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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Journal With Impact: Travel Influence

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Doing these four things, you will discover why you were compelled to relive being with a particular person or at being at a particular place or event.” Sheila Bender

Travel makes a definite influence on our lives whether we do it daily on a local basis, or for vacation, or for special occasions. In addition to the personal reflections and family memoir material, travel journals can become stepping-stones to articles or settings for fiction, or blog material, or both. By focusing our perspective on travel details we also hone our observation and descriptive skills. Sensory detail is crucial.

When writing description in essays, Sheila Bender gives this advice. “1) Stay with the senses. 2) Make comparisons in order to share the experience as it was in the very moment you had it. 3) Stay in those moments that interest you. 4) Present experience itself. Your images have authority. They say, ‘This is how it was for me’.”

Description is one of the key ingredients for travel writing of any kind whether personal or public. With modern apps we can automatically keep a visual record, but a journal will go deeper by adding the atmosphere in ways that others can relate to our adventures.

Action Steps: Try out this journal prompt as a test run for potential material.

1. Make two side-by-side lists of One) ten places you’ve traveled to, and Two) ten places you’d like to go. (Can include repeats)

2. Are there any similarities or patterns in your choices?

3. Also note if there are any places you tend to look for no matter where you are?  My children surprised me on one road trip with an exasperated comment that I always spot the bookstores. As far as I knew I simply watched out the windows at everything as we drove by. However, they told me that whenever I saw a bookstore I would say so out loud.

Share: Do you have an interest you instinctively watch for when driving through small towns? Or set up on a map app to locate when you arrive?

Read deep, marcy

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Journal With Impact: Family Journal Vacation Worksheet

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Creating memories is a priceless gift. Memories will last a lifetime; things only a short-period of time.”                                                                                          Alyice Edrich

Family Journal Vacation Worksheet

  1. Make a list of all the Events you remember that happened. (ex. flat tire)

  1. People
a. Make a list of all the people there: family, friends, and strangers that you noticed for a reason.

b. Next to each name put what was the distinguishing characteristic of that person at that time. (ex. lady in snack shack—wild hair) (brother—told new joke every day).

  1. Describe the Setting: place, weather, smells. Be sure to choose specific words rather than generalize.  For example, just how cold did it get at night: chilly or freezing?

  1. Was there then, or afterwards, an image or repeated phrase that became a code for that vacation? One friend shared that this turned into several favorite reminders for their various adventures.           

  1. What is your specific emotional connection to this vacation that makes it your funniest or most embarrassing or….. ?

6.     Write out a rough vignette draft of that vacation.

Action Steps:

1. After you’ve put all your thoughts together, make a copy for each person with you on that trip and give them each your version.

Share: Did any memory surprise you when you did the worksheet? What made it stand out?

Read deep, marcy

Note: I found the quotes for this family section at They had a lot more that you might find more personal, especially if you are beginning to prepare a memoir, which we will be examining later in the series.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Journal With Impact: Family Vacations

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Your memories are your jewels!” Julie Butler

Family Vacations

Family vacations have the capacity to turn into books, especially if they extend to family reunions, or special locations visited each year, or combining group holidays that also include friends. Next week I will post a generic worksheet that can be a base line to build on, but for this section reflect on your own personal memories.

First make a specific list of the: best, worst, easiest, hardest, happiest, saddest, longest, shortest, funniest, and unexpected details.

Then choose one specific memory and do a worksheet by writing out it out as a visual photo frame, as if you were standing before a movie screen watching it happen.

Then choose a yearly event and, “Retell this generic memory as if it happened just once. In telling it as a single, one time memory, try to evoke the experience as a single vivid moment in time.”  Make a note of all the highlight features and write it as one incident.  You can choose to write it as a letter, or a short story, or as a vignette, or as if writing a travel article.

For example, for many years I spent the summers with my aunt, a schoolteacher who had summer months off work. My first poetry memoir, Summer Sketches, reflected the memories of those summers by combining several summers into one: some by personalities and some by adventure. The “only” captured my first surprise when five-years-old and found its way into this vignette when I wrote the normal everyday activity as an adult.


                                    Every morning a fresh
                                                pot of porridge bubbled on the stove.
                                    It could be stirred
       with a long wooden spoon and
       by my uncle.”

Action Steps:

1. First choose one very familiar detail to write about and then pick an unusual, or one-time only occurrence.

2. Write them up as a combined memory? What feelings do you notice came to the surface?

3. Now rewrite the first familiar version.

Share: What style did you write your memory up as? What specific feature surprised you?

Read deep, marcy


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Journal With Impact: Family Communications

Workshop: Six Conversations for Writing Creative Journals

“Memories shared serve each one differently.” Robert Evans

What kind of communication works best with your individual family members that will enable you to go beyond the surface details: weekly, monthly, or yearly?

Our technical era makes it possible to do instant connections but look at some ways to go a little deeper.

Some possibilities might include an old-fashioned round-robin letter so readers can participate without rushing. Or consider a regular e-mail circular to family only. Try out a designated Facebook group for family only.

Perhaps set up color-coded calendar as to when to touch base with each other with a regular conversation before the activity timeframe becomes too overloaded to share all the details and the communication becomes superficial.

Even a few minutes with a weekly Facetime to share a smile can keep a caring relationship healthy.

For special family events such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and other highlight occasions take a few minutes to extend the involvement and pass each person’s reactions around to everyone.

Some communications might include having each family member write up their favorite memory of that specific event. Or each person writes down a blessing, or share a Bible verse, or a promise, or a prayer, or a gift of time. Do a photo scrapbook that is shared with everyone. Or do a memento scrapbook (like an old fashioned quilt).

Action Steps:

1. Choose a system that you haven’t tried before to see if that becomes more efficient than your current mode of communication?

2. Then look for ways to make the system fun so that it is not another required to-do item but something you all look forward to.

3. Think of ways that will include all ages regardless of technical abilities.

Share: What method of communication has worked for your family so far? What method are you going to experiment with?

Read deep, marcy

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