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Posts tagged ‘journaling’

Why you should write in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic

Writers write. No matter what the circumstances.

And in a crisis, writing can be our solace, our counselor, and our hope.

During the economic downturn of 2008, my employer, like many others, announced it was laying off workers. We knew it was coming, but not when. For months, employees lived in limbo, under a cloud of impending doom.

One of my writing teachers told me to write about it. Keep a notebook, she said. Write about everything.

We have been watching the march of the coronavirus as it has spread around the world, building momentum and anxiety.

We wake up each morning unsettled, with reports about worsening conditions and the prospect of an uncertain future. Consider keeping a journal to note what you’re seeing and hearing. You may find inspiration for a story or poem. Many great works of art have come out of crises. And writing can help alleviate stress.

Kitty O’Meara, a retired teacher and chaplain from Wisconsin, channeled her anxiety by writing a poem about what we could do and how we could change in this chaotic time.

Even in her isolation, O’Meara has shared spiritual healing with the world on her blog by speaking to the prospect of light in the darkness and hope for global healing.

Writing is a channel for joy, stress, and making sense of events. And so is reading. Here is her poem:

In the Time of Pandemic

And the people stayed home. And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live, and they healed the earth fully, as they had been healed.

– Kitty O’Meara

What kind of transformation will you create as a result of the coronavirus?

Step away from your desk and fuel your writing life

It’s easy as writers to hole up in our writing caves. We’re busy operating under the influence of words and we don’t want to be interrupted.

But sometimes you have to get out into the world. It’s how you pick up telling details that add more authenticity and authority to your work. And then there are the times when you’re stuck. Stepping out just may spark an idea or epiphany.

Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy),wrote on her website about the act of trying to make conversation with a “living human” after a day of writing. She writes that if she could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, it would be this:

“Say yes.” The world is asking you to try new things, have fresh experiences, meet people, see foreign places, and learn things. Most of the time we say no. Say yes. Go for it. Try. Live. Dream. Refuse to be negative. Be generous with your own time and gifts. See what happens then.

Changing your routine routine can reveal unexpected insights. Read more

How to ground readers in a scene using killer details

The more I write scenes, the more aware of my surroundings I become. In “The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer,” Sandra Scofield says that, “the incidental movements and activities of characters help to define them, and the things they surround themselves with and use are part of who they are….What they do in response to events can be external signs of what they are feeling.”

We don’t want to interrupt the flow of a scene or dialogue by filling the scene with unnecessary detail but we do want enough detail to have our characters feel grounded in space and time and, if possible, we want to use details that can show who the characters are. Read more

Make a journaling habit that sticks with one sentence a day

The first month of 2013 is almost finished, and if you’ve committed to start a journal this year but struggled to maintain it, you may find it easier to take a minimalist approach.

I read about one-sentence journaling recently in an interview on the blog Creative Liberty written by Liz Massey. Massey interviewed life and creativity coach Quinn McDonald, who holds workshops about writing one-sentence journals.

This is how McDonald came to write one-sentence journals:

“Because I was a newspaper editor, I began to write headlines for my days–just the most important thing was covered. While checking in on one of my favorite websites (DIY Planner), a woman mentioned that she would journal more if she could write just one sentence a day. That did it–I developed “One Sentence Journaling,” as a class.” Read more

Start the new year by journaling

With the new year almost here, it’s a prime time to get into the practice of keeping a journal. By creating a journaling discipline, you’ll find you establish routines in other areas of your writing life. Below are three previous posts about how journaling can further your writing and storytelling mojo: 

Three ways to unleash your inner journaler:” if you’re trying to decide what kind of journal you want to keep, check out these tips.

Record significant daily events in the 5-Minute Journal:” discover this app for recording significant daily events, ideas for writing projects, or character traits that you notice while out in public. 

My favorite writing journals is a fun post on some of my favorite types of journals. 


Be prepared: Keep a notebook in your kitchen

You’ve heard it before. Always have a notebook in your pocket or purse to jot down those brilliant ideas that don’t conveniently come to you when you’re sitting in your official writing place.

But do you have a notebook in the kitchen? Just like I always seem to think of a perfect new line for a poem or a great name for a character when I’m in the shower, cooking has a way of revealing ideas that have been simmering in my subconscious.

Life has a way of happening in the kitchen. Whenever I have guests over for dinner, it seems like everyone wants to congregate in the kitchen. Some of the most memorable and emotional discussions I’ve had with family have been in the kitchen, while cooking or sitting at the kitchen table eating a meal. All these bits of life are a good source of writing material. Read more

How writers turn journal entries into novels

Writing in a journal is a powerful way to create the bits and pieces that become literature.

Journals serve as workbooks and a place to note descriptions, thoughts, ideas and character sketches.

Graham Greene set two of his novels, “A Burnt out Case” and “The Heart of the Matter” in Africa. The book, In Search of a Character: Two African Journals: Congo Journey and Convoy to West Africa, reveals the raw material — observations about people and the world — that eventually turned into his novels.

Read more