The Journal Newsletter – October 2005

The Journal Newsletter

October 2005


Welcome to the October 2005 newsletter for The Journal!

The Journal 4 Build #161 is now available. Look in The Journal News section below for download and installation information.

This month, I combined a bit of United States history with some new features of The Journal to create a simple but powerful new template. Susan also provides a new set of writing exercises.

Thank you for choosing DavidRM Software’s The Journal!

Tips & Tricks

TIP: Ben Franklin’s 13-Week Self Improvement Program

In his “Autobiography”, Benjamin Franklin described a simple yet powerful plan for self improvement. The core of the plan is to improve one virtue (out of a set of 13) each week. Instead of trying to improve in all 13 of the virtues at once (a nigh impossible task), you focus your efforts on improving just one. The following weeks, as you focus on the other virtues in turn, improvement in all of the virtues accumulates (hopefully). With 52 weeks in a year, you will have worked your way through the entire list of 13 virtues four times.

An important part of the 13-week plan is monitoring your progress. Franklin used a table, arranging the virtues vertically with the days of the week running horizontally. At the end of each day, he would update the table, judging himself against each of the virtues. If he thought he had failed to live up to a virtue, he would mark it for that day. The ultimate goal was to make it through the week without failing on any virtue. But within a week, the more immediate goal was to fail as little as possible on that week’s virtue.

Franklin’s particular list of virtues is: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. You can use his list, of course, but you can also choose your own “virtues” to focus on. In that way, you create a personalized 13-week training course that you will go through four times in a year.

I have created a free add-on package to make using Franklin’s plan even simpler. You can download this package from here:
Ben Franklin’s Virtues for The Journal.

NOTE: The free add-on package handles all of this for you.

I have created a template that makes using Franklin’s 13-week plan simple. You can download the template from here:

Click on the Entry menu and choose “Import Entries…” After you select benfranklinvirtues.jnx, click on “Import All”, and then “Auto-Create All”.

The Ben Franklin virtues template was designed to be used in conjunction with a weekly category. The category also needs to use a default entry template to automatically load the Virtue Monitor table.

To setup your category:

  1. Create a new category (Category menu, New Category…).
  2. Select “Standard Category”.
  3. Select “Every Week on This Day: Sunday”.
  4. Select “Normal Document Entry”.
  5. Click on “Finish”.
  6. Right-click on your new category’s tab and choose “Category Properties…”
  7. Bring up the “Entry” tab.
  8. Set Default Entry Template to: “Ben Franklin Templates/Virtue Monitor”
  9. Click on “Done”.

Once you have setup your category, every new week on Sunday (or when you first bring up that category tab), the Virtue Monitor table will be automatically loaded for you, with the next virtue active. The template will also automatically cycle through the list of virtues.

Once you have installed the add-on package, every new week on Sunday (or when you first bring up that category tab), the Virtue Monitor table will be automatically loaded for you, with the next virtue active. The template will also automatically cycle through the list of virtues.

During the week, at the end of each day, mark with an X those virtues you judge yourself to have failed on. If you think you failed particularly egregiously, mark that day’s virtue with a double X. In the entry, below the Virtue Monitor table, you might write out how you could avoid this type of failure in the future.

Feel free to adjust the list of virtues by editing the “Virtues” entry to make them more relevant to your own life. (Be careful not to delete the


template tags.)

Finally, the Ben Franklin Templates “How to Use” entry also includes Franklin’s own words describing the entire process.

Writing Prompts

by Susan Michael

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the starter, “disappearing”.

Poetry Exercise – Write a poem using the theme of, “x-ray”, or seeing through layers.

Prose Exercise – Write a short story titled, “The Secret Life of The Flower Vendor”.

Journaling Exercise – For the next few days, generate lists of opposites. Example: “Things that are sharp: ____, Things that are dull:____.”

Memoir Prompt – Write about how you felt the first time you were fired from a job or had to quit.

Opinion Prompt – Do convenience items better our daily lives or shortchange our life experience?

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.

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 19, 2015 — 4:54 am