Category Archives: Journaling

The Gift of Writing Regularly

Never Too LateLately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Thinking is great. Doing is better. To encourage you to keep writing, I’d like to share a few excerpts from an interview Carol Smallwood did with me about my new book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. The title says it all, but the memoir says it in so much more detail.

When I started making notes for the book, while Richard and I were dating, I was filled with “what ifs.”

 

  1. What if this wasn’t the real deal?
  2. What if I lost my identity and my money—not that I had an overwhelming amount.
  3. What if I couldn’t live with 62-years of being alone?

I journaled about these questions and much more. Writing gave me perspective and insight. We got married on February 17, 2012.

Once the book came out, it was time for interviews. Carol Smallwood, a prolific librarian, asked some great questions, and I was happy to answer them. I loved it when she asked, “From working closely with writers, what advice would you give someone struggling with getting started as a writer?

So here are A Dozen Flexible Rules for Struggling Writers:

  1. Write daily. Start by writing for 10-20 minutes.
  2. Give yourself permission to get lost in your writing
  3. Write about whatever you want, and if one day you want to write a list, start there.
  4. Go wherever the writing takes you. No one ever has to read it but you.
  5. When you are done, reread what you’ve written and underline 2-3 places that have energy for you.
  6. Pick one the next day that you really like and start there.
  7. Or write another list.
  8. Or write about whatever is on your mind.
  9. Can’t write? Read a story.
  10. Look at how professionals put a story together.
  11. Go back to your journal and say what you liked about the story.
  12. Let the writing go wherever it wants before repeating Steps 5 & 6.

Start anywhere! Writing daily matters. Your techniques will improve. So will the speed at which you get ideas.

I’ve been writing Monday through Friday for the last 6 weeks or so. Theoretically, I write first thing in the morning—but I usually do some stretches, feed Eddie McPuppers, and pour a cup of coffee before I start. Usually, I write for 10 minutes, but I often go longer. Then polish for another 15-20. I started doing this to help me get back on track after publishing Never Too Late. I don’t consider myself a struggling writer, but this helps so much that I recommend it anytime anyone gets in a slump.

NOTE: If you defy rules:

  1. Quitting is not an option.
  2. Doodling is not an option.
  3. Checking the Internet or my e-mail is not an option.

If I could get going a little earlier, I’d start looking at the flash fiction, flash memoir, and potential for longer stories in this eclectic collection I’m building. You have to have the material before you can start shaping it, and I feel more and more ready to shape and sculpt my stories every day.

As a woman I heard speak recently said, “Write, revise, send, and repeat.” I think I’ve got the first two down. It’s time to start practicing send and repeat, and see where those steps take me.

If you’d like to read Carol’s interview with me and learn more about Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, go to www.writeradvice.com.


Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was released in December. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.

Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.

So Many Benefits from Journaling


The advice below is excerpted from a piece I published in Inspire Me Today, three years ago.

Since then I’ve had numerous articles published in print and e-publications. I’ve also published my YA, Talent, after starting, stopping, revising, reshaping, and adding new strands for years, and I am almost finished with a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62 to a two-time widower seeking his third wife on … Craigslist.

None of this would have happened, though, without the benefits of journaling. At the risk of sounding like I am writing in my journal, where anything goes, I am living proof that journaling works and you don’t lose until you quit trying.

Here is some advice for starting or reviving your journal:

Record what matters. No one can tell your story but you.

Who’d be interested? Kids, grandkids, spouses, your siblings who remember each moment differently, and generations you may never meet.

Write as often as you can. Add photos. Remember you’re writing to friends and family who may live a very different life. What do you want them to know about you and the way you lived?

Don’t worry about rules. Your journal—your rules!

Not sure how to start? There are two surefire ways:

One is to start with a sensory image:

I’m writing on my laptop and listening to the muted clicks of the black keys that glow from the light underneath.

I’m at Starbuck’s, listening to the snatches of conversation that whirl around me.

Afternoon sunlight makes the leaves on the ivy outside my window look shiny.

The second surefire way to start is with a sentence start:

  • I want…
  • I remember…
  • What if…
  • Today I feel…
  • On the best day of my life…
  • Love is…
  • A year from now…

Where can you find sentence starts?

There are over 200 of them listed in You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. This isn’t an ad; it’s a resource.

You can also take them off of TV and out of books, but why reinvent the wheel? Don’t let the subtitle fool you. It should be Journaling for Everyone.

Can you reuse a sentence start? Absolutely! It shows your change and growth.

As you’re writing, trust your instincts. Trust yourself. Who do you want to be? How do you want the world to perceive you? What do you want the reader to know? Let those questions guide you.

Want to share your results? Leave a comment here or share it with me through www.writeradvice.com.

B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice . She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and Talent (Eternal Press).  Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; GoodHousekeeping.com; PurpleClover.com; and elsewhere. She is working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at 62.

Why Journal? A Look at the Positive Effects of Journaling

Guest post by Story Circle Member B. Lynn Goodwin

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How can a journal help a writer? Journaling allows writers to vent, process, explore, discover, and rejoice. It offers a safe place to explore, express oneself, dig deeper, analyze, and discover truths.

Over the past ten years my journals have been

A record

A place to spew

A place to delve and see where the pen takes me

A place to hone my thoughts

A place to sharpen my craft, and figure out what I really mean to say

A place to make discoveries

A place to find story ideas

A place to find resolution or the next step on my journey

A place to make lists and cross off what I accomplish

A place to look back on what was once important and gain perspective

A place to record my reflections

A place to hone my character’s voices

A place to explore my character’s secret thoughts and private lives

I write my journals in longhand. I like the smooth flow of a pen on paper. I like the progress of moving from left to right, line after line, traveling down one page and on to the next. The rhythm of longhand soothes me.

In addition to the fact that university studies have shown that writing saves lives, here are a few other reasons to journal:

I write to share

I write a pull out secrets locked place in my brain

I write to see what happens if I release my private truths

I write to move to a new level of comprehension or analysis

I write to tweak life and imagine happy endings

I write to tweak life and imagine worst-case scenarios

I write gratitude lists to feel better

Try some of my favorite sentence starts and see what happens:

Today I feel…

Today I believe…

Today I want…

Inside of me…

No one knows I worry about…

I am…

I can barely remember…

I love the smell of…

If I ever talk in my sleep…

What if…

Though it does not always seem like it, my journals have the power to get me out of my head and into action. They are a safe place to heal. Healing does not wipe out old problems or past actions. It washes over them, helping you cope, change your attitude, and move forward.

Heal your spirit and discover the spirits of your characters by writing in a journal.

BlynnPB.Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com and the author of You Want Me to Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, which contains encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to help you journal any time, even if writer’s block rises up like a granite wall in front of you. She’s also the author of Talent (Eternal Press), which will be out November 1, 2015. 

She teaches through Story Circle Network, welcomes all kinds of editing clients, continues to journal frequently, and is hard at work on a YA novel. Talent Cover

Home for Henry Blog Book Tour: Slow Writing

By Anne Kaier

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Note: We are pleased to be hosting a blog book tour stop for author and Story Circle member Anne Kaier’s delightful memoir, Home With Henry.  For more information on the book, visit http://www.annekaier.com/content/home-henry-memoir .

 

Do you write best under deadline?  Can you sit at your laptop, bring all your wiggly brains to bear on a subject and just spit something out? Come up with five hundred words of deathless prose in a zippy half-hour? I have a very accomplished friend who works as a speechwriter for a fortune 100 company. She routinely writes complicated speeches for the CEO in no time. Sits down on a Friday morning and has a draft of a half-hour speech ready for review by all the corporate muckety mucks by lunchtime.

I cannot do that. I need to ponder, contemplate and rewrite. It takes a good year for me to write a long prose memoir piece. This includes walks and dreamingtime and –my personal favorite—writing down brilliant ideas on scraps of paper as I am driving.  And I live in Philadelphia—a big city with crazy drivers. They don’t scare me. I can easily steer with one hand and scribble with another. But deadlines drive all the good ideas right out of my head. As the great Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge admitted:  “deadlines stun me.”  Now Coleridge wrote, possibly while stoned, several of the best poems written in English, including the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” So I am comforted by this. Great minds can, it seems, think slowly. Anyway, mine does. Great or not, that’s how it works.

AK&cats 001When I wrote my new memoir, Home with Henry, about rescuing a feral cat, I kept a journal, written in longhand, mainly at work, when I should have been doing other things such as writing sales brochures. I took my time about it—and didn’t tell anyone I was keeping the journal. So I could write in it with a feeling of freedom, every day—or whenever I wanted to. I certainly didn’t have a deadline. I was writing for myself, because I was interested in Henry’s progress from hiding under a spare bed to coming downstairs and showing himself to be a sweetie. After about a year, I put the journal aside. I didn’t go back to it until a publisher asked me for a manuscript and I convinced her that my cat tale would make a good book.  Even then I was able to take some time in revising the story.

In our fast-paced life, there’s a premium on being able to multi-task—and do things quickly. Efficiency experts rule. But I need to take my time and dawdle, let my mind wander where it will. I need to sleep on my drafts, mosey out into my garden and stare into space when I’m writing something. I believe in slow writing. Like slow food, good writing, for some people at least, needs to simmer, bubble, and stew.

henrycoverFINALpublicityHow about you? Are you a dawdler? A master multi-tasker? Let us know in the comments below, and please support Anne by checking out her other Home with Henry Blog Book Tour stops. 

 

 

June 29 http://redwhiteandgrew.com/

June 30 https://storycirclenetwork.wordpress.com/

July 1 http://judyalter.com/

July 2 http://www.MochasMysteriesMeows.com

July 3  http://consciouscat.net/

July 4 http://www.bloodredpencil.com

and

www.marianallen.com

July 5 http://joyceboatright.blogspot.com/ 

July 6 http://maryannwrites.com/

July 7 http://womensmemoirs.com/

July 9 http://www.thecatonmyhead.com