The Journal Newsletter – March 2006

The Journal Newsletter

March 2006


It’s already March? Amazing.

Work on The Journal 4.1 continues. The announcement of that new release will be in next month’s newsletter.

Sande Chen returns with an article about dream journaling, and Susan gives another set of writing exercises. Plus, I describe the various backup settings The Journal provides.

Thank you for choosing DavidRM Software’s The Journal!

Tips & Tricks

TIP: Backup Settings

By default, The Journal prompts you to backup your entries once a week, and creates your backup file as “JournalBackup.JBK”, stored at the root of your local C: drive.

To change your backup settings, do this: Click on the “Journal” menu, find the “Maintenance” sub-menu, and choose “Backup Settings…”

Here are detailed descriptions of each of the various settings.

Backup Archive Name/Backup Destination Path

The “Backup Archive Name” and “Backup Destination Path” are the name of the backup file and the location on your computer or local area network where the backup file will be created. You can also set the location of the backup to be a removable drive, like a floppy driver or a CDROM drive.

When might you want to change your backup file name? One recommendation is to create a new backup file every year. For example: JournalBackup2006. Sometimes it’s very useful to be able to pull up your information/entries not just from the most recent backup, but from a particular period.

NOTE: If you want The Journal to create a backup on a CDROM drive, the CD media must be formatted and ready in the drive before you start the backup. It might be easier to create the backup on your hard drive, and then copy the backup to a CDROM using Windows Explorer.

Backup Journal Volumes

You can choose to backup all Journal Volumes (the default), just the current Journal Volume, or the Journal Volumes you select at the time of the backup.

Backups per Volume

This setting is why The Journal’s backup files are called “archives”. The Journal’s backup files support maintaining multiple backups for a particular Journal Volume within a single backup. Each backup is dated according to when the backup was made.

Why is this useful? Because many times you need not what’s in the latest backup, but what’s in the backup made just before the latest. If you only have a single backup, which you overwrite each time, you can’t go back any further than your most recent backup.

This setting defaults to 1, but you can set it as high as you like. The higher you set the value, though, the longer your backups will take, and the bigger your backup file will be. I use a setting of 3.

Once the number of backups for a Journal Volume reaches this number, then the oldest backup is deleted to make room for the new one.

Include The Journal System Database in Archive

This option defaults to off. The Journal’s System Database is separate from any Journal Volume, and is always stored in the “System” sub-folder under the folder where The Journal is installed. The Journal’s System Database stores the names and locations of all Journal Volumes, as well as certain global settings.

WARNING: The Journal’s System Database should never be restored on any computer other than the one it is from.

You almost never need to turn this option on.

Prompt for Backup Every nn Days

This setting controls whether and how often The Journal asks you if you want to do a backup. This option is on by default, and set to prompt you once every 7 days. You can set this to be prompted as often as every day or as seldom as you want.

Writing Prompts

by Susan Michael

Free Writing Exercise – Write for 20 minutes using the phrase, “This is a photograph of…”

Poetry Exercise – Write a poem that is written in the style of magnetic poetry. For your word bank you can use one or two pages from a book, magazine or newspaper. You might want to make a photocopy of the pages and cut the words apart, or just transcribe them randomly to your word bank.

Prose Exercise – 1. Write a short story based on living life on a loop.

2. Write a short story based on a cat who collects pocket watches.

Journaling Exercise – Make a calendar list of your very own custom created holidays and celebrations. It’s fair to use “Friendship Day”, etc. but put them on the day you want them to be on. How about a “Goodbye Sally Mae Day” for the day you paid off or will pay off your school loans?

Memoir Prompt – Write about the your high school/college graduation.

Opinion Prompt – Write your thoughts about adult responsibility of providing care for aging parents.

About the author: Susan Michael 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.


Dream Journaling

By Sande Chen

More than 20 years ago, I started recording my dreams. In the beginning, I found them a source of creative inspiration, providing all sorts of fantastic ideas in poetry and fiction. I gradually began to see that my dreams were more than diversions. I could use my dreams in a journey of self-discovery to truly understand my fears or desires. Ultimately, the practice has made my writing stronger.

Many cultures view dreams as a message to be heeded, a message from yourself to yourself. Websites and even television shows offer dream interpretation. While these dream dictionaries or guides may help the beginner, it’s important to note that the best person to analyze your dreams is yourself. No one knows your personal history better than yourself. The meanings you attach to objects and people in your dreams are your own.

Generally, we dream many times while sleeping but do not recall any of it. Dreams fade within minutes, but with effort, one can recall at least the last one, especially if awakened abruptly. I label these “waking dreams” and number them accordingly. In the beginning, I would recommend writing down the dream as soon as possible. As the day begins, thoughts begin to crowd our minds and the dream will disappear. In time, recalling dreams will become less difficult. I tend to record my dreams hours and on occasion, days later. Upon awakening, I usually review the dream and “lock” it into place so that I can record it when I have time. Sometimes, the dream fades anyway, so I label it (faded) and try to remember as much as I can. Other times, I know I’m messing up the order of events, so I label the dream (jumbled). When I can only remember bits, I call these (snippets).

Eventually, the practice of dream journaling becomes second nature. I strive to pay attention to the details in the dream. In the past, I have typed over two pages on a night’s dreams. At times, I have written in film language, describing certain pans and shots. I have drawn pictures and maps. You will discover what is natural for you. In addition, I keep track of any medications I may have taken the previous night, the time elapsed between awakening and recording times, and my sleeping habits.

As you review your dream, think about the following details:

  • Do you recall any colors? Do you think you dream in color? Red is the most commonly reported color
  • What objects are in the dream? Do you own any of the objects? Do they look the same as they do today?
  • Who are the people in the dream? Can you name any of them? How do you know these people?
  • Where are you in the dream? Are you in a familiar locale? What is the layout?
  • What languages are used in the dream? Are the words written or spoken? Do you remember any exact phrases or dialog?
  • If you are in the dream, do you recall any thoughts you had during the dream? What is your motivation for your actions in the dream?
  • If you are in the dream, do you recall any emotions you had during the dream? Are you afraid of something or someone? Do you feel anxious or panicked?

Once the dream is recorded, analysis can begin. You’ll find that aspects from the previous days will often encroach upon dreamtime. For instance, if you spent hours on a spreadsheet, it will wheedle its way in some fashion into the dream. I call these “day residuals” or remnants. They are simply the raw material the brain uses in the dream and may not be directly linked to the meaning of the dream. The interpretation of a dream may take hours of mulling over the dream’s contents. In essence, this is where the real detective work lies.

To start, think about the people in the dream, if you recognize them. How do you feel about this person? Do you admire this person? Is she your example of success, of free-spiritedness, or of independence? What does this person do in the dream? And what is your reaction? Can you figure out what the dream is really speaking about?

One of my dreams featured an acquaintance I had met on-line. All I knew about him was that in real life, he was in high school and was a very talented artist. It took me a while, but I realized he was a stand-in for the inner artistic child. I find my dreams often speak in puns. A seminar on making bread is about money. A dream where I literally place my head on the floor to see another perspective encourages me to figuratively look at all viewpoints.

After each dream, I write down my notes. I try to find associations. For further analysis, dreams of similar content or themes can be compared. For this reason, I give each dream a title for easier organization. In this way, I’m making my own personal dream dictionary.

I recognize my debt to general dream dictionaries, but I’m quite sure I won’t be able to find an entry for “bacon-flavored soda.” I look forward each day to recording my dreams. Not only do dreams give me constant material to write about in my journal, but also each day, I learn more about myself.

Sande Chen is co-author, with David Michael, of the book, Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform (Thomson/Course; 2005). She has won awards in writing, music, and video. She currently works as a free-lance writer and game designer.

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 — 9:22 pm