The Journal Newsletter – October 2015

The Journal Newsletter

October 2015


Yay! Autumn is here! Perhaps somewhat predictably, autumn is my favorite time of year.

Autumn makes me happy. Autumn makes me thoughtful. Autumn makes me remember my childhood. Something about the bright sunshine with the underlying touch of cool air energizes me. Sure, I’m always happy to see spring too, but that’s different. Autumn is my time of year. =)

An update of The Journal 7 is available. See “The Journal News” below for all the details.

Independent scholar and writer Laura Donaldson exhorts us to organize our records for future generations in her new article, “Your Personal Archive.”

We also have a new tip for this month, and a new set of writing prompts.

Thank you for choosing The Journal!

The Journal News

The Journal 7 is the current release.

To see if you have the latest version of The Journal:

  1. Click on the “Help” menu in The Journal.
  2. Choose “Check for Update of The Journal”.

If you are using The Journal 6 (or an earlier version):

Tips & Tricks

TIP: Side-by-side Entry Viewing and Editing with the Split-Screen Editor

Sometimes you need to see two entries at once, and The Journal makes that possible with the split-screen editor. For example, you might want to have both the entry with your novel outline and the entry with the current chapter side-by-side, for easy reference back and forth. Or you might want to see your last entry while you’re typing in today’s entry.

You can view any two entries within the same category, either side-by-side or one on top of the other.

For side-by-side viewing: Click on the View menu and choose “Split Editor Horizontal” (hot-key: Shift+F11)

For under-over viewing: Click on the View menu and choose “Split Editor Vertical” (hot-key: Ctrl+F11)

When you first split the editor, the active entry is the same for each to the editors. You can scroll either editor to any point in the entry and make changes. Those changes are automatically displayed in the other editor.

In calendar categories, like “Daily Journal”, the split-screen editor has a special function. If you click on the “Go” menu and choose “Go to Today’s Entry” (hot-key: F5), today’s entry will be in the right (or bottom) editor, and the previous day’s entry will be in the left (or top) editor. So you can easily see both today and yesterday. If “Go to Previous Entry” (hot-key: F7) or “Go to Next Entry” (hot-key: F8), this relationship remains consistent, with the active entry in the main editor and the entry just before it in the other editor.

To go back to a single visible entry, click on the View menu and choose “Normal Editor” (hot-key: F11)

Writing Prompts

Free Writing Prompt – Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Birthday Cake”

Journaling Prompt – Does autumn hold any special significance for you? Or do you have another favorite season? What is that makes the season your favorite?

Memoir Prompt – Make a list of your favorite stuffed animals, starting from when you were child up to the present. Make a note of who gave you which ones, if you remember, or how they came into your life. Include pictures if you have them. Did you give them away? Do you still have them?

From Susan Michael:

Poetry Exercise – Write an Acrostic poem for Halloween.

Prose Exercise – Spend time outside looking at a tree and free write using the title “Observation of a Tree.”



By Laura Donaldson

Famed musician Woody Guthrie liked to draw doodles and draft song lyrics on scraps of paper and in various notebooks. For his family, they were just papers around the house. After his death, though, they became treasures of information for researchers wanting to learn more about him. When Guthrie’s daughter sought guidance from an archivist on what to do with all of it, he asked first that she move her coffee cup from atop the irreplaceable documents — and then he helped her organize and catalog everything (including diaries, scrapbooks, and photographs) so they could preserve it.

Right now, you probably have similar scribbles and records lying around your house. You stuff them in folders and drawers and don’t give a thought to their value for family members and future researchers. You take no mind of how to organize your records or the importance of preserving them. Well, I ask you first to put your coffee mug on a coaster so you don’t spill on the sketch/poem/diary entry on the table. Secondly, think about preserving some of these pieces for future study.

You might object that you’re not a famous person like Woody Guthrie. Well, aside from the fact that Woody didn’t start out that way either, historians value all kinds of records of the past — and that includes those of regular people. Scholars know a lot about presidential policies and influential social events because there is a wealth of records out there about these things. What historians know much less about are things that have to do with how average folks lived their daily lives and thought about themselves and their world. Having such records available would be a boon to historians.

Preserving that record can be complicated, however. As you can guess, it isn’t really practical for most of us to keep all the papers and pictures and records we generate. You’d have boxes crammed full of things and the pile would be ever-growing. Unless you have the money and inclination to build a non-presidential library to house all of your documents and other items, you too would feel the pinch of limited storage space. As a solution, you can go through all of the pieces trying to determine which you think will have future reference value and only preserve these, in order to reduce the supply.

Alternately, what you can do is create your own digital record — your personal archives. Using your journaling software, you can make countless entries about your habits and thoughts and insights about a wealth of things. You can import scans of papers or pictures too, which you can then discuss as part of your files — perhaps a bit of artwork from your child or a picture of a grandparent, so the image and story are preserved with context. Journaling provides an excellent way to record so many things and preserve them without bulk or hassle.

What’s even better is that you can organize your work as you go along, so future readers don’t have to piece through and create an index like Guthrie’s family had to do. Have a folder for poems, one for your diary entries, etc. You can arrange them by topic or date (or both!). The benefit of digital files is they are more easily organized than scraps of paper. And, since you haven’t created a flood of paper to begin with by keeping your writing electronically and can store scans as well, there’s no need to worry about physical storage or weeding through to choose what to preserve. It all stays.

Then, it’s up to future readers and researchers to mine for treasures in all that you’ve left them. It’s a great gift to leave such a valuable record behind, and these days, any of us has the means to do it. There’s just so much potential for each of us to create our own personal archives. Why not do it?

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.


The Journal Newsletter

Editor: David Michael (
The Journal Newsletter Copyright © 2015 by David Michael.
Updated: October 6, 2015 — 7:49 pm