The Journal Newsletter
Recently, I had a discussion with a user looking to preserve his father’s war journal in The Journal. That discussion provided the inspiration for this month’s tip: “Preserving the Memories – Bringing Pen-and-Paper Diaries into The Journal”.
As always, Susan gives us a new set of writing exercises. Also, The Journal 3 has been updated this month. Look for what’s new/fixed in the “News” section.
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TIP: Preserving the Memories – Bringing Pen-and-Paper Diaries into The Journal
by David Michael
Do you have a diary or journal that you kept in a notebook while you were in school? Do you have a parent or grandparent’s diary that they wrote years ago?
This tip presents a couple of ways that you can bring that collection of pen-and-paper musings and daily activities into The Journal.
Using a Standard Category
The Journal allows you to put an entry on any date you can think of, within this century or the last–or the one before that, or the one before that. Anno Domini or Before Christ, if you can think of the date, The Journal will let you make an entry then and there.
You can use this feature of The Journal to put historical diary entries on the date they were made. Was your mother a little girl, writing in the 1940’s or 1950’s? You can transcribe her diary to the actual dates, and see how the entries are grouped on the calendar.
Using a Loose-leaf Category
Another approach is to use a loose-leaf category. The past is set, no more entries are being made, and maybe you don’t need or want a calendar. Or maybe there are multiple entries for a given day.
A loose-leaf category gives you the ultimate flexibility in arranging the entries. You can recreate the calendar structure of a standard category:
+ – January
+ + – 1 (Thursday)
Or you can create a structure that is unique to the journal you’re transcribing. Maybe you want to group entries for a series of years by the calendar date, with the entries for each year on that date kept together:
+ – 1
+ + – 1948 (Thursday)
+ + – 1949 (Friday)
Transcribing the entries of the pen-and-paper journal is as simple as bringing up the appropriate entry in The Journal and typing it in. Preserve misspellings and punctuation, as those are part of the flavor of the entry. If you make corrections, you should mark them as such.
Just typing the entries, though, often loses some of the impact of the original. The handwriting, the pen, the color of the ink, all of these add information and emotion, and losing those aspects would be a shame. You don’t have to lose them, though.
Scan each page of the diary as a separate image. Keep the original image, but create a scaled version of it that will work better in The Journal. If you reduce the size, make sure the image is readable.
In a standard category, you’ll probably want to insert the scanned image in the same entry as the text transcript, at the beginning of the entry. You could also create a separate companion category, with one category having the text transcript (document entries) and the other having the scanned image (image entries).
In a loose-leaf category, you can put the scanned image in its own entry (inserted into a document entry or an image entry), and have that entry “near” the text transcript in the tree structure:
+ – January
+ + – 1 (Thursday) [text transcript]
+ + + – Page [scanned image]
Whether you use one of the suggestions above, or come up with your own approach, The Journal can help you preserve important memories.
by Susan Michael
Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter, “Masquerade”.
Poetry Exercise – Write a poem about a very small object.
Prose Exercise – Write a short story about a character with an unusual pet.
Journaling Exercise – Write about things people collect, or accumulate. Consider how the collection can be referenced as a person’s history.
Memoir Prompt – Write about three people who have influenced your life the most.
About the author: Susan Michael currently facilitates the Tulsa Writers Cafe for the Arts & Humanities Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ms. Michael has also led writing & creativity workshops for children, teenagers, and adults.
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