What do I do with my journal?

Are you afraid that someone will find out your journal secrets? That when you die your life will be there for all to see? If this is keeping you from writing in a journal, could you reconsider? There are steps you can take to protect your privacy, and some things to think about before you cut off your connection to the past.

If you feel strongly that your privacy not be invaded, you can rent a safe deposit box at a bank. Put your completed journals in this safe deposit box and give the key to a trusted friend.

open journalJulia Cameron, the author of “The Artist’s Way,” and the proponent of writing three pages of whatever you are thinking every single morning was asked at a book signing if she keeps her journals. She said she did, they fill a storage locker. She has an agreement with her daughter, her executor, that she be cremated. “But first, burn the books. Then burn me!” Cameron said.

Before you choose to keep your life such a secret, let me encourage you to let go. Once you are dead your past is not going to haunt you. And it might help others. My mother’s life was a mystery to me. I was born late in her life and only knew her as angry and manipulative. Sure, she had bright moments, but they were short and quickly dispensed with.

After her death, I found a packet of love letters she and my father had exchanged. So strong was her hold over me, even from the grave, that I seriously considered destroying the letters, unopened. When I read through them, another woman emerged. One I had never known. A young woman, the woman who was the mother to my brothers. She seemed eager to live her life. I never found out what had shut her down, although she had many reasons.

Without those letters, I would have never had a chance to see this other person. This person with hope and humor. This woman who suddenly had more in common with me than I ever believed. It was a generous gift to discover.  I’m sure she would have hated my prying into her past, but now that I know, it is also easier for me to be easier on her.

Before you lock up your past, think about the help you might be. That event you are ashamed of might help someone else, might change their mind, might leave a word of encouragement. Once you are gone, your life in this world is complete. Leave some clues for the next generation. You might create a picture of yourselves for people who are not even born. Give them a view into your life, and into the status of life in a time period they never knew.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who teaches journal writing. See her work at QuinnCreative.com You can also read about Raw Art Journaling for journal writers who can’t draw.

How to Make it Stick

For all artists, crafters, or just people who need to know how to glue two items together, there is a website for you: thistothat.com

The homepage gives you two boxes to choose the two items you are trying to glue together. Click Submit, and it gives you the best glue for the materials.

images13.jpegThere is also a page for trivia that includes items like:

” When you are sucking in all the toxins from your cigarette, you can rest assured that the glue used to hold it together is completely non-toxic. It is made from a combination of casein (milk) and wax (to increase moisture resistance), and is absolutely harmless.” or

” Cellulose, the major ingredient of the cell walls of plants, is the base of adhesives ideal for sticking plastic or glass to the cornea of the eye. Methyl Cellulose does not irritate human tissue, which is why it is used for this application.”

No wonder I use methyl cellulose for collages and cards–it’s easy and doesn’t pull of my skin.

Glue Tip for Cactus Owners: If you’ve touched a cactus and have dozens of no-see-um stickers in your finger, coat it with a white glue (Elmer’s is fine, any kind of PVA will do. Do not use super-glue) and let it dry. Then carefully, slowly peel it off starting at one edge. The glue will pull out all the cactus spines.

–Quinn McDonald is an Raw Art Journal artist who sticks up for original artwork, with and without glue. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2008-9 All rights reserved. Image: northumberlandglue.uk

Journals: Write to Forget, Write to Remember

If you keep a journal, you may well write whole pages to remember events or people. You had a wonderful reunion with a friend. You write it down so you’ll  remember that evening. In your journal are all the details, ready to remind you of the warmth of the reunion.

 Writing to Forget
Pouring emotions on paper lets you both capture the emotion and release it. Grab a strong emotion and wrestle it down on paper. Your feelings will pour out, you will see them on the page and leave them there, because there is no reason for you to want to hold on to the hurt. Writing is an act of healing, and the healing begins when you finish with your need to rehearse it over and over again and feel the pain all over again. Knowing it’s in your journal is reason enough to quit rehearsing the details.

How can journal writing do both?
How can writing help you both remember and forget? Writing is a creative activity, and the act of forming words carefully, with a pen, creates a reaction between your brain and hand that lets you think through the emotional impact while you are writing. Writing by hand slows down your thoughts and helps you concentrate. It doesn’t work that way if you use a keyboard.

Writing helps you forget, because you can vent on the page, examine your motives and reactions, and decide what to take with you as you move on. You learn from your hurts, as long as you don’t nurture them to feed anger and thoughts of retribution.

In the same way, writing down a to-do list allows you to forget, because you have the items written down. No need to keep rehearsing the list in your mind. Keeping a to-do list reduces anxiety and feeling overwhelmed because you no longer repeat what you haven’t done yet over and over.

When you write down to remember, something different happens.  You write to enforce a memory, to recall more details, to bring a full range of emotions to the top of your mind. As you feel an enjoyable emotion or physical pleasure, the words you write create a path to feel that pleasure again, in full measure.

Keeping a journal is both a creative act and and act of healing. It can do both at the same time. Visit your journal often and allow your creativity to fuel healing.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. Her book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art helps people enjoy their art journals even if they can’t draw.

Image: Forget/Remember. Ink and resist pen on paper. ©Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

Words? Content. Images? Context

Although it’s meant as personal art, raw art journaling also has practical purposes. It can be used in keeping notes so people understand them better (often called by the biz.jargon name visual facilitation). The reason raw art works–both personally and professionally–is that we process and understand ideas using our left brains, and understand emotionally using our right brain. Full brain understanding with content and context.PowerPoint, originally designed to allow engineers to talk to marketing, is an example of the result of increasing content and reduced context. Endless bullet points instead of simple images is death by PowerPoint. Add emotional understanding through images and you not only “get it,” you keep it gotten. As it were.If you just heard this as a presentation, you’d still be guessing. But animation and images, and. . . .you understand it.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She as a website describing her business side at QuinnCreative.

Her other website, Raw-Art-Journals, is about her art life. Follow Quinn on Twitter.

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Cube Timer: Cool Business Tool

My favorite business tool is a timer. I use it when I’m on the phone with coaching clients to warn me that I have another call coming up. I use it when I’m Tweeting or on Facebook to make sure I don’t look up to see the sun set after only “a few minutes” online that started at dawn.

cube timer set for 30-minutes

cube timer set for 30-minutes

I use a timer to remind me when the wash is done, let me meditate without keeping en eye on the clock, alert me when my free-writing time is up, when the hose needs to be moved from the orange to the lemon tree, when to check on the lemon cake while I’m writing.

A timer relieves you of guilt that your mind can’t be alert on all fronts at the same time,  and helps you get there. There is a timer that hangs on the fridge, and it needs to stay there because I don’t want magnets near the computer or iPhone. It’s the fifth fridge timer, and none of them have worked the same way. Usually, I have to pull the batteries out to turn it off, because the instructions are incomprehensible. I can’t hear it from my office. There’s a timer on my iPhone–so clever–but once I set it, I forget the extra step of turning it on.

Cube timer turned off

Cube timer turned offextra step of turning it on.

Now I have my cube timer. It’s a white cube, 2 inches square. It has 4 pre-set times: 5-,  15-,  30- and 60 minutes, one on each side. It also has a zero and a side with an on switch.

You turn it on, and flip it so the time you want shows on top. It beeps once to show it’s on. A red light blinks to let you know it’s working.  A count-down timer is on the side with the on switch. It beeps when the time’s up, and you flip it to zero to turn it off. You can turn the switch to “off” to save battery life.

It’s the easiest timer I’ve ever had. Available from Solutions.com. And no, they didn’t pay me to say this.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She teaches people how to keep a raw-art-journal, an art journal with your own private symbols.

Words Make Art

When you are in love with words, they become art. Writing, journaling, typography–it’s all part of the art. I ran across an interesting website today: wordle.net It takes copy you supply it (or it will scan your blog or website) and creates a typographic layout. You can change the colors, fonts, vertical or horizontal layout.

Best of all, you own the images. You have to credit wordle.net, but you can use them in almost anyway you want. Images created by the Wordle.net web application are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Here is one I made using Jane Greer’s poem, The Hunter.

Wordle does The Hunter

Wordle does The Hunter

Here’s a vertical, pastel sample using a recent blog post:

Wordle using random blog

Wordle using random blog

Here’s a horizontal one, using the words on the home page of my website, Raw Art Journals:

Raw art journal Wordle

Raw art journal Wordle

It’s a lot of fun. But before you go, set a timer. Time flies when you are having fun.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative and Raw-Art-Journals.  Her other website, Raw-Art-Journals, is about her art life. Follow Quinn on Twitter.

Raw Art Journals launch

For years, I’ve been playing with the idea that everyone can draw. Maybe not a perfect portrait or a watercolor, but draw something meaningful. I’m not an illustrator, either, but put me in a meeting and I’ll fill up the page with symbols and doodles. In fact, when I take notes, I use a lot of symbols.

Raw-art-journals is the website I developed for those who can’t draw, but would like to keep an art journal.

The Idea (c) Quinn McDonald, 2009

The Idea (c) Quinn McDonald, 2009

Well, now there’s an idea. Suppose you could develop symbols that were meaningful to you? Suppose that you could use existing symbols–including numbers and letters–and create interesting pages in your journal? Well, you can.

Those symbols, doodles, sketches and abstract art pieces in your journal is raw art journaling. The ideas are yours, and you don’t need anything fancy to create it. A pencil or pen, eraser, and good paper, and you’re off!

The one on the left is my idea or raw art journaling. It combines an exclamation mark, a lightbub shape (for the idea) and a plant (made out of journal pages), and you have my symbol for a raw art journal.

I’m a word person, so I add words to a lot of my designs. In the one below, it says, “Writing helps me untangle my thoughts–or learn to love them all tangled.” One sentence journaling at its

Untangled (c) Quinn McDonald

Untangled (c) Quinn McDonald

best–and a fun way to express myself. Sure, you could do it in colored pencil, and I have done that, too.

Stop by and start your raw art journal, too!

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She’s going to have workshops on raw art journals, too.

Her other website, Raw-Art-Journals, is about her art life. Follow Quinn on Twitter.

Fixing the Messed-Up Journal Page

You’re working in your journal and one of the pages doesn’t work out. You don’t want it to mess up the rest of the journal, so now what? You’ll know what I’ll say first–that your journal is not a piece of perfection, that some pages will work out better than others. And I’ll know your reply–tell me how to make it work. Here are some ways to fix a journal page that didn’t work out:


Image: www.show.me.uk

1.Cut it out. Trim the page out about an inch from the spine stitching. Put a sturdy piece of cardboard or a cutting mat under the page and cut with an art knife. You’ll get a better cut than with scissors. You now have a stub left in the book. You can attach another page here. Complete the page first, so you know it’s exactly what you want in this part of your journal. Attach with tape or glue.

If you use glue, you’ll want the stub to be on the back of the insert. Put the glue on the stub, after putting a protective page underneath the stub. No sense gluing pages of your journal together.

2. Take notes. If there is room enough on the page, make notes about what you would do differently the next time. This helps you feel better about the mistake. It also helps you learn how to avoid repeating the mistake. If there is not enough room on the page, cut out small rectangles of paper, make your comments on them, and glue them into place on the page you don’t like.

3. Cover it up. There are thin papers that will hide the work, but translucent enough to add interest. Parchment or tracing paper, and some kinds of washi–rice paper–do a good job. You can also add a piece of transparency film or mylar. Transparency can be colored by running it through your printer to put a colored image on it. (Make sure your printer will take transparency film first.) Transparency film can also be dyed or stamped with alcohol inks. Mylar can be tinted with colored pencils or inks.

4. Paint over it. If you don’t mind a thicker page, cover the page with collage or paint. If you are going to paint, use a heavy body acrylic or gesso to start. You’ll get muc better coverage than watercolor or thin acrylics. You can also cover portions with masking tape and paint over the rest of it. Collage works well because you won’t be able to write on paint very easily.

Your inner perfectionist should find one of those methods the right way to keep loving your journal.

Quinn McDonald is a journal writer and creativity coach.

. Follow Quinn on Twitter.

Navigating Twitter

Last time, I gave a quick overview of Twitter. This time, let’s see how to use it.

If you have an account (you can sign up at twitter.com) you can post and answer other’s posts.

The best way to get attention is to post useful links or facts, along with a link to those facts. Sure you can post something like “In a Major League Ball Game, the home team has to have 90 new balls available for the game,” but the statement is more effective if you post a link proving your statement. Most links are long, so you can go to tinyurl.com and type in the long link, and instantly get a much shorter link. That’s important when your post can’t be more than 140 characters long.

The idea on Twitter is to “follow” people–read their posts. And have them follow you.

Who to follow? Depends on what your interests are. There is a search engine on the Home page, and you can type in any topic to see what people have to say about it.

You can organize all your social media and search and connect through TweetDeck.com

You can find out who is no longer following you and un-follow them with Twitoria.

Kristine Wirth explains a lot of Twitter very well. When you use Twitter you’ll see this symbol a lot: # It’s called a hashmark and it works the same way as tags on WordPress.  Here’s how Kristine explains it:

“The hash mark (#) before a word in a post allows you to tag that post for that word. However, in order to get tracked via a hash tag, you need to opt-in and follow http://twitter.com/hashtags.  Once you’re following Hashtags, every time you make a post in Twitter and tag it with a hash mark like so:  #iPhone, it will then show up as a real-time post on http://www.Hashtags.org.

If you then visit Hashtags.org, you can click on any tag and it will show you all of the posts that have been tagged with that keyword.”

Some other notations, courtesy of AdventCreative’s Marshall Thompson:

@ = Placing this before a person’s Twitter name (i.e. @sethjenks) is an open conversation directed toward that person. Anybody can see this communication between you and the person your @ing.  You can @ anybody on Twitter, even people who are not following your updates.

D = A private conversation between you and a person who is following your updates. There is a space between the ‘d’ and the person’s name and you don’t need to use the @ sign. You can only direct message people who are following you.

RT = Re-tweeting means, Sweet! I like this! Passing it along. Always give props to the original tweeter.

Some people I follow also have blogs worth reading:

Maria Schneider is helpful and concise. She’ll tell you how to use the 60/40 rule on Twitter  as well as how to get street, or maybe it’s Tweetcred. Schneider also has tips on good follows for writers.

Liz Massey, over at Creative Liberty, writes on creativity, but she also is techno-savvy. Check out posts on her site for great ideas on social networking. One of my favorite of her posts is information on creating a creative dashboard.

That should help, I hope. Have fun Tweeting!

Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/QuinnCreative

–Quinn McDonald is a life and creativity coach who owns QuinnCreative.

Twitter: The Good, The Bad, The OMG!

If you don’t use Twitter yet, but have a burning desire to know about it, maybe I can help. Maybe not. By the time I click “Publish” on this post, everything may be different. Still, I’m going to try.

Twittering magpie

Twittering magpie

Twitter is a website on which anyone can write about anything as long as it takes up 140 characters or less. (A character is a keystroke.)  Posts are called tweets. People who use Twitter are called Tweeple. Twitter users are a real slice of life–there are serious business people, scammers, stoners, intelligentsia, cat lovers, event-goers, and at least one mature writer-coach-trainer-artist. (That’s me.)

It’s true that no matter who you are (or how old, or how fast you can type with your thumbs) there is a lot of Twitter you won’t care about. Before you sniff snobbishly, let me remind you that the same is true of TV shows, the interwebs, the library, and your extended family. In other words, you can pick and choose who shows up for you on Twitter.

Unlike Facebook, you can follow people on Twitter without being friends with them. Following them means you can go to their home page on Twitter and read what they post. You can also post.  And if someone isn’t what you wanted or expected, you can simply take them off your list without “unfriending” them.

You can run Twitter on your computer or on your cellphone or mobile PDA or all three. If you want to control your connection addiction, run it solely on your computer and check in with it periodically or post when you have something useful to post.

How do you know whose posts to read? Twitter has a search engine, and you can look for topics that interest you or people that interest you. Pete Harbeson (follow him at twitter.com/pharbeson) who comments here frequently, made a great suggestion: in the beginning, follow a lot of people. Trim down the list when you figure out what you want to read.

You can also use Mr. Tweet to make suggestions once you get a start–Mr. Tweet bases your suggestions on your description of yourself and your follow- and following-list.

What’s the difference between Twitter and Google? Google looks back on the contents of documents and arranges it by how many people looked at it. Twitter plugs in to what people are talking about right now.

I promised you the good: Twitter is fresh, you can find out what interests large groups of people, news buzzes, and updates of events you can’t attend.

I promised you the bad: Twitter is the e-version of the cool kids’ cafeteria table when you were in the seventh grade. You will never be cool enough, but you can carve out a niche.

. . .and the OMG!: Right now, “SXSW” is on almost every post. It means South by Southwest and it’s a media, film, and music festival happening in Texas March 18-22. After the 22nd, SXSW will vanish for something else.

Not OMG! enough? OK, here is a random post–a lot of people seem to like to post what they ate for lunch. I’ve left out the name to protect the guilty: “me to matt: what did you have for lunch? / Ramen Noodles / That’s not very nutritious / well, I had cookies too.”

Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/QuinnCreative

Next: hashmarks, who to follow, and some links to other articles that demystify Twitter.

Quinn McDonald is a trainer, life- and certified creativity coach. She is on Facebook and on Twitter. She was not one of the cool kids in seventh grade, but has carved out a niche.