Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

Why I Write in my Journal


Willa Cather quote

Cover of journal.

I write in my journal to remember my voice, to discover my thoughts, to unearth what lies beneath the noise and layers of daily life. I write in my journal to feel my way along the passages of life, until somewhere along the way, a faint light at the end of the tunnel appears. I write in a journal to follow my dreams, to whisper the unvoiced, to shout the unheard.

three journals books tove


I write in my journals to hear myself think, to open the gates to go beyond thinking to feeling, to go beyond feeling to knowing, to go beyond knowing to peace. Even when pain surrounds that peace. I write in my journals, because without them I live an outward life, lose focus on the inner, the real.

Inside journal- quotes and thoughts.

Inside journal- quotes and thoughts.

I write in my journals to feel the soft breath of a sleeping baby upon my skin. I write in my journals to create treasure and trash from the daily. 



Journals in closet.

Journals in closet.

The journey of my journals winnows the real from the artiface, the deep from the shallow. I rip pages from magazines and tape them from the front, symbols that reflect that moment in time. I number and date the journals, a chronicle of a life.

I write in my journal to remember—and to forget. I write quotes, memories, conversations, dreams, scenes, scents, visions otherwise forgotten.

Years of journals.

Years of journals.

Love, anger, boredom, fear, and happiness splay across the pages. As, does hope. 

Fiercely Honest

Fiercely Honest

Journal 1981

Journal 1981, age 13

I write in my journal of the tenderest moments of life that split open my heart. I write in my journal to scream and rant and exhaust myself upon the pages, instead of upon those in my life. Tenderness pours onto the pages, living there. Babies crawl among the pages, rise to walk, then run. The pages of my journals birth books.

I write in my journals, because it is often the only way I figure things out. 

Barbara Kingsolver quote

Barbara Kingsolver

Tears smudge the ink and laughter floats among the words. Love and anger intermingle. I write in my journal to get beyond my own smallness, my own limited thoughts, and dip my pen into something greater, wiser. 

Madeline L'Engle

Madeline L’Engle

Journals through the years.

Journals through the years.

I write the legendary lists of life, what needs to be done for work, for writing, for family, because without written lists, these float away, untethered and unattended.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Writing in my journal.

Writing in my journal.

I write in my journal to breathe. I write to remember that I am something more than daily circumstances and lists. That life always holds promise.

I write to discover and remember what I have to give, the legacy I want to leave on this Earth. I write in my journals to live.

I write in my journals, because when I don’t there is something missing, something I search for and only find when I bring pen to paper. 

Beautiful environments

Beautiful environments

I write in my journals in hopes of writing myself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.

Write yourself a happy ending.

Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

55 thoughts on “Why I Write in my Journal

  1. Pingback: Birds, Dissertation Proposal, Flowers, and Scarves! | Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

  2. I enjoyed so much! Thanks for sharing. Next step in my life. Journals pour mes jours. Lourdes

  3. Dawn: I started my journaling sessions when I wanted to register for my first creative writing class and found, to my dismay, I was so late all the classes, except a journaling listing, were full. So I started there. Was it the gods who sent me that direction? Did they know that was the best way to start the creative juices flowing? Reading your thoughts is such a grand and glorious trail it inspires me to dig deep for what my day really contained. Thank you for sharing these intimate details of you life.

    • Dear Judy G., I love that I can now visualize you writing all of this! Let’s keep the conversation going about journaling. We can create our own class/journey! Big hugs, Dawn

  4. Dawn, you are an inspiration, in more than just journaling. I have a journal on my computer. It is a password-protected MSWord document. I’ve been writing sporadically in it for nearly five years. I never reread any of it. I don’t want to stir up stuff I have put away in the journal. My girlfriends know that when they first hear I’m dead to come erase everything on my computer.

    • Dear Connie, I loved reading of your pass-word protected document and the writing and never re-reading. What a testimony to the power of writing itself! And clearly, the power of true journals – a pact with the girlfriends to destroy immediately upon death! Much love, Dawn

  5. I’m not disciplined for journal writing, but I have books of poetry and that’s where I periodically unleash. The most interesting moment-capture in writing for me was when I found myself in Florence, Italy with friends during a hosteling trip to Europe. It was the end of the month. I had no more film for my camera. Very little money left and just a train pass. As we walked through Florence in the early morning, I literally wrote down everything I saw and felt and still have it. Ditto in Athens where we slept $1/night on a rooftop and could see the acropolis and in Kefalonia where we slept under the stars by the sea. When I read your blog, it takes me back to those moments of feeling the words. Now my writing is so deadline-driven and a lot of it is technical. Your words are blessings, indeed dewdrops

    • Sherry, what incredible experiences in Florence and Athens! What treasures that you still have those. You took me back to my own backpacking through Europe days and made me WISH that I had done something similar. “Feeling the words,” – I love this. Here’s to sharing both of our dewdrops.

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  8. Tere, you ARE a writer! What an intriguing way to begin this by highlighting how approaching your journals is like the top layer of the wedding cake, taken from the freezer. Oh, and I can just feel the beauty of the cover with frescoes. Gorgeous. You pulled me right in and I wanted to read more! You wrote, “But there’s no icing, only a dusty coating and I will be sharing the memories with no one but my inner writer… and, well, with you!” Oh, do I know this feeling and am grateful to share in the journey with you! You asked about my daily writing ritual. Yes, I do have one and it long preceded my writing room. It may be messy sometimes and others deep, but it’s always there. When I wake in the morning, the first things I do are turn on the coffee, light my candles, grab my journal, and write. I’ve done this since Wynn was 6 mos. old and she’s now 15. There is now doubt in my mind that Meadowlark would never have been written with out this, but I shutter to think at how my life would be different. This is the time that I listen to the voice that often can’t be heard through the busyness and demands of daily life. Two very good books about this are: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Play around with your own rhythm and see what works. For me, this is the foundation upon which the rest of my life rests. Truly. I look forward to hearing what you discover!

    • Dawn, thank you. Yes, I am a writer and a closet poet and I have restless pen syndrome. I write on whatever is available and have graduated from cocktail napkins and paper doilies to chocolate wrappers and even a special ice cream container. After I saw the Snow Poems exhibit in Santa Fe last year and had a spontaneous and most holy sit down with my friend Joan Logghe, I decided that, if my journal is at home, I still have to write. Problem is, I have all these bits stuffed into unfinished journals and files…although the ice cream container is on a shelf away from the mice.
      I also am a philosopher, not so much by choice but by circumstance. Just yesterday I wrote on an unfinished drawing that my grandson left me, “I f necessity is the mother of invention then philosophy is the father”…guess I’m still trying to figure out who the grandmother is.
      Poems just sprout up around me when I’m walking through the canyon where I live. I really am not certain of the source but I do know that when I put my finger, ..or entire arm, in the dyke where the words are gushing out that they break through somewhere else; there’s really no containing them…and yet they need a destination or at least a direction.
      Years ago I also read Julia Cameron. In fact, the Artist’s Way is in the same bookshelf with my dusty journals. This morning I took it out for a cup of tea, after blowing off the dust.
      I will find Dorothea’s book. I think hers could be a great companion to Julia’s.
      This morning I wrote with fingerless gloves until the fire warmed the room;I felt like a character from a Dicken’s novel. I started a New Years letter, “Dear Nuclear Family…”

      I’ve never blogged before. Is it rude to take up so much space?

      • Dear Tere, “…restless pen syndrome.” Ah, I know RPS well. 🙂 You are in good company with in your experience with creativity that you describe here, “Poems just sprout up around me when I’m walking through the canyon where I live. I really am not certain of the source but I do know that when I put my finger, ..or entire arm..” I don’t know if you’ve seen this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, but she talks about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA.

        Not rude at all to take up so much space! The whole intention of this blog is the community created here. Comments of ideas and questions enrich the understandings of us all.

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  10. So poetic and emotional.

    • Christiane, such a gift to discover your own blog and writing and share this poetic and emotional journey! Blessings to you and yours during this holiday season and all the year through.

  11. Dawn,
    I love this blog. So poetic, beautiful, and deeply emotional.

  12. Hi Dawn,
    Sweetly refreshing to read your blog. With one and a half days until winter break , I have been pining for time to write…especially letters. I used to xerox(now THAT dates me ) all my lengthy, meaty correspondence and keep it in a file that became unbound journals. I have started so many journals and not “completed” them. About a a dozen are stacked on my office shelves, in graduated sizes with the largest on the bottom, forming a great layer cake of images and sensations. When I read the title of this blog, my immediate thought was, “Why don’t I write in my journal?”. So over winter break I am going to start with that inquiry. The words will push through the crust of my flimsy excuses. Which journal shall I finish first?

    • Dear Tere, I, too, look forward to more time to write over winter break. What a gift that you copied the letters to create unbound journals. This is what composes Isabel Allende’s journals, as well. Letters that she faxes to her mother every morning — years worth. Your journals—a great layer cake of images and sensations! Love, love this. I look forward to hearing which journal you choose from. Keep in touch and send photos. One more day until winter break. Let’s write together.

      • Dearie Dawn,
        I chose the top of the layer cake. Like the anniversary couple who digs out the small cake from their freezer and all the memories it contains, I am pulling down the top layer. But there’s no icing, only a dusty coating and I will be sharing the memories with no one but my inner writer… and, well, with you! The first entry is from Mother’s Day of 2007; my daughter gave me this “paperblanks” journal whose cover is luminously decorated with frescoes from the walls of the Lamayuru monastery in India. Now THAT’S some sweet frosting! The back inside cover says…”the exuberant paintings depict guardian divinities and symbolism varying from the divine to wrathful to serene…”. Yes, and this mini me journal holds the whole range also!
        I began writing about five days ago immediately after my morning yoga. I want to establish this as another daily habit even if I write one word…one word of the day.
        Thank you for the photos and words that have reinspired me.
        Do you have a daily ritual…now that you have a room of your own?

        I’m loving being next to my little woodstove with fire a blazin’, contemplating shovelling a path down to my car.
        Abrazos calientitos,

  13. So, I am totally sharing this post on my FB page today (Kate Meadows Writing and Editing). Thank you, thank you for such a beautiful gift – a gift of inspiration, of hope, of friendship. In a recent writing workshop, I asked my students to answer that tricky question, “Why do you write?” The answers I hear are so moving, so funny, so humbling. The same is true here. Poets & Writers recently published an article on the making and destroying (!) of journals. So poignant — that whole long thread of why we write, why we can’t not write, how writing is so engrained in us that it is inseparable from who we are. Miss you!

    • Dear Kate, oh, do I think of you! How is life? Writing? I am so glad this piece resonated and I love the thought of your asking students, “Why do you write?” I didn’t see that piece in Poets & Writers. I’ll check it out! Yes, so engrained in who we are. Miss you, too!

  14. Dawn, I love, love, love this flow of winged words from your heart! I am learning how much more connected to who I really am when I write in journals. It’s everything you speak of so poetically, with so much feeling and healing. Thank you so much for sharing! It something I will read again and again…

    • Marta, I love, love, love how you expressed this, “…flow of winged words from your heart!” What a poetic expression. I’m writing this in my journal. True. Thank you for this gift! Here’s to writing together.

  15. Thank you Dawn for being you! Your words are inspiring to so many; you are a flower in the desert. Love you!!

    • Diane, whew… these journals and these thoughts are pretty much the essence of me. I was a little hesitant to publish this piece, so thank you, thank you for this! Means the world to me. Thinking of you and yours during the holidays. Love you!!

  16. Lovely as always. Thank you Dawn.
    Enjoy the holidays.

    • Anja, I was just thinking about you! Thank you so much for reaching out. Sending you and yours such warm wishes and thoughts of blessings during the holidays and always. Hugs!

  17. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your thoughts with those of us who never keep journals but wish they did!

    Meredith Machen

  18. Thank you, I really needed this today. Went out and bought 2 new journals, going to print your blog and put it in my first journal in years. I have been feeling blue and losing focus on the season, I now know I need to get it out onto paper and move on!

    • Dairyshepherd, oh, did your note go straight to my heart. Thank you so much taking the time to connect. When I’m feeling blue and losing focus, reaching for my journal takes extra effort. I’ve learned to just open it and listen. Not feel the need to write anything, until whatever shows up in my mind comes and then to listen and follow the trail. The blueness fades, the focus strengthens, and a sense of much-needed groundedness grows. Candles seem to help, too. 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you and your new journals!

  19. Dawn this is one of the best blog posts of all time! 💐 I too have scads of journals, file drawers stuffed full with journals going back 50 years. Your clear honest & poetic expressions of why you journal has a personal metaphor in your love of clear decorative glass art. I send you bouquets 🌻🌹🌹🌸🌾🌷 in an e-vase. Thank you for writing the way you do.

    • Oh, Penny, I love how you bring together this journey with journals as a personal metaphor for my love (yes, adoration!) of clear glass. I had never thought of that before. You’ve inspired a whole new way of understanding and seeing. Thank you and thank you! I love the bouquets of flowers in an e-vase. Another great love and what a gift to receive in winter! Thank you so much for sharing this insight that now sends my muse to writing. Hugs!

  20. Beautiful…I saw that Barbara Kingsolver passage and remembered you talking passionately about her!

    • Renee, and you remember Barbara Kingsolver and me talking about her! I love this. I love that quote, as well. Grounds and inspires me time after time. Thanks so much for connecting. Sending hugs!

  21. A beautiful, meaningful, inspirational and motivating blog post – inspiring me to dig out the many journals I purchase and never seem to get around to writing in. Will Barnes said it perfectly, “Dawn, you’re awesome”. 😀 Sending hugs

    • Lindy, oh, how wonderful that this inspired you to dig out the many journals! Slap some pretty pictures from magazines or cards on them with tape. I find this makes them so much more approachable, friendly, not nearly so scary as they can be when they are new. I look forward to hearing about what happens! And that Will Barnes- former student, forever friend, amazing poet-is awesome himself. Lindy, YOU are awesome. What gifts are your presence and friendship and way of being. Huge hugs to you!

  22. Dawn,

    This post is exceptionally moving!

    Love Glenda

    Sent from my little device to yours


    • Glenda, and you and I have shared so many of the years that fill these journals. You know so much of what lies within. Thank you so very much for sharing the journey in all of its fullness!

  23. Seeking to find and know oneself through honesty and the written word is so foreign to me. I continue to admire and love you! What a legacy to teach and leave your children.

    • Cathy, how we each find our own way to wrestle with life and all of it brings. I think of you and your home filled with such attention to detail, each piece of art, each piece so unique and such a reflection of you and your spirit. For me it is the written word and for you these expressions of art! Love and love you!

  24. Hi Dawn,

    I tried to comment in the proper section, but wordpress didn’t like the password I offered. Here’s what I said—Thank you for a lovely, gently reminder of the value(s) of writing to discover oneself. What a wonderful person you have found on this journey with your journals—definitely it has been/is becoming a trip worth taking. Love and light to you dear. T

    • Teddy, I’ve been wanting to write this piece for quite a while and felt somewhat daunted by how to convey the essence of what journals have been and are in my life. Last night, as I was working on this piece, our son needed my computer and I had to stop. I grabbed my journal and a pen, sat on the floor, and started to write. The piece that unfolded is much different than I’d originally thought I’d write. So glad Luke needed my computer. I can’t imagine the person I would be, or where I would be, without this writing to discover oneself. I know you have done this, as well. Love and light to you, as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect. Hugs across the miles!

  25. Lovely to find oneself part of a community that peers into the mind of Dawn.

  26. This is your BEST yet!




  27. Dawn, you’re awesome!

    Sent from my iPhone


  28. Quite lovely, Dawn. You are right–it helps. I am sporadic, as with all things. My writings are everywhere, on bits of notebooks from over the years. They will undoubtedly disappear when I do. You are an inspiration!

    • Peggy, I have lots of those writings everywhere and on bits of notebooks, as well. Whatever I can grab at the moment! Often, I’ll rip those out and put them in the journal of the moment, so they’re filled with papers, napkins, and scraps. I’m not sure what to do with my journals when I disappear. Isabel Allende has instructed her best friend to immediately burn all of hers. I should make plans and let somebody know…I just don’t know what that is yet. Hugs!

  29. Lovely! I’m envious of your copious writing! I last kept a journal in high school, and even that was a pretty paltry attempt! I sometimes type out thoughts in a Word document if I’m going through something that demands attention and sorting through. But I haven’t written anything by hand for a long time. Do you go back and reread your journals? If so, do you do it often? Occasionally?

    • Rachael, I hadn’t quite realized how copious until I piled the journals from the past 15 years on my desk! While I live on my computer, I write in my journals by hand. As a rhythm, I don’t usually go back and reread my journals, unless there is something specific that I’m looking for. Often the beginnings of pieces will come to me when I’m writing in my journal and I’ll write the topic across the top of the page. I do go back and look for those. The contents are pretty laden with that moment and emotion, which can pull me out of the current present. For LOVE STONES, I am going back through for those details, moments, and conversations. It takes me a little while to come back to the present after reading. I’m curious to see how much of their contents ends up in LOVE STONES. We shall see! Where do you draw your dialogue and those details around which so much memoir and non-fiction comes? Hugs across the miles!

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