LifeJournal™ Newsletter – September 2002

For those of you who work or attend school, and for those with children going to school, I hope the academic year started smoothly. To kick off the new school year, Chronicles Software is donating LifeJournal CDs to the 11th grade English Advanced Placement Language and Composition class at a local high school. The teacher of those classes knows that keeping a journal is an excellent way to enhance writing skills. The students will use LifeJournal at home as a supplemental resource.

Some medical students also have been using LifeJournal. They are a part of a pilot study to see how journal writing affects students’ stress levels during their first years of med school. We’re honored that LifeJournal was chosen to be included in this research at a mid-western medical school.

We have a new survey on our home page gathering information about your journal writing habits. Please click here to take the survey. The results of last month’s survey are discussed below. Thanks to all of you who took the survey last month!

Ruth Folit
Chronicles Software Company

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Interview with Tristine Rainer
Patch: For those of you who have version 1.4.0, 1.4.1, 1.4.2 and 1.4.5
Survey Results
End Quotes 
How To Purchase LifeJournal

Interview with Tristine Rainer

Tristine Rainer is the author of New Diary and Your Life as Story; both books are important volumes in personal writing libraries. She has answered several questions that LifeJournal posed about writing an autobiography. Below are Ms. Rainer’s responses:
Q: Your book Your Life as Story focuses on writing a New Autobiography. What do you mean by the term “New Autobiography?”
A: The New Autobiography is a twentieth century liberation of the genre of memoir. It is a form of creative non-fiction that has become very popular in the last five years. No longer the exclusive privilege of the famous or infamous, the luxury of established writers, or simply a hobby for grandparents, New Autobiography is available to everyone. It is a redefinition of who may write about their lives, whom they write for, the reasons they write, how they write (using all the literary devices of fiction), what they write about, and what they do with the writing.
Q: How do you begin the task of writing an autobiography or memoir?
A: There are many ways to begin. As a memoir coach I find that some people without a plan start writing memories that develop into little stories. They come to me when they have accumulated a number of such pieces and we begin by looking for the story and themes in what is already there, much like assembling the overall pattern of a quilt.

Some writers begin by asking themselves important questions, such as why do I want to write about my life? Who might benefit from it? Who is the intended audience?

Still other writers begin by using the exercises in my book, Your Life as Story, especially the exercise on page 42, to discover the shape of the story they wish to tell, the unique myth that has been at work inside the life.

Q: How do you recommend people use journals as a tool for writing an autobiography/memoir?
A: Generally I suggest that you read through the journals to jog your memory, but that you not try to edit the diaries into a narrative. The voice of the journal will usually be different from the POV [point of view] of the self now. If you have recorded actual conversations and descriptions you may be able to use some of this material. Journals can add concrete details for a memoir, but usually will not give you the coherence of theme and story that require the super-imposition of narrative structure.

LifeJournal has some features that are helpful to a journal writer who wishes to tackle an autobiography. The search function allows you to follow your relationship with a particular individual, for instance. You might be able to see the story of a relationship by just reading through the entries about the selected person.

For some writers, especially those who begin with the quilt method of assembly, it could be helpful to use the Life History Timeline to record memories as they come to you, often out of chronological order. Once you have accumulated individual scenes on the timeline, you may want to read through them chronologically to see if that helps you detect a narrative.

Q: How does writing a memoir serve as a tool for understanding one’s life better?
A: Writing a memoir allows you to focus on the shape of your life’s path and learn from its encoded wisdom. When you use the tools of The New Autobiography you may also have the experience of perceiving your own life as a writer would, of seeing your role as the hero of your own story and appreciating the inherent mystery, complexity, and coherence of your particular, once in all time, journey
Q: What advice can you give to someone who is writing his/her autobiography?
A: Join or form a memoir group. A number of such writing support groups have self formed around the country in which people use Your Life as Story as a text, much as people formed groups at one time to work through the exercises in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Also discover what published memoirs are in the subgenre of memoir you are writing, e.g. vocational memoir, spiritual memoir, childhood memoir, personal essay, etc. You will find a list of the different “genres of the self” on the Center for Autobiographic Studies website ( along with published examples of each. If you read the work of memoirists who have struggled with the form of writing you have chosen, you can learn from their techniques.

Most important, understand that writing a memoir is a profoundly transforming journey, best written from the point of view of present wisdom. It can be an emotionally consuming experience, so it is valuable to pace yourself and to acquire a knowledge of craft in order to prevent emotional “flooding”.

Tristine Rainer is the author of a seminal and definitive book on journal writing, The New Diary, how to use a journal for self-guidance and expanded creativity (Tarcher/Penguin Putnam) 1979 that is still in print and has sold over 200,000 copies. Her book Your Life as Story, Discovering the New Autobiography and Writing Memoir as Literature (Tarcher/Penguin/Putnam) 1998 has been used by many writers who have recently completed memoirs. She is a professor in the USC Masters of Professional Writing Program and is the Director of the Center for Autobiographic Studies in Pasadena, California. You can learn more about the Center by going to the website (

A New Patch only for Versions 1.4.0, 1.4.1, 1.4.2, or 1.4.5:

We discovered an error in File menu>Merge BackUp command of versions 1.4.0, 1.4.1, 1.4.2 and 1.4.5. (To find out which version you have, run LifeJournal, and go to the Help menu>About LifeJournal.) The journal entries that merged from the backup did not include the topics that were originally assigned to the journal entries. We’ve created a patch, Patch 1, that you can download for free. The file is about 1.5 MB and can be downloaded from Once downloaded, you will have version 1.4.6. You will not have to enter a serial number if you already have purchased version 1.4.0, 1.4.1, 1.4.2 or 1.4.5.

NOTE: If you have version 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 DO NOT DOWNLOAD THIS PATCH.Your LifeJournal program will not work, if you do so! If you’d like to upgrade to 1.4.6, from any of these earlier versions, please go to The cost of upgrading from an earlier version is $12.00. If you have any questions, please email us at

Survey results:

Of the 52 people who took the survey, the overwhelming majority liked the new look, thought the speed of the website was fast, and found the navigation to be easy. Thanks for giving us feedback on our new website. It seems like we’re on the right track!

Here are the specifics:

  1. Rate how you like the “look” of the new site:

    Really like it: 29%; Like it: 56%; Neutral: 10%; Don’t like it: 6%; Really don’t like it: 0% 

  2. Rate the speed that the website opens on your computer:

    Really like it: 44%; Like it: 4%; Neutral: 12%; Don’t like it: 0% Really don’t like it: 0% 

  3. What browser do you use?

    100% Internet explorer

  4. Can you find what you are looking for on the website?

    Very easily: 46%; Easily 40%; Moderately well: 10%; With difficulty 0%; With great difficulty: 4%.

Here are a few of the comments entered:

  • It looks much more professional.
  • Kudos for an amazing product. You’re facilitating greatness in everyday experience.
  • I prefer the look of the previous site. However, if I had to vote for only one site, this would be it as it is so easy to navigate and is much faster than your previous site.
  • I dislike the color scheme and graphics of the site, but the site arrangement is very well done. I am extremely pleased with the software, and recommend it to friends and colleagues when the occasion arises.
  • I use your program with Dragon Naturally Speaking and it works quite well.

End quotes:

“Having an experience is not learning. Learning occurs when we reflect on what has taken place.”

–Tom Plake, facilitator and coach

“Journal writing is a way of paying attention to our lives. It brings us back to ourselves.”

–Marlene Schiwy, author of A Voice of Her Own
To Purchase LifeJournal:

  • Order online at
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  • Order by postal mail and pay with a check or money order payable to:

    Chronicles Software Company
    PO Box 220
    Sarasota, FL 34230

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