Day 3: Diary? Journal? Notebook?

“Day 3 of What?” you ask? Find out, join us if you feel called. And thanks for spreading the word: Life of Deb and  Blue Twig Studio.

Worth Noting:
In her blog iHanna asked an interesting question about questions–how long to do wait for the universe to answer you?

Krystyna faced wind and rain and decided it wasn’t a walking day. What then? Here’s her image-rich answer:  “I nearly gave up on the meditation, then decided it was ok to do it lying in my warm and comfy bed. The idea of hatching myself arose as a result.”

Paula S. in Buenos Aires wsn’t sure about walking. Then she did:  “Still I got my writing and walking in.  I almost cried after the first block in an “I´m REALLY doing this” way. It was surprising how powerful the feeling was.”

*    *    *    *    *
What kind of writing are we doing here? Journaling? Writing in a notebook? A

A hidden stash with a secret door. Probably filled with journals.

diary? The short answer is easy: it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you are writing at the same time every day.

The longer answer involves your history. If you haven’t done this before, you may be more familiar with the word diary. You may have had one when you were younger. You may think of a diary as a place to write secrets and a journal a place to write your private thoughts. Some people think of diary as a calendar, a way to track what happened in a given day, where they ate, how much they exercised, or other regular activities.

People keep journals and diaries for different reasons:

  • To track business calls, miles driven, money spent for business reports or taxes
  • A to-do list, perhaps with details added
  • A place to write their ideas and work out projects, perhaps with drawings
  • A way to track scientific notes, which are used in peer review
  • A place to capture quotes and interesting phrases, maybe write poetry roughs
  • A place to write story drafts to share with others
  • An art book to fill with colorful pages to show others
  • Any of the above to be strictly private

The work we are doing here is different. To my way of thinking (you are free to make up your own rules), this writing is very personal, maybe difficult to write and admit to, and something to be kept private.  I’m writing in a book that I stick in a bookshelf. It looks like a lot of books in a bookshelf and would be hard to pick out in a house filled with books. Why am I so secretive? Because I am being brutally honest in these pages, writing down my confusion, admitting to what I don’t know and can’t figure out, what I need and don’t have,  and not editing it in any way.

Is this really the path to creativity? For me it is. Creativity is my religion. I need to speak to the Creator openly, so I can get answers, inspiration, conclusions. As I show up completely honestly, I will develop honest, solid answers. And for me, that’s where creativity starts–with meaning making.

What is the source of your creativity? Where do these good ideas come from? If you want to use that as a starting point for writing, please do. If you want to share an answer that’s not too raw and private, welcome.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is spending 30 days exploring and refreshing the wellspring of creativity with a group of strangers who feel like friends already.

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34 thoughts on “Day 3: Diary? Journal? Notebook?

  1. I wrote about the beginning of my journey yesterday, here:
    I didn’t sleep much last night. I’ve experienced this before when I’ve begun somthing that is likely to make deep (and often difficult) changes. I wasn’t stressed, just fully awake and relaxed and a tiny bit scared.
    Today I wrote early before walking. My writing focused on the wellspring of my creativity. It was very interesting to contemplate. Upon my first inward look I drew a complete blank, and then I realized it suffuses my being. It’s there everywhere in everyone, we just choose to deny or block it. (I don’t limit creativity to so-called artistic endeavors–I think one can be creative in everything one does.)
    I’m still struggling to find a quiet time and place to write every day.

  2. Tossing my journals – this thought has been around for me for years – been journaling for close to 30 yrs now and i have a trunk of journals that bare my soul to anyone who would read them. I have never wanted them read by others – decided after many years of writing for myself that i needed to take a class on how to journal – and found that my journalling became different – i was no longer writing for myself but for the reader some day – took a long time to move past that and bring my writing back to being for me!!! once i worked thru that – decided i needed to have a discussion with my daughter regarding my trunk of my vulnerabilities and nakedness – asked her to destroy them without reading once i was gone. she asked me to reconsider – that she would like to read thru them – only herself – not sharing with anyone else – she felt she would see a side of her mother that perhaps she had never seen before. told her i would think about it – still thinking about it 4-5 yrs later. but also still writing and writing for me. always amazed at what comes out for me – ideas – feelings….. haven’t started the walking yet – traveling for work and no walking shoes with me – tried to buy a pair the other nite and none in my size. home on friday and plan to walk sat morning!!!

    thanks quinn for pulling everyone together and getting me started on the walking meditation – looking forward to it!!!!!


    • Everyone gathered Pam. And there’s no punishment for not walking, even for not writing. It’s all about exploring, the thing we seldom do. On throwing out your journal: I found my mom’s love letters and journals when we were cleaning out her house. I knew her as an angry woman, emotionally unavailable because she thought everyone was attacking her. The world owed her, and owed her big. I could never fill up that need, of course, and often wondered what it must be like to have a loving mother. When I read those letters and journals, I knew. She was a different woman, then. There was also a small blessing in the fact that I did not need to go back and try to “fix” her, or try once more to bring back that other woman. When she died, I mourned both of them.

      If you truly don’t want your daughter to know or see you, if you think once you are dead it would still make a negative difference, don’t wait to destroy them till you are dead. Don’t burden your daughter with them. But you are hesitating. You are thinking. That’s a good place to be right now.

  3. OMG! Textisle, I was forced to toss out my journals from my younger years, but I haven’t done it once as an adult. I couldn’t bear to toss them. So many thoughts recorded in them. There are books to be written, stories to tell, imaginations to build in all my journals. I think of them as extensions of myself. Then again, to have the power to let go of all of that doesn’t sound so terrible, either. Either way, we’re talking about memories–and you cannot throw those away. They nag when they have something to say.

  4. I started yesterday evening as soon as I read about it, writing in a new 8-1/2 by 11 notebook which has my artwork on the front and back covers.

    I’m used to writing morning pages which I usually don’t re-read and in fact often destroy at intervals, although I had decided to keep the current crop for longer. Writing in the evening felt weird but my dreams were more focused on current creative work.

    Part of this comes from my teenage years when I kept a journal, mostly narrative and working through feelings, and my parents often told me I wrote too much and was wallowing in gloom and that it wasn’t good to spend so much time introspecting. Of course the writing was usually done at night because at that stage I was not a morning person.

    Another part of my spiritual practice is to use the Virtues Project cards. Right now I have a word for the year, Wisdom, and a word for each day. Today’s is Unity and yesterday’s was Respect.

    Switching from morning pages, I decided to still pick a virtues card in the morning, but write in the evening. So I picked the card, read it, wrote three affirmations in different places, and went out walking. When I came home it felt so weird not to be writing morning pages! I really felt something was missing.

  5. Yesterday’s writing brought up such a surprise. I read back over the intentions, and as I put pen to beautiful rough brown paper, my body began to tell me a story about itself that I’d never listened to before. Seriously? My teeth at war with my stomach, my heart bruised and tired of intervening between the two? Such epic revelations, resulting in a much more tender carriage of my entire self yesterday and beginning again today. As for the walking, I’ve managed to do it inside, but have yet to venture out. Still yet, I’m on track, and am loving being a part of this encouraging and creative group! Thanks again Quinn.

    • You are experiencing the joy, wonder, and amazement of writing yourself whole. When you can see the connection between your physical body and your spiritual side, you have made an important connection. Thank you for telling us about it. It will help those who want to quit writing to keep doing it.

      • Here’s the thing, Quinn. It’s not that I don’t “know” about that connection. (I’m an ordained zen priestess disciplined with martial arts in order to entwine the mind/body/spirit connection with the breath). What appears to be key in this practice is the writing. I’ve avoided it for years, and can now see that I created an art form of being so totally in the here-and-now simply in order to rationalize not writing. Now I’m wondering if I was just avoiding the very practice that would completely open me to myself. Yes, that feels right. What a revelation! My thanks again to you, and my wonderful muse Chris, who brought me to your writerly shores.

  6. You asked, “What is the source of your creativity?” Often, for me, it’s a photograph. If I cannot think of anything else to write about in my blog, for instance, I’ll go through my photographs and pick one that sticks out or use one that’s been on my mind. As far as what goes in the journal, that’s most likely sourced from a single word. If it shows up in the walk or in the meditative practice I choose for the day, that’s what I write about on the pages. I like it when the days flow from one to the next. I think that’s part of the deep exploration.

    • Jackie, it’s so interesting that you use both photographs and a single word. It makes it so clear that you have that magic left brain to right brain transfer that makes this work. I think you’ll see that continued journaling with a spiritual quest will bring up incredible thoughts for you.

  7. I am excited and nervous about this 30-day challenge, but I welcome the challenge. Thanks to Quinn for putting it into play. I love the walking part of the challenge as I do it every day already, so I am really just trying to pay more attention to what is going on and what I see on my walks. The writing part is a bit more challenging for me. I do like to write, but the deep writing, the more spiritual side of it – that is harder for me. So I am trying to move from just documenting my days and really searching for my self.

    • We are all explorers, Deb. We are all wanderers. I wanted to link those two habits–walking and exploring our spiritual resources. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to comfort you with this community and help you fill the spiritual well that runs dry this time of year. Stress is a spiritual-well drainer.

  8. An A4 notebook that I will burn after it is complete, just in case. 😀
    This process is bringing a lot of thought/feelings bubbling to the surface. Now I need to put the bubbles in order.
    I opened your blog to link to it and was thrilled to find my comment there. It is wonderful to be part of a community that actually reads what others have to say.

  9. I was surprised this morning that my walk was more challenging then it was yesterday. It was the exact same route. I lowered my head and just put one foot in front of the other- and that was a reminder- that sometimes that is how life is- one foot in front of the other.

  10. When you posted about deep writing, I realized I have been doing deep writing in my morning pages. Writing makes me whole, feels up my spiritual well, and gives me energy. I have added walking and decided to join the group.
    Living on top of a mountain, I enjoy walking up and down the yard. I noticed chipmunks, moss, mole hills, ivy creeping close to the new rhodendrens.
    Thank you for creating such a collaborative!
    Quinn, I enjoy your posts.

    • Thanks, Carol. I now set a time to read the replies here, because it is a meditation on its own right. Many wise people are posting here, and learning from it. And yes, it is a spiritual practice. No doubt about it. I hadn’t wanted to tie a big ribbon around it, because it scares people, but this work is spiritual work because creativity comes from a deep place in our own spirits.

  11. Inspired by your call for deep work — writing and walking — and an inner call to refresh not only my wellspring of creativity, but also my soul well that was painfully dry, I took a day away from the computer yesterday.

    I wrote. I walked around a neighborhood pond, noticing the thin ice, the bare sticks poking from the rough surface, and at the other end of the pond stalks of dead plants poked out, they had not yet decayed. There was beauty there. Deep beauty.

    I wrote at different times during the day, paying attention to how the different times worked for me. I slipped in a couple of naps, too, it was such a silent, gray day. I read poetry – pages and pages of poetry. And I experienced a wealth of emotions – from despair to facing reality with a stiff upper lip to hope, and everything in between. I went to bed very early.

    And this morning, even though the light of day has not yet come, even though a steady cold rain is pelting the earth and it is likely to be another gray day, I feel like I have refilled my soul well – enough so that energy has returned, determination to see my way through has returned.

    • A lot of the writing and walking is about letting go. Letting go of what you cannot control, cannot fix, cannot force. Letting go is hard for our culture because we are trained to be competitive, to win. Look how many people are calling this “a challenge” although it’s not–it’s community. Writing and walking both help us make the distinction between what we can control–and show up for that, and what we cannot control, and put that down.

  12. For some reason I am unable to post to my blog, so I will post here. I was up this morning walking my dogs in the mist of rain. When I got back to my house the neighbor across the street suddenly burst into cursing as he was fiddling with his motorcycle (I wonder if he lost his truck, I haven’t seen it lately). I could feel his frustration, so I said a little prayer and asked that he could find some relief from his frustration. I have been in those shoes before, feeling so frustrated over something and any relief would have been greatly appreciated. Maybe writing these pages would have been the relief I was looking for.

    • What you did for your neighbor, which was a huge kindless, has a name. It’s a Buddhist practice called “tonglin” in which you inhale while focusing on the problem, and exhale, sending relief or strength. It strengthens you as you do it. And yes, that’s where we are heading here–a healing practice. We’ve all been in those cold, frustrating places alone. I’m loving this community!

  13. I just read about your 30-day deep writing / heart writing group effort. It intrigues me. I have done the typical “morning pages” and I know how much that helps me, though I have done it as more of a brain dump than writing on a specific topic. I would like to join you in this even though you are already into your 3rd day of this. My personality seems to resist a lot of strict rituals or habits, so picking a specific time to do the writing each day will be interesting. Walking will be a stretch for me as well – I am recovering from hip surgery, and the western PA cold winters will be a challenge. I may have to work up to that part. If that is ok, please add me to the blog roll. Thanks! This should be interesting!

    • The key is joining, and since this isn’t a class or workshop it’s fine to jump in. We’re building a habit, and that takes time, so you are in excellent company. I respect not wanting a lot of rules, it’s part of your personality, so see how this fits in. Make your own rules. For me, if I don’t plan a specific time every day, I don’t get to it. About the walking–stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Plan B!

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