Keeping it Personal

"Every night, write down a list of ten things. Use the following to get you started:

10 things I want people to say about me at my funeral

10 books I’ve always wanted to read, but didn’t

10 things to do every day to be healthier

10 best films I’ve ever seen

10 things I can do to help my career

10 ideas for a time travel story

10 happiest moments of my life

10 worst moments of my life

10 of my greatest strengths

10 of my greatest weaknesses

10 things I find exciting/sexy/sensual

10 other lists I can write

Douglas Johnston

A Million Monkeys Typing

Praise to Journal keepers

"Thousands of personal journals were coming from every state and several countries. Dream journals, idea journals, journey journals, travel journals, sketch journals, war journals, anything else journals. She read them, analyzed them and discussed of them with their authors, know or unknown.

Leaving a Trace is praise to personal journals. It's a compilation of all personal journals that Alexandra Johnson read over time. Why people are writing in personal journals? How most famous personality of our history used journals? How to keep your personal journal? What type of journal are people creating? It's the question she asks and answers with his personal love of journaling. She do her demonstration with thousands of quotes took in personal journals of know and unknown writers."

Praise to Journal Keepers

Fred on Something

Start Writing Gooder Today

"For years, I'd carried around the ubiquitous 39-cent top-spiral notebook. I wore a wallet/chew faded pattern into the back left-pocket of several pairs of blue jeans. As a professional observer paid to capture and re-interpret the human condition, it seemed silly to me not to write down the stolen little moments between those strange and wonderful to me.

Curiosity ... again ... that theme keeps popping up, eh?

And it's curiosity that has led me to note little interactions between people ... not big stories, but small phrases or interesting micro-vignettes that clicked with me.

"Click." I've mentioned before that Dick Orkin and Chris Coyle taught me to recognize

"Click" moments ... like a photographer snapping the shutter - capturing a moment in time, only within my frame (and outside it for that matter) are words, not visual images.

But remember, verbal suggestions can create mental images.

The goal with your notebook - whether the 39-cent variety or the fancy 10-dollar Moleskine version gifted and inscribed to me by Josh - should be to simply capture any such moment that clicks.

Don't judge or analyze the moments. Leave the left brain out of this. Just document them."

Tim Miles

Hover Studios

Writing in Other People's Houses

"I only knew that the house and grounds felt enchanted. The garden was ablaze with old roses. My many guests and I climbed nearby Templar ruins, stuffed ourselves with cabecou and cherries as fat as Ping-Pong balls and drank vats of plonk while waiting for the nightly parade of sheep in front of the house. The sheepdog yelped and nipped. The shepherd followed his flock -- in his car. Then we watched the bats circle in the endless twilight and agreed that there was nothing more relaxing than sitting in someone else's garden, unfettered by the obligation to deadhead the roses.

In the afternoons I sent my guests off on expeditions to the pilgrimage site at Rocamadour so I could pretend to work. Merwin's book collection was so enticing that I spent hours on the terrace reading. After I devoured three volumes of E. Beresford Chancellor's ''Lives of the Rakes,'' a key element of my plot suddenly fell into place. Thus the delightful Merwin house shaped not only my summer but also the entire structure of my novel."

Karen Moline

NYT Travel Style Magazine 3.20.05

Reg. Required

"How I pretend to be organized"

"My personal life, however, could use a little order. I have come to accept that although all the books, clothes, posters, and accumulated cruft in the bedroom could be better organized in the limited space available now, but it would be silly to spend the time and money necessary to fit all that stuff in a room that's too small to reasonably hold it all, only to rearrange everything again in two and a half months when we'll have enough room for everything. While that mess bugs me occasionally, the real issue is that I forget things constantly. Every time I go into a bookstore or Amoeba or Target or even the grocery store, I completely forget why I'm there. Every single trip, it seems, ends with me forgetting lettuce for the tacos, dish soap, or the new Kelly Clarkson CD."

Afsheen Family

[via LS]

Tips for productive business writing

"Unless we're super-fast typists, writing is a relatively slow way to process information. As the chart below indicates, most of us can think roughly twice as fast as we can talk, talk twice as fast as we can use a keyboard, and use a keyboard four times as fast as we can write by hand:

Given these obstacles, how can we produce the best possible business writing in the limited time available to us? This month I'll share some techniques to use before we actually begin writing, and next month I'll describe techniques to use when we're ready to put words on paper or screen.

A crucial element in preparing well for a writing task is to gather and store information. According to Darrell Gouldin, manager of a hydroelectric dam on the Columbia River, paying attention to peak demand and low demand periods assists in distributing electrical power efficiently..."

Tips for productive business writing


Dear diary, you make me sick

"Keeping a diary is bad for your health, say UK psychologists. They found that regular diarists were more likely than non-diarists to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness.

Their finding challenges assumptions that people find it easier to get over a traumatic event if they write about it.

“We expected diary keepers to have some benefit, or be the same, but they were the worst off,” says Elaine Duncan of the Glasgow Caledonian University. “In fact, you’re probably much better off if you don’t write anything at all,” she adds.

The study, carried out with David Sheffield of Staffordshire University, was presented on Wednesday at a meeting of the British Psychological Society in Edinburgh."

New news service

Andy Coghlan

[Thanks Janine/via MeFi]

Palaeography: reading old handwriting

"The huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. The oredr of the ltteers in the wrod can be in a total mses but you can sitll raed it wouthit any porbelm.

While this way of reading and comprehending whole words at a glance is very useful in the modern world, it can lead to incomprehension and mistakes when trying to read documents written in an old and unfamiliar style of handwriting.

Be prepared to tackle an old document letter by letter if necessary. If you cannot identify a letter, leave it out, or put in a suggestion of what you think it is, perhaps with a question mark by it. Do a few more lines and then go back to see if you can now identify the letter. Or see if you have already come across it and understood it somewhere else in the document."

Palaeography: reading old handwriting

1500 - 1800

A practical online tutorial

The National Archives, U.K.

[Thanks Christine!]


"The Tameri Guide for Writers serves writers, students, teachers, and others with our thoughts on how best to format, edit, complete, or create a written work. Our visitors range from published novelists to Fortune 1000 companies. If it involves communicating with others, consider using Tameri."

A Writer's Lexicon


[via Cindy BeMent]

Jordon Cooper

"Now you would think that a Daytimer would be a perfect solution. Small and portable and you can have your address book and calendar with you. May work for you. Doesn't work for me. Small papers don't work for me and the people that I know. Changing e-mail addresses, cell phones, Skype usernames, IM. Doesn't work for me. Plus, a bunch of small pages is not how I like to create. I like to write so I can see it. The ones small enough to fit in my pocket are too small to be usable and the ones that I like to use are bindersize.

Now the Palm doesn't do a perfect job for me. I wish it would sync with Gmail's address book (I actually wish Gmail had a decent address book). I also wish Google had a Intellisync of it's own that would allow me to get selected Gmail on my Palm and also be able to send it later on.

In the end, give me a notebook, moleskin or not, to create when I want to create new ideas. At the same time, don't let me leave the house without my Clie. It has much of life in it and when life changes, it is easy to make some quick changes. Two different tools, good for two different tasks and in the end it depends how you use them."

Jordon Cooper


Posy Simmonds

"While looking through old journals I came across this, cut from an old

Guardian, and thought it might interest you at Journalisimo...

"Plea from a Biographer to Men and Women of Attainment"

Other Posy Simmonds cartoons are here.

Best wishes,


“Paper? Ain’t that extinct?”

"I have to wonder about what might be the reasons for the current infatuation with paper, especially those pieces of paper with semi-structured forms for inputting your information.

Is it portability? If you look at my Palm Tungsten E and at my DayRunner, you’ll know which is more portable. Even a pack of Hipster PDA index cards can’t compete with the size of a Palm.

Is it fear of technology? No, not for most. True, there are some people who have never jumped atop the digital bandwagon, but this new millenium is seeing most of them either dying out or reluctantly edging into modern technology. However, a majority of people who have recently taken up paper-based planning with a vengeance are those people for whom computers are a way of life.

Is it ease of sharing or storing information? Nope. You can’t “sync” paper, although you can always photocopy pages at your local library or office supply store. And have you ever had to “search” a full filing cabinet for that little stray snippet of text you need?..."

Douglas Johnston

A Million Monkeys Typing

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes

"IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1. Be talented

This, of course, is the killer. What is talent? I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with "what is the meaning of life?" for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness. For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success - publication and money. If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

Now some of you are really hollering. Some of you are calling me one crass money-fixated creep. And some of you are calling me bad names. Are you calling Harold Robbins talented? someone in one of the Great English Departments of America is screeching. V.C. Andrews? Theodore Dreiser? Or what about you, you dyslexic moron?

Nonsense. Worse than nonsense, off the subject. We're not talking about good or bad here. I'm interested in telling you how to get your stuff published, not in critical judgments of who's good or bad. As a rule the critical judgments come after the check's been spent, anyway. I have my own opinions, but most times I keep them to myself. People who are published steadily and are paid for what they are writing may be either saints or trollops, but they are clearly reaching a great many someones who want what they have. Ergo, they are communicating. Ergo, they are talented. The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn't get paid. If you're not talented, you won't succeed. And if you're not succeeding, you should know when to quit.

When is that? I don't know. It's different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it's time you tried painting or computer programming.

Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer - you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters . . . maybe a commiserating phone call. It's lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices ... unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement. I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible. If your eyes are open, you'll know which way to go ... or when to turn back."

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes

Stephen King

Ideas for Actions

"Nonlinear Poetry: Write one line of a multi-line poem in chalk on each street corner in a 4 or 5 block radius.

Mirror Mural:

Draw messages on the mirrors of a public bathroom with dry erase marker.

Junk Mail Echoes:

Do a drawing on a postcard-sized piece of junk mail and send it back.

Post-It Graffiti:

Write on Post-It Notes and stick them up around your house or town.

Ideas for Actions

Joseph del Pesco

Ten byTen

Image: anniea

Writer, Edit Thyself

"Editing yourself—forgive the metaphor—is like making a good split-pea soup. You've got to skim away the yummy chunks, the tasty herbs, all those great ideas you threw in at the get-go—and then blend, blend, skim, and blend, for that nice, smooth finished product. You're sad to do it, because you chose all those good ingredients in the first place, but you also remember that when the finished, blended soup is good, it's really good. Well-edited writing, similarly, is beautiful, and it's worth it to make that first, painful, editing pass on your own.

Good self-editing can start even before the writing does, with good outlines. Many of us writers put together some sort of outline before plunging into writing a piece. But how many of us stick to it? I tend to create an outline and revise it to death—at which point I just write my piece. Perhaps I'm using outlining as a way to procrastinate, but I prefer to think of it as laying a strong framework and base for my piece. Sometimes whatever I end up writing is only inspired by my original outline, containing a hint of the outline that gave birth to it. This risky endeavor sometimes leads to greatness, a piece stronger than I could ever have imagined in the 20th draft of outlining. But usually what I get is a mess of writing that needs a lot of polish before it'll be understood by anyone other than me. But when I actually use my outline as a roadmap, following it point-by-point through the piece, I tend to end up with work that is near-final, needing only minor tweaking and no major structural changes. And this is always helpful when working on a tight deadline. Pre-editing—and sticking to that pre-edit—works."

Writer, Edit Thyself

By Jen Weiss


Famous Love Letters

To Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

...would I, if I could, supplant one of any of the affections that I know to have taken root in you - that great and solemn one, for instance. I feel that if I could get myself remade, as if turned to gold, I WOULD not even then desire to become more than the mere setting to that diamond you must always wear.

The regard and esteem you now give me, in this letter, and which I press to my heart and bow my head upon, is all I can take and all too embarrassing, using all my gratitude.

- Robert Browning


The Romantic

Unrequited Love Letters

"How did a story about a new Afghanistan radio station end up with me writing about my old love letters? Well...

Every Tuesday night this new radio station airs anonymous letters - mostly from young people writing about unrequited love. Sending their most intimate feelings to be read publicly.

This is a big deal because Afghan culture frowns on (to put it mildly) love letters outside of marriage. In a world where a person rarely chooses their own spouse, falling in love is something done usually from afar and is rarely requited.

Thinking about love, I have known only freedom. Free to follow my heart and openly pursue courtships with anyone I choose. Something so beyond the reach of those Afghans - still. Still. The people I've been free to love haven't always loved me back.

It seems to me that unrequited love is universal. It is a global experience. There. Here. In my own past."

Ravings of a Corporate Mommy

New Generation Takes Up Art of Cursive Writing

"When high school students take the SAT this year, they'll be required to use a skill they can often ignore: penmanship. The college test now includes an essay section -- and no computers are allowed.

NPR's Robert Siegel visits Harford Day School in Bel Air, Md., where first and second graders are learning the intricate art of cursive writing."

New Generation Takes Up Art of Cursive Writing


Also on the same page:

Andrei Codrescu: When You Can't Read Your Own Handwriting

Every single book on earth should be handwritten

"Checking out Kurt Cobain's diary while out for lunch time (can't help

it, i'm always up for shopping), i thought that every single book on earth should be handwritten.

There's so much energy and vitality lost, trapped in thin lines of text and well designed typefaces. We loose it all, all the spirit of it."


"I was in Borders today looking in the music section. There was a book on the shelf next to some CDs that looked like a notebook. A closer look revealed it to be a reprinting of Kurt Cobains journal. I didn't pick it up and immediately thought that it was gross. How could a man's private journals be published so freely? And why? The thought of it made my stomach turn.

But then I got to thinking. I just bought the box set a few days ago and I'm sure that there are things on there that Mr. Cobain would not have wanted to be released into the public domain either. For a few moments, I felt gross. Like I violated someone's privacy. Someone's trust. But then I got in my car and cranked "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Oh well..."



"This is a guide to writing essays in communications and media studies that I put together whilst at University of Leeds.

You can download it as an Adobe Acrobat document."

David Gauntlett

PDF Link

[via Trish Harvey]

Is handwriting analysis legit science?

"No forensic technique has taken more hits than handwriting analysis. In one particularly devastating federal ruling, United States v. Saelee (2001), the court noted that forensic handwriting analysis techniques had seldom been tested, and that what testing had been done "raises serious questions about the reliability of methods currently in use." The experts were frequently wrong--in one test "the true positive accuracy rate of laypersons was the same as that of handwriting examiners; both groups were correct 52 percent of the time." The most basic principles of handwriting analysis--for example, that everyone's handwriting is unique--had never been demonstrated. "The technique of comparing known writings with questioned documents appears to be entirely subjective and entirely lacking in controlling standards," the court wrote. Testimony by the government's handwriting expert was ruled inadmissible.

Prosecutors scrambling to find scientific validation for handwriting analysis last year touted a study by Sargur Srihari, a professor of computer science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Srihari subjected 1,500 writing samples to computer analysis. Conclusion: In 96 percent of cases, the writer of a sample could be positively identified based on quantitative features of his handwriting such as letter dimensions and pen pressure. Skeptics objected that lab results using a computer prove nothing about what a human can do in the real world, and who can argue? If expert testimony is going to send people up the river, it better be more than some mope's prejudices dressed up as science."

Cecil Adams

Straight Dope

My thumb is full of ink

"I just spent the last three hours writing in my new journal. I haven't had a release like that since I first started this weblog. There's something much more cathartic about putting pen to paper and seeing the ink behind you as you continue forwqrd. It felt real good. Plus I don't have to worry about spelling or grammar, and I can say whatever pops into my head as opposed to what I'd be willing for my family and friends to stumble across. Portions of what I write in the moleskine will probably show up here in some form or another, especially since I still want to share things with all of you faithful readers who've stuck with me on this thing. It's been a while since my hand got tired due to writing, and I hope I can continue being faithful to this supplemental journaling because I think it will be good for me to get some of that "deep sludge" out of my head. There's going to be a big part of me paranoid about having a "paper trail," but I think in the end it'll be worth it."


Undisclosed Location

The Pen

"What would happen if a pen were to loose its creative potential?

Is a pen capable of loosing its creative potential?

For a pen is but a extension of the writer, a means to creation.

"But what if the pen had its own ability to express...Its own stories to create and tell?

After all each pen affects our handwriting. It adds its own characteristics to it. The manner in which it moves over the paper...the friction it creates...the flow of its ink.

The pen might flow like an ebullient stream...gushing through the pages, or it might be like a recalcitrant child...kicking and screaming its way across the lines. It might turn on the nib in a languid pose, indolent, as it speeds across...or it might take its time, in slow contemplation...mulling over each word...or laboring in the exquisite finish of each letter.

All come together to form the handwriting...along with the writer of course!

A person?s handwriting will have its own consistency, yet each writing will carry the distinctiveness of the pen with which it?s written.

However, what if it wasn?t just an influence on our writing that the pen exerted, but also prompted stories within us to be written?"

Avi Das

Thought Garden


"A handwriting system that used the simplest possible strokes for letters would, of course, be faster to write with than longhand, which uses several, sometimes as many as four, strokes for each letter. And if the system were phonetic, words couldn't be misspelled!

The usual 26 letter alphabet just doesn't have enough letters to represent all the 32+ sounds used in English, especially vowel sounds, so several letters are often used to represent a single sound. The word "ought," for example, uses five letters to write only two sounds.

So a really slick form of handwriting would use one stroke for one sound. Simple, but too difficult? Not necessarily. You just need to learn to hear the sounds that you use when speaking English so you can write them, and then learn some simple symbols to represent those sounds. Since you have been taught to pay attention to 26 letters and not the actual sounds of English, tuning in to speech sounds may take a little time, but can also be quite interesting and fun."


Getting organized

"Consider a datebook. Paper is endlessly formattable--you can use different color inks, boxes, and underlining to keep track of things. If your stuff for a day is going to overflow the allotted space, you can use a Post-It note to accommodate the overflow.

If you're sick of standard student planners and spiral bindings, you might want to look at The Daily Planner, a great source of datebooks and other stationery items. Datebooks from Exacompta, Letts, and Quo Vadis are especially well-designed (and not very expensive). Bookstores and office-supply stores are also good sources. Just buying a datebook that you really like can inspire you to stay more organized.

If you have many meetings and appointments to keep track of, choose a datebook that breaks the day into hours. If not, choose something more flexible, with blank or ruled pages to write on. And choose something that you can easily carry with you.

One obvious but very useful suggestion: Don't use a datebook only to keep track of appointments and meetings and due dates. Use it to list the things you need to do and when you're going to do them. A running to-do list can make a great difference in keeping up with your responsibilities. (Much better than turning the page and suddenly seeing that there's a paper due--something that you wrote in a week ago and forgot about.)"

Michael Leddy

Visit his blog.

Ah Is This Not Happiness

"Chin Shengt’an was a 17th century playwright who once found himself stranded with a friend in a temple for ten days because of a rainstorm. While thus secluded, the pair compiled a list of the truly happy moments in life. The wonderful thing about Chin’s Happy Moments is their lack of piety...

20. To find accidentally a handwritten letter of some old friend in a trunk. Ah, is this not happiness?

27. To watch someone writing big characters a foot high. Ah, is this not happiness?"

The Idler

Ah Is This Not Happiness


" "For absolutely no good reason, my answers to the Inside the Actor's Studio questionnaire:

What is your favorite word?  Wonder.

What is your least favorite word?  Can't.

What turns you on?  Learning.

What turns you off?  Willful ignorance, like people who seem proud that they are too busy to read.

What sound do you love?  First thing in the morning after a heavy snowfall: It isn't silent, but it is quiet, and the sounds of the world are wonderfully muffled.

What sound do you hate?  Barking dogs.

What is your favorite curse word?  Dumbass.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?  Police detective.

What profession would you not like to attempt?  Butcher.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?  See, what matters is who you are, not what you believe.

From Joe Ganley's blog

"Making something up is easy for me. Delivering on that intention is something else altogether. On opposite sides of a spectrum, I am a thinker AND a doer. Creation and Execution, both are important, and both very different. I've found and use different tools and strategies to enhance the quality and quantity of ideas I have, and the project outcomes I manage...

For a long time now, I've journaled daily - my experiences, learnings, ideas, etc. I use this daily debrief to shake anything loose or to ground learning that I want to process. This year, I've enjoyed using the pocket-sized, elegant version of the Moleskin journal. "

Jason Womack

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