Writing for my Health

More time with the Writing 101 backlog. Tonight’s entry is brought to you by the number 18 — the day whose prompt I should be responding to — and the letter “U” — for how uninspired that Day 18 prompt has me currently feeling. So let’s look at Day 14 instead:

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.


Journaling, the world seems to agree, is a good thing.

~ Janet Conner, Writing Down Your Soul

Dear Spirit,

It’s an interesting coincidence that the Writing 101 prompt asks me to “write in the form of a letter,” when that same approach is a key technique Conner suggests as a way to help “journal-writing” become “soul writing.”  The ritual of addressing the words externally, whether to God or Spirit or Inner Wisdom, serves as reminder that someone is there to listen to what I write and even sometimes to provide an answer. Whether you understand that “external” someone as out in the cosmos or housed in that still, small voice within, I think this reminder of writing’s capacity to be in dialogue and meditation is a potent one. And a reminder well-worth receiving.

During the last crazy stretch at work, I not only fell away from blogging publicly, I also fell away from the daily practice of writing in my pen and paper journal. And let me tell you, Spirit, man oh man, did I ever start to feel the ill effects of that choice.

journal-writingBy halfway through the 9-day break from my morning journaling, I could quite literally feel the bile and the poisons building up in my system — frustration, anxiety, negativity of all shapes and sizes — without release. Without a safety valve. Without giving myself the space to vent off the poison and, by the very nature of that process of writing and voicing and studying, to — often, if not always — create a distance between my core self and the negative ego-state I was venting off. To always be able to write myself to some space of release, and to sometimes be able to write myself to a solution, or at least to a deeper level of insight.

For all that I could see the cost I was paying by last Monday, I wasn’t quite able to manage my time adeptly enough last week to reconnect with journal-writing* during the final crazed days of proposal work.

I finally cracked back into my journal last Friday morning. And the internal space and clarity I feel now that I’ve been back to this morning practice is palpable. It’s like I can almost feel that old-fashioned pen nib drawing the poisons out of me, like it draws ink out of a bottle.

This shift, last week to this, is loud enough for me that I’m going to consider long and hard in future proposal cycles — or other busy times — whether I can really afford to take this resource away from myself.

That particular question will actually be a study to take on sooner than later. We have a big family vacation coming up in July, and my sense is that the travel and excursion schedule may be sufficiently robust that morning journal-writing could be damn hard to accomplish. But on days where the morning routine doesn’t work, could I still commit to 15 minutes’ writing meditation later in the day? Before dinner? Before bedtime?

And once I experiment with the benefit of a daily journaling practice — independent of when in the day the writing occurs — is this something I can bring back home to use during crazy work weeks?

That’s definitely my prayer for tonight.

* I am still avoiding the phrase “soul writing” — I’m only about halfway through Conner’s book, so I don’t yet feel clear on 1) what exactly distinguishes “soul writing” from other forms of journaling; 2) whether my daily writing would “make the cut” to be considered as soul writing; and 3) whether or not I even want to reach that standard. For now, I’m talking about my journaling as “journal-writing” — ‘cos I know that term fits and is something I value.


Image credit: http://yogainmyschool.com/yoga-journal-writing-a-window-to-the-soul/


5 thoughts on “Writing for my Health

  1. I wonder if Soul or Spirit or God or any of those other words we use to define the undefinable really cares what we call it or anything else for that matter. I wonder if the naming of something i.e. soul writing means rather a recognition of possibilities . And in the naming and in the speaking and in the doing and in the listening (ah, yes, the listening) we come closer to that which defines us.


  2. There’s a line in The Secret Garden, where a character says something like “The ‘Big Good Thing’ doesn’t care what name you call it, so use whatever makes sense to you.” That has stuck with me for years, and it really is what I believe: what name I use is a whole lot less important than the fact that I am in the discipline of writing, doing, listening.

    However, I also understand the ways that words matter and carry real energy, so even though there isnt a “one size fits all” kind of answer about what name to use, I found some value in the study and the exploration of what name(s) speak to my heart, and help open the channel rather than triggering me into some sort of shut-down.


  3. Well said. I’m a journal keeper, too. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning and when the first thing in the morning gets crazy and busy without it, I get a little crazy and busy too. Stop! became my word, let me tell you…and finally, today, Friday, I’m stopping. Yes stopping at the computer to catch up on I don’t even know how many days worth of email, but I’m holding still!!! Feels like Saturday however, the last couple of weeks have been so….well, the last couple of weeks. J.


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