How to Choose the Best Journaling Method for Your Lifestyle

In an effort to make sense of the emotional turbulence that is adolescence, many young girls retreat to their rooms to scribble pages and pages in a journal. Flooding our emotions onto the page is how many of us arrive at the practice to begin with.

As I came to learn, the furious journaling I embraced as a teenager wasn’t sustainable in adulthood. A new stage of life demanded a new approach to the reckless and uninhibited journaling I enjoyed as a girl.

Most likely, the real reason you’re having hard timing sticking to your journaling habit has less to do with your commitment to the practice, and more with not embracing the best kind of journaling style for what your life looks like at the moment. 

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This Kitchen Tool Taught Me a Valuable Lesson About Change

It all started last month when I spent two hours doing a deep clean of our condo before friends and family arrived for my son's birthday party, and while I was up to my elbows in towels and non-toxic cleaner, I made one very small change in the kitchen. I moved the sponge.

Our sponge rests on a ceramic tray painted in an abstract teal and navy pattern. Its home is usually on the counter, to the left of the sink, but to free up the space and make it feel even cleaner I moved it to the right side of the sink, on the silver lip where the dish soap and hand soap used to be.

It was one of those seemingly insignificant changes that actually made me feel better about life for a few minutes.

But what happened next surprised me. For about four days, whenever I picked up the sponge and dish soap to wash the remnants of our meals, I would place the soap bottle directly onto the ceramic dish.. Within seconds, I realized the mistake, but it got me thinking about muscle memory and change.

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How to Gently Abandon Writing Projects (Plus 5 Questions to Ask Before You Move On)

We all have them: discarded stories, poem fragments, first drafts of novels we haven’t looked at in years, recipes we never tested, old journals, and so on.

Starting projects we don’t finish comes with the territory of being a writer who changes her mind, grows, and embraces new life experiences, but the process of letting one project go for another isn’t always straightforward.

Before I made the decision to stop writing one food blog and start another one, I struggled for months before making a decision. During this interim period, I was confident I needed to do something new but unsure what the details might look like. My spirit was restless, confused, and hungry, a sentiment shared by others.

We’ve all stood at a crossroads in our writing journeys, wondering which way to turn. Do we walk Robert Frost’s less traveled path, or stay on the road we’re on until reaching a destination?  

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Use a Museum Visit to Boost Your Creativity

During my junior year of college, I took a seminar on Impressionist art led by a visiting Monet scholar who was intensely passionate, offering insight into every brush stroke.

Impressionists were true observers, he said, the type of artists who could look in a puddle after it rained and find beauty in the mud and the worm that crawled to dry land.

Impressionists were all about the details.

Consider the fruit in Cezanne’s famous still life paintings. If you look closely, you’ll see the tension. Thick, feathered brushstrokes create a cradle for the apples, without which they would roll to the floor.

We can come unnerved at any moment, always hanging somewhere between hope and fear, or love and sorrow.

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7 Supportive Facebook Groups for Writers

Social media often conjures up feelings of inadequacy, urgency, and anxiety. Everyone else’s living room is more beautiful than yours (based on Instagram). There are more cat videos than you can possibly devote your time to (according to your Facebook feed). And you create boards for vacations you won’t take for years (thank you, Pinterest).

For writers, social media provides an additional dilemma to grapple with: distraction.

Twitter feeds draw us into conversations, some valuable, some not. RSS feeds pull us into reading blog posts when we should be writing our own. Pinterest offers inspirational quotes to stick on our mirrors, but can’t do the work for us.

It’s a fact of the modern writer’s life that social media makes us procrastinate.

But when you’re intentional with your social media consumption and strategically participate in conversations where you can both be of service to others as well as find support for your own projects, everything changes.

As my friend Kasey Fleisher Hickey notes, “the key to using Facebook with intention is Groups, Pages, managing your settings, and unfollowing when you see no value add.”

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11 Essential Ways to Practice Self-Care

Running from this to that. Buttering toast. Remembering to switch from slippers to flats. Remembering to take the laundry out of the dryer.

Making appointments, changing appointments, sitting in meetings. Thinking about taking a nap in the car.

Showering. Maybe shaving our legs, or maybe not.

Drinking lemon water on Monday, and on Tuesday. Forgetting the rest of the week, or being lazy because the lemons are not already sliced.

Putting pajamas on our kids. Changing diapers, singing songs, and laughing.

Falling asleep while holding our kindle, three pages in. Checking email one last time before setting the alarm. Doing it all again.

Does this sound like the pace of your days? I know it’s been mine, on occasion. 

But something’s missing. This isn’t the kind of frenzied pace that’s sustainable

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The 16 Best Books About Writing

When I was in New York a few years ago on a business trip, I decided to stay an extra day so I could explore the city before flying home. I ended up taking a very long walk down Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to Washington Square Park, near NYU. I needed the air, and the two mile stroll on a crisp October day encouraged a lot of the deep belly breathing I had been missing in my life over the past couple of months. 

Along the way I stopped at the New York Public Library. Have you been? It's such a charming place, and before I wrapped my scarf around my neck again and ventured back into the streets, I bought a copy of Annie Dillard's The Writing Life from the little bookstore. A coffee shop was in my future, and I thought this slim meditation on writing would be a perfect accompaniment to my cup of tea.

I read most of it in one sitting and underlined a lot of paragraphs, including this passage in particular, providing a gentle reminder to take my time, both in life and on the page. Sometimes it's an easy fact to forget that writing isn't a race.

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How to Use a Rejection Letter to Empower You

I took a creative writing workshop my sophomore year of college on the topic of publishing. Fifteen eager undergraduates arrived with notebooks and pens, ready to learn exactly what it would take to see our names in print.

My professor pulled out a thick manila folder and set it out on the table. “I brought you all of my rejection slips,” she said, and proceeded to pass them around the room. Some papers were small and hand cut, where an editor would print four rejection forms to a page to save paper. Some were printed on extra thick blue or yellow paper. Some were handwritten and rather thoughtful. Others simply read:Thank you for your submission. Your work is not a good fit at this time.

As it turns out, rejection is an inevitable part of publishing, and of life.

Even our well-respected, widely-published professor had a large amount of rejection slips saved in her drawer, and these weren’t even the entire lot. Although we discussed cover letters, researched literary magazines, and debated the merits of having an agent, what we really spent the quarter learning about was confidence.

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