To Blog, or To Journal?

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

BLOG: (noun)
1. a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

2. a single entry or post on such a website:
She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.

The definition of journal is a diary you keep of daily events or of your thoughts or a publication dealing with a specific industry or field.

My standard disclaimer applies: These are my own thoughts about things that work for me. They may or may not apply to you.

Blogging and journaling are two forms of therapy that work for me, with this difference: what I post on my blog are random thoughts and ideas I feel comfortable with sharing with others. My journal, on the other hand, are my deepest thoughts that I keep to myself. They’re not things I’m comfortable sharing with anyone else.

Both methods help me keep centered. From time to time, I may go back to my journal and discover something I am comfortable in sharing, and so I’ll post it on my blog.

For more information about the health benefits of journaling, I’d recommend “A new reason for keeping a diary,” or “Journaling for Mental Health.”

I’ll admit I’m biased in favor of the URMC article, because that’s where I’ve been going for my mental health help for the past 8 years, and because I know one of the reviewers of the article.

Regardless, take a look at both articles and see if they offer any insights for you.

Friday Nights At Ed’s

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

Yes, it’s been a while. The Dementors had a hold on me for far too long, but I’ve shaken them off.

A large part of shaking them off was Friday Nights at Ed’s. And therein lies a tale.

I first met Ed near the middle of August. I needed to find a place to live and I found Ed’s post on Craig’s List. He had a room to rent, and I answered. A week and an interview later, I moved in.

Ed hosted a small gathering of friends on Friday night. It was a potluck, with Ed providing the main course, and everybody chipping in with side dishes and desserts.

The first time I went, I hadn’t planned on attending. I went downstairs to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich, and somebody—I think it was L.—told me to grab a plate and join in.

That was at the beginning of September, and I haven’t missed a night since. It took me a while to feel comfortable, but I managed to overcome my Social Anxiety Disorder and fit in.

It helped that I wasn’t the only one with emotional or mental issues. E., L., and J. suffer the Dementors, so they understand.

S. enjoys philosophical issues, as do I, so we have that in common. We both also are wrestling with weight issues, as we are both Persons of Size.

D. always serves as the bartender, and he mixes some wicked-cool drinks, which also help me relax. But let’s be clear: I know my limits, and only got drunk once. The rest of the time I’m a Good Girl™.

G. is always good for the herbal blessings; sometimes I participate, but most of the time I don’t. He’s also the permanent Dessert Queen, and his choices are always scrumdiddlyumptious. Just as some people have a knack for pairing foods with wines, G. is a master at matching for the munchies.

Other people drop by from time to time, and they always are a welcome presence.

Oh…one other thing: many of us are gay or lesbian, so I blend right in.

The point of All This

The Dementors feed on your loneliness. They strike while you’re at your lowest ebb, because that’s when you’re most vulnerable.

There are various ways to fight them: professional help—whether a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other form of counselor—is always at the top of my list of recommendations. Group therapy can also help you cope by putting you in touch with others who can share their experiences and help you that way.

For me, my group therapy is Friday Nights at Ed’s.


Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

NaNoWriMo. No, it’s not a voodoo curse, although it might as well be. National Novel Writing Month, which begins on November 1 of each year, is when writers all around the world sit down at their keyboards will a common goal: to write 50,000 words by the end of the month.

The results don’t have to be a polished novel; on the contrary, the idea is to simply complete a first draft, no matter how rough it might be. The editing and polishing come later.


NaNoWriMo began in (1999) with 21 authors in the San Francisco Bay area. The latest figures available (2013) show the following:

NaNoWriMo 2013 counted 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. There were 651 Municipal Liaisons in 595 regions, 650 Come Write In libraries and bookstores, and 2,000 YWP classrooms. We also had a darn wonderful Night of Writing Dangerously, with the first non-staff keynote by NaNo-novelist Gennifer Albin.

Here in Rochester, you can hook up with other writers via the Facebook page.

I’m trying something new this year: my depression makes it hard for me to keep focused on my writing for a full month, and so I’ve never been able to complete a novel. So this year I’m going to capitalize on my mental state and incorporate it into the makeup of my protagonist.

I’ve always viewed depression as a challenge rather than an obstacle. I’m pretty sure I could have given in to it years ago and qualified for a Social Security disability pension, but that would be letting the depression win, and that’s something I’m not ready to do yet.

Instead, I’m channeling my depression into The Melancholy Vampire.

I’ll post the link when I’m done.

Dead Trees, or Pixels?

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

I don’t follow the debate over printed books versus electronic readers. I made my choice long ago, and have never regretted it.

The reason for choosing an e-Reader was one of practicality: in my old apartment, I had very little storage place, and I have a voracious appetite for books. My Nook was the ideal place to keep my 2,000+ volume library. And now that I’ve given up the apartment and live in a rented bedroom, it’s even more of a necessity.

So saving space was my primary motive. Having something to read whilst waiting in doctors offices, waiting for the bus, and similar situations was only secondary.

Of course, the abundance of free books didn’t hurt, either. There are daily offerings from BookBub and other sources, and even Project Gutenberg has gotten in on the act and is converting all of their holdings to eBook format.

But still…

There’s still something about the smell of old books, the feeling of pages between your fingers.

A Nice Surprise!

Today’s mail brought a pleasant surprise. I recently changed my Medicare insurance provider and they told me I’d be getting a book in the mail explaining my benefits.

There was a book in today’s mail, along with a letter from the insurance company, so I assumed it was that book. But when I opened it, it turned out to be a mystery novel from St. Martin’s Press, along with an explanation of what they were asking me to do. Basically, they’d like me to read and review the book, as well as advertise it on social media.

And that brings us back to why I still like bound books: there’s always the chance that I’ll get one in the mail along with a request for a review.

So my plan for the next couple of days is to finish the book (I’ve already started it), and post a review both here and on my social media accounts.

I’ll keep you posted!

Robyn Jane

National Novel Writing Month 2016

Published / by Robyn Jane / Leave a Comment

October brings changing colors and falling leaves. Some of us are old enough to remember the smell of burning leaves. Even now, there’s the joy of raking up a huge pile of leaves, only to run and jump into it.

Pumpkin spice coffee is everywhere. It’s a month of changes, of leaving one season behind and anticipating the delights of the next one.

For some of us, October means it’s time to get serious about our writing. November is only a couple of weeks away, and November means National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.


What Is NaNoWriMo?

In essence, NaNoWriMo is a put-up-or-shut-up event for writers. It’s the month when anyone who has ever considered writing a novel can do so in a supportive atmosphere. As it says on the web site:

The NaNoWriMo season is officially dawning! No good launch is accomplished alone. Thankfully, there’s a whole crew of writers setting off to explore creative universes with you this November.

In hundreds of regions around the world, NaNoWriMo’s Municipal Liaisons are leading writing events to help your novel soar. Make sure to check your regional calendar to find an event near you!

The emphasis is on quantity, not quality. The idea is to complete your novel as a rough draft, and then go back later and edit it.

By concentrating on words, you’re encouraged to simply write your story; punctuation, spelling, grammar—all of that can wait until you’re done. For me, that takes a huge load off my shoulders, as I’m the kind of writer who agonizes over every single word, comma, period, phrase; by ignoring everything but the words them selves, I’m free to simply tell the tale.

You’re Not Alone

As romantic is the image of the lonely writer’s garret, in NaNoWriMo you don’t work in a vacuum. There are local and regional support groups to help you. And it’s not a competition. There are no trophies, just the sheer satisfaction of knowing you’ve finally done what you’ve always promised yourself you were going to do: write your novel.

A Special Offer From Literature and Latte

Scrivener is a complete writing studio wrapped up in a single program. I can’t overstate how much it has helped me in my writing. And you can download and use a free NaNoWriMo version to use to write your novel.

Here’s the offer:

Special Trial Version
Scrivener’s trial normally runs for thirty days of use, but so that you can start using Scrivener before NaNoWriMo begins without worrying about the trial expiring part-way through November, the special NaNo trial available on this page will run from the moment you start using it all the way up until December 7th. So you can download it, get used to its features, use it for your writing throughout November, and if you like it you can buy Scrivener at a discounted price using one of the special offers below.

What are the special offers?

50% Discount for All NaNoWriMo 2016 Winners
If you achieve your 50,000 words to become a NaNoWriMo 2016 Winner, you will be eligible for a 50% discount off the regular license of Scrivener (which is normally $45 for the Mac version and $40 for the Windows version). Details will appear on the Winner Goodies page at the start of December.
20% Discount for Everyone Else
Even if you don’t reach your target this year, you can still get 20% off the regular price of Scrivener by entering the discount code NaNoWriMo the coupon code text field of our online web store.

No More Excuses

So there you have it. If you’re finally ready to write your novel, hop on over to the NaNoWriMo web site and get started.