercise – Write a poem using the prompt: “chain-link fence”
Prose Exercise – Write two pages (~500 words) with the scenario of a character urgently needing to get in contact with a family member.
Journaling Exercise – Pretend you are dreaming. Write in detail about the dream you are having. You can use stream-of-consciousness, or plan it out. In this exercise you can have a lucid dream where you affect what is happening, or choose to have things happen without your control. ( It might help to first ask yourself what you want to dream about.)
About the author: Susan Michael has facilitated several writing groups, and has lead writing & creativity workshops for the Arts & Humanties Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Journaling as a Means to Personal Transformation
by Chuck Gallozzi
We are the authors or sculptors of our lives. To become the person we want to be, we need to reflect on our thoughts and actions and then make whatever changes we consider necessary. After all, our thoughts solidify into actions, each step of which helps to shape our lives. Rather than merely REFLECTING on our thoughts and actions, WRITING THEM DOWN will greatly enhance our transformation. The difference between reflecting on our thoughts and writing them down is like the difference between sculpting with a mallet and a sledgehammer. It’s a difference of power. Reflection is a mallet. Writing is a sledgehammer.
Thoughts are frail. Like cherry blossoms blown about by the wind, our thoughts scatter in every direction. That’s why mere reflection lacks power. But writing down our thoughts forces us to focus on the issues, and reading them helps us to stick to the subject. If you wanted to burn a newspaper, you wouldn’t try to do so by putting it out in the sun, would you? Even if you left it there for 50 years, the worst that would happen is the pages would turn yellow. Yet, if you were to use a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun, you could set the newspaper ablaze in minutes. Writing is the magnifying glass that sets our thoughts on fire.
Keeping a journal and meditating are similar in four respects. First, both can substantially improve our lives. Second, nearly everyone has a vague notion of what it is to meditate or keep a journal. Third, few people understand the specific steps involved in either activity. In other words, they don’t know exactly what to do. Fourth, there are hundreds of methods for engaging in either practice.
To simplify, I will describe ONE method. It’s the technique I use. But first, what is the purpose of scaling mountains? According to mountaineers, it is because they are there. And what is the purpose of writing? According to US novelist Thomas Louis Berger, it is “because it isn’t there.” That’s why I keep a journal. Because it isn’t there. What isn’t there? My evolved self. That is, a new and better me. I am better today than I was yesterday and I want to be better tomorrow than I am today. That’s why I keep a journal. I do it to experience continuous growth.
Any good teacher or supervisor knows that if you want someone to change their behaviour, you start with sincere praise to let them know they have value and are appreciated. Next, you explain that they can become even better by doing whatever it is you are about to suggest. If this is the way I treat others, shouldn’t I treat myself in the same way?
So, the first thing I do when making a journal entry every evening is answer the question, “What have I done right today?” By reviewing my accomplishments, it encourages me to stay on course and do even better in the future. Now that I am motivated to do better, I go on to the second step by asking myself, “What have I done today that I could have done better?” Here’s where opportunity lies. I look for ways that I can improve by learning from my mistakes. Thankfully, I never run out of opportunities for self-improvement.
Each of the steps I take in my entry grows more important than the step before it. In step three, I ask myself, “What actions can I take to seize the opportunities for self-growth that I have found?” After listing action that I can take, I move on to the fourth step, which is to fit the action steps into my daily schedule. Depending on how busy I am, I begin to incorporate them into my life, if not on the next day, within a few days.
Although any changes I make for the better are commendable, they are not of much value unless they become permanent, or habitual. That’s why step five is the most important. This is the step where I monitor my progress and make sure I stay on track. I keep a watchful eye on my improved behaviour, making sure I repeat it for 30 days, so it will become a habit. Once it does so, I am free to forget about it and move on to new areas of improvement. Step five also blends into step one, for when I look at what I am doing right, I am actually monitoring my progress. So, the five steps form a cycle of never-ending improvement. I find the steps easy to follow and never spend more than 30 minutes to carry them out.
There is something else I do. Often, as I work in my journal I will have a flash of insight or good idea, or just think of something I may want to consider in the future. Although none of these thoughts may be directly related to my self-improvement regimen, they are worthwhile. So, I immediately add these flashes of inspiration to another journal, which serves as a repository of good ideas. Keeping multiple journals (categories) and instantly flipping between them is a simple matter when working with a good software program, such as David Michael’s THE JOURNAL. Once a week, I spend ten or fifteen minutes browsing through my repository of good ideas to see which ones I am ready to act on.
Keeping a journal will steer, focus, and use your thoughts to take you where you want to go. It will accelerate your growth and help in achieving your goals. It puts you in charge of your thoughts, and, therefore, in charge of your life. Once you get into the habit of keeping a journal, you will come to believe that living without one is like being a farmer who refuses to water his crops!
If you would like to contribute to the “How I Use The Journal”, “Writing Exercises”, or “Tips & Tricks” sections, or would like to submit an article about journaling, writing, or another The Journal-related topic, we would love to hear from you.
Submissions for the newsletter should be sent to: [email protected]
If you are submitting for a particular section, please indicate which one. Try to limit your submissions to 500-1000 words. Submissions may be edited for length and content.
If you prefer to remain anonymous, please state this in the email. Otherwise your name (but not your email) will be used in the article heading.
As always, if you have any suggestions for, or bug reports about, The Journal, please feel free to email them. Both are always welcome.