The Journal Newsletter
Spring is here in full flower…which for those of us with allergies can be something of a challenge…but Susan persevered to provide us with a new set of writing exercises.
Chuck Gallozzi of http://www.personal-development.com gives us another article this month, describing how “Journaling both Informs Us and Forms Us.”
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TIP: Drafting Documents in The Journal
When creating a letter, article, story, or other kind of document that requires editing, I use the following steps:
- First I create the entry with the name of the document (e.g., “Drafting Documents in The Journal”).
- Under this entry, I create my first draft entry: “Draft 1”. If this is for an article where I’m doing research, I’ll also create a “Notes” entry and/or “Research” entry.
- In “Draft 1” I create my initial draft of the document, doing as little editing as possible.
- When I think I have a sufficient first draft, I use Entry | Edit Entry (F4) to make “Draft 1” read-only. Then I create a new entry “Draft 2”, and copy-and-paste the text from “Draft 1” into “Draft 2.”
- When editing “Draft 2,” I’m almost certain to be cutting largish blocks of text. Because I can’t stand losing *anything* I’ve written, and because I might need that block of text later, I create a “Clippings” entry under the main document entry. I cut-and-paste the block of text from the draft and into “Clippings.”
- As I complete a draft, I repeat steps 4 & 5, creating new draft documents as necessary (and always making old drafts read-only) until I reach what seems to be a final draft.
You’ll notice that the main document entry is primarily used only as a “folder” to contain all of the drafts, notes, and clippings for the document. Since, to me the “final draft” of any document is less an end result and more a “snapshot” of the document at that point in its evolution, having access to all the ancillary information is very important.
Sometimes it’s necessary (for whatever reason) to transfer the document to MS Word. Most often for me this is to get access to more sophisticated printing options. In these cases, I just copy-and-paste the final draft into MS Word and do the printing.
Another option, though, is to create the final draft as “external object” in The Journal and actually store an MS Word document as an entry. This is based on the Entry | Create New Entry | External Object menu command. I’ll describe this in detail in next month’s “Tips & Tricks” section of The Journal Newsletter.
by Susan Michael
Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes (without editing) in any style:
- about a character named “Vegas”
- using “everyday object” as your title
Poetry Exercise – Take an existing poem, either one of your own or a favored/unfavored poet (your choice), and make two copies of the poem. For the first copy; cut the poem into strips of single lines. Examine (critique) each line for its own strength or weakness. Ask yourself if the line actually says something deliberate or if it is just filler. Identify those lines that have substance. Play with the placement of each line, switch them around. Make a pile of the weak lines and a pile of the strong lines. Toss the weak ones. For the second copy, cut the poem into single words, evaluate each word on it’s own. Eliminate any words that are not provocative or meaningful. Take each word and write a new single line on a strip of paper. After you have a new line for each word, play around with arranging them together.
Prose Exercise – Write using the adage, “these things happen in threes.”
Journaling Exercise – Who do you spend the most time talking to? Clients, customers, friends, spouse, telephone solicitors, television, parents? Make a list of who you actually talk to during the day and estimate the amount of time invested in each individual. Does the list reveal your priorities? Is it proportional to what is important to you? Continue the exercise by making note of what you talk about in your daily conversations.
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 Both Informs Us and Forms Us
by Chuck Gallozzi
In an earlier article (The Journal Newsletter March 2002), I explained how journaling could be a powerful tool for change. I also revealed how I keep a journal. Today, I wish to describe other methods of doing so. Perhaps one of the techniques I’m about to describe will whet your appetite and convince you to give it a try. I encourage you to do so, for once you enter the world of journaling, you will make many pleasant discoveries. You will learn through experience that journaling both informs us and forms us.
The greatest discovery of all is self-discovery. Journaling will introduce you to your best friend, your strongest ally, and your greatest accomplishment: YOURSELF.
1. Conventional journaling. This is the method that usually comes to mind when we discuss diaries or journals. It’s simply a record of the events in our lives. There is no need to go into the minute details of our daily activities, though. Instead, merely record vignettes and snippets of your actions and feelings. Why do so? Because they will become a source of pleasure and learning.
Don’t photo albums provide pleasure and jog the memory? Yet, all they do is record our physical environment. Our written journal, however, records our interior life. Since it is a record that is more significant than mere physical change, it will provide even greater pleasure than a photo album. You are not a being of this instant; you are a process. Your life unfolds over many years. Your journal can become a panoramic ‘photograph’ of the stream of events and emotions that flow through your life. It provides the big picture and paints a portrait of the complete you.
Our journal is also a source of learning. Its pages remind us that what we once thought was unbearable was in fact manageable. It’s a reminder that any pain or suffering that we experience will pass. It’s a record of how we coped. We can refer to our past to learn from our successes and failures.
2. Lists. Some people find it helpful to keep a list of their accomplishments. If you stop and think about it, you will realize that you do things you are proud of every day. The problem is many of us don’t stop and think about it. Instead of filling our hearts with joy, we fill our minds with negativity by focusing on what went ‘wrong.’
Keeping a list of our achievements and adding to it every day puts our attention where it belongs, on the positive. Focusing on our many attainments builds confidence and motivates us to do even more. And when we do this regularly, we will grow to realize that nothing goes ‘wrong,’ it just goes differently. And that provides us with the opportunity to develop our coping skills.
Another way of focusing on the positive is to keep a gratitude list. Each day you record what you are grateful for. This is a good practice because a grateful heart is a happy heart. Rather than complain about what we don’t have, we can choose to be grateful for our blessings and for the suffering we have avoided.
3. Cathartic writing. When we are in pain, we wish to speak to others about it. Having a shoulder to cry on provides some relief. Yet, there are times when we don’t want to burden others with our problems. Or perhaps we are not ready to confide in them because of shame or guilt. At such times, one may receive relief by writing about it. It is best to do so in great detail, exploring every emotion. Doing so helps to separate oneself from the pain. It is almost like writing about someone else.
Cathartic writing, then, is psychotherapeutic. It helps to purge the soul of pain and can be of help when suffering from grief or depression. This type of journaling, however, works best with professional counseling. Keeping a journal while attending a support group is more powerful than just keeping a journal or just attending a support group.
4. Dialogue. Wouldn’t it help to have a wise person always at your side, so you could turn to him or her for advice whenever something was troubling you? Sadly, many are unaware of the help that is available. Perhaps it is because if they look around they won’t see anyone at their side. That’s because the words of wisdom they seek are not by their side, but INSIDE.
It’s called by many names, including Inner Wisdom, Inner Self, or Higher Self. We can harness its power by entering into a dialogue with it. So, if you feel the need for guidance, describe your problem and write your questions. Then be still and allow your Inner Voice to speak to you. Write the answer you get. The answer may lead to another question, which in turn leads to another answer. Just continue the dialogue, back and forth, until everything becomes clear to you. This is a powerful technique that is worth exploring.
5. Intuitive journaling. When it comes to communicating with our Inner Wisdom, some of us are more gifted than others. If you are new to journaling and find it difficult to access your Inner Guide, you can benefit from using this method. But first, a little background information. If you were debating whether to take that job in a distant city, or to break off that 1 1/2-year relationship that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, the answer you seek lies within.
Your subconscious is a database of trillions of bits of information. It can instantly combine and string them together to answer any question troubling you. The problem is most of us don’t know how to access our subconscious. Try as we may, we cannot retrieve the answers we look for. It all, however, becomes easy when we use an intermediary between our conscious and subconscious minds.
One such go-between is the Chinese Book of Changes. You will find no better version than R.L. Wing’s The I Ching Workbook. No, I’m not referring to fortune-telling. I’m not speaking about myths, magic, or madness, but of meaningful dialogue with your own subconscious. You see, any reading you receive from the I Ching can be interpreted in many ways. But when you are seeking an answer, your subconscious will automatically interpret it in a manner that answers your question. Try it and see for yourself. Recording the results of your I Ching sessions is a form of intuitive journaling.
By now we have learned that the pen is mightier than the sword. It is also a lot easier to write with! So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started by writing about something worth doing or doing something worth writing about.
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.
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