The Journal as Servant (Not Master)

photo credit: e_walk Words, Post-Election. via photopin (license)


“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg

I think as a journal keeper it is important to is define your relationship with writing and journaling. I think it can be a flexible, malleable  definition to some degree, as long as the degrees are your own. 

First and foremost a journal is the servant, not the master. It serves you as you define the need or desire to be fulfilled. This allows for the flexibility needed to last a lifetime of journaling.

One of the ways people get stuck in their ability to journal, or write freely is by adhering to a strict form. Or believing they need to. What serves your writing life in one  season, can cripple it in another. The key is to remain consistent to the habit but not the form. Finding the form for this season of your life is not too hard. It requires tuning in to your own inner inklings. Problem is, some of us have learned to turn the volume up on busyness, dizziness, and distractions, and muffle our own voices in the process.

Here’s where journaling helps. It keeps you tuned in to you. Journaling keeps me tuned in to me. Sounds like it should be simple. But I guarantee if you’ve walked on this planet for a bit, you have a myriad of voices within and without competing for your undivided attention. Ha!

Undivided attention?

That’s an oxymoron in a the age of multi-tasking, selfies, and cell phones.

But, the fact is, journaling will keep you in close alignment with what matters to you most, when you approach it from a holistic perspective.  How does one go about this?

Well, consider the areas of your life. Or more specifically, the substance of your being.  Body, mind, spirit and soul, or physical, mental, emotional, relational, social, spiritual are aspects of being. We delve into these areas and explore, who we are in our journal. We dig beneath the surface to uncover or recover hidden or suppressed insights into our being. We ask ourselves questions, we face our truths and our lies, about others and ourselves. We step out  into the darkness (the paper) with a flashlight (our pen) and we seek to discover meaning. We are explorers travailing paths previously unknown at times. Who knows us better than ourselves. Ah, the question that leads us closer, still to truth.

And so the journal, becomes, the vehicle that allows us to journey to our selves, and discover who we are, and then it also helps us ask the questions we need to ask, to get to the heart of the matter…who we will become.

Ask of your journal what it needs to be, and see it become what you need.

A journal is a portal, a passport and a pathway.  I’ll write more about these individually in my next post.

Meanwhile I have an announcement. I had an epiphany this morning, as I realized I could in no way keep up with the Write 31 Days Challenge this October in the way it  is intended. Although there is great flexibility, I realize there was a time these challenges helped build a needed writing rhythm  in my earlier blogging days. But, since 2015 I have really stretched my writing wings and am sort of spread wide and thin. That being said, I have had many more opportunities which make blogging daily less of a priority, and a tad unrealistic. Add to the equation a new job, with new responsibilities, and well…there we are.

As I considered the place I am now, and how I long to stay connected with my readers and online communities, the familiar challenges  (Write 31 Days, One Word 365/My One Word, Daisy Yellow ICAD) have appealed to me. They have  made me better in the past. Helped me grow my writing muscles and endurance. But, as a friend once said to me, there comes a time you need to move ahead, and not go back. I’ve added more experiences to my role as writer. It’s good. Exciting. But, there is that desire to run the familiar races , see the familiar faces. But, none of us can do everything, all the time well. Well, most of us!

We need to let go of some things, find new rhythms. It’s unknown and uncharted territory. Just because something has served us well in the past, doesn’t mean  it will serve us well now. We need to be open to the new yet unknown opportunities life wants to present to us. Certainly, we want to be open to the new things God wants to do in our lives.

This is what it is to live the writing life. It is a call to live life awake. Startlingly awake. 

What does your journal need to be for you, right now? How can it better support your current season? What areas of your life need to be “mined”? What activities need to pruned for this season for you to grow into the next? What needs to be added to help nurture growth?

As for me – and thank you if you made it to the end of this lengthy post- I have decided to lengthen out the 31 Days to accommodate all of the good things I wanted to share. I have so much more to share, and also so much more to give! AS IN journals, and books and encouragement, Oh, my!

SO, the announcement is my Write 31 Days is  getting an extension. I’m giving myself grace, and allowing myself the freedom to continue  Journal Enthusiast until I cover what I planned. Thank you for your understanding! 

ALSO, yes,  I need to finalize my own book on Journaling, as many of you know. I look forward to sharing this resource with you, in the days ahead. It is in final stages and will be available within the next few weeks! Yes, you can add it to your Christmas List!





Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

5 thoughts on “The Journal as Servant (Not Master)

  1. I believe it is a very good thing to experience and utilize opportunities of grace. And to share them. It is a concept we certainly need to respect but also acknowledge. Thank you for sharing.


    1. And all, in the end, will be grace. May we share it as graciously as we have received it. In all the ways it has touched us, may we let it touch others through us. Thank you for reading and commenting.


  2. I love this post! And love the freedom you are experiencing and passing on to us your readers this season of life…I needed this reminder that it is the habit, not the form that matters and that there’s different seasons for various approaches to journaling and blogging! And I’m so excited about your book! I am glad to keep following your posts past October and into infinity, my friend!


    1. Kel, I so often do think of you and appreciate our true kinship in grace, truth , freedom, and creative expression. Look forward to our next one on one communication. THanks for being such an encouragement. I loved your book organizing share today. I read in bits and pieces at odd moments and often on the phone, so do not always get to comment when I do. Hugs!


  3. Excellent post. Lots of good thoughts and insights. And I am so glad you have decided to extend your series time into November. It’s right in keeping with the whole theme you wrote about here. Blessings to you as you move forward!


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