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Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal: The Art of Transforming a Life into… (2001)

von Alexandra Johnson

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A practical guide to keeping a diary and transforming it into future projects. Alex Johnson shows how to spark memory, generate and focus material, identify key patterns, make procrastination work for you and insure your diary's privacy. Each chapter features tailored exercises for both beginning and committed diarists. Beginners will turn first to quick ways to get - and stay - started and to overcome inhibitions. Seasoned chroniclers, though, will start diaries with a new slant: how to trigger inspiration with creative brainstorming exercises; how to note patterns in diaries they already have; and how to shape their material.… (mehr)
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I suppose I started reading this expecting that I would learn better how to tell stories in my own journal, which for the past few years I've kept more frequently than ever before. That is not this book's goal. Instead, think of it as a writer's resource: How can you plumb the depths of your own (or others') journals for writing fragments, sources, memories, senses? And how can those things find their way into your writing, whether as memoir, poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction? Where are there connections and themes in your life? How can you discover yourself in a way that can best be written about?

I will say that this is one of the most unique books-about-writing that I've read. It's also the one that has unblocked my own journaling, helping me to see beyond the factual record and whining about the things I desire but am not near, helping me to see the self that's under those themes and living more than those limitations might suggest.

The other curiosity here reminds me of a short story. Friends of mine are in a local indie band. One of their housemates has a habit of going to second hand stores and looking at the tape recorders and answering machines, and stealing the tapes from them. Those tapes he then either publishes to a blog, or snippets find their way into recorded music as 'found audio'. This book and that odd story have me curious to discover old journals at garage sales. And it has me asking around my family to see where my grandparents' journals have gone to after their deaths. I think they only recorded weather details, but what if there's more? What if my grandma secretly wrote about the challenge of keeping a marriage together through my grandpa's alcoholism and my dad and uncle's teenage rebellions? Or did either of them write about those horrible years when my dad - their youngest son - was diagnosed with the cancer that killed him before he turned fifty? Dad journaled some of that time. Did anybody else? ( )
  patl | Feb 18, 2019 |
Tutti vogliamo lasciare una traccia ... (work in progress) ( )
  AntonioGallo | Nov 2, 2017 |
Fijn praktisch dagboekschrijfboek met mooie oefeningen om dieper te gaan.
  Heldinne | Sep 3, 2013 |
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All serious daring starts within. --Eudora Welty
There looms ahead of me the shadow of some kind of form which the diary might attain. I might in the course of time learn what it is that one can make of this loose, drifting material of life; finding another use for it. --Virginia Woolf
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For my grandmother Florence
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New Year's Day, Tuesday, Jan 1st. I think I will try to keep a diary this year.
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A practical guide to keeping a diary and transforming it into future projects. Alex Johnson shows how to spark memory, generate and focus material, identify key patterns, make procrastination work for you and insure your diary's privacy. Each chapter features tailored exercises for both beginning and committed diarists. Beginners will turn first to quick ways to get - and stay - started and to overcome inhibitions. Seasoned chroniclers, though, will start diaries with a new slant: how to trigger inspiration with creative brainstorming exercises; how to note patterns in diaries they already have; and how to shape their material.

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