Journaling – the perfect sleeping potion

As a person who journals everyday I can see the benefits of doing morning pages every morning and journaling just before going to sleep. I've journaled both ways. Right now I journal in the morning. I decided to switch over from night journaling because once in a while I'd nod off while writing. You can only imagine what funny gibberish I found on my page the next morning as a result. Mari L. McCarthy, our WOW! Women on Writing blog tour guest today and author of Journaling Power, is an advocate of writing at night as a way to get a good night's sleep. By the way, she writes in the morning as well. Please welcome Mari to Choices. Sleep Tight Every Night By Mari L. McCarthy Do you have trouble getting off to sleep at night because your mind has gone into overdrive? Or do you drop off only to wake in the early hours with your head full of worries? I used to suffer with insomnia until I discovered a creative cure with absolutely no side-effects: writing therapy in the eve … [Read more...]

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Journaling – one of the greatest investments of my life

Dawn Herring, creator of the #JournalChat Live Facebook Group, and my journaling mentor, has started off 2016 with a #JournalChat Live open house. She has asked us to share if journaling has been one of the greatest investments in our lives. Dawn says, “We keep journals to express ourselves, to create positive change, and become more personally empowered, right? So, we may see journaling as one of the Greatest Investments of our lives AND/OR, we may have experienced clarity and clear direction as a RESULT of our journaling practice that has led us to something that truly changed our lives for the better.” Her statement is indeed true for me. Here is why. My Journaling – My Greatest Investment By Madeline Sharples During lunch with a new friend last week, she asked me about my writing projects. I shared that I am writing a lot of poetry these days and that I’m also revising my novel – for about the 15th time. Then I told her I journal every day. That made her back straighten and … [Read more...]

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Life lessons learned from journaling

For four months I worked incredibly long hours helping a group of engineers write a proposal to the United States Air Force. My job was to advise and to make sure they correctly followed the request for proposal (RFP) instructions in the given number of pages. Plus I edited and rewrote their work to make the proposal read like it was written in one voice. I would arrive at work around 7:30 am and leave between six and eight in the evening. That left me just enough time to have a quick dinner at our hotel where the selections were less than enticing and go up to my hotel room and get ready for bed. Regular writing even under these conditions reminded me how important journaling is to my continued well-being. It always gives me space to gripe, to rant, and even to describe some of the good things about my day. Since journaling has become a way of life for me, I couldn’t let it go no matter what. Unfortunately, my other writing went by the wayside during this heavy period of work and I’ … [Read more...]

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Happy fifth anniversary, #JournalChat Live!

Congratulations to Dawn Herring on the fifth anniversary of her wonderful creation – #JournalChat Live. In celebration I’ve written my thoughts about journaling’s greatest benefit to me. I also share my favorite technique for writing my journal entries and offer a bit of journaling advice for those who want to start out. Dawn invited me to participate in a live #JournalChat on Twitter and Facebook in early April. (Click the link for a transcript of our journaling conversation.) I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Dawn’s love of all things journaling has been a huge inspiration to me. Here’s to Dawn Herring and an early happy anniversary wish to #JournalChat Live. Greatest Benefit I took up journaling seriously for the first time during my thirties while I lived with my husband and our two sons for nineteen months on a remote island in the South Pacific. I felt so isolated on this tiny island that the best I could do was write long rants every morning before the boys woke up. Happil … [Read more...]

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My life changed in an instant

I started my long-awaited consulting job this past Wednesday and with that my life’s daily routines  changed in an instant. I get up more than an hour earlier so I’ll have enough time to workout before I have to be at work – at 7:30 am!!!! Also, the amount of time I have to train for the Boston Overnight walk in June has been cut in half. I drive to work rather than walk downstairs to my home office. I need to be dressed in business clothes with makeup on rather than in my grubbies and no makeup when I work at home. I haven’t watched any television for the last several days – I sure miss my daily dose of Jeopardy – nor have I read one word of any of the books stacked on my beside table. But most important of all, most of my writing time has been snatched away. So far I’m clinging to daily journaling – usually right before I go to sleep, but my other writing has stopped. I was going great with the April Poem A Day prompts – until this week. Though the prompts stopped … [Read more...]

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Six features of life-changing memoirs by M. Shannon Hernandez

I'm so happy M. Shannon Hernandez has agreed to return to Choices to discuss memoir while on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. We met her here before with her thoughts about journaling, and since I think journal writing is a great way to jump-start a memoir, it is fitting to have Shannon tell us how to write a life-changing memoir. Shannon recently launched: Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher. She shares her vast experience in providing us with the six features of life-changing memoirs. How to Write a Life-Changing Memoir By M. Shannon Hernandez Life-changing! That is a tall order, isn’t it? If you are an author, you most likely want to change lives with your words. Not only am I a connoisseur of memoirs, I also have written a memoir, and I coach memoir writers to turn their memories into manuscripts. I have spent much time dissecting memoirs. Here I discuss:  Six Features of Life-Changing Memoirs  1: Narrow your focus waaaayyyy down … [Read more...]

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My stress meter

I have a built-in stress meter. I can tell how stressed I am by how loud my tinnitus sounds. When I feel relatively balanced, I hear very low wave-like sounds that seem to come from one ear. When I’m stressed the tinnitus sounds like crashing swells blowing through my head from both sides. So I was interested to read a recent New York Times article titled “How Exercise May Protect Against Depression,” given that “even mild, repeated stress can contribute to the development of depression and other mood disorders in animals and people.” Mood disorders, mania, and depression run in my family, so I need to actively make sure I lower my stress level. I’ve been exercising almost all my life, and I do it every day – first thing in the morning. Exercise was especially useful after my son Paul’s death fifteen years ago. That outlet kept me sane then, and it still does. That is, at least for a while. For example, I exercised this morning – sixty minutes of cardio followed by a little iro … [Read more...]

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Ageism doesn’t apply

I’m Going Back to Work I wasn’t looking for consulting work when I retired in April 2010 at the age of seventy. I was intent on working as a creative writer rather than a technical writer and proposal manager. For me it was either now or never. And I succeeded. In the last four and a half years I had my memoir published, I’ve written for several websites, I’ve written poems for two books of photography, and co-edited three poetry anthologies. Now I’m knee deep in revising my first novel. So really I have no time to work a day job, as they like to say. Actually, in the last couple of years I worked a couple of short-term consulting jobs – helping a group of engineers write proposals to the U.S. government. And it was easy-going back. I found that once I walked in the door I got into the swing of the work immediately. It was like I’d never been gone. Of course after doing the kind of work I did for almost thirty years, I shouldn’t have had any doubt that I could still perform … [Read more...]

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How technical writing helped me write memoir and fiction

I fell in love with writing in grade school and took journalism and was on the newspaper staff in high school. I attended the University of Wisconsin as a journalism major, then transferred to UCLA my senior year to complete a degree in English. Because jobs for women journalists were few in the 1960s in Los Angeles, I began a long career as a technical writer and editor, proposal manager, web designer and content developer in the aerospace industry. And I must say that was a great choice because my job paid very well, and I’m still able to work from time to time as a consultant years after I officially retired (I’m just about to embark on a four-month job to help a group of engineers write a proposal to the U.S. Air Force). Plus, I’ve been able to transfer what I learned as a technical writer over to my memoir and fiction writing. Here are six things I learned: Plan before you write. I had an outline before I started my memoir and a list of scenes that guided my fiction b … [Read more...]

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Jerry Waxler compares the benefits of journal and memoir writing

I'm so pleased to host Jerry Waxler on his third WOW! Women on Writing blog tour stop. He generously allowed me to conduct a two-part interview with him in September 2013 about the role of memoir in our lives today (here and here). At that time he also discussed his wonderful and very informative book about memoir writing, Memoir Revolution (see my review below). Today Jerry writes about the many benefits of journal and memoir writing and compares the two forms. Thanks so much, Jerry, for being here and providing your expertise to the many readers here at Choices. Comparing the Benefits of Journal Writing and Memoir Writing By Jerry Waxler I discovered the benefits of journal writing in the late 1970s when a spiritual teacher suggested, I write my thoughts as if in a letter to God. Allowing my thoughts and feelings to flow onto the page helped me maintain my poise so effectively, I kept going for years. When I began to read about the healing benefits of journal writing, I wasn … [Read more...]

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One Lovely Blog Award – paying it forward

I’m paying it forward in thanks for the One Lovely Blog Award I recently received from my dear friend Cate Russell-Cole. It definitely made my day to be included in her list of awardees. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m going to pass the award to some of my writing friends who will hopefully take the opportunity to pay it forward as well. Here are the rules: One Lovely Blog Award Rules: 1. I need to thank the person who nominated me. check! 2. Share 7 things about myself that you still may not know. check! 3. Nominate up to 15 bloggers. check! 4. Notify the nominees that I have done so. check! 5. Put the logo of the award on my blog site. check! Now seven things about me that you may not know: I worked as a technical writer/editor and proposal manager in the aerospace industry for thirty years – after getting a degree in English. Both my parents were born in eastern Europe – Mom from Lithuania, Dad from Poland. They met and fell in love in Chicago, wh … [Read more...]

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The healing powers of journaling

This is the second in my series about writing to heal. I've also found the healing powers of journaling, which I first wrote about for Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas' anthology: Returning to the Circle: Inspirational Wisdom from Women for Women. The Power of Journaling A friend gave me a little leather (or faux leather) bound five-year diary complete with tiny lock and key when I was in high school. And for a while I wrote in the teeniest script about typical teen-age angst – especially about my first crush who gave me my first cigarette and first French kiss and then dumped me for a girl he met at summer camp. I think my parents must have thrown that diary out when they sold our house and moved to California because I never saw it again after I went away to college. I took up journaling again during my thirties while my husband and our two sons and I lived for nineteen months on a remote island in the South Pacific. I felt so isolated on this tiny island that the best I could do … [Read more...]

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How to write a novel

I was smitten with the following photo that pranced around Facebook yesterday courtesy of Melissa Foster. It makes the writing of a novel seem so simple and the deterrents to writing a novel so easy to solve. I’ve been working on my novel for about four years – off and on. I revised and got my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, published in the meantime, and I spend a lot of time every day marketing it. However, I don’t let any of that take away from my writing time and my commitment to my novel. What I want to do is to briefly comment on the photo I’ve shared here and let you know where I am in my novel’s process. Think up a story I was fortunate to have a story fall into my lap from my aunt’s lifestory writing, and when I presented the idea at my first novel-writing workshop, it was very readily accepted. I’ve, of course, fictionalized her true story, making up characters, dialogue, events, and locales. However, I’ve tried very hard to be historically accurate about plac … [Read more...]

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Why I turned to digital journaling

Journaling remains a major force in my life. Rarely a day goes by that I don't write a journal entry.  I find the time to write down at least no matter where I am. M. Shannon Hernandez recently posted my thoughts on digital journaling at her The Writing Whisperer blog. I feel so honored to be her guest poster. Here's Why I Turned to Digital Journaling  Writing for Healing I turned to journaling regularly in 1993 just after my son Paul was diagnosed bipolar, and I continued on after his suicide death in 1999. Journaling became my therapy. Keeping my fingers moving across the page was both an obsession and a healing balm. It gave me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. As a result I have become a huge proponent of journaling as a way to heal. I still journal every day. At first I wrote in notebooks – the finer the better. I especially love the ones I bought in France and later found at Banner Stationer’s in El Segundo California – Clairefontaine. The pages are very t … [Read more...]

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Please welcome The Writing Whisperer, M. Shannon Hernandez

I'm very pleased to introduce you to M. Shannon Hernandez. I met her a couple weeks ago at Dawn Herring's weekly Twitter Journal Chat, as we discussed the benefits of journaling. Journaling is such a wonderful way to tell our life stories and kick off future writing pieces of any genre. I also like to journal to report daily happenings and dreams, and make lists of to dos and what I've accomplished. Shannon discusses her technique for journaling in short reflective bursts. Here's Shannon. The Journaler’s Nightcap: Conscious Reflection Journaling by M. Shannon Hernandez Most of us leave extremely busy lives. We are bombarded with more information than ever before. A short walk from my house to the train station in Brooklyn yields advertisements whizzing by on busses, flyers handed out on street corners, and newspapers thrust at me as I descend underground. I didn’t even mention that you would most likely see me checking my voicemail, email, and text messages along the way too. One day I … [Read more...]

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Memoir – a way of keeping a loved one alive

Before I had any inkling that I would write my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living withHer Son’s Bipolar and Surviving His Suicide, I wrote to keep the memory of my oldest son Paul alive. It was almost an obsession. I continually wrote down everything I could remember. I didn’t want to forget one thing about him. Possibly his last photo   It turns out my notes and journal entries were a huge help when I began to put my memoir together. My journals – even short entries – informed and rounded out my writing immensely. What else is memoir but memories? Here is a list of memories I wrote down in the early days after Paul’s death. I’m especially glad to have them this month – my birthday month – one of the times I miss him the most. I’ll always remember he slept without closing his eyes all the way I’ll always remember he walked fast and way ahead of us I’ll always remember he had long, thick, black eyelashes surrounding clear … [Read more...]

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Why I journal

I just spent an hour with my friend and fellow journal writer, @DawnHerring chatting about journaling #JournalChat. Dawn hosts these Twitter chats every Thursday at two o’clock Pacific time. I hadn’t participated for the last few weeks, so it was good to be back today. The topic was Take Action. Before I get into that here’s a bit about my journaling history. When I was in grade school I had one of those little leather (or faux leather) bound diaries that had a tiny key. Mine was a 5-year diary so I wrote down in teeny script my daily events. I think my parents must have thrown it out when they sold our house and moved to California because I never saw it again after I went away to college. I journaled in fits and starts over the next forty years or so. I kept a journal when we lived in the South Pacific during the seventies, and some of those journal entries became a magazine article about our island adventures. However, I began journaling regularly when my son Paul was di … [Read more...]

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WOW blog tour stop No. 14

A perfect segue to my blog post on marketing yesterday… Today Women’s Memoirs has posted my answers to their questions about: MEMOIR, BLOGGING AND PLATFORM BUILDING Marketing and Promotion on the Internet. http://bit.ly/kp6bAC They say, “As many of you well know, at Women’s Memoirs we are as interested in the marketing efforts that go into the promotion of a new memoir as we are in the actual writing. After all, in most cases, writing the book is only half the job. We need to get our work into the hands of readers. We need a platform to which we can draw potential readers and a variety of tactics for making our presence known.” And they are so right. I’m finding the marketing of the book as much work or even more work than the writing. I am so grateful to Kendra Bonnet and Matilda Butler for inviting to post on their wonderful Women’s Memoir site today about my book marketing experience so far and on June 22 when I answered questions about how writing a memoir helped … [Read more...]

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WOW blog tour stop No. 10

I am so excited to be the guest blogger on Women’s Memoirs today. Thank you Robyn and Jodi of WOW-Women on Writing for arranging this stop for me. Kendra and Matilda of Women's Memoirs asked me a series of questions about journaling and writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, as they related to my path to healing after my son Paul's suicide. The post not only has my answers and recommendations for other women who need to find ways to heal, they've posted photos of Paul and our family and a wonderful piece of Paul's music played by him. The music player is inserted right there on the blog. Please take a look at this wonderful and useful blog to writers of all genres. http://womensmemoirs.com/memoir-book-reviews/memoir-book-discussion-leaving- the-hall-light-on-by-madeline-sharples/ … [Read more...]

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