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word + magic

Journaling With Intention

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creative nonfiction
creative nonfiction

You know how when you’re immersed in the thing you love best, the world falls away and that passionate, delicious thing is all that matters? Hours disappear. Time stops. When this occurs, you begin to move from what author Gay Hendricks calls your “zone of excellence” to your “zone of genius.” When you operate from your zone of genius, you’re tapping into deep wisdom. It’s like upgrading from a Prius to a Ferrari…and sometimes it’s so subtle you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

What is your genius zone? Mine happens to be writing, but it can be anything. Canning summer peaches. Making deals. Developing powerful nonprofit boards of directors. Anything can be elevated to the G-zone…with enough passion, purpose, and focus. When you’re immersed in your passion, you’re operating smack in the middle of Hendricks’ genius zone. Finding and playing in your G-zone can be the thrill ride of a lifetime…and it can also shake you to your foundation.

Why is genius so elusive? It isn’t always easy to give yourself permission to pursue your passion. Our culture has a million reasons attached to the idea that doing the thing that lights you up is somehow a bad idea. Selfish. Self-centered. This means that surrendering to passion must become an intentional act of defiance. It requires deep conviction to breathe the rarified air of genius.  But here’s what I know about surrendering to your obsession: when you finally give yourself the grace to sacrifice your ego in service to the thing you love, the world does, as Franz Kafka wrote, writhe in ecstasy at your feet

Bending Toward Purpose

I’ve come to know that my purpose is the exchange of stories. This is what my passion has taught me: through journaling, I dance in ancient alchemy. I sit quietly, become still, and focus my thoughts on the kernel of an idea. Slowly, more fecund ideas bloom and I draw them down by attaching ideas to language and enticing them first into the den of my imagination, and then through the soup of molecules that comprise my arm and bony wrist, to drip from the elegant architecture of my fingers and finally trickle onto the page. As everything but the idea itself falls away from my mind, I call the essence of an idea out of the ether and introduce it into material form.

I insist that my students journal by hand. Why? Because writing by hand slows you down. It slows your mind to the pace of your body, it slows your writing to the beating of your heart, and that is worth investigating. Slowing down brings you closer to the DNA of imagination, slows your mind to a delta state where no effort is needed to record notions which appear out of the mists of our minds like ripe persimmons on a crisp autumn day. When you quiet your mind and surrender to being fully present for what shows up, you can trust that what appears is a match to your untamed heart. You meet your genius outside of time and space and share a moment of awakening that requires absolutely no effort at all. This is the genius zone.

Intention and the Power of Genius

Have you ever made a list of things you wanted then put it in a drawer and forgot about it…only to discover it months later and realize every single wish came true? It required four small steps:

  1. intention (desire)
  2. focus (being present)
  3. giving a disembodied “idea” form (writing it down), and finally,
  4. forgetting all about it (detachment).

The simplicity of this sacred little ritual makes it easy to overlook, but don’t let its unassuming nature fool you. This is powerful magic.

For millennia, humans lived without written language. We were storytellers. We shared stories of ancestors, mythic heroes, cautionary tales.  We painted pictures with words, and sometimes just made pictures on cave walls. This makes a certain sense, because we store memories as pictures in our minds. Pictures are symbolic of an entire story. Words are helpful, but words are to pictures what maps are to landscapes. One only represents the other dimly. When we transfer ideas into words and put them on paper, they can form entirely new shades, meanings, uses. When we meet our genius outside of time and space, we become a channel capable of birthing entirely new realities.

“Out beyond the concepts of right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

— Rumi

This is what I know: we, must surrender to our purpose. We must give in, give up, release any notion that we are in control. Just toss it out the window. You are *not in control. What you are, is in service to the great yawning genius of your true nature. Can you get your head around that? Give yourself permission to live in that space, to dance with that magic and you will never question your purpose again.

Cynthia Gregory, MFA is an award-winning author, writing coach, and life strategist. To request a free coaching session about your creative writing project, write to [email protected].  Sign up for Cynthia’s “Blog Your Biz” writing workshop here.

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