Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sharon Lippincott Discusses Journaling

The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing

Q & A About Keeping a Journal

Posted: 15 Aug 2010 11:02 AM PDT

Journaling is one of the most intensely personal activities you can indulge in and one of the most powerful self-care ones, plus it's a gold mine of material for memoirists. Because it is so personal, there is no right way to do it, but many beginners still have questions. Below are a few of the most common.

Do I have to write by hand?
No. There is some evidence that writing by hand slows your thinking to an orderly pace, giving meditative-like benefits, but the edge is slight. If you are able to catch the gush of your thoughts better on a keyboard, go for it.

How should I choose a journal?
It doesn’t matter if you use a hand-bound volume covered in Italian leather, a composition book from the Dollar Store, a folder full of loose paper, software like LifeJournal. or a basic text editor. What does matter is that you choose something you feel comfortable with, and then use it.

When is the best time to write?
Many people prefer to write first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Write when you can — during coffee or lunch breaks at work, on the bus, after dinner ...

How often should I write?​
To get the most meaningful results, you should write at least several times a week. In her multi-million copy best-seller The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises writing three pages, first thing, every day, and millions of people around the world follow this advise. She does not specify page size. If you skip a day or few for whatever reason, Just pick it back up and keep going as soon as you can.

How much time should I spend?
As stated above, Julia recommends three pages. That may take ten minutes or an hour. Write for as long as you feel the urge and have the time.

What should I write about?
Anything at all. You can keep a log of the weather, record your comings and goings, rant and rave. You can keep a gratitude journal. One key to using it for enhanced health and enlightenment is to focus on feelings, emotions and reactions. The more you get your inner thoughts on paper, the more self-aware you become, the more alternate perspectives you’ll find, and the more stress you are likely to relieve.

Should I share my journal?
That’s a personal choice. If you think others might read it, you’ll filter what you write. You’ll gain the most insight if you keep it private. Hide it or keep it elsewhere if you don’t trust people you live with. Then always write the Truth as you know it, and watch that Truth transform.

What other tips should I know?
Two key questions have generated huge pay-offs of insight for me: “Is this true?” and “What can I learn from this?” After I write one of those questions on the page, I just write down the answer without serious thought. Writing dialogue with people from the past — or even imaginary people — is also powerful for surfacing hidden thoughts and wisdom.

Another tip is to write as fast as you can without concern for punctuation, grammar or even making sense. Just get it on the page and don't let your inner critic stop you!

Do I need lists of topics to write about?
No. But using them can seed some amazing essay material.

What if I lapse?
My advice about writing in your journal is the same as writing life stories: Anything you write, anything at all, is better than writing nothing. Even if it is just a few paragraphs a couple of times a year.

Where can I find more information?
My favorite websites about journaling:
International Association for Journal Writing
Writing Through Life
Center for Journal Therapy

My favorite books about journaling:
One to One, Christina Baldwin
Journal to the Self, Kathleen Adams.

Write Now: if you don’t have a journal, find some paper or open a new file and start one. If you do have one. pull it out and write an entry.



I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. ~ Michael Crichton

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say. ~Mark Twain

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money. ~ J.P. Donleavy

My first draft is not even recognizable by the time I get to the last draft. I change everything. I consider myself at Square Zero when I finish the first draft. It’s almost like I use that draft to think through my plot. My hard copy of each draft will be dripping with ink by the time I finish, and I’ll do that several times. ~ Terri Blackstock

Writing is Rewriting.

Amateurs fall in love with every word they write. ~ William Bernhardt

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~Author Unknown

Keep working. Don’t wait for inspiration. Work inspires inspiration. Keep working. ~ Michael Crichton

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions. ~James Michener

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. ~ Richard Bach

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. ~ Gloria Steinem

I always do the first line well, but I have trouble doing the others. ~ Moliere

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. - Jack London

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~ Walter "Red" Smith

When asked, "How do you write?" I invariably answer, "One word at a time." ~ Stephen King

When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue; you sell him a whole new life. ~ Emerson

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure. ~ Oliver Herford

I write fiction because it's a way of making statements I can disown. ~ Tom Stoppard

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~ Ray Bradbury

When I stop, the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing.~ Tennessee Williams

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. ~ E.L. Doctorow

Writing a book is an adventure: it begins as an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, then a master and finally a tyrant. ~Winston Churchill

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain [and] the noise of battle. ~John Cheever

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler

Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~Joseph Heller

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. ~ Stephen King

Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch

All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves. ~Don Marquis

There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters. ~Miguel de Cervantes

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. ~Henry David Thoreau

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. ~Arthur Polotnik

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~ Stephen King

Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves. ~C. Astrid Weber

A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident. ~W. Somerset Maugham, Summing Up, 1938

There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily. ~ Anthony Trollope

If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. ~Carrie Latet

Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason. They made no such demand upon those who wrote them. ~Charles Caleb Colton

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. ~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851

Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head. ~From the movie Finding Forrester

Coach Sherrie says: I am thinking about my revisions. I have written approx. 3 drafts and I know I have a great story; I just am not sure HOW to tell it. My coach is suggesting that I meditate to get in touch with the finished story and the main characters and let THEM TELL ME how the story should be told.
I will keep you up-to-date on how it goes.