|I’m betting that if you keep a journal there’s a part—maybe just a small but growing cluster of neurons in your brain—that thinks that someday you want to write for an audience that is larger than just you. Maybe not—I could be imagining that. But I think that after writing in a journal—to understand yourself better, to observe and record your life and your world, to keep track of what works in your life and what doesn’t—that you suddenly notice, hey!—there are some insightful observations and good stories in there. And that people might just be amused, or learn something from, or be captivated by those stories.If you are one of these people (c’mon, admit it!), then read on. Below is an article by Judy Reeves called Ten Daily Habits That Make a (Good) Writer. Judy just published a revised edition of A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life. Writer’s Digest named it “one of the five hottest writing books!”
Judy Reeves will be at joining me for an IAJW members-only telechat on Wednesday, November 15, called “If You Want to Write…” Sign up now! (Not a member of IAJW yet? What are you waiting for? Become an IAJW member now!)
The second article is about using the handwritten button within the LifeJournal program (did you know that this existed?!) , which lets you include information about your handwritten journal entries into LifeJournal. We know that you have a wide range of journaling needs and we’re here to take care of as many as possible!
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Ten Daily Habits That Make a (Good) Writer
An Excerpt from A Writer’s Book of Days By Judy Reeves
In the completely updated 10th Anniversary Edition of A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life author and writing coach Judy Reeves evokes the muse in writers from all walks of life through engaging exercises and practical instruction in a friendly and accessible style that makes writing fun.
These ten daily habits that make a (good) writer are excerpted from the book:
1. Eat Healthfully. Give your body what it really wants so it can support you. You may think it wants caffeine, sugar, or alcohol, but it really wants broccoli and spinach. Eat healthfully for stamina, good health, and the sensory experience of it. (Notice your carrots when you eat them, their color and crunch. Smell that onion; look closely at its layers and textures.) Eat several small meals throughout the day; begin with a good breakfast.
2. Be Physical. Remember when your mother warned you about making faces (“your face could freeze that way”)? If you’re sitting at your desk all hours of the day and night, your whole body could petrify that way. Move it — stretch, exercise, work out. Breathe. It roils the blood and feeds the brain. When you walk, run, bicycle, or swim, you’re in touch with the earth (unless you do it in a gym, and in that case, get outside). Do it alone so you can pay attention to your body and notice your environment as you glide along.
3. Laugh Out Loud. You take big breaths when you laugh out loud. Laughing helps rid the body of toxins. So lighten up. Take a break from work, and play with your puppy or your child or your neighbor’s child. Look at cartoons; tell a joke; share with friends. Find something funny in the world and let loose belly laughs. Create a playground for the Muse.
4. Read. Read as much as you can of the best writers. Read on two levels: one as a reader and one as a writer. Study how other writers use language, how they construct a piece. Notice what you love about certain writers. Try reading aloud (especially poetry) before you write.
5. Cross-Fertilize. Experience another art form — music, photography, dance, painting, sculpture, film, theater. Keep open books of art in your writing space, a basketful of postcard art to leaf through. If music distracts you while you write, listen at other times when you can absorb the music and it is not just a background sound. Visit a museum; walk in a sculpture garden. Let other art evoke your own.
6. Practice Spirituality. Take time every day (or several times a day) to consciously go to that place you name Sacred — through prayer, meditation, or simply being mindful and present in the present. Make time for whatever you do that keeps you in touch with your spiritual self.
7. Pay Attention. Notice the quality of light, the heft of air, color of sky, faces, clouds, flowers, garbage, graffiti — all of it. Slow down and pay attention. Stop during your walks and examine a leaf. Read the writing in shop windows. Observe people getting on a bus, the bus driver, the stink of the bus exhaust.
8. Give Back. Do something good or kind for someone or the planet. Speak to someone you don’t know, smile, help a friend (or a stranger), plant a flower, reuse a paper bag, wrap a gift with newspaper, walk instead of driving. Be generous with whatever you have to give.
9. Connect with Another Writer. Meet a writing friend for coffee, write a letter to a writer whose work you admire (email counts, but not as much as a real handwritten letter in a real envelope with a real stamp that will arrive in someone’s mailbox), make a phone call to a writer friend. Attend a poetry reading, a book signing; take part in a workshop. Write with someone. Go online to a writers’ chat room, join an online writers’ group, respond to a blog, email a poem to a friend.
10. Write. Sometime, someplace, every day, honor your writer-self and spend some time writing.
Judy Reeves, author of A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life and Writing Alone, Writing Together: A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups , teaches writing and leads creativity workshop and is cofounder of the Writing Center, a nonprofit literary arts organization. She is a Journal Council member at the International Association for Journal Writing (www.IAJW.org). She lives in San Diego, CA.
Incorporate your Handwritten Entries into your LifeJournal Program (Without a Scanner)
By Ruth Folit
We at LifeJournal software think that there are tons of benefits for using a computer for journaling. That doesn’t mean, though, that you won’t ever handwrite a journal entry again. And in fact, I encourage you to do so when you feel that writing by hand is more comfortable than typing. We’ve designed a system to incorporate your handwritten entries into your LJ program.
First, of course, hand write your entry. And, to help we have created a paper journal system that allows you to keep a handwritten journal with many of the LifeJournal features included. It’s callLifeJournal on Paper and you can purchase the download for $15.95.
Back to handwriting your journals…after you have finished an entry, open LJ and open the appropriate journal type—Daily, Dream, or Life History. You’ll note that there’s a toggle button directly to the right of the date field. By default the button shows “Typed.” Click it and the button displays “Handwritten.” Make sure you give your handwritten entry a title and enter it in the Title field of the LJ entry. Also in the LJ entry, change the date and time to reflect when you wrote the handwritten entry. Make sure you click the toggle switch to handwritten. In the body of the LJ entry, type in where the handwritten entry can be found—like the brown leather journal, or the green spiral notebook-2010—and the page number(s). (Always paginate your hand written entries so you can find them later!)
Then assign topics to the LJ entry. This will help in the future when you are searching for all entries that you’ve written about you spouse, or your best friend, or your feelings of fear, or your vacation.And if you like, write some of the entry’s pithy sentences so you can quickly read them within the LJ program without having to track down the handwritten entry. Then when you are searching for entries–by topic or by date or by Daily Pulse–that handwritten entry will be included in the list of the Journal Explorer. Please note that in the last column of the Journal Explorer there’s a circle which indicates if an entry is handwritten. Also, note in the Advanced Search (opened by clicking the Search button in the application toolbar), at the bottom of the dialog box, you can search JUST for the handwritten entries, if you’d like.
So whether you mood is to type or to handwrite, use LifeJournal which will keep your journal entries organized, searchable and right at your fingertips!
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”—Joan Didion
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” E. L. Doctorow
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