The Journal Newsletter – December 2001

The Journal Newsletter

December 2001
Volume 2 Issue 12


Welcome to The Journal Newsletter!

The Journal 3 has finally been released! A complete re-design of The Journal, written from scratch, The Journal 3 incorporates over 5 years of user feedback and suggestions to make The Journal better than ever.

Michael Ham gives us another article about journaling, this time a “New Baby Journal” for parents. As my wife, Susan, and I are expecting our second baby to arrive in the next week or so, the article seemed appropriate.

Veronica Armstrong tells us how she uses The Journal, and the quite pregnant Susan Michael has provided some more writing and journal exercises. And don’t forget to check out this month’s tips for using The Journal.

Thank you for supporting DavidRM Software’s The Journal!

PS This newsletter is going out at this “odd” hour because as soon as it is sent out, my wife and I are headed to the hospital. Susan only finished the writing exercises an hour or so ago, and then…well…things started happening. We’ll know more about the New Baby Situation by tomorrow. In case I don’t get another chance this week, I’m sending out the newsletter now. -DavidRM December 05, 2001 1:08 am

Tips & Tricks

TIP: Positioning loose-leaf entries in the “entry tree”
Submitted by Allen Johnson

I found a way to move an entry to exactly where I want it without clicking on “Move Entry Up” 50 times or more.

Simply drag the entry you want to move (Entry A) to the entry you want it to fall after (Entry B). Then drop Entry A so it is now under Entry B. Then when you promote Entry A (Entry menu, “Promote Entry”), it will be in the tree right after Entry B.

TIP: Using “drag & drop” to move entries between categories

Back in the June 2001, I discussed using The Journal’s export and import features to copy entries from one category to another. This is much easier to accomplish in The Journal 3.

Say you have a “tree” of entries in a loose-leaf category that you want to move to another loose-leaf category. To move the entries:

  1. Click on the first entry you want to move. Any sub-entries of this entry will be “picked up” automatically.
  2. Drag the entry (don’t lift up on the mouse button!) to the category tab where you want to move it. The category will come up under your mouse.
  3. Now the drag the entry to the category’s tree.
  4. Choose where you want the entry to be and “drop” it by releasing the mouse button.

The entries will be moved from the original category to the new one. If, instead, you want to *copy* the entries from the old category, hold down the CTRL key when you drop the entries.

Some tips: When you are dragging over the category, don’t be in a hurry. Pause and let the category tab you’re interested in pop up.

Also, don’t drag the entries across the tabs. You’ll end up bringing up most of the categories along your path. That can be rather startling. Instead, once you have the category you want showing, move down and drag across the entry area.

Finally, you can drag from one loose-leaf category to another, or from one standard (daily) category to another. You cannot (currently) drag entries from a category of one type into a category of another type.

Writing Prompts

by Susan Michael

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes in any style using “Flowers for Ann” as the title.

Poetry Exercise – Write a series of questions and answers to compose a poem.

Prose Exercise – Writing the known and the unknown. Close your eyes, let a landscape appear. Allow yourself to view the landscape, taking note of texture and mood. Next, pretend that you have a rose petal in your hand. Feel it between your fingers and give it color and scent. Allow yourself time to make it a realistic experience. Now go back to creating your landscape, again focusing on details and texture. Continue writing about your landscape.

Journaling Exercise – Creating lists can be a provocative way of assessing your creative internal thoughts and can spur insightful contemplation. When writing your lists, write what comes to mind, even if you feel it is a bit odd. List 15 things that change. List 15 things that do not change. (Hint don’t stop at ten, challenge yourself; go on to 15.) Continue by using your lists for journal entry subjects, fiction or non-fiction writing.

About the author: Susan Michael has facilitated several writing groups, and has 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 Veronica Armstrong

I am a writer, and presently I am working on my life and what has been important to me throughout. I use three different templates in the daily journal. I choose each one according to my mood and the amount of time I have to write that day.

Daily Journal
Exercise =
Today’s Weather
I’m Reading
This made me happy:
This made me mad:
I accomplished
I enjoyed remembering
I am planning
I am grateful for . . ..
In the News Today . . .
(Here I put snippets of news that I get everyday from CNN and Yahoo.)

Then I have a Mini Journal for when I am short on time

Mini Journal
Exercise =
I accomplished . .. .
I am grateful for . . .
In the News Today . . .

If I haven’t written in a few days, then I just do the news snippets.

Sometimes, if the news story is really important, like George Harrison’s death, I will add a picture. I also have my family’s favorite recipes included in my journal. Of course I have included all my writing samples, as well.

I am now working on bringing in news articles and pictures of past dates that occurred during my lifetime. The Internet has been a big help with that part of the project. I’ve also included digital pictures of our home, children, pets, and many of the things that decorate my home, or that I especially like.

I have also included stories and my feelings of important times in my life. These things include my wedding day, each of my children’s births and the letters that I wrote to each of them on the day they arrived. I even include my feelings about certain news snippets.

My reason for all this work is that I happen to be a bit of a recluse. I am going blind, and therefore can no longer drive, and rarely leave my home. Because of this, I rarely see anyone other than my family. I guess this is my way of telling future generations of my family all about me, and that I wasn’t weird, but actually a deep thinker and a person of substance.

Well, I think that’s about all of it. I have really appreciated having The Journal to help me do this project.

Veronica Armstrong


A New Baby Journal

by Michael Ham

Nothing changes your life like having a baby. Everything after that arrival is different from everything before, simply because of the presence of a little person who totally depends on his or her parents. And when the new arrival comes with company – twins or triplets or more – the change in your life is all the greater.

Although new parents have little free time to keep a journal, records of the baby’s (or babies’) progress are important – for health reasons, for satisfaction, and for looking back at this time in later years. Although there will be times when the baby is crying and you are working in a sleep-deprived fog to make things right while trying not to lose it totally, you have the reassurance that what is hard to endure is sweet to recall, and these difficult days you will later remember with fondness. Believe it or not. And even though you won’t be able to make a daily entry, you can probably gather your strength and find the time to make an occasional entry – even a short entry can later help you recall an entire day.

Following are some thoughts to help you sort out what kind of journal you might have for recording your offspring’s progress – and occasional setbacks. This list is intended to stimulate your own ideas – it is not a prescription of what you “should” write, but rather things you might consider. In the end, it’s your journal, and your ideas of what’s important will shape your writing.

When: The best time to start the journal is when you first plan to have a child. Those early thoughts about what you as a parent will do are important, and equally important is to establish the habit of writing in your journal to carry you through those first busy (and sleep-deprived) months once the baby arrives. Also some of your early expectations may later be amusing, in a way. Anne Lamott notes in “Operating Instructions” that she expected that having a baby in the house would be sort of like having a cat. =) Topics for the early entries could be the process of finding the right name for the baby and the growing presence of the baby itself.

Format: A handwritten journal is normally a pleasant experience, but handwritten journals require time a new parent is unlikely to have. Also, a physical journal is vulnerable to spills and misplacement. If you have access to a computer, it’s much better to keep an electronic journal: you can probably type faster than you can write, and you never have to search for where you left your computer. Although you can use a word-processing program, it’s so much better to get a program designed for journaling. These journaling programs have many tools to help you, and they are not expensive.

Health information: A journal program will automatically date-stamp each entry, and thus you can readily look back at a log of basic health information on your baby: weight, length, minor illnesses, immunizations (often it’s hard to recall exactly which shots were given when), appetite, and so on. These basic observations can be extremely useful to your health-care provider, and they are also important for your own reference.

Achievements: As the baby grows, you’ll want to record his or her accomplishments: first time to turn over unassisted, first words, first time to stand up, first steps, and the like. As your baby learns to talk, this gradually becomes a record of the amazing (and cute) things kids say: those remarks that you swear you’ll never forget and yet within a month can’t recall except to remember that, whatever was said, it was extremely cute and funny. Another thing you might record are the little nicknames that a baby gets from time to time.

Social skills: As your baby starts to interact with others, you can record those sessions. “Others” might be relatives, other children, or even strangers – in a variety of settings: at home, in stores, at church, or wherever you may be. Is your baby shy, fearful, bold, friendly? Are strangers treated to a little performance of joy and sweetness that is less frequently seen at home?

Animals: The first encounters between a child and animals are always interesting: the baby who sees a cat’s tail as a handle, or who shares an ice-cream cone with a dog. This category is particularly relevant if you have pets.

Photos: A picture can capture in an instant what you can’t describe in a day, and the journal software programs can accept digital photos. But you will need to add some words: if you don’t describe who the people are or what the situation was, you’ll probably remember them anyway – for a year, or ten, or even perhaps twenty. But will you know thirty years from now, when the baby, now grown, wants to explain to his or her own child who these people are and what was happening?

Projects: Every child grows into wanting to do projects: bake a cake, make a mask, build a fort or a house, paint a picture, and the like. Recording those projects can record the progress of your child’s ambition – and also serve as ideas for future rainy afternoons when you need to come up with a project.

Books and reading: As you read aloud for the 20th time some children’s book, you swear you’ll remember it forever. But all too soon you lose track of which books your child especially liked at what time. A record of the favorite books and authors will give you a view of your child’s mind as it develops and becomes especially interesting as the child’s taste develops.

Entertainment and the arts: As for literature, so also for music, for paintings, for dance, and for all the other arts: what and who are the favorites? And record the stories, songs, dances that your child makes up for you.

Ambitions: Children start thinking about their adult occupations early: fire fighter, police officer, explorer, teacher, and so on. Record those early ambitions: what does you child tell you that he or she will be – and why was that occupation picked?

Best- and least-liked foods: As your child develops, track those mysterious changes of tastes. For one thing, it’s interesting; for another, you can detect when you need to scramble to find a replacement for the current leafy green vegetable, which has suddenly become vegetable non grata. Or when the amount of milk consumed is so great that it may be leading to iron deficiency. Too, this can be helpful for spotting food allergies.

Venting: The mere presence of a baby often elicits advice, most well-meaning though some perhaps less so (“corrective” advice), from relatives, acquaintances, and even strangers. Courtesy and practical considerations may dictate a smile and a “thank you,” but in the privacy of your journal you can freely vent your unmitigated reaction at unsought and misdirected advice – and also perhaps record what you would have said if you had only thought of it at the time. =)

Relationships: Observe how your child affects the adults in his life, and how they affect him. For example, just having the baby around will reveal aspects of your parents and in-laws that you have not seen, especially if this is the first grandchild. They are not only showing aspects of themselves that have been hidden, they are showing new aspects, brought forth through their interactions with the child, just as the child’s personality begins to be shaped in part by his interactions with them. Of course, with their accumulation of past experiences, they will have more inertia of personality – but since we all are always changing, the direction of their change cannot help being influenced by the new little person in their lives. Another important relationship to observe is the relationship between the new baby and any older siblings.

Yourself: And as it is for the grandparents, so also it is for you. Observe the changes in yourself, and the changes in your relationship with your spouse or partner, by the presence of the developing baby. As the child grows, so too the child’s influence on your own identity and personality will accumulate. You will be like two trees growing next to each other: you affecting him, and him you. Become aware of these changes and these new parts of yourself that spring to life. Record your own growth as well as the growth of your child.

The parental role: You have responsibilities as a parent. One responsibility is to see to the physical safety and well-being of your child. Equally important is helping your child grow to become a self-disciplined, self-motivated, responsible adult. You will quickly discover the indisputable fact of free will: your child has a mind and a personality of his or her own. But you do have considerable influence on this developing personality.

Some of your influence can be expressed directly (as in saying “No” to dangerous or antisocial behaviors), but most of it will be indirect: through the example you set and the environment you create. Although there are excellent guides (for example, Martin Seligman’s wonderful book The Optimistic Child), much of what influences your child ultimately depends on you and your vision for your child – which includes by implication your vision for yourself.

Take some time to think about what you want your child to become, and record those thoughts so that you don’t lose them. And then think about the example and environment you can provide to help your child achieve that vision. Don’t forget that your child is always aware of your moods and your actions, and ultimately it is your example rather than your words that will get his attention and be his guide.

That’s it. I would be pleased to hear your comments and suggestions about a new-baby journal, particularly any topics I overlooked.

Michael Ham
16 October 2001

About the author: Michael Ham has watched 3 babies grow to adulthood, and now is seeing a grandson grow up. Keeping a journal keeps the memories alive.

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: August 7, 2016 — 9:41 pm