Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Wednesday, 08 August 2001

I made some good progress today. I've got 2800 words, so about 600 new words today.

I've been thinking about what makes a journal worth reading. A lot of people read my journal while I was at Clarion, because I was doing something interesting. My real life isn't as interesting as Clarion, so I suspect my journal isn't as interesting either. I'm not all broken up by that, but thinking about it reminded me that I had thought about this topic before.

A couple years ago the keeper of another on-line journal talked about finding journaling less satisfying than it had been. I was moved to send some email in response. Here's part of what I said:

On the other hand, I think feeling like your life is dull and colorless (which seems to be what you've been complaining about, and the source of your difficulty in journal writing) is probably the sort of thing that keeping a journal can help. A journal doesn't so much report on day-to-day happenings as use them to report on progress toward goals. The journal helps you organize your thoughts about how all the stuff you're doing has purpose. The journal gets dull and hard to write when you lose a goal-oriented perspective and start to feel like you're just going through the motions.

If you think about your medium- and long- term goals and create some short-term goals that are stepping stones toward achieving them and report on your daily activities in terms of progress toward them, then your journal will probably be more fun to write again. (And fun to read.) If you talk about your goals as you formulate, evaluate, change, abandon, and achieve them, then your journal can be of use to you. Whether you publish it or not.

None of which is to say that I find my own life to be dull. But I'm not sure the fun I'm having with my writing is coming through. I'll think a bit about taking my own advice: thinking and writing in terms of goals and progress toward them.

I had to waste some time today fiddling around with computers. I had to tune up my firewall machine at home. (I'm pretty sure, now, that there's nothing wrong with it. The excessive cable modem activity is probably just the latest virus failing to infect it.) Plus, I'm having computer problems on my main desktop machine: It's gone from being very stable to crashing about once a day. Today the crash was pretty clearly a disk error. So, I've probably got a disk going bad. I'll run some disk diagnostics tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll make sure my backups are up to date.


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