Day 24: Waiting for Answers (24/30 in a series of exploring journaling as a way to Write Yourself Whole.)
You write and write. You repeat some sentences again and again just to keep your pen moving. If you are on the computer, you frown at the screen. (This is why I type with my eyes closed. Less frowning.) At some point you lose the connection to the page and you begin something very much like automatic writing. Your mind seems to let go and you write furiously, from the heart.
This is what you are waiting for. This is why you combined writing with some form of meditation. You are writing answers, even if you haven’t asked the question yet. Many people use journal prompts, and they serve a purpose. The best prompts are the ones you use to get yourself writing. I keep a box of words for this purpose (if you have a copy of Raw Art Journaling, see p. 33-38).
Almost every time I write, I start with a question–about my work, about a problem, about something that pleased me, about my purpose in life. It helps me focus on one thing. Yes, there are days that I just pour out something that needs to be said, and that, too, is therapeutic. But more often, I ask a question: Why was X not a much fun as I thought it would be? Why did I feel such unexpected joy at Y? Why am I still chewing over Z, and, as Staci Edwards at collidescope says, “Chewing it over and over, hoping for a different flavor of Yuk?”
Once you start to write, you may be surprised what your answers are. Don’t stop with the first. Keep writing, keep exploring. Don’t stop too soon. Your first answer might be the kind you’d give your boss–a facile explanation that makes you look good. The next, one you’d give a stranger in a store–polite, but not complete. Keep going until the answer feel real, maybe even uncomfortable. That’s the place you need to push through.
The best kind of journal is the one that tells the truth–in many ways. Whatever your truth is. That’s why we often want to hide them. And that’s another post–keeping your journal secrets.
—Quinn McDonald is on a 30-day journey, exploring a daily writing and meditation practice with a group of other journaling journeyers.