|Your journal is a bit like a flip book. I know, you may be scrambling at the moment, quickly scanning through your memory: flip book, mmm…is that a chap book? Nope. A book that reads backwards and forwards? Uh-uh. A flip book is a series of pictures—snapshots, line drawings, detailed drawings—on relatively small pages that are bound like a book, so that when you pull all the pages back with your thumb and then release the pages quickly one at a time, you create a short animation.
I doodled during the boring parts of a school day, mostly in junior high school. During Mr. D’Agostino’s eighth grade world history class, I created mini flip-books on the bottom corner of my spiral notebooks pages: A kid whose grip on the string of a helium balloon loosened and the balloon floated away. Or a girl hanging onto a bevy of balloons, and then all –girl and balloons–rose into the sky.
Journaling takes a story line, probably several story lines, really—with, you, of course, as the leading character. With every entry there’s elaboration in the story, a new event entered, a shift in attitude recorded, and over time, there’s some sense of movement. Every entry is a snapshot, a moment or event described, captured, and frozen in time that by its very nature has to be subjective. Over time these snapshots can be viewed together like the images on the pages in a flip book.
Movies, of course, are more sophisticated, with more frames per second and more continuity and detail than flip books. But that is exactly why I think journals are more like flip books than movies. They consist of points in time that aren’t perfectly linked together. Journals are homemade, primitive versions of your story. Not polished. Simply the unrefined you over time.
You write sequentially—probably not every day or even every week, but date is a distinguishing feature of your journal. (By the way, that’s why in LifeJournal every entry is automatically dated with the moment that you created the entry.) By reviewing a series of journal entries, you can learn about yourself, you can compare who are today versus who you were three months ago. How you reacted to a particular type of situation. How you behaved while under stress or while you were glowing from a recent triumph. You can see what your mindset was then and how it is different and similar today.
Memoir sometimes flows out of journal writing. A memoir is a bit different than journaling. Journaling writes about each day, pretty much as it is happening. Memoir is a look back at a journey, with fresh eyes, with a perspective that develops by examining the past. Perhaps not written directly from journal entries themselves (or in some cases they are), memoir is a way to go back in time, to really examine, digest, sort out and make sense of your life. To smooth out the jagged-y quality of a flip book and turn into a more polished story.
Barbara Graham is a memoirist whose New York Times bestseller book, Eye of My Heart, I just finished reading. I’ve been in touch with Barbara and asked her questions about writing a family memoir, including:
Want to read the whole interview? Click here. Barbara believes we all have family memoirs inside of us waiting to be written.
Below you’ll find a tip about the Quick Review Feature in LifeJournal, as well as list of upcoming events.
To your ongoing journaling,
Tips about LifeJournal: The Quick Review Feature
Did you know that there’s a simple review tool in LifeJournal? In the Application menu, go to Tools menu>Quick Review. You’ll see a submenu with a choice of different time frames—from one week to five years. When you select a time period, if you’ve written an entry that day–say one month ago— it will appear. Also, notice at the bottom of the submenu there’s a choice for Random, which will randomly open a journal entry. Enjoy!
You might use that tool if you are looking for how you’ve changed over the time period.
Here are August and September journal events that are coming up soon. Come join!
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”–Carl Sandburg
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”– H. Jackson Brown Jr.
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