Listen to Your Journal

Listening to your journal is a skill  often neglected by the very people who would benefit from it. We write a lot in our journals, but then we put them on the shelf and forget about them.  We are used to writing, asking to be heard, seen–praying for answers. We often miss the answer when it shows up. And it will show up. That’s one of the benefits of  journaling.

Some Prayer, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper. © Quinn McDonald.

For a while, all the writing is pouring out of you in an endless flow. One day, you will find yourself thinking about what you are writing–the words aren’t pouring out on their own. You are paying attention. And all of a sudden, you write something interesting. Profound. An answer to a question you had. You are now in a deep connection to your own wisdom or a wisdom greater than yourself. You have tunneled deep enough to be away from the distraction, and you just dug up an important truth.

Truth is surprising. We recognize it and blink. Sometimes we wish it were something else. But the flash of recognition is the key. You will know. Maybe it’s not the answer you had hoped for, maybe it’s exactly what you need.

Your pen may race on, while your mind hangs on to the answer. You may not want to listen, but you will. You will be drawn back to those words, that flash of recognition. It can be an answer, a key to an answer, or simply a truth you have not believed.

And there it is, on the page in front of you. Underline it. Save it. You may have to finish your thought, your paragraph, your page, but the answer is right there.

You have created the start of a habit. A habit of writing and listening. And when you listen, you’ll find answers. You might have to write a long time to learn to trust yourself, but once you start to listen, you will hear your answers.

—Quinn McDonald is writing a book on inner heroes and inner critics.

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14 responses to “Listen to Your Journal

  1. There is wisdom within that can be difficult to admit. All that responsibility! Easier to read another book. Easier to go to another workshop. Easier to listen to someone else.

    Easier to write and write and not really listen to a word we say. Easier to race through the world and not listen to a word it says.

    I’m trying to listen.

    http://krystyna-rawicz.blogspot.com/2012/11/cold-sunset.html

  2. I LOVE this! This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you!

  3. Well said. I review my Journals monthly and copy highlights from that month into the start of the next one. You can see the patterns. How’s that for post modern? Thank you, Quinn.

  4. Kristin McNamara Freeman

    Quinn, I think about the times I have read old journal pages and thought, hmmm, that is still rumbling around in me, and I ask the wonder question “can I write about that today and perhaps find an answer”….your writing today tells me that yes, listening, really listening and hearing the meaning of my words will be the beginning of a journey to the writing of some new tales…perhaps some lessons understood, even learned. Thank you again for a delicious morning lesson in the writing you do for us.
    Kristin

  5. Spot on! I am trying to do a “wrap-up of 2012″, so I am reading my journals. OOF! Years ago, I recognized that it’s all there, in my journals. If someone were to read them, they’d be able to “get” me. So I am trying to do it for myself.

  6. Funny I was too busy just letting all the words flow–never stopping to look for an answer…interesting! I will have to go pull some of my journals to see what I totally missed! Thanks for the insight :)

  7. I find harvesting my journals, reading them, pulling out especially meaningful parts and re-writing them in my one of my current journals, it is one of my morning routines, and so often just what I need to read.

  8. Once again so apt…..so so apt,unbelievable! Sometimes I think I think I am weird writing evrything down….then you find it..months ,sometimes years later…and you surprise yourself at those profound words…and think..wow did I actually write that! It takes you back to where you were when you wrote it and that time of your life. It’s a good habit! It’s not so good when you read something from 20 years ago and it’s much the same as you wrote last week! Umm. That was telling and a profound need for some habit changing! My dad was clearing his loft and wanted me to sort out some old boxes where I found diaries from 24 years ago….I stayed up all nite ,read them and then threw them away…ceremoniously!..x

    • It’s a time machine that helps us gauge how the journey has been. Some findings might be wonderful–you are consistent. Some are “Grrrr, I’m STILL hung up on that” But it’s all good learning. Finding old diaries is a treasure, for sure.

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