Category Archives: Journaling

Winter Isolation & Writing

By Terry C. Misfeldt

What do you do when a blizzard hits and you are isolated from the rest of the world?

When a recent snowstorm dumped more than one foot of snow on our community, I could not get my front door open. Sure, I had other means of egress but the first thing that came of mind–after removing the snow, of course–was that it was a perfect time to do more writing.

Winter in Wisconsin has a tendency to isolate us. It’s either too cold to go out or the snow and ice makes driving hazardous. And there’s only so much television you can watch before going stir crazy!

Whether you grab a pen and spiral notebook to make notes or plop yourself at the keyboard and type away at breakneck speed, winter is a great time to write. Personally, I have set a goal of once again writing 1,000 words a day during 2024. Just keeping a daily journal piles up that many words on average.

Working on a draft of a novel or jotting down memories for a memoir, writing can give you a sense of purpose during the long winter months. It’s also a time to organize files, go through your library and get your affairs in order. Once warmer weather comes back, your mind and body will tell you it’s time to get outside again.

Weather, while seclusion can be productive for writing, should not keep you from getting outdoors and enjoying the cleansing nature of snow or the briskness of chill winds. Exercise is good for writers despite the adage about seats in seats.

Wrapping this up, I just noticed something about the first word in each of these paragraphs. What word works with winter weather? Did you get the clue?

Keeping a Journal

By Terry C. Misfeldt

When we were younger it was thought of as keeping a diary. As we have gotten older, that diary is now considered a journal. With age, keeping a journal is one of the best ways to keep track of the special occasions and life moments you experience.

Like my grandmother who started her journal when she was 10 years old and kept it up until 10 days before her passing, i have consciously kept a journal for most of my life. The exception was 2019 when I chose to intentionally skip keeping track of minutiae and just live my life!

The Corona virus pandemic of 2020 has proven to be an excellent reason for keeping a journal. The panic of being close to someone who might be infected. The anxiety of being quarantined. Waiting for test results. Listening to information and wondering whether it is accurate or manufactured. Doubt. Emotions provide insight to what you have gone through it you have shared them in a journal.

You are not obligated to share your journal with anyone. It is your personal property. It can also be a legacy to your loved ones when you leave this existence for the other side. I am fortunate to have some of my grandmother’s journals and the secrets they have divulged about growing up in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Being able to decode her symbols, I was able to determine when my father was conceived.

My fifth grandchild recently joined our family and, in my journal, I have shared my emotions and feelings about my third grandson. Being able to go back and review dates and events enables me to reminisce about his birth when I am older and grayer with a mind less likely to remember details that are fresh now.

If you travel, journal about it. A friend of mine who has been a professional photographer during his entire career has traveled extensively. When he shared images with me about his trips, i encouraged him to create journal entries and share them with his followers. It created a permanent memory of his exploits for himself, his family, and those of us who have always admired his work.

If you consider yourself a writer and wonder what to write, journal. Keeping a journal provides inspiration for that great American novel.

COVID Motivation

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Writers I converse with regularly seem to lack motivation to write as a result of COVID-19. They are isolated from other writers, family members, and friends, so it is hard to write about anything without human interaction. So here are my thoughts for writers who lack COVID motivation.

  1. Dedicate time each day to writing. Just write! It matters not what you type into your document or scribble on a note pad. Write about your day’s experiences if nothing else. What is essential is that you are writing, whether it’s at 7:00 in the morning or 11:00 at night. Write!
  2. Find something to write about. Your favorite food and why you relish that delicacy. Your best friend and how you get along with that person, even if your best friend is yourself. Write about your favorite time of year or the season that inspires you, such as the colors of autumn.
  3. Correspond with someone you care about. Find a blank note card and send a friend who lives far away a message about why you miss them or what you treasure most about your relationship and your hopes of rekindling it when you can get back together again. Open your heart to them.
  4. Find a writing contest and enter it. There are many magazines and writing groups solicting entries in their writing contests. If you find one you feel qualified to enter, study the rules and write that winning entry. It may cost you a few bucks to enter, but the satisfaction of competing…and winning…can be motivating. And last…
  5. Set a daily goal and write your novel. If you want to write a 90,000 word novel, you can do it in 90 days if you set a goal of writing 1,000 words every day. Perhaps you write 500 words in the morning and another 500 after dinner or all of them at once. The key is to set a goal and keep working at it. It can be your motivation.

Writing Challenge

By Terry C. Misfeldt

One week into July 2020 I decided to challenge myself on writing. I believed I could write 1,000 words a day, so I established that as my realistic goal. My rationale was two-fold:

1) If I wrote 1,000 words a day I could craft a 90,000 word novel within 90 days; and,

2) I could hold myself accountable by documenting how many words I wrote in my daily journal. I did not intend to count the journal words in the daily total.

Through the first 18 days of my challenge I have written 22,336 words for an average of 1,241. There was only one day when I did not write anything, and some days when I fell short of the 1,000 word goal. The most words in a day were 2,995. The key, in my estimation, has been accountability.

There have been days when I was motivated to sit down at the keyboard early and crank on the sequel to my novel, Shevivor. And there was at least one day where I did not want to go to bed without sitting down and cranking out something.

How did I determine what to write?

If I was working on the sequel, I went to bed thinking about the next few paragraphs and where I wanted to take the story. If I hit a snag or blockage, I worked on a chapter of my memoirs and found it easy to craft 1,000 words about one of my life’s experiences. In other words, I always had something to write about. And there were days when I wrote in two different stints when I was motivated to write.

Enough about me.

Challenging yourself to write involves setting a goal. It is less important to establish how much you want to write as it is to maintain a regimen that keeps you focused. If you can accomplish writing 500 words a day, make that your objective. If you find it difficult to commit to a daily schedule and believe you can write 2,000 words a week, that should be your goal.

You must set your own standard because, ultimately, you must hold yourself accountable.

Keep track of your achievements. It is how you measure progress.

A lesson learned long ago is that goals must be written, or they are never attained. They must also be realistic, so even if it is 100 words a day and that can be achieved, you can accomplish it.

Goals need to be timely as well. I have been focused on mine for 18 days out of at least 90 planned, so I need to infuse persistence into my regimen to complete what I have in mind.

You can do it, too!

Writing this piece alone generated 461 words toward today’s goal.

The Journey of Writing

By Ruth Granger-Wellens

I just arrived home from a journey of a lifetime – driving to Alaska from Wisconsin! Well, my husband drove. In fact, he planned the whole trip – each route, each hotel reservation, each small tour we took to see glaciers and wildlife and – I rode along.   He read, studied, and talked to people who had done a similar trip. In the months and weeks leading up to our departure date, I tried very hard to read about where we were going.  But I just couldn’t get a picture in my head. When we started out, and as I rode along – waiting, wondering, anticipating – I realized that this trip was a lot like the journey of writing. 

 First there is the idea – like going to Alaska. As we traveled the roads, I didn’t know what was around any corner or beyond the hill or in the next town. I trusted that my husband was going in the right direction. I did some reading about the area we were in or going to while in the car, and, of course, I did a lot of observing and thinking.  I was never disappointed.

When we write, we first come up with the idea.  This is true whether writing a short story, nonfiction, a blog or a book. Then we begin the journey of writing. We have a direction to go in, hopefully with a sense of what the outcome will be, but we don’t know with absolute certainty how we will get there.  What will the characters do?  Where will the plot go?  What words will make the most sense so the meaning is as clear as it can be?  Our writing will take turns and detours, go up and down roads, see exquisite pictures, hit road blocks, and be rewritten many times before it arrives at its conclusion. 

Alaska was amazing; with hard work and good editing, our writing can also be amazing.      

Finding Inspiration

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Writing requires finding inspiration. Whatever inspires you delivers words to enliven your manuscript. Giggles from your two-year-old grandson as you transport him across the swimming pool. Warm cuddles from your four-year-old granddaughter who seldom sees her grandpa. Rivulets of rain rolling down the gutter and flooding the street. Dark clouds swirling downward counterclockwise in a severe thunderstorm as you watch a tornado touch down.

Whatever captures your senses serves as inspiration to write. When it happens, try to capture it and bring it to life in the pages of your document. Add details or fabricate them. The grandson wearing floaties and fascinated by the water flowing into the pool filter. Your granddaughter wrapped in her favorite blanket and, of course, in her favorite color. Cars ripping through the pouring rain despite a blinding downfall. Your neighbor’s trees whipping in the tumult of strong winds ripping away limbs.

If it’s hard to remember people, events, or other activities that inspire you, carry a notepad and pen with you to jot down what you’ve experienced. I have found that our mental capacity is far greater than that of any computing device on the market.

I am inspired by memories from my childhood and find that some of those incidents remain vivid decades later. One that will never perish is of the first home I remember where one closet separated my parent’s bedroom from that of my brother and me. We could walk from our bedroom through the closet into my parent’s bedroom. Hey, I was less than five years old so it was more fun than dangerous.

Seek inspiration from your family, friends, work, leisure, vacations, travel, hobbies, home life, or doing whatever you’re doing wherever you are.

Keep a journal and use it to be inspired.