On Deep Writing


This week I am finding my way back to writing by hand. At night I’ve been opening my diary and writing about this and that and nothing special. And it feels extremely good.

Diary writing is something I do regularly and always come back to. If I don’t do it for a while I miss it terribly. On Monday I did some real “deep writing”. I wrote for an entire hour. For me that is the kind of writing that goes beyond “what I did today” and “what’s up right now”. A great place to start is with a few simple questions.

I re-read my post from 2008 about how to find the answers you need. The first step is to list your questions. If you don’t dare to ask them how can you ever expect to find solutions and answers?

Deep Writing and Journaling

There is no rules to “deep writing” and it’s not as hard as it sounds. My writing is a mix of deep and more current affairs. I get derailed and start writing about my lunch in the middle of pondering what ever happened to my life… But that is not important. I can start over with another thought. Or come back tomorrow. Sometimes it is important just to keep writing. Don’t stop and don’t look back. Just continue forward with the next sentence.

Journaling. Deep writing. Morning pages. Subconsciousness. Call it what ever you wish, but it’s where you go a bit deeper than you normally do. It’s like meditating on a subject, pondering some questions or challenging yourself to think about issues you don’t want to think about (or normally don’t think about).

To me it’s the most awesome way to “think”, or find your inner wisdom. Not until I put pen to paper I hear what I am saying to myself. Not until I sit still I can listen in. I don’t always “get” (or follow) my wisdom, but at least I know how to get in touch with it.

I know writing is the way I want to go – but a little nudge is never a bad thing. Quinn McDonald, who is the one who has been nudging me, defines what deep writing is in this way:

It’s a relentless exploration of your emotions, the truthful details of an event – without spin, without excuses, without bringing in someone else to shoulder some blame.

If you haven’t journaled recently consider yourself nudged too! How would you define deep writing? And what are some questions you would like answered?

9 Responses

  1. Interesting topic and I think we often has problems to face…so the deep writing can be a bit too revealing at times. I find myself going in and out of journaling a lot versus just putting down a few descriptive words… it’s definitely a journey of thick and thin.

  2. My handwritten journal varies a lot. Sometimes it is like the morning pages, where I just write and write for a few pages, kind of a stream-of-consciousness writing. Other times, my mind is heavy and I need to unload it, I have to work things out on paper. Sometimes, I’m just chatty with myself, jotting down little bits or working out the details of my upcoming day.

    I think that it’s kind of like being a friend to myself. It’s difficult to express any other way, but that’s really what it is for me.

    Good thoughts, Hanna.

  3. Sometimes using images is needed to explore myself and my life, other times it’s words.
    Sometimes I make soulcollage cards, sometimes I write stories .
    I have learned over the years I can trust my (creative) instinct to choose the right tool…

    A definition of deepwriting? A mirror .
    (I guess I am in a visual mood)

  4. I started journaling about 2 years ago. I know for a fact that through these particularly tough years I’ve been experiencing, writing has definitely helped me keep my head straight.
    I love your description of how your journaling sometimes jumps around, deep stuff in the middle of lunch…and beyond a list of daily activities. I find that I always start out with daily stuff, but the stuff that really seems to count the most and needs to come out is all the stuff after that.
    Thanks for this post! Happy Christmas Hanna! <3

  5. Deep writing for me requires deep emotion. I need to be feeling something to really write hard. Tears usually accompany this process- not because of sadness but more out of intensity. I find I often get carried away with what I write and I don’t always stay true to my emotions when I do this so I thoroughly edit what I write over several occasions until what I’ve said feels timeless and pure. Otherwise I look at it and feel like I was just caught up in a moment and being over the top. When I work at it and finally get something down which I feel is honest and a true representation of myself I feel success- not for what I’ve written but for getting to know myself just a little bit better.

  6. I really liked the comment by Jodi Anderson: “kind of being a friend to myself”. That is exactly how I feel when I write down my deepest thoughts. :o) I have written diaries and morning pages. Today, I do not write at all and I miss it. I miss my friend. ;o)

  7. I love this post. Your voice is authentic and always gets me nudged to follow my own voice.

    For me, deep writing is something that makes time slip away and everything disappear, just like when I am immersed in painting or doodling. Deep writing is also sometimes scary. When I feel that I am getting to the very nerve of something and I feel anxious or exhilerated, I know I am writing deep.

    I like Quinn McDonald.

    take care

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