Here are my responses to Cee’s questions for week 36 of Share Your World
Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?
I usually read fiction, and my tastes are pretty wide, but I love looking through picture books of historical photos. I like to see people in them mainly, and imagine myself in those times, in that life. It’s probably the reason I like to look at cemetery headstones. I also love well-written memoirs and biographies – more those of ordinary rather than famous people.
What is your biggest fear or phobia? (no photos please)
I don’t have any phobias, thank goodness. My greatest fear is that my grandchildren and their children’s world will be an extremely difficult one.
What is your favourite cheese?
I love almost any kind of cows’ milk cheese – apart from the really smelly ones; the blue vein types. My favourites range from the soft camembert, through tasty cheddar to extra-strong tasty cheddars. I also love fetta cheese with its strong tangy flavour – tastes best eaten with dark olives.
What is your favourite month of the year?
I don’t have a particular month which is a favourite. Every month has its own attractions, including winter. However, I do love the months from September to November, when it is spring in Australia and before the really hot months. That is where we are now, wattles in golden bloom, happy wanderer creeping through the grass and over wire fences, tiny purple and yellow flowers.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I am thankful to see the writing critique groups I initiated 6-7 years ago are going strong. It is wonderful to see the development in their writing skills, and to have a part in helping them achieve that.
I am looking forward to travelling interstate to see some of my kids and their families. It is hard when they live so far away, so a trip to see them – and our beautiful country – is always a treat.
Tags: fireworks, Chinese invention, Li Tian, alchemists, chemicals in fireworks, fireworks in celebrations, firecrackers
Fireworks of a kind were used in China over 2,000 years ago, well before the discovery of gunpowder.
These early ‘fireworks’ consisted of green bamboo thrown onto a fire. As air pockets inside the bamboo heated, they exploded, creating a frightening noise. They were used to scare away bad spirits, and it became part of a ritual to scare away the evil spirit Nian at the start of each new year.
Gradually, the green bamboo bangs because part of other celebrations like births, weddings and coronations. They were used thus for the next thousand years.
Invention of Gunpowder
There are several references to a Chinese monk named Li Tian, who lived near the city of Liu Yang in Hunan Province, who is credited with the invention of firecrackers about 1,000 years ago. There are other stories of an accidental explosion when an alchemist was heating a mix of chemicals.
What is known however, is that somewhere between about 600 and 900AD, Chinese alchemists discovered a particular mixture of chemicals that ignited with a flash and a bang when heated over a fire. The records show that they were advised to shun this mixture of sulfur, saltpetre (potassium nitrate), honey and arsenic disulfide.
However, some alchemists continued to experiment with it.
They discovered that explosions resulted when the mixture was heated inside bamboo tubes, and that flames, smoke and sparks erupted when it was ignited in an open container. The more saltpetre added to the mix, the more violently it exploded.
What we now call gunpowder became a useful as a military weapon around the 10th century, though initially it was only used to frighten and confuse the enemy. Later, it was it used also to inflict injury.
Bamboo was gradually replaced by thick paper tubes and fuses, made from gunpowder wrapped in long thin pieces of paper, were developed.
As well as for military applications, firecrackers continued to be used in China at important celebrations.
The main components of gunpowder and their ratios, developed over 500 years ago, are still the same as are used today:
1) Saltpetre 75%
2) Charcoal 15%
3) Sulphur 10%
Firecrackers go to Europe and Beyond
In its early years, the important part of exploding black powder was the light and sound that would scare off the spirits. Even when fireworks came to Europe and spread across the world, it wasn’t the colour that mattered. It is believed that Marco Polo brought firecrackers back to Europe from China in 1292. The Italians loved them. Three hundred years later, with the arrival of the Renaissance and the era of exploration and experiment, they developed a greater range of fireworks; especially skyrockets, fountains and spinning wheels.
These were refined and expanded over the years, and their use spread throughout Europe, where monarchs and other rulers used them (especially rockets) to demonstrate their power and majesty.
As exploration of the world proceeded during the 16th to the 18th centuries, the use of fireworks spread to new lands. Soon they had become a common element of major celebrations throughout the world.
Fireworks Become More Colourful
For almost 1000 years, the only colours in fireworks were orange and white (from black powder or metallic powder respectively).
By the 1830s however, knowledge of chemicals and their properties was greatly expanded. During that decade, fire masters in southern Italy were able to add reds, greens, blues and yellows by the addition of metallic salts and chlorinated powders. The discovery and use of electrical energy and hydrolysis meant that the chemicals could burn faster, hotter and brighter, and displays, especially aerial ones, became even more dramatic.
Fireworks can be classified broadly by whether they are used for ground or aerial display. Not until the last 200 years did the magical display of coloured sparks become the real focus of a fireworks show. Modern fireworks are also called pyrotechnics, and the experts who develop and stage them are known as pyro-technicians.
As well as science, there is and always has always been an art and craft to development and use of fireworks. Modern fireworks have a myriad of different effects depending on their chemical composition, strength and containment.
China is by far the largest producer and exporter of fireworks in the world. During the 20th century, the mechanics of mass production gradually brought their cost down considerably. Eventually, fireworks became cheap enough to be available to ordinary families, and they could be more personally involved in national, religious and cultural fireworks displays.
General history: http://www.pyrouniverse.com/history.htm
Use of fireworks by European monarchs: http://io9.com/the-first-fireworks-displays-were-terrifyingly-huge-1600541130
Depictions of fireworks in Europe from the 16th century: http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/06/25/picturing-pyrotechnics/
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: journal quotes
Many people well-known, famous, infamous or unknown have kept journals. Some of them have even commented on them. Here are a few of their words:
“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”
“In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.
The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.”
“The diary taught me that it is in the moments of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves most accurately. I learned to choose the heightened moments because they are the moments of revelation.”
From Anais Nin’s essay “On Writing,” 1947.
“People who keep journals have life twice.”
“Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.”
“I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot… and memory is important.”
“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”
—Robin S. Sharma
“So far you truly have been a source of great comfort to me, and so has Kitty, whom I now write to regularly. This way of keeping a diary is much nicer, and now I can hardly wait for moments when I can write in you.”
—Anne Frank, to her diary, from the Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition
“My diary is almost a year old now, and judging by past experiences, it’s now worth $500 — at least.”
—Stuart C. Covington, in The Author and journalist, Volumes 32-33
“For me, my diary is my life, my comfort, my second existence.”
—Ramon Gil Navarro, from The Gold Rush Diary of Ramon Gil Navarro
“My journal is my constant companion. It is never far from my reach … It is a front porch of solace and retreat when I am tired and weary.”
—Nicole Johnson, from Fresh-brewed Life: A Stirring Invitation to Wake Up Your Soul
“My journal is a storehouse, a treasury for everything in my daily life: the stories I hear, the people I meet, the quotations I like, and even the subtle signs and symbols I encounter that speak to me indirectly.”
—Dorothy U. Seyler from Patterns of Reflection: A Reader
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: acrobat in circus, advice to my younger self, believe in yourself, chocolate, comfort food, jaye Ford - writer, Sydney Coastal Walk, writing blog
Here are my responses to Cee’s latest questions, where we get to know each other better. And, I think we also get to know ourselves better.
Have your blogging goals changed?
The answer to this is “yes” and “no”. When I first began blogging four and a half years ago (where has that time gone!), my aim was to create a habit of writing regularly. That aim has largely been successful, and I am pleased about that.
I had intended the main focus of my blog to be on the topic of writing. I have indeed posted a lot of entries about writing, but I have posted more on other topics. When I look back, I see that many of my posts, especially over the past year or more have been on history and, specifically, on my family history.
To me, that is still about writing. It is about writing more of my family history and putting together a book for my children and grandchildren to read. I want them to know something about where they come from, and about some of the wonderful ancestors who have had an impact on the development of my side of their heritage.
If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?
I cannot imagine ever wanting to perform in a circus but, if I did, I think I would like to be an acrobat. If I could physically perform those twists, turns, leaps and balances, then maybe I could also do them mentally.
If you could go back and talk to yourself at age 18 what advice would you give yourself?
I think I would tell myself not to rush into the things that others say you should do. I would say to look at what is possible, and don’t be limited by their expectations. I would say that you are capable of much more than you believe, so stretch your imagination and realise that anything is possible.
What is your favourite comfort snack food?
Like so many people everywhere, I think it would have to be chocolate. It tastes good, it has caffeine and thus gives a boost in energy, and it releases endorphins to make things look more positive. I just wish it wasn’t so darned fattening!
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last Sunday, we went on a six-kilometre walk along the Sydney coastline, from Coogee to Bondi. We went with friends who belong to the same sailing club we do. It was fabulous; the cliffs, the rocks, the sea, all bathed in beautiful sunshine for the last day of winter.
Coming up this week is the launch of the fourth book by local author Jaye Ford. Jaye writes psychological thrillers, and the latest is Already Dead. I have read and really enjoyed the first three books and am keen to pick up a signed copy of the latest.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: book genres, difital books, e-books, print books, reading and writing
I have written a whole series of posts about my reading through my life. But I am not just a reader. For the last eight years, I have also been a writer.
I write in a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. If you want to improve your craft, you read about it as well as practising it. I write teen novels, children’s stories, memoir, biography, family history, articles, and even poetry.
There are lots of great books on all aspects of writing available in both print and electronic format. I have quite a number in both formats. Among them are:
Writing Craft: – Kate Grenville: The Writing Book.
– Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones; and Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life.
Memoir: – Patti Miller: The Memoir Book; Writing Your Life,
– Denis Ledoux: Turning Memories Into Memoirs
– – Ann Patchett: The Getaway Car – A Practical Memoir
Because I write memoir, I read memoir. Mostly, they are Australian. The first I ever read was Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles. C.J. Koch’s The Year of Living Dangerously was a good one too, then A.B. Facey’s A Fortunate Life. I also read Frank McCourt’s two memoirs, among others.
Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River, I enjoyed, and then followed it up with her memoir about the writing of it, The Search for the Secret River. The latest I read was Patti Miller’s The Mind of a Thief, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There are several other memoirs I’ve read whose titles and authors escape me at present.
Because I write memoir, biography and historical novels (as mine are), there is lots of research to be done. Two memoirs by Hugh Lunn have been helpful in reminding me about growing up in 1950s and 1960s Australia – Over the Top With Jim was the first, as was his Lost for Words, about Australian idiom of the time. –I have also read memoirs by people who lived in Lancashire mill towns at the time I was little, and my parents’ generation before that. Two good ones were William Woodruff’s The Road to Nab End and W.R. Mitchell’s By gum, life were sparse!
I also write Teen/Young Adult novels. Because I do, I enjoy reading them – indeed, I would be silly if I didn’t. I find that many teen/YA novels are more real than most of those written for adults. They – even the fantasy stories – mostly deal with issues that have relevance, depth and guts.
I recently read two teen novels that I came across at a print book sale, and I still have a couple more of them to read. The quality of the first two is high, and I expect the rest to be also. I’d recommend anyone to have a look at this genre. A lot of good stuff is being written – often much better than that being written for adults. Jesse Blackadder’s two books are on my To Be Read list also.
Children’s and Young Adult books I have read in the last couple of years include:
Morris Gleitzman’s trilogy: Once; Then; and Now
JK Rowling: The Harry Potter series
Witi Ihimaera: The Whale Rider
Marilyn Halvorson: Let It Go
Jackie French: Pennies for Hitler
Ebooks for Children and Young Adults
C.S. Lakin: Time Sniffers (Shadow World 1) I rated 5 stars.
Aida Brassington: Between Seasons
Amy Kathleen Ryan: Shadow Falls
Kristah Price (from New Zealand)’s Where the Moths Dance
Being a writer, I know how difficult it is to get your work out to the reading public. So I like to support local writers. Wherever I can, I attend book launches and author talks. I usually come away with signed copies of their books that I have purchased.
Some of these local authors and their books are
– Jaye Ford’s psychological thrillers: Beyond Fear; Scared Yet?; and Blood Secret.
– Kaz Delaney’s Y.A. paranormal novels Dead Actually and Almost Dead.
– Lachlan Ness’s stories of his time as a Presbyterian minister, the first of which is A Kangaroo Loose in the Top Paddock.
– Debbie Robson’s historical novel, Tomaree.
– Victoria Norton’s short stories, purple emerald gold.
– Pam Garfoot and Elizabeth Conway’s Making Them Real: Finding a Queensland Past.
There are always more books than anyone can find, let alone read. However, within the limits of reason, I am doing the best I can.
Are you a reader? What are your favourite genres?
© Linda Visman
Journal writing is an important part of my life. Not many days go by without my writing something – whether it’s a short note or, as it usually is, several pages.
So what makes keeping a journal so important to me?
Writing in my journal makes me feel like I have a friend I can talk to, a friend that doesn’t judge me but accepts me as I am.
I am writing to and for myself – nobody else. So my journal is – or should be – a safe repository for my innermost thoughts. I can write freely and without censorship – or censure – from anyone else.
I must write. It is a compulsion that has grown over the years. Now, I don’t feel right if a day goes by without my having written something.
I work through my angst in my journal. Instead of writing an email to someone or making a phone call or saying something face to face that I will later be sorry for, I set it down in my journal. Once I have worked through it, I have settled down and I have a better idea what to do – if anything. Much, if not all of the stress has been worked out on the page.
I can use my journal to make a more rational decision about something.By writing the reasons for and against, I can see why I should or shouldn’t do something. I can work out my thoughts much more clearly, because I am not arguing against a person, but just assessing the pros and cons of a situation without anyone trying to persuade me one way or the other
Keeping a journal makes me face myself. By writing my thoughts, needs and desires, I can see more of who I am. I can see when, how and why something gets to me. I can see what my real motivations are, what I really think about people and their actions.
To record my life – like many, I want to be here when I am gone. To do that, I have to make a mark somehow. If my boxes of journals survive – or if only one of them does, and any of them are read by someone – then I will still be around.
I write the first thoughts I have about a poem or a short story, and will sometimes even draft a whole poem in my journal. From there, I take it to the computer and work on it.
What form does my journal take?
Back in 1990, I moved to a remote area in Central Australia to teach at a small indigenous community. At that time, there was no telephone communication with the outside world, and the mail plane came only once a week, on Friday afternoon.
Because I was living and working in a completely new environment and had a lot to learn to adapt to it, I had little time to keep a journal. It usually happens, even now, that when I am most involved in interesting activities and places, I have less time to write about them. This was the case back then. Because I couldn’t phone my kids or my parents, I wrote to them. Then I photocopied the letters and pasted them into my journal. They provide an invaluable record of the first eighteen months of my ten years in Central Australia. But when the telephone came to that remote area, the letters stopped, and because I was still working 12-14 hours a day, the record of my time there stopped.
Nowadays, even though I prefer to write my thought by hand, using pen and a notebook, -and I still do write that way when I am putting down my first thoughts on a creative writing project, nowadays I write most of my journal on my computer.
I want my words to last, so I still have this strange attachment to the (literally) printed word. I see print as more likely to survive that any electronic records, so I still use a notebook – A4 size, 120-240s – and I write in the book by hand at times when I can’t use the computer. But I have also adapted what I did in that first year and a half in the Northern Territory. I print out my typed journal entries and paste them into the notebook. I also print and paste all my blog entries, and may even print out emails, letters and other items which interest me enough to keep.
My current journal is number 45 of the set I began about the time I married my second husband in 2005. That makes about five journals filled per year. The older editions repose in three plastic tubs with lids, and I am afraid I will soon run out of storage.
Do you journal regularly? Why is it important to you? What form do your journals take?
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: crime novels, fantasy, genres, history, literature, memoir, murder mysteries, post-apocalypse, reading, science fiction, writing, young adult books
When I reached my sixties, I was reading lots of murder mysteries, forensic crime and dark thrillers, depending on my mood. I have read just about all of the books by Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, and some of Sue Grafton’s alphabet crime series, a couple of Richard North Patterson, and lots of others. Raymond Khoury’s thriller, The Sign, was particularly good.
I have gone back to the past a few times and to more literary novels. A couple were Australian authors. I enjoyed Eleanor Dark’s Slow Dawning (written in the 1930s), and Ruth Park’s Playing Beattie Bow (written in the 1960s), as well as Park’s two-part memoir. I also read Ken Follett’s World Without End, set in the Middle Ages.
I even tried to read D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I gave up on it about half way through. I did, however, relish the style and language of Paul Morgan’s The Pelagius Book. Then there are the novels of Tim Winton, Alex Miller and Khaleid Hosseini – wonderful writers!
Now, well into my sixties, I read more post-apocalypse novels than I ever did, and even quite a bit of fantasy. I didn’t really get into those until the last few years, and I was wondering why recently. I decided that the state of society and the world these days – the violence, destruction, intolerance and hatred – have caused me to need an escape.
The end of the world as we know it now seems to be a just outcome for those who have caused such pain and misery to so many innocent people. Unfortunately, many more innocent people would dies. However, post apocalypse times are when the resilient and resourceful have their chance to survive, even if it is against terrible odds. Perhaps it is a hope I have that the better aspects of mankind will finally prevail against the worst.
The same goes for fantasy. In other worlds, heroes – male and/or female – battle the evil forces that would destroy them. In the end there is victory for the good – even if it does come at the end of a series of three or four books!
I loved JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and even watched the movies – which I thought extremely well done (and I am not a movie-goer). I have tried Stephen King again and got through Under the Dome and The Stand. I have the complete Harry Potter books in a boxed set (I haven’t seen the movies though), and have found several good fantasy authors on Amazon Kindle. There are lots of fantasy series out there which are quite well written, as well as being great stories.
Two series by Edward W. Robinson – The Breakers and The Cycle of Arawn are good. The Muirwood series by Jeff Wheeler really got me in, as did Aaron Pogue’s trilogy, The Dragonprince’s Legacy. I also really enjoyed Michael G. Manning’s Mageborn series. I recently read Jason Mott’s The Returned, which, I believe was made into a telemovie. All of these I obtained as e-books.
My Kindle has led me into a whole new range and variety of reading. E-books are cheaper than print, and because of that, I have been able to sample a whole new range of authors and genres. Either I would never have come across these in print, or the price would have put me off.
Yes, there is a lot of rubbish out there, but if you check the synopsis, reviews, and the success of the author, you can usually tell which will be of a reasonable standard. And if you can read a sample, you will get a good idea of the quality of the writing.
Some of the new authors I have come across through accessing e-books on my Kindle, apart from those I have already mentioned, include:
Fantasy & Post-apocalypse: Anna Elliott, Robert Clive Parnell, Peg Brantley, Erica Liodice, Julie Morrigan, Lori Brighton, R.T. Kaelin, M.R. Mathias, Jodi McIsaac, Erica Stevens, Katie W. Stewart, Kevin Bohacz.
Thrillers: Michael R. Hicks, Robert Ellis, Barry Friedman, Tom Lowe.
Whodunits & Murder Mysteries: Kathleen Backus, Jeffrey Siger, Camilla Chafer, L.L. Bartlett, Debra Mares, Andy Straker, Lee Goldberg, Terri Reid, James Hankins, T.R.Ragan, Edie Claire.
Real life novels: Melissa F. Miller, Othello Back, Helen Ginger.
Young Adult: Aida Brassington.
Writing: Chris Thrall.
Memoir: Joy deKok, Cynthia Harrison
Of course, I have come across a lot more than these, but I decided just to share the ones I liked best.
My Kindle goes with me whenever I travel. That is another of its great advantages. I can carry a hundred books in the space and weight it would take for only one slim printed volume. However, I will never give up on printed books. If you saw our bookshelves you would see that! There is something about them that is more evocative of worlds and more personal than an e-reader can ever be.
Have you made the transition from print to electronic books? Do you use both, or do you stick mainly with one medium?
© Linda Visman
Tags: Australia, Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana), cycad, garden, happy wanderer (Hardenbergia), kangaroo paw, native animals, native plants, Old man's beard, ponytail palms, stress buster, winter, Xanthorrea
It was a lovely sunny August day, winter here in Australia. I had been picking up the small dead branches that occasionally fall from the eucalypts in the wind. I break up the branches, and either put them in the green waste bin to be mulched by the Council, or give them to a neighbour who has a wood burning heater.
Before that, I had helped the MOTH (Man of the House) to fix part of a wire side fence that had been threatening to fall over. Our yard is mostly open, as we don’t like to feel enclosed – just a paling fence up the back, and an open wire fence along one side to keep the neighbour’s dog in. Most of it is hidden by bushes and trees. The other two sides are not fenced at all.
Our yard is almost all Australian native species of trees and shrubs, a habitat we are preserving for local wildlife such as birds, lizards and any other species that care to make their home here. Yes, even spiders, centipedes and snakes!
I love walking around it to see how everything is progressing. That day, I took a few photos as well.
This ‘Happy Wanderer’ self-sowed at the base of a Spotted Gum, and is growing up into another self-sown native sapling. It is a variety of Hardenbergia, like the one above, which we bought from a nursery.
Our Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) has grown well since we put it in as a small sapling three years ago. It is three times my height now.
The group of plants below really took off last summer. On the left is one of two cycads we planted some years ago. They are an ancient variety of plant, but I don’t know which species it is.
Behind it are ponytail palms (Beaucarnea species). I have only just discovered that they are native to Mexico! In the right front is a Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus), native to S-W Western Australia. Behind that is a Banksia, and on the far right is a Christmas Bush. Two Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) once called Blackboys, have been overtaken by the cycads in front of them. They are pretty slow growing.
Part of our garden has seen an invasion by a foreigner. This plant was probably introduced as an exotic ‘air plant’, but has recently escaped and can be found in many local yards. What we call ‘Old Man’s Beard’, comes from the U.S. Pacific Coast. Because it only hangs from trees and is not a parasite, it has been allowed to grow everywhere.
From one small piece that blew into our garden 3-4 years ago, it is now well established. It makes this part of the front garden seem very eerie, especially on a dull day of misty rain. The ‘beard’ hangs from the branches of a Pepper tree, two Bottlebrush (Callistamon), and a Tibouchina.
I love our garden. It is a place I can go to when I am stressed and need to feel the soothing power of nature.
Do you have a garden? What does a garden mean to you? If you don’t have one, would you like to?
© Linda Visman
Tags: art journal, diary, gratitude journal, journaling, keeping a journal, reasons to journal, spiritual journal, writing journal
Many folk have no inclination at all to keep a journal. They either see no value in it for themselves, or they dislike writing down their thoughts, perhaps for others to see. I thought I would do an internet search on not keeping a journal.
After the first ten pages of entries, I gave up. Every site that came up in those ten pages was on articles that advised people to keep a journal, the benefits of keeping a journal, the types of journals you can keep, and how to go about keeping a journal. There were none about why not to keep one.
Because there are lots of articles and blog posts that talk about why it is a good idea to keep a journal, I thought I would go through a dozen or so of them and compile a summary of the reasons so many people feel this is a good thing to do.
Here are the top twenty reasons that most writers agree upon (not necessarily in order) that anyone should keep a journal.
To Help You Remember: Most people cannot remember what they did or where they were on a particular day. They cannot bring to mind names and places from the past. However, if they have written it down somewhere accessible, like a journal, reading what they wrote many years before can bring an event alive again.
Stress Release: Writing down your gripes and grievances can get them out of your system in a way that doesn’t involve putting others offside.
Clarify Your Thinking: writing provides a method of working through issues that is open and free from the criticisms of others.
Gain Insight Into Yourself: to know yourself; what makes you tick; what you like and dislike; what presses your buttons;
Solve Problems More Effectively: Writing down the pros and cons of an issue, or writing down possible solutions, can lead you to a solution more easily and effectively than simply stewing over it.
Give Direction and Focus: Keeping a journal is a good way to work out what your goals are – both short and long term.
Keep You On Track; Provide Encouragement: Once you have identified your direction and goals, you can keep a record of how you are going at attaining them, or how you may need to change either your direction or your methods.
Create a Writing Habit: Writers, especially, can gain benefit from simply writing every day, or at least regularly. This habit can be extended to your creative writing, giving you discipline you may not otherwise have developed. Writing regularly will also improve the quality of your writing, and help you refine your writing voice.
Safe Environment: Journal writing is a judgement-free zone. You can be just who you are and write about the things that are important to you. You do not have to worry about anyone saying : “Yes, but…”, or “What a stupid idea!” You can even write nonsense if you like.
Write About our Life: You can jot down what happens in your day-to-day life, even though it may seem trivial at the time. They may eventually become something more than you expected. You come back to these jottings at any time – to see what has changed, how and how it has changed or not. You can use your journal as a basis for stories – memoir, family history, social history.
Enhance Your Creativity: A journal is the perfect place to free-write. Through free-writing, you often come up with ideas and inspiration that your more regimented or stressed self would have blocked off. Those ideas can then incubate and become something wonderful.
Find Your Strengths and Weaknesses, Your Skills and Resources: By doing things, you find out what you can do. By pushing your limits, you can see what you are capable of doing that you hadn’t realised. Your journal helps you to clarify these strengths – or weaknesses.
Mental Health Benefits: Writing about the things that worry you, or working through your decisions on paper can apparently have positive effects on your health by reducing the physical effects of stress on your body. Journaling can also help you to face your fears and to work out ways of facing them.
Encourages Positive Thinking: You can keep a Gratitude Journal that will help you focus on the positives in your life.
Source Material: As well as being material for use in life writing, your journal can be a great source of material for your other writing: poetry; short stories; characters; plots; themes; etc.
Record Your Dreams: Your journal can record your literal dreams and/or your life’s hopes and dreams.
Philosophising: In a journal, you can bring up any topic, question or dilemma that comes to you. Then you can write about it – either just your own thoughts, or the thoughts of others after doing research.
A Practical Resource: If you keep a work or professional journal, you can record information that may be useful or relevant to you in the future. It is an investment in your professional development.
Spiritual Journey: You can keep a journal specific to your own spiritual journey, working through your doubts, identifying your beliefs and recording those quotes or readings that have helped you along the way.
Track Specific Aspects of Your Life: There are many kinds of journal you can keep. I have seen over twenty types listed in various places. These can help you to keep tabs on specific activities. Some of these might be inspiration, diet and exercise, gratitude, writing, memories, arts and crafts – painting, photography, drawing, scrapbooking, cooking, etc.
Do you keep a journal? How does it help you?
© Linda Visman