LifeJournal™ Newsletter – January 2004


LifeJournal: Clarity. Not software
Happy New Year! We at Chronicles Software Company wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous year.

A reminder from last month’s newsletter — we have created a new product for those times when you are away from your computer or just feel like writing by hand: LifeJournal on Paper™ complements its electronic sister. Each page has a place to record the entry’s title, date, journal type, and topics, and Daily Pulse values. Each page also has a quote or prompt on it, and is paginated.

At, you can purchase the companion notebook separately or in combination with the LifeJournal CD or download. The notebook costs $12.95, which includes shipping. The notebook allows you to keep up with your journal writing when you are away from your computer or feel like handwriting rather than typing. For more info go to

This month’s newsletter focuses on a journal technique called “portrait.” Below is an interactive exercise from which you may learn as much about the portrait subject as you will about yourself.

Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software

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Journal Technique: Portrait (Part 1)
Mailbag: Adding words to the dictionary 
Journal Technique: Portrait (Part 2) 
Journal Technique: Portrait (Part 3)
Journal Technique: Portrait (Part 4)
How to Purchase LifeJournal.

Journal Technique: Portrait 

Part I, before your write
Much of the information in this article is a synthesis of portions of the works of two well respected authors Tristine Rainer’s The New Diary and Kathleen Adams’ Journal to the Self.

The portrait journal technique is, as you might guess, a written description of a person, characterizing his or her qualities: physical, emotional, interpersonal, and intellectual.

Usually you are more willing to commit the time to write about someone if that person causes a strong reaction–either powerfully attractive or repellant. Writing the portrait helps you understand your relationship with the subject, what qualities you so strongly admire or detest. You may choose to write about a spouse, a potential lover, an adversary, a close friend, an in-law, or a boss or colleague. You may even choose to write a portrait of a character that you encounter in a dream and who has a significant impact on you.

One way to create a portrait is to simply list adjectives that describe your subject. Alternatively, you may want to free write, expressing your focused stream of consciousness thoughts and feeling about him or her. You could also write a formal essay about your subject, giving anecdotes which show the subject’s salient qualities. Or, you could create a dialog between you and the other, with the imagined interaction eliciting a clearer portrayal of the person. Any form of writing that illuminates the person’s qualities and your relationship with the subject is valuable and worth recording.

After you have written the portrait, wait a day or two and return to it. Do you have anything to add?

If you want the full experience of writing a portrait and learning about yourself in the process, for now, don’t read the next sections of this article that are found later in the newsletter. Return to parts 2, 3 and 4 after you have chosen a person to write about and have written a full portrait. You may can find parts 2, 3, and 4 by scrolling down to the end of the newsletter, or clicking here .

Mailbag: How to add words to the dictionary

To add new words to the dictionary, open a journal entry and type in a word that you want to add and that isn’t in the dictionary currently. Click the Spell Check button on the horizontal toolbar or go to the Tools menu>Spell Check. A dialog box will appear with the word in the text box Not in Dictionary. Click the Add button and the word will be entered into the dictionary.


A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.
Ken Keyes Jr.

It’s important that someone celebrate our existence… People are the only mirror we have to see ourselves in. The domain of all meaning. All virtue, all evil, are contained only in people. There is none in the universe at large. Solitary confinement is a punishment in every human culture.
Lois McMaster Bujold

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.    Confucius 
Portrait as a Journal Technique: Part 2, after you complete Part 1

After you have written the portrait, re-read it. If there is anything else you want to include, add it now.

While re-reading the portrait, consider and list any qualities of the person that attract you, that you admire or envy. Also, make a list of any qualities that you dislike, that annoy or irritate you.

Finish this section before you go on to part 3.

Portrait as Journal Technique: Part 3, after you complete parts 1 and 2.

Write your response to these questions: Do any of the positive qualities described in the portrait suggest strengths you can see in your own character? If so, describe those overlapping qualities. Consider also that some of the positive qualities you possess that overlap with the subject’s qualities may now be present in you in a young, nascent state, and that these characteristics may blossom in you if they were encouraged.

Write your responses to the above questions, before you go on to the part 4.

Portrait as journal technique: Part 4, after you write

Do any of the negative or irksome qualities described in the portrait suggest patterns of behavior you recognize in yourself? If your first reaction is that you don’t share any of the negative qualities, spend a little time considering what might be your “shadow” side, or those parts of you which you may not want to see and accept.

Writing and then re-reading portraits allows you to see your own positive and negative qualities through “projection.” In The New Diary (pp.135-136), Rainer notes:

“Projection means seeing your own positive or negative qualities in another without realizing that what you perceive may have more to say about you than about the other person….[Y]ou may be strongly attracted to, or strongly repelled by, certain people because you project a part of your personality onto them. For example, you may be constantly irritated by a co-worker and not understand why, until you realize that the other is extremely inefficient–a quality that disturbs you about yourself….Certain people in your life may represent your potential future self. Transforming such projections into self-awareness and personal expansion is one of the major functions of the New Diary.”

A note to creative writers: You may want to use these portraits to create and flesh out characters for short stories, plays, and other fiction.
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