The Journal Newsletter – January 2001

The Journal Newsletter

January 2001
Volume 2 Issue 1


Happy New Year!

The pre-Christmas newsletter fell victim to the holidays and the extreme winter weather of the past couple weeks.

To start off 2001 we have a new “How I Use The Journal” feature from Allen Johnson, describing how he organizes his novel-in-development, as well as new Tips & Tricks and Writing Exercises.

Thank you for supporting DavidRM Software’s The Journal!

Tips & Tricks

TIP: Making a category “inactive”.

Categories provide a powerful tool for organizing entries in The Journal. But each category created shows a “tab” (or “heading”), and after creating a number of categories, you may find that you’ve now a lot of tabs to pick through. Or maybe a particular category is no longer as important or urgent as it once was. You want to keep all the entries, but you want to “clean up” your selection of visible categories.

It is possible to make a category “inactive”. An inactive category is still available, but it does not display a tab.

To make a category inactive:

  1. Right-click the category tabs and choose “Category Properties…”
  2. Select the category from the list.
  3. Un-check the “Category Active” option.
  4. Click “Done”.

The category that was just made inactive will no longer show a tab.

To return a category to active status:

  1. Right-click the category tabs and choose “Category Properties…”
  2. Select the inactive category from the list (inactive categories are displayed in italics).
  3. Check “Category Active”.
  4. Click “Done”.

Writing Prompts

by Susan Michael

Writing Exercise: Poetry – This exercise can be done by listing, or by prose writing.

Study the motion of an object of nature or a machine. Make notes of your observations. At first use only objective description. Then write down your subjective observations. After making your notes, trim phrases down to words.

Consider writing haiku, or haiku-like poems, about your subject. A haiku style poem tries to capture an instant objectively, like a photograph. Good haiku will convey the emotion experienced without using metaphor.

Writing Exercise: Free Writing – Use the following line as inspiration. Write for at least 20 minutes without editing.

Tracing the outline of her face from a photograph…About the author: Susan Michael calls herself the “Poetry Enabler” and is active in spoken word poetry. She has facilitated several writing groups, and lead writing & creativity workshops for the Arts & Humanties Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

How I Use The Journal

Editor’s Note: The Journal is used by people from all over the world, from many nations, representing a variety of personal, professional, and religious backgrounds. Journaling is by definition an intensely personal undertaking, so it should not be surprising that when someone writes about how or why they keep a journal that they will end up sharing personal information. The Journal Newsletter does not support any particular personal or religious lifestyle, but rather attempts to support anyone who keeps a journal, for whatever reason they do so. Thus, the views and opinions expressed in “How I Use The Journal” are solely those of the submitter and not necessarily the views of DavidRM Software. Whether you agree with the submitter’s views or not, I encourage you to read the article and glean from it the information and techniques that “ring true” for you.

by Allen Johnson

One of my hobbies is writing. I’ve have yet to finish my first novel, so I don’t think I can really consider myself a writer. But I enjoy writing immensely.

I have found that as I write, I come up with more ideas for stories. I will often start these other stories and write a few pages on them just for fun. I can’t do too much with these new stories because they usually lack a plot. Mostly they are based on “what if” and other situtations I think would be fun to write a story around.

In the past, each one of these story ideas became a new Word document. Though I only started writing about 2 years ago, I already have about 150 of these little story ideas. I ended up with so many because when I would work on a story, I would often not like the direction the story was heading. So I would start over with a different twist on the story line to see if I could get it to work that way.

I came across The Journal about 3 months ago. Tried it out for a couple weeks. Liked how it was designed. And then started trying to organize my notes and ideas into it.

I created category called “Story Ideas.” The category is password protected because you should never let anyone read your book until it is done. Besides I don’t want to know how bad it is. Let me just live with my delusion that I’m quite creative, and have several great ideas for books.

I like to write Science Fiction, so my Entries in this category are related to the different types of stories I’m trying to write. Such as:

  • Harsh
    • Meaning stories that involve a harsh future.
  • Just For Fun
    • Meaning Stories that are not serious, sort of easy going, with an interesting situation or twist.

Then under those entries I have an entry for each actual story or group of stories, if they are similar. When they existed as Word documents in DOS folders, I had to shorten these titles to hide what they were. Now that they are in The Journal I no longer have to worry about others seeing my ideas and asking what they are about. Also with the shorter names, I had trouble remembering what they were all about.

Then under each of those story entries I will put a short description and notes about my work on that story, such as what needs to be done.

Next under each of those I create the Basic entries:

  • Plot
    • Synopsis
    • Back story
    • Characters
    • Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2

And then I add more entries as I need them:

    • Story Elements
    • Old Versions
    • Draft 1
    • Draft 2
    • Retired Pages

So far I have only pulled about 35 of my stories into The Journal. It’s slow because I’m trying to organize them as I do so.

At first, though I thought The Journal was great for story ideas, I was hesitant to pull my main book project into it. I thought it would be best to keep it in Word. Word is nicer in some respects but I was having trouble managing the project of writing the book. It has become quite a large project. I’m on the 5th draft/rewrite, with several of the chapters still in prior drafts. But I finally decided to copy it in The Journal.

For my main novel, I have made it a category by itself.

  • 000_To Do
  • 00_Change History
  • 00_Contents
  • 00_Notes
  • Back story
  • Chapters
    • Ch01-Status Quo
    • Ch02-Something
    • Ch03…
  • Characters
  • Synopsis
  • Draft4
    • Ch01-Status Quo
    • Ch02-Something
    • Ch03…

000_To Do
The To Do list entry is named that way so it is on top. So when I open it for the first time, I instantly see my To Do list, That way I know where I left off last time. This is the main reason I have made the book a category by it’s self.

00_Change History
I like to keep track of my efforts. I do a Ctrl+D to do a Date Stamp and then do a sentence or two about my efforts that day. I should almost do this as a journal category. But I like to see what I’ve been doing on it at a glance.

I used to keep each chapter as a separate Word document. While you can open several documents in Word at one time, it isn’t easy to keep track of the book as a whole. I once read about an author that would spread her whole book out on the floor so she could see it as she worked on it. I wish I could do that. But my home isn’t that big, and my wife would be upset, to say the least. With the tree structure I’ve set up in The Journal I can quickly jump between chapters and my notes as I work on the novel.

My time for working on this novel is fragmented, since I have a profession and a family. Often when I would sit down to work on my book, I would only have a few minutes, and then I couldn’t remember what I was working on the last time. With this structured approach, I instantly see my To Do list when I open it. I then quickly check on what I’ve been doing the last few times, and check my notes.

With my book organized in this fashion. I can actually make progress each time I sit down to work on it. Instead of asking myself “Where did I leave off, and what can I possible get done on it in half an hour?” I’m once again feeling like I will get this book done.

Allen Johnson

Submission Information

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:

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.


Editor: David Michael (
The Journal Newsletter Copyright © 2015 by David Michael.
Updated: June 13, 2015 — 8:27 pm