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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection Journal Idea File

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“What were the events that altered and illuminated my time?” Ronald Klug

Journal Idea Files

Write down the dates. In the beginning keep your journals private. However, down the road these ideas and nuggets might develop into source material for writing essays, memoirs, or family sagas. And blogs. If you see that you frequently wrestle with a particular topic and you begin to read about it, you may find that others have the same questions as you.

If you prefer more structured organization, then consider keeping several notebooks for different purposes, not to write in daily or even weekly, but for example to keep all your reading journal entries in one notebook, all your family concerns in another, work related in third. Personally I managed to keep only two: a reading journal and my study journal. When I do need to do a short-term project, I pick up a small moleskin to do the journal stretch until I reach the clarity I need.

There are various approaches to strategize your files or do a mix and match. This first example is the most familiar form for both journals and diaries. Again, choose whichever style flows the easiest for you.

Daily Record (a)

1. What happened today and what sensory details did it bring?
2. Why did I react to that comment? Or did not react?
3. What about that conversation left me feeling …..?
4. Other categories might include questions, prayers, reading, joys, sense of accomplishment, and world events.

It is often easier to let some things go, but if we bring them out into the light and see them for what influence they may hold, we can keep from hiding under pretense to ourselves.

For example, one Christmas dinner I shocked myself when I snapped at a peripheral family member over an apparently innocuous remark. All heads turned. It was only mildly embarrassing in the situation, but strong enough that I had to take a few journal days to discover why I had overreacted to something so minor.

Action Steps:

1.     Keep a daily record for at least three days this next week. If you feel pressed for time, set a timer for fifteen minutes and write as much as you can without stopping, then set aside.

2.     The next day, review what you wrote and see if you have any other thoughts to add that you found yourself thinking about. Again set aside.

3.     Next day, review and then write any notes or thoughts. Then note whether this style of journal was helpful or frustrating.

Share: Did anything surprise you? Did you notice any details from your week that otherwise you might have forgotten about or dismissed?

                                                            Read deep, marcy

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Journal with Impact: Personal Reflection

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“The very process of journaling, of finding my way through emotions and language, is as much about the 'truth' as the finished poem.” Steve Scott

Like memoir writing, Reflection is extremely personal even when you are not preparing to share it publicly. Whether you have mountains of material already at hand and are trying to sort it out, or tumbling about in your heart and soul with no clear direction, it takes time and energy to understand, shape, and mold. Sometimes a seemingly simple exercise will knock you over emotionally for no apparent reason.

So over these next weeks, be kind to yourself, take a break whenever you need to and don’t worry about deadlines or output. The purpose of this workshop is to assist in uncovering and engaging heart, soul, and mind stories that you need to connect with. Then begin the shaping process as an application to your personal journey.

Five-Minute Pulse 

1. If you had to choose what color best describes you today, what would it be?

2. Make a brief list or do a quick free write on the reasons you chose that color; i.e. the facts leading to that decision—at least the ones you are aware of.

3. Now go back again and do a commentary for yourself. What are your feelings toward being that color? Is that positive or negative or neutral? Do you like the color but didn’t want to be "orange" today?

This is one example of doing a reflective exercise in your journal. It’s so easy to go on automatic pilot and react to our day and never experience what’s going on around us. The pause helps us to connect to our feelings. It can be simply by identifying why we’re grouchy, anxious, happy, or irritable. Then it can travel deep down to emotional mental health.

Perhaps color isn’t the spark for you. Then choose a metaphor or symbol from your own life. Musical instruments, or cooking spices, or flowers. Whatever you choose for your pulse meter make it simple and familiar. It needs to be an immediate intuitional spark.

Journal Stretch 

Here’s where you approach a wide range of journal uses with more time to explore, whether for daily reflection, decision-making, transition times, or crisis. Sometimes you will need to come at the same issue at different times, especially if it’s too painful the first time. Don’t stop to analyze but write your thoughts down. Then walk away.

At your next writing, pause and write another stretch. Then review the first one you wrote. Do you see anything new that you hadn’t noticed before? Write down your observations. Keep up the process until you feel you have the insight you need to move ahead with decisions or actions. Come back to the journal for clarity whenever you need more connection.

If, for example, you choose to write a decision stretch, you might consider these questions.

Action Steps:

1. Write down everything you already know about the decision before you.

2. Is there a time frame connected to it, and if so, how is that affecting your answer pressure wise? How might you neutralize that stress?

3. In what ways is this potential choice affecting you emotionally in your relationship with others?

4. Do you know someone, or some resource, that might help you focus your concerns?

Share: How long did you walk away before revisiting the process? Did it give you some clarity?

Read deep, marcy

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Creating a Great Setting Interview

Build Your Story: What questions do you want answered for your specific setting?

My FIRST podcast interview! The visual part of the video is a little out of sync-haha-like me, but the audio works well on both. Hope you find it interesting.
Listen to this episode Play / pause 1x 1.5x 2x 0:00 0:00 0:00 volume 008I – Creating a Great Setting: An Interview with Marcy Weydemuller Marcy Weydemuller is an…

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Journal with Impact: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Journaling from the events of daily life does not mean simply keeping a log or diary of who we saw and what we did each day. It means, rather, writing down the experiences that have affected our soul in a particular way.” Anne Broyles

New Workshop Introduction

Welcome to Journal with Impact. In this new blog workshop we are going to look at key exercises that can create space for personal reflection and creative potential in several categories that most often influence our lives. If a category you are interested in isn’t listed, just substitute your choice and apply the exercise that fits. You can use the material for your own pursuit, or as an author, use them to develop your fictional characters.

When we begin any creative action, there is a basic three-step process: create—prepare—share. For writers it might look more like write—audience—read. Journaling takes that first step and fills the create space with possibilities. Often we do not even see them at the time but discover them later when we reflect back after some emotional or time distance. Yet at the same time the journals can be a lifeline to keep us connected to our souls when life swirls around us in busyness and sometimes chaos.

How we journal, when we journal, and what we journal are all part of the creative decisions, but the heart question is why? Why here—why now? Is it a season we need to mark as a changing point in our lives? Do we need quiet time to develop reading skills, for spiritual reflection, to contemplate relationship issues in private, or to recover ourselves?

The journal is meant to be nurturing and healing, even when we go through grief and pain. We set up a time and place and use methods that enable us to engage, rather than the journal becoming a taskmaster. While we journal, we begin to discover what feeds our personal creative process, how to generate fresh material for our own lives (or characters’ lives), discover direction, learn to see shape and structure, and focus coherence within.

At first glance it may appear overwhelming, but the beauty of the journal is that it seeds through snippets. We track whatever appeals to our senses: quotes, lines from a poem or a book, descriptions, overheard conversations, or a special memory. We begin to draw closer to the exercises and material that work for us and let the rest go. The key is impact.

Even in the busiest day we can find a few minutes to pause.

Journal With Impact Outline

Conversation One                        Reflection

Conversation Two                        Vocation

Conversation Three                     Family

Conversation Four                       Travel

Conversation Five                        Nature

Conversation Six                         Memoir

Action Steps:

1. In what ways are you hesitant to keep a journal? Write the ideas and words down in a list.

2. Next to each way listed write a negative reason word and then write a positive reason word to challenge yourself to journal through your hesitations.

3.Which topic are you most curious to explore? Why?

Share: Is there a subject or topic not on this list that you’d like to explore from a journal perspective? Let me know in the comments so I can incorporate some examples.

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Small Group Feedback Guideline

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults


Writing can be a very solitary pursuit. Which is in a way a rather odd characteristic considering that writers write to share with others.  It is a joy to connect with readers, especially those who share an interest in our topics. And it is a joy to have fellow writers to walk the journey together to support the bad days as well as the good. It is a gift to be able to talk with others in our field and learn from each other both personally and professionally.

So consider finding some co-writers to connect with, whether through small groups or conferences or one-to one with a trusted friend. Be willing to become accountable and support each other on a journey that can last years.

Look for a fit that is supportive to all who are involved whether from beginner to experienced. Be honest regarding each of your needs. And treat each other with respect. Sometimes it will take a while to find that kind of fit but don’t give up. Writing can be like climbing a ladder where we need a hand to pull us up and we in turn reach to the person next to us. Our strengths and weaknesses vary just as do our personalities and when we work together we all move forward.

I have a colleague that is a whiz at anything technical or marketing and she is the first one I go to when I get stuck because she knows how to explain the foreign concepts to me. She in turn knows that I love to brainstorm new possible projects, and sometimes go way out of the box just to juggle our misconceptions. So when she has a new project brewing we schedule a fun, crazy, brainstorm day.

So in case any time you are looking to build up a small group, whether in person, or by old-fashioned mail, by a skype mode, or an online chat-room, here are some beginning guidelines to consider.

Action Steps:
1.     Talk to some friends about forming a feedback-writing group.

2.     Decide if you want to share your projects once or twice a month.

3.     Will you get together in person or by skype type mode, or in an online chat forum such as Facebook?

4.     Consider how to work out a consistent schedule if you are in different time zones or continents.

Share: What did you decide?

                                  Have a wonderful new year filled with writing!

Read deep, marcy

Small Group Feedback

1. When exchanging manuscripts be sure to let your readers know what assistance you need. If this is an exploratory draft, then you just need general feedback. However, if you are submitting it to an agent then you need the red line polish with no mercy.

2. As the writer don’t try to argue your ‘errors’. Accept the comments graciously and recognize that either, the reader really didn’t understand, or you did not get your intent across.

3. If everyone is making different suggestions on the same segment, then that is a clue something needs fixing.

4. However, at the end of their comments, do ask if you need more clarity anywhere, or if no one mentioned an area that you were worried about asking if it worked.

1.    Do a quick read through.

2.    Read again and make comments on the manuscript. Ask questions. Point out confusion or difficulties. Where a different word choice could be made or a sentence is awkward, make a note.

3.    Perhaps suggest a different approach—for example “try this scene in dialogue.”

4.    At the end of the manuscript write a brief summary of your overview.

5.    Sign your name so that if author has follow-up questions they can ask you privately.

1.    Begin with positive comments. We need to know what’s working in order to build on strengths.

2.    Where there are weaknesses, give helpful feedback: not a value judgment such as “this is bad!” Say why it isn’t working in your opinion: example, “not sure where this is happening”, points out a setting or time difficulty.
      “Strive for honest opinions, tempered with kindness.” (Cecil Murphey)

3.    For fiction look at beginning, plot development, and conclusion. Does the structure work for this story? Setting? Language? Word choices? Age appropriate? Genre?

4.    If you know of a book to recommend where another author has successfully used a problem area, write it down. For example, a writer is having difficulty with flashbacks, time travel, or describing a horse. 

Non-Fiction Feedback
  1. Does the title peak your interest? Is in inventive and original?

  1. Does the introduction draw you in; make you want to know more? Are you sure what the opening main point/thesis is? Could you restate the thesis?

  1. Does the writer give enough concrete and specific examples to illustrate and prove his or her points? Which examples stand out in your mind?

  1. Were you always sure why information was being given to you? Were you confused at any point? Which part did you have the most trouble understanding?

  1. Is the conclusion satisfying? Did it seem to tie up the thesis without restating or summarizing the main points? Did it reach out to make personal or universal observations about the implications of the theme? Describe your feelings when you heard the conclusion. Use a simile if you can—“The conclusion is like…”

  1. Are the quotations cited and punctuated correctly within the text? Are they gracefully integrated?


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Talent: Market Interest

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“A blogged book allows you to test market your book.” Nina Amir

Target=Who—Where and When

In some ways marketing your work is a moving target, especially with all the ongoing changes in technology and outreach. There are many experts in this field to give detailed guidance through their blogs, podcasts, books, and workshops, so here I am just touching the surface with a few observations so that when you are ready to publish you will know what information to look for. And be able to recognize the legit support businesses. I’m primarily talking about books now.

By now you have established your audience, your subject, and your focus which all equal who your target market is. The next question to consider is where you want to aim and when. And the financial cost involved in the delivery. Beware of any organization that tells you it will cost you thousands to publish. Or any vanity presses.

First consideration—do you care whether you receive any pay? Or would you be just as pleased to write for non-profit organizations, and newsletters, and conferences and after-school programs.

Or are you willing to write pro-bono to develop a readership for when the time comes to offer for cost. And then continue to do both? Recognize that the costs involve time as well. For example having a traditional publisher will make a large difference in publicity, but you will still need to put in a large quantity of time. Whereas if you decide to be a self-publisher, you will be responsible for all of the marketing and publicity.

Traditional, Indie, print, e-book, online, free copies, each have individual pluses and minuses that need to be assessed regarding where are your strengths and where will you need assistance. Those choices will also impact where and when and how you market. Some niche topics are too small for the main publishers. If you have a contract with them for other work will you still be able to self-publish the niche. When would you need an agent? It’s not always easy to effectively navigate the creative side and the business side. Carefully consider what your main purpose and goals are and where you need assistance to achieve them.

Traditional publishing houses often have a built in time sequence process that as an author you need to meet those deadlines. There is some more freedom as an Indie publisher but once you begin the process you also have deadlines to juggle and not all of your own choice. Will the book cover be ready in time? Do you need a professional copyeditor? How much time are you prepared to adjust for the unexpected?

Knowing your primary reader will enable you to meet your goals and purpose.

Action Steps:
1.     Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses for both marketing and publicity.

2.     Choose one of each and read up some guidelines from a traditional publishing house, a well-established literary agency, and an Indie publisher such as CreateSpace to see what each of their agendas require.

3.     Look at the resource information through established organizations in your particular field, or through The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator.

4.     Set aside some study time on one detail to assess your level of  potential competence or necessary learning curve.

Share: Where do you feel most confident? Where do you need advice?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Overview Nonfiction: Threads: Blogs

Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults

“Sit down and start blogging your book. Write one post at a time or many posts at a time. Create a manuscript. Create a book. Write it with all your heart and soul and all the passion you can muster. Let your readers know who you are, and they will come to read your blog.” Nina Amir

Threads =Where and What.

Blogging your articles can open up several threads. One can link back to the feedback in the previous section as you broaden your readership. The questions and discussion that follow can open up ways to expend your topics and/or discover unexplored sub-topics to include.

Blogging helps you discern your writing goals and output, as well as the time required to complete an entire segment from idea to polish. And then what is required to blend all the pieces into a finished project.

It can also establish a bridge with other readers in your field that then threads to potential markets that we’ll look at next week. It helps to focus where your main audience is and what they are most interested in discovering or challenging. Either response can then build up more dialogue and conversation and readers.

Another benefit is helping to develop your personal ‘voice’. Often we hear that we need to find our voice as writers, or the industry is looking for new voices. But even quality writing books rarely explain how to discover our own. Especially when we are entering into a specified genre and know we need to stand out, or at least not imitate another. It takes time. Writing on a regular basis gives us the practice. By sharing with others we can find and develop our voice.

If you’re not sure of the overall benefits and commitments required by keeping a blog I recommend starting with How To Blog A Book, by Nina Amir. She covers all the basic how-to questions of blogging in general, both for fiction and non-fiction, and how to promote and profit from that outreach in your field.

Action Steps:
1.     Make a list of blogs that are in your particular topics or expertise.

2.     What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses in each?

3.     Do you see any holes that aren’t being addressed on a regular basis that you have material to share? Or your own interest in discovering?

4.     If there are any are highly academic articles can you trim a particular portion into smaller pieces that would interest your particular age category in a more sharing format with language that is more understandable?

Share: Which blogs do you read on a regular basis? What draws you to them?

                                                       Read deep, marcy

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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