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Chapter 15. Picture This: Description > Help Is on the Way! - Pg. 166

Picture This: Description 166 Only seven of the more than 1,700 poems Emily Dickinson wrote were published during her lifetime. We write for many reasons: to define something, explain a proc-ess, inform others, pass on news, solve problems, tell a story, make money, persuade others--and to express our feelings. In this chapter, we'll explore writing that describes and reveals our deepest thoughts and feelings. The chapter starts with a look at writing journals and ways they can help your writing--and your life. Next, you'll learn all about descriptive writing, essays that use vivid images to paint a word picture of a person, place, scene, object, or emotion. Then I'll show you how to express yourself in poetry. You'll learn why writing a poem is among the most satisfying kinds of writing you can do, for poetry lets you express your ideas and emotions as your language soars. After I define poetry, we'll survey the different types of poems, poetic elements, and figures of speech. The chapter concludes with some concrete guidelines to help you start writing poetry now. Help Is on the Way! Last year, Louise was at her wit's end because she was being pulled in too many directions. A full- time systems analyst, mother, wife, and self-styled "soccer mom," Louise managed quite well until her boss handed her still more responsibility. "I just couldn't take it anymore," she said. "I felt totally strung out. There was no way I was going to get everything done," she explained. Write Angles Some psychologists encourage their clients to keep journals to supplement therapy. Career counselors often suggest job seekers write in journals to work out anger and despair over job loss and anxiety over career changes. For comfort, Louise turned to her journal. It's a simple black marble notebook, the kind she used in elementary school. Louise has long kept a journal, "the one thing I do for myself," she notes. In her journal, Louise was able to face her fear and come up with productive ways of dealing with it. "What is most important? What is least important?" she wrote. "How do I define success? What do I have to accomplish to feel good about myself?" She figured out a way to arrange her tasks, which ones had to be perfect and which ones could just be done. She also realized that she didn't have to do it all to have it all. For many people, journals have become the equivalent of a trusted confident. Keeping a journal can help just about everyone to confront issues in their lives, resolve some of the "big" questions, and become better writers. Professional writers have long known the value of journals. They're always searching for topics to explore and details to develop. Writers use journals as idea books to record what they read, heard, saw, or experienced. The nineteenth-century New England philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, filled more than 10 volumes of journals. Keeping a journal also helps you become an interactive reader. If you get into the habit of responding to an outside stimulus in writing, you'll be more likely to write when you have something important to say. This might take the form of a letter to the editor, a memo to a colleague, or an e-mail to a service organization, for example. This helps you become a leader in your community and on the job.