LifeJournal™ Newsletter – February 2006

LifeJournal Newsletter
February, 2006

Some people enjoy scheduled lives; they look forward to the nightly ritual of writing for 20 minutes before going to bed.  Others resist routines and prefer to live spontaneously; they write when the mood strikes.

The merits of writing often and regularly, or randomly and sporadically, depend on what purpose your journal serves. If your intention is to hone your writing skills, it is important to write often—perhaps 4 or 5 days each week.  For those who write for the purpose of reflection and inner discovery, the more consistently you write, the more consistently you’ll reflect and I suspect the more your thinking will deepen and the more perceptive you’ll become.

We at Chronicles Software Company understand the challenges to consistent journal writing, and we have created e-Prompts to help your write more often. An e-Prompt is both a gentle tap on your shoulder that reminds you to write in your journal and also an inspiration that centers your attention on a particular subject. E-Prompts are delivered via e-mail three days a week for three months, and each set focuses on a particular theme. The cost for the three month subscription is $21.95.

Sheila Bender, our content partner for LifeJournal for Writers, has created the first in a series of e-Prompts particularly targeted for writers who want to improve their writing skills. Sheila’s first set is about beginnings—how to start your writing pieces with a splash so that people will want to continue reading them. Read more about these writers’ e-Prompts in the article below.

As you may know, we also have four categories of e-Prompts written by Alice Massanari, MSW: (1) success, (2) memories, (3) emotional self-care, and (4) loss and grieving.  Go to www.lifejournal.com/ordering to subscribe to any of the sets of e-prompts. You’ll notice that you will write more consistently when you subscribe to this service.

Write on!

Sincerely,
Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company

P.S.    You can meet and work with Sheila Bender and two of her colleagues on improving your creative non-fiction, fiction, and/or poetry in a four-day June writer’s conference

TABLE OF CONTENTS  :
A Writer’s Notebook: Using e-Prompts for Enhancing Craft
How to Sign Up for e-Prompts
Tips for Writing More Often
Quick Tip: Having trouble getting started?
End Quotes

A Writer’s Notebook: Using e-Prompts for Enhancing Craft by Sheila Bender

I’ve designed a package of new writers’ e-Prompts for Chronicles Software to help those who keep writer’s journals employ the sounds and strategies of published writers to tap into personal experiences with enhanced rhythm, imagery, and immediacy.  I included additional craft ideas as well to help writers create focused, coherent pieces from the start, since solid starts lead to finishing rewarding essays, poems, characters’ stories, memoirs, and articles.

For instance, I read on the Internet that the film Lawrence of Arabia begins, “He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.” As a writer, I was inspired to start a piece of writing with a “big” assertion.  What would happen, I wondered, if I came to my writer’s journal and wrote such an assertion about someone (or a character I’d created did)? What if I made my statement outrageous or seemingly exaggerated by being extremely negative or superlative?

I would have immediately put more at stake by inherently promising that I would show how my statement is true. I would have to support my assertion with examples culled from experience– my character’s or my own. If my character were an unreliable narrator, this way of speaking would really be fun for me as a writer. If I were using my own experience to draw a portrait of someone I wanted to describe, this technique would provide a grand entrance into my material.Not knowing what I would write, I tried it:

She was without a doubt the most absent-minded person I had ever come across. If I brought her candy as a gift, she’d smile with real delight and then rush off to hide the candy from herself so she wouldn’t eat it all. The next day, I’d get a call asking if I knew where she’d hid the candy, since she wanted some and couldn’t find it.  If she put money in her pockets to make life easier for herself and avoid reaching into her purse with arthritic fingers, when she arrived at the grocery store, she’d search her purse over and over again, wondering where her money went.  If she took off her hearing aid because it was getting uncomfortable and then couldn’t find it for days, it might turn up in her mediset, in one of the days of the week from which she’d already taken her meds. Who would look in the Tuesday compartment for a hearing aid if it were, say, Thursday? It would be many days before Tuesday’s box was refilled by the visiting nurse who came on Mondays.

That’s why it wasn’t surprising when she called to say she couldn’t find her diamond earrings–two beautiful pear-shaped studs she’d worn almost everyday for a year.  They had been hurting her ears, she said, so she took them out, and they dropped through her fingers. When they didn’t turn up in any of the places she looked and had enlisted me to look, she started theorizing that she must have put them in a pocket somewhere.  There are a lot of pockets in her house.  We set about doing a search of one section of one closet a day…

wrote the two paragraphs in just a few minutes.  I feel a segue coming to centering on that day or those days of the search.  I don’t know yet where this story is going, but I am interested in the person portrayed and the person who is describing her.  I will be back to that writing very soon because of the interest it holds for me.

I hope many of you will try this set of LifeJournal e-Prompts and enjoy writing success with it. The rest of the 39 are just as enticing!

BIO: In addition to her work for LifeJournal for Writers (writers.lifejournal.com), Sheila  Bender is the author of eight books on writing, publishes Writing It Real, an instructional magazine at (www.writingitreal.com) and leads a three-faculty, 3 ½ day conference June 22-26 in Port Townsend, WA . 

How to Sign Up for e-Prompts 

To sign up for a 3 month subscription for e-Prompts go towww.lifejournal.com/ordering.  Click the item “e-Prompts for Three Months.”  Select from the drop down list the category of e-Prompts that you’d like to receive. Proceed through the shopping cart by clicking “Checkout Now” or “Continue Shopping.” Complete the forms—your name and credit card information.  Make sure that you type in your email address properly, as it is the email address that your e-Prompts will be sent.

 

Tips for Writing More Often

Many people start the New Year with the best of intentions to write in their journals daily. From time to time I hear questions or receive e-mails from customers with apologetic and somewhat guilty comments that they haven’t written in their journals recently.  The sense is that somehow they are doing something wrong if they haven’t created a journal entry every day.  If there is a way you can avoid feeling bad about not writing daily—or even weekly at times—I would encourage it. Here are a few thoughts about the issues of writing consistently:

  • Are you not writing because your life is so full that there isn’t any time?  If so, I’d suggest that you click the Daily Pulse Input toolbar button and spend two minutes entering values for your Daily Pulse scales.  Then write a two or three sentence Pulse Note that quickly describes the highlights of the day—a defining moment, a phrase that will remind you of an interesting vignette.
  • Not writing because you don’t know what to write about? Open a prompt or quote to jumpstart your thinking.
  • During the course of the day, if a memory of your earlier years bubbles up, open a Life History entry and write several phrases that will capture the essence of the memory.  You might want to create a topic in the Topics List, called “unfinished” so you can do a search of your uncompleted pieces so you can go back to and finish when you have the time.
  • Sometimes not writing is an appropriate thing to do.  By looking at times that you haven’t written, you may learn about when you like to write—such as when things are going well; or alternatively when you are feeling depressed and unhappy. (What, if anything, does that tell about yourself?)

Not writing because you aren’t in the habit of writing?  Subscribe to e-Prompts so you are reminded to write, plus you are given some direction about what to write.Quick Tip: Having trouble getting started

Try typing with one hand, one finger, on your non-dominant hand.  End Quotes: 

The beginning is the most important part of the work. –Plato   The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible. –George BurnsHow to Purchase LifeJournal 2, LJ for Staying Sober (LJSS), LJ for Writers (LJW), LJ for Educators (LJE), and/or Upgrade to Version 2.0

You can purchase LifeJournal 2, LJSS, LJW, or LJE (or upgrade or expand to ) either by:-Ordering LifeJournal online: www.lifejournal.com/ordering; stayingsober.lifejournal.com/ordering; writers.lifejournal.com/ordering;educators.lifejournal.com/ordering
-Ordering by telephone: toll free 1-877-456-8762 from 9 am to 5 pm Eastern time, Monday to Friday.
-Ordering by postal mail and pay with a check or money order payable to:Chronicles Software Company
PO Box 220
Sarasota, FL 34230To learn more about upgrading to LifeJournal, go to our June 2005 newsletter.If you have friends or colleagues who would enjoy this newsletter, invite them to subscribe. We request that you keep the broadcast intact, including our contact and copyright information.OTHER QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS: Send mail to info@lifejournal.com or visit us at https://www.lifejournal.com.©Chronicles Software Company, 2006. All rights reserved.