Change of Perspective

Musings on Writing, Reading, and Life Narratives

Fiction writers and literary critics speak of point of view. Social scientists are more likely to discuss perspective. But both of these terms refer to essentially the same construct: the consciousness behind the perception and narration of experience. Each individual’s point of view is unique, and point of view shapes the stories people tell to themselves and to others about themselves and their relationships with their environment. The same event narrated from two different perspectives will produce two different stories.

A change of perspective can expand our perception and reframe our thinking about our experiences. We can all benefit from an occasional change of perspective.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Journal Writing

I promised you an entry about journal writing, and here it is. For now, I'm once again collecting here a couple of entries from other blogs about how and why to keep a journal.

Writing Your Life

Heather Goldsmith's blog is all about journal writing. In this particular entry she addresses issues such as these:
  1. Do you plan to have your journals read by other people and/or after you die? If so, Heather advises that you choose proper materials and include meaningful facts and explanations in your entries.
  2. Do you plan to reread your journal entries for guidance in the future? If so, be sure to include details about people, places, and dates so that you'll remember what you were writing about when you reread.

Five Ways Keeping a Journal Can Change Your Life

Over on The Change Blog Ali Hale discusses how writing in a journal for just 10 minutes a day can change your life:
  1. Your journal offers self-insight.
  2. Your journal builds the writing habit.
  3. Your journal is a gift to your future self.
  4. Your journal holds you accountable.
  5. Your journal encourages positive thinking.
But don't just settle for the list. Be sure to visit this blog entry, which includes both explanations and writing exercises for each point.


Monday, July 28, 2008


As I wrote in my previous post, I've been out of blogging commission for a while. During that time a couple of other bloggers have had something to say about perspective, which is, after all, the underlying subject of this blog. Here are summaries of what they had to say:

Perspective: What Are You Looking At?

Over at Quinn Creative, writer and creativity coach Quinn McDonald discusses an "Aha!" moment she had during a recent airplane trip. Photos can be an especially effective means of communicating exactly what perspective means, and Quinn offers a couple of her photos here.

7 Tips for Keeping Things in Perspective

The blog Between Us Girls offers some answers to the question "How do we keep things in perspective so that we aren't overcome with anxiety every time an obstacle shows up in our lives?"

One of the commenters added yet another way to analyze a current problem: Ask yourself "Have I ever dealt with a problem like this before?" That's very good advice, and it's precisely for answering this kind of question that journal writing can be such a valuable tool. More on that topic in a future post. . . .

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Okay, Here’s the Deal about Writer’s Block

Several years ago I fell into an extended period of writer’s block, when I had trouble even writing in my journal. All the traditional wisdom about writer’s block says to just write, write anything. So I began that practice, both in my personal journal and in my professional writing. I’d start each writing session with something like “Okay, here’s the deal about. . .” or “Okay, here’s what’s on my mind this morning.”

And it didn’t take long before this approach began to work. It worked whether I was pounding the computer keyboard or writing with a pen in my journal. Eventually I got to the point where just putting down the word “Okay” acted as the trigger to writing. I gradually came out of my blocked period, but even now when I occasionally can’t find a way into a piece of writing I’m able to use the “Okay” trigger to get me started.

I’m not the first writer to use this writing approach, of course. In The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron tells writers to do what she calls morning pages: three pages, every morning, of just writing whatever comes to mind. Some people call this practice automatic writing, free writing, or free-association writing. The idea is to start writing and keep on writing. If you can’t think of anything to write, then write “I can’t think of anything to write” and keep writing that sentence over and over again. Keep the pen moving on the page (or your fingers moving on the keyboard) until you begin to write something else. Cameron insists on three pages because, she says, somewhere around a page and a half you’ll stop writing junk and start writing gold.

The same kind of thing often happens to beginning composition students. Starting that paper can be a formidable task, but the only way to start is just to begin writing. Often the real introduction to the paper begins somewhere in the second or third paragraph. (This is why it’s so important to edit and revise first drafts.)

Another, related, lesson I’ve learned is that I don’t always have to start at the beginning. Sometimes, when I’m getting ready to start a writing project, chunks of it will come to me that belong somewhere in the middle. Once or twice the conclusion came through first. I used to ignore these gifts, thinking that the only place to start was at the beginning. But over the years I’ve learned to accept these ideas and be grateful for them. Nowadays, if a conclusion comes to me first, I slap the heading “Conclusion” down on the computer screen and write it up. Other parts of the piece will come later, not necessarily in order, and I’m getting more comfortable with that. I can work out the interrelationships between the various parts later. (This is why it’s so important to edit and revise first drafts.)

So, when you have a problem writing, just write. Write anything. Start anywhere. Just write.

Okay, so now you can take it from here.

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

’Diaries’ author helps teens put private thoughts to paper -

’Diaries’ author helps Hub teens put private thoughts to paper -

We've already missed the event, but the thought is still commendable. Writer Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries, held, by phone, a journal-writing workshop for teenagers this afternoon at the Boston Public Library. Cabot says that much of the basic material in her books came from her own journals. She also warns teenagers to beware how much sensitive personal information they put in a blog or other online journal. She also stresses the necessity of using proper grammar and writing etiquette when posting online:
“People do judge, especially with e-mailing and when you post on message boards. If you want your post to be read or taken seriously, you have to spell and write correctly,” she said.