Archive for September, 2011


Journals: what and how to journal

September 24, 2011

What do you write about in your journal? In order to answer my own question, I hunted

through my stash of old notebooks and discovered a plethora of ideas. Not only did I have traditional diaries with covers designed in pink polka dots and bursting flowers, but I had journals filled with odd organizational tips. Call me obsessive, but I found notebooks about the following subjects:

-personal musings


-ideas for writing

-character sketches

-Christmas ideas

-important dates (birthdays and the like)



-notes to my kids

-notes to my dad

-home improvements

-travel ideas

Be relieved to know that I’ve since consolidated. I now have one journal with tabs for most of my subjects. As a paper girl, I can’t completely convert to the keyboard, but I’m trying.

Journal writing can be used for almost any kind of organization. A journal gives you a place to write anywhere, anytime. As a certified writing geek, I even keep a journal in the glove compartment of my car. One never knows when the next Newberry or Pulitzer Prize idea will strike. My suggestion? Buy a journal, although just one. Organize with tabs. Write.

And write some more.


Quotes 2

September 15, 2011

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. –Confucius

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. –Thomas Jefferson

Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination. –Louise Brooks



September 8, 2011

Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard what happened on 9-11? I do. I was watching the Today Show when the plane hit the first tower. I thought it was a movie clip, and called my husband out of the shower to watch. Then we heard Matt Lauer say, “Oh no,” or something to that effect. I mostly remember his tone when he informed the nation that the second tower had been hit. Our nation was under attack.

My heart goes out to survivors, to families who’ve suffered such tragic loss, and to our country.

Memory can serve as a powerful tool in writing. It sucks us back into what we experienced, how we felt, sometimes evoking exact smells and tastes of that time. When I teach creative writing workshops, I often use memory as a prompt. Here are five to get your juices rolling.

-Recall an experience that took place in your elementary school cafeteria

-What was in your desk drawer as a kid? What about as a teen?

-What did your dad do on Saturday mornings?

-Did you have a lunch box in third grade and if so what did it look like and what did you pack in it?

-Remember 9-11

Happy (and not) remembering!


Space Place: where do you write?

September 2, 2011

Where does a writer write? In my case, anywhere I can’t hear my kids. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome. But listening to them bicker and banter does not help my writing process.

Because my kids are now in school, I write most often at my desk and edit at the kitchen counter. Neither space is large but because we live at almost 10,000 feet, we have a fabulous view of the mountains. Here’s a list of what I keep nearby:


-homemade gifts from my kids (who has the heart to toss out those tissue


-inspirational books

-a crystal or two

-my dad’s old keepsake box with his cheap Timex watch inside

-a mug of something warm

-a stash of sugarless hard candy (this replaced my gooey black licorice habit after

a mouthful of cavities)

However, like most writers, I often need a change of scenery. A local coffee-house hits the spot and sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly lushish, I work in bars and write great character sketches. On a warm summer day, I’ll find myself drawn to a local lake and write under a tree. At other times, I’ll edit in the car while waiting for the kids’ ski training to end.

The point is, a writer has the luxury of writing anywhere, so don’t worry about the perfect place. Granted, a ski lodge might not be the most conducive spot to write esoteric prose, but it can be great if you need dialogue between cold, whiney kids.

Just write. Carry a pen and paper with you at all times. Inspiration can be found in the oddest places.

My suggestion is to create a sacred space, surrounding you with lovely inspirational knickknacks, but allow yourself the freedom to travel elsewhere. It can be dangerous to believe that good writing is done only at a polished desk. Once, I had a teacher (and very prolific, famous writer) tell me that in order to keep herself writing, she had to duct tape herself to a chair. In my opinion, that’s when you know the desk has become too important. Do you really want to peel tape off your skin at the end of the day?

I’ll say it again, just write. Anywhere.