LifeJournal™ Newsletter – May 2012

To all LifeJournal newsletter subscribers, here’s a gift for YOU:listen-to-3-journal-experts 

Click this button to feed your inner journal writer. I’ll bet you learn at least one new journaling fact or discover one new way to approach your journaling. Listen to author Phyllis Theroux, professor Dr. James Pennebaker, and journal pioneer Christina Baldwin, offer their insights about journal writing.

There are two articles in this newsletter: One is about using your own town or city as a way to inject new energy into your writing. The other is about how to use your LifeJournal to save random, but good ideas/thoughts/ future projects.

Wishing you well on your writing journey,


Ruth Folit

Change Location as a Way to Renew Your Writing

By Ruth Folit

Last week I read an article in the New York Times that inspired me.  Subway Car Is a Writers’ Workshop on the Way to Queens and Back describes how writing on a subway creates a particular and unique atmosphere for writing. “It was an unconventional writer’s space, with the train rumbling into a new station every few minutes and absorbing a fresh group of passengers, then lurching onward.” The workshop leader said, “the No. 7 line was chosen because its ridership was ‘as diverse as the city gets.’ ”

I started thinking: Where would be a good place in my hometown of Sarasota, Florida to create one’s own personal writing workshop, providing a catalyst for new writing energy?  I’m looking beyond coffee shops, where people often write so that they have some company and some energy buzzing.

I began to think of different places where the locations themselves might be a good writer’s prompt, or provide the background to shift one’s writing routine.

There’s the public library that attracts all kinds of diverse people–from school kids to the homeless to retired folks. Quiet, but much different than working in ones office or writing area.

The beach brings in the soothing sounds of waves lapping the sand, the warmth of the sand and sun, and a cooling breeze, and the  salty sea smell. Different beaches have different populations.  Different times of day offer very different  moods and energy. So writing at the beach–and at various beaches, during sunrise, afternoon, or sunset–will shift your writing. Notice the effect after your try different scenarios.

And then there are neighborhoods: Latino, Afro-American, Mennonite, wealthy condo bayfront areas, old-Florida areas–some dating from the 1920s. Sitting in a restaurant, park, or any communal area at any of these areas will bring new energy to your writing–whether you are writing about the scene or not.

And there are the tourist attractions: the botanical gardens, the art museum, the aquarium, the funky old-Florida tropical gardens, or a charter fishing boat. Each setting provides its own rhythms, energy level, and quality of light.

Remember, not only can you write about what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting–or NOT and just let the atmosphere infuse your writing, but being in a particular area may evoke all kinds of stories of your past.  What beach stories do you remember?  Past stories about vacations, or summertime events—like having the family pile into the car for a special event to get ice cream cones together.

Where are some inspiring places in your town to write? Make a list in your journal.  Then, when you have a little time—go to one of those places and write.  You’ll find a whole new world!

LifeJournal tips: Where to store random/interesting/unrelated ideas

by Ruth Folit

Below is a recent conversation between a LifeJournal writer and me. You might find it helpful for your own writing:

LJ Writer: I’m a longtime user of versions 1 and 2. Is there an idea box or notepad in the program (I’ve tried several times over the years but never found it in the program or tutorial)? It’s hard to believe there isn’t a place to record thoughts/ideas/future topics but maybe I’m not seeing it?

Ruth: There is so much flexibility in the program.  You might want to create a journal type (equivalent to a notebook) or a topic (in the Topics List) or a journal entry called “thoughts/ideas/future topics.” If you created a journal entry title something like “thought/ideas/future topics,” you could keep going back to that one for months at a time and create new entries (e.g. Thoughts/Ideas/Future Topics II) every so oftern.

LJ Writer: I just wanted a “note box” for random thoughts, ideas, future topics. My screenplay programs usually have a notepad or idea box type feature and it’s useful. I’m happy to hear any suggestions… Though creating an entry for it doesn’t seem ideal unless there is a way to always keep a specific entry at the top of the entry list for easy access.

Ruth: Yes, there’s certainly a way to keep the entry at the top of the Explorer list:

If you want to sort by date, make a date far into the future (say, 1/1/2030) and that entry will be on the top when you sort chronologically (by clicking the date label in Explorer).

Alternatively, you could create a Journal Type called “Note Box,” in which you write your random thoughts, ideas, future topics and open a “note box” journal entry whenever you have a new thought that you want to record.  You can then do a quick search by Journal Type (selecting “Note Box”) that would list all of those entries and you can open one entry and scroll through it (using the next/previous arrow keys).

End Quotes:

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast– you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” –Eddie Cantor


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