Day 24: Waiting for Answers

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.

Box of magic words, a source for many ideas, stories, and journaling.

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.

12 thoughts on “Day 24: Waiting for Answers

  1. I’m so glad I read this post the other day because it reminded me of my box of words I created during the Raw Art Journaling workshop that you led over at the A.R.T. group. I had forgotten what a powerful tool using those words as prompts that was! I was having trouble focusing and deciding on something to write about (a frequent dilemma I have when it comes to writing or creating anything). The first word I selected made no sense to me, so I selected 3 more, and none of these struck a chord at all. So, I decided to go back to my original selection, did a brief closed eyes sitting meditation on it, and off I went. My writing flowed after that, and even proved to be rather prophetic for the rest of the day! It brought up an issue I have regularly when I first sit down in my studio, i.e. how to choose what to do and how to focus on it, filtering everything else out. In fact, I wrote about it again today, so it is something I really need some answers to. Great exercise!

  2. I think it interesting that I have started to answer questions and I don’t like the answers, and so I try again another day and go round in circles til I again come to an answer I don;t really want. Deep inside, I know what is the course of action to take, I do not want to listen. I am practicing a bit of patience and persistence. I don;t much want to keep re-writing the same question and circling the answer, but that is my plan. Not sure where this will end up.

    • I remember reaching a similar point in a therapy journey some years ago, and saying in despair to my therapist “Am I just going round in circles”. His response has stayed with me, and I thought to share it here with you. He said:
      “Maybe you need to go round in circles. Maybe you need to keep coming back to the same thing and looking at it from a different angle. Going round in circles can be a very valuable thing to do.”
      Trust that this is what you need to do, this circling and circling, and if the answer you come to leaves your heart heavy, look at it again as many times as you need to.

  3. Quinn – i had to share a wonderful breakthru i had yesterday. I had purchased several books that for one reason or another attracted me a a thrift store last week – on 12/31 – i sat down with the books – opened them ramdomly and began the process of “Found Poetry”that you describe in your book Raw Art Journaling (which i love btw). Last evening i had the evening to myself and i pulled out my found poetry and my art journal – covering the unused words – rewriting the poem – and them journaling about what the poem said to me – wonderful insights about my journey and what a fun way to find them……. thank you for your techniques……

    I also was able last week to share your box of words with a friend who was having difficulty journaling – i shared my box of words and how i used them and she loved it as well. wonderful!!!!!!


    • Those are both powerful tools for meaning-making. Both found poetry reconsidered, which you did, and the box of magic words can open doors that you couldn’t pry open on your own. They work!

  4. It’s always great to hear about someone’s journey to develop his creativity. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information with your readers, Quinn. I just found out about your blog and will bookmark it! Cheers!

    • I took out the link to your website, as I don’t allow free commercial advertising here. You are welcome to post, and welcome to link to a specific site that will help others, but not gratuitously. I do notice that you are traveling and not adding to your website. Let us know when you get back.

    • You are brilliant! When you surrender to the writing, you access a deep, important place in your knowing heart. (OMG, I didn’t know this would be this much work! But the end is in sight.)

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