A Holiday Gift for Yourself–A Journal

IMG_4436I just discovered a wonderful post on the value of journaling: 9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year. In this post, author Lori White looks at how journaling can benefit all areas of your life and help you reach your goals, and she offers links to other articles to back up her premise that keeping a journal can “improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life … everything! And for those of you thinking, “Whatever diaries are dumb,” try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.”  

Now, I’ve done daily journal writing for short periods, like a month, but I’ve never made a longer commitment to the process. I will definitely be working toward making journaling a daily habit in 2016. Lots of the areas of life that journaling can impact are areas that I’m looking to improve, so it’s time to decide that I’m worth 15 minutes a day with pen and journal. My own research has taught me that it takes 66 days to create a habit, so that’s my first goal–to stick with journaling for 66 days. If I can find time for Facebook or FreeCell, I should be able to find 15 minutes a day to write in a journal–and I’ll have the fun of buying a new journal, too. I hope you decide to join me and make daily journal writing your resolution for the new year. If you’re already a journal writer, please drop a note in the comments to tell us about your experience with journaling. How does it benefit you?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I’ll be checking back on New Year’s Day with your first writing prompts of 2016!


Write Every Day

Well, as usual, things don’t always work out the way you hoped–especially in the self-publishing world. What I thought would take a week, took a little longer. The journal is up and ready at Createspace and Amazon(more about that below) and the grammar book is still a work in progress. Of course. the delay was a result of my own distraction. Once I sorted out how to design a cover on Canva, I realized that I actually had two more journals just waiting to be created–so I did those, too. Now 201 Writing Prompts and Writing Prompts and More are journals, too! I’m just waiting for my next batch of ISBNs and then I can get those in print, too.

I wanted to get the Write Every Day journal out in time for writers who might like to get in training for NaNoWriMo, and I just squeaked under the wire. Goal accomplished–though the journal is really for any writer, any time.

The idea for the journal began after reading that it takes approximately 66 days to create a habit. That’s a long slog on your own, so Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit (158 pages) gives you 66 writing prompts, some needed encouragement along the way, an extra 50 writing prompts in case you’re just not in the mood for the one assigned, plus a few coloring images that you can use to colour your way to creativity. I hope you check it out if  you need to work on a daily writing habit or if you know a writer who needs a creative boost.

I’m planning to enjoy my last two weeks of freedom before prep for school starts again. I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. I’ve certainly been enjoying mine, but part of me is an autumn person. I like the changes and the idea of starting something new–new students, new challenges, new colours in the leaves, new freshness in the air. Maybe it’s because I was born in October, or maybe it’s just part of my DNA, but fall is when I like to start fresh–a bit like the New Year but a few months early. What about  you? Is the fall a time for new beginnings for you? Or do real changes happen after New Year’s Eve?

Whatever your timetable, I hope that writing and creating are still at the top of your to-do lists!

Oh, and here’s a sneak peek at the new journal covers.

Writing Prompts and More journal210 journal cover

December 2013 Writing Prompts

New JournalNovember just flew by, and I’m sure December will, too. I’m working on a big freelance gig right now, and there’s the possibility of another project for a children’s publisher before the month is over–lots to keep me busy! I’m determined to find time for joywriting, too, in amongst all the other commitments, though, believe me, I’m not aiming for a high word count. I have a book idea that I’d like to plot out to see if it’s worth pursuing, and I want to go back to journaling every day. That’s my limit.

I hope you find some ways to stay connected to your writing through the holidays. It’s a tough slog getting reacquainted with those writing muscles after they’ve been allowed to be lazy for a long time–and, trust me, I speak from considerable, sad experience. If you need some inspiration to help you fill a journal page this month, maybe some of the following writing prompts will help.

1. Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

  • holiday, red, flash, tin, tremor, find
  • salt, light, hand, turn, cover, water
  • bag, handle, glass, date, black, walk

2. What is your character’s favourite holiday movie? When and where was your character the first time he or she saw it? Who was your character with? Does the memory make your character happy or sad? Why?

3. See if you can imagine a story to go with one of these titles? Behind the Curtain, Red Mittens, The Centre Closes, Mr. Snow, Dead on Time, The Last Photograph

4. Imagine what might be happening before, during and after these lines of dialogue.

  • Where is it?
  • I left it at school.
  • Then you can’t come with us.
  • We’re done here
  • But we haven’t —
  • I said, we’re done.
  • Have you heard from Gregor?
  • No. We’ve not heard from him for five days?
  • Then, there’s no news of the battle either?
  • No.

5. See if some of these opening lines suggest a story.

  1. “No. You unwrap your present first.”
  2. I yanked out my earbuds. That noise had to be a scream.
  3. Margot always ate her vegetables first.
  4. The smell of smoke lingered long after the blaze had died.
  5. I huddled in the stern as the sea slammed the little boat.
  6. Why was her floor covered in broken glass?

Hope you have a creative and happy month ahead!

Writing and NaNoWriMo

Saugeen Shores-20131013-00400Well, winter’s been doing its best to threaten us this week–icy car windows, the scramble to find mittens and scarves, fat flakes of snow flying horizontally past windows, but none of the snow has stayed on the ground long enough to be considered ‘real’ snow. Personally, I’d like winter to wait just a little longer. Fall has been extraordinarily beautiful here. We must have had just the right kind of summer weather we needed to create the oranges, golds, and yellows that still brighten the trees.

Today is a sit-by-the-fire-and-watch-the-sleet kind of day. And a writing day, too. Naturally, there are lots of other items on the to-do list, but writing is going to be top of the agenda for the next hour or two. Nice.

Are you planning to try National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo) this November? I’m working with some other writers on an amended version of the NaNo challenge to get a couple of my current projects past the stalled stage. We all set our own goals, or use the NaNo daily, 1667-word-count that produces a 50,000-word novel by November 30th.  Some of the writers in my group will be signed up for NaNo, and others, like me, will have their own daily word count goals. Either way, we will be checking in every day to report on our progress. If you’re signed up for NaNo, I’d love to hear what you’re planning to work on, and I also wish you every success.

I’m going to shut things down for a while, get out the journal, and do some writing. Since it’s November 1st next week, I’ll be brainstorming some new first-of-the-month writing prompts, too.

Hope you find some creative time today!

Pen in Hand

IMG-20130709-00210Yesterday at Kristen Lamb’s Blog, Kristen listed 5 traits of the successful writer: passion, self-discipline, humility, healthy relationship with failure, and persistence.  She states, “We can have all the talent in the world, but without these five ingredients, we will be hard-pressed to ever reach our dreams.”

Each of the five traits on the list can be a challenge for me at one time or another, but the most consistent challenge is self-discipline. I am constantly distracted by my laptop life: Facebook, email, checking my blog stats, Free Cell and Spider Solitaire, Ravelry (looking for my next knitting project), reading other people’s blog posts, etc.. The writing/working time slips away as I roam from one distraction to another. I’m not alone. People are actually writing about this phenomenon. Here are two links to articles about what is being called Internet ADD:  http://zenhabits.net/8-practical-tips-to-cure-your-internet-add-attention-deficit-disorder/ and  http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2013/01/internet-based-add-do-you-have-it/

I’ve decided that the only cure is abstinence. I have the luxury of a lot of writing time this week, and finally, yesterday, I figured out what I had to do to get anything accomplished–and did it. I closed the laptop, got out my journal, and worked my way through the next chapter of my book. Today I’m going to type up my notes–on my NEO (no internet, just a nice clicky keyboard and a small screen.) I have three more days to myself this week and a lot to accomplish. I’ll let you know how this strategy works.

Do you get distracted by your online life? How do you switch off and get the work done? What’s your biggest challenge among Kristen’s 5 traits? Love to hear your thoughts and solutions.

Hope you have a creative week and find your own way to carve out some creative time and make progress toward your writing goals.


April Challenge Update

IMG_5709I’ve been having an interesting time working on my challenge this month to write first thing every morning. I can honestly say that I have written every day, but I haven’t managed to do it every morning, first thing, which was the plan. Now that my semester is ended, I’m hoping to manage to meet the challenge for the rest of the month–and forever. I really have found it a useful exercise. I don’t write on my current project most days. But I do settle my thoughts, make my lists, get frustrations off my chest, and think about how thankful I am for the people in my life. And when I do get to write later in the day, I really do get into “writing mode” sooner, which is a nice benefit. So all good.

I had a couple of fun writing gigs last week. One included my visiting nurseries and finding out about new gardening trends. The other involved a trip to Lowe’s to find out about the latest in power tools. My family thought the latter was pretty funny. My feelings about treking around hardware stores are no secret, though I definitely do my share when home repairs are on the list. Both articles were fun to write, and, as usual, I learned something new. That is one of the best parts of being a freelancer. I get to talk to interesting people, learn new things, stretch my writing muscles with new topics and audiences–and get paid. I’ve posted one of the flower photos that I took while on my nursery visits. Spring is slow to come here, so seeing things in bloom was a real treat.

What writing projects have you worked on lately? Have you learned something from your research or from an interview that you didn’t know before?

I hope you are having a creative April.




New JournalWell, the brainstorming began in earnest this week. It was reading week, no classes, and my marking was finished last weekend, so no excuses either.

I kept a promise to myself and made sure that I found white space to create in. No cellphones, no computers, and CBC’s Espace Musique playing softly in the background. (I like listening to radio in French because I can’t understand much of what anyone is saying, so even the conversation washes over me with its own music.) The programs’ music choices are such a pleasure to listen to and never, ever boring.

And I’m pleased to say that all that white space worked! I bought a new journal (no suprise there to those who know me) and made a point of sitting with it every day until something emerged that resembled a story idea. I managed to come up with about 5 ideas that had a beginning, a muddle, and an end, and a few more with just beginnings and muddles but no endings–yet. I live in hope. 🙂

Of course, there is a lot of scribbling in my journal, too. Lists of places I’ve been, or places I should probably research, and settings of books I’ve read or am reading, anything really that I could think of that would keep the pen moving until something emerged. Last week, poet Patricia McGoldrick, suggested white paper and coloured markers and mind mapping. I’ve finally cleaned off the surface of my desk sufficiently to actually try that, so that’s my challenge this weekend. (And, also no surprise to my friends–I already own at least 2 sets of markers and more than enough paper. Please tell me that there are other writers out there who enjoy visiting Staples as much as I do!)

How do you brainstorm story ideas? Agatha Christie said she got her best ideas while washing dishes. I hope you find lots of creative ideas for your own projects that will keep you writing for a long time to come.

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