Writing to learn …


“Believe in something big.
Your life is a noble motive.”
Walter Anderson


For decades I’ve practiced writing fluidly using ‘7 Rules for Writing’ I learned from Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones and I’ve taught students of all ages to do the same. Allowing ourselves to surrender to the process …


  • keeping the pencil moving without thinking
  • being as specific as possible while letting go of control of our thoughts and what words appear on the page
  • not worrying about spelling, punctuation or grammar
  • giving ourselves permission to write the worst junk in the universe without worrying whether or not we’re making sense
  • and going for whatever scares us most

… often yields amazing results.

One day not long after the ‘dialogues with the Divine’ began, I picked up a blank piece of paper and drew at random with my pencil … then picked up a pen and wrote on the line whatever word came to mind with no thinking at all. When I finished, I read the piece feeling surprised by the message conveyed by the words. When visitors found these pieces and read them, their supportive & encouraging reactions felt unexpected and undeserved. Even now the messages conveyed in the flowing pieces I write take me by surprise, and I often wonder where these ideas come from.

I’ve long written for an audience of one … myself. My intention is usually to gain insight into something I find confusing or mystifying. Sharing what I write is never easy and always frightening. One Christmas I threw caution to the wind. I decided to create and frame ‘visual writing pieces’ for each adult member of the family. On Christmas Eve I held my breath as each was opened, read, and passed around the room. To my relief, everyone seemed delighted with their unique piece. Afterward, my sister’s youngest son surprised me by asking where his piece was. Who knew an 8-year old would want such a gift?

At the time, I thought briefly that there might be a future for me as a writer … or artist, but as I returned to full-time teaching in January that thought faded in the busy routine of life. However, for the next few years at Christmas time … I created a piece to share as an original holiday card and sent them to friends & family.

When I retired early from teaching in June of 2001, I signed up for the Maui Writers Conference so that when my friends returned to teaching, I flew to Hawaii with the intention of publishing finally. While there I shared some of my pieces, made some excellent contacts and follow up meetings were scheduled; but on September 11th when the Twin Towers fell and planes were grounded … those plans fell through. I found myself unable to write without falling into a deep emotional pit of sorrow and despair … so I gave up the practice and pursued other interests.

I returned to journal writing sporadically 3-4 years later, but didn’t try to write ‘labyrinth’ style again until 2007 when a serendipitous series of events led me to a small, intimate Writers Retreat for women in Taos, New Mexico. Friends I made there encouraged me to start a blog, and (after some initial trepidation) I dove into that big time using a pseudonym … eventually posting daily on three sites: Small Reflections, Sacred Ruminations, and Happily Retired Gal … gradually getting over my fear of sharing what I write.

During the Spring of 2010, I learned that several friends planned to return to Taos for a second retreat experience and I decided to attend … thus starting the proverbial ball rolling … leading to the creation of the website you’re visiting right now. My intention is to demonstrate how ‘Writing the Labyrinth’ works for me as a means to engage in a dialogue with Spirit by sharing a few examples … then invite you to experiment using ‘templates’ I’ve created to see how it might work for you. You can see samples now at Giraffe Journal, my most recent blog.

“Each one of us has to find his peace from within.
And peace, to be real, must be unaffected
by outer circumstances.”

Suggested Practice: Pick up a pencil or pen. Turn to a blank page or one with lines. Take a few moments to sit quietly focusing on the natural outflow and inflow of your breath until you feel relaxed then begin to write whatever comes to mind. Keep your pencil moving without thinking about anything at all … repeat words if necessary until a new word shows up … and if you run out of line before you’re finished, use the empty space to continue wandering with words until the piece feels complete. If you need additional pages to finish feel free. Just write without worry. Give yourself permission to write without thought or judgment … trusting the process to see what happens. If you’d like to share, feel free to use the comment area for that purpose … or not. Whatever feels right to you is perfect, but I’d love whatever writing and/or feedback you’re willing to share.

Thought for Today
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.”
Thomas Carlyle

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10 Responses to Writing to learn …

  1. Barbara O'Brien says:

    Congratulations!!! You did it.

  2. Sharon Martinelli says:

    Virginia, What a lovely journey your writing takes us on. As a personal witness to the beauty of your journals and their content, I am so pleased that you are sharing your process.
    Hugs to you.

    • Virginia says:

      I’m excited and terrified all at the same time, emboldened by remembering how Eleanor Roosevelt reminded us to do something that scares us each day and encouraged by you and others accompanying me on the journey. I started to leave a longer comment but think it might make a good post elsewhere … so I’ll stop here and express my sincere gratitude to you and continue with the rest elsewhere.
      Hugs and blessings,

  3. Pingback: Writing as Meditation | Labyrinth Journal

  4. Kara says:

    Hi Virginia,
    I’m delighted to read your story and want to congratulate you on beginning this blog!! Looking forward to see where the path takes you. Creative blessings.

    • Virginia says:

      Thanks so much for your congratulations here. I appreciate you visiting my new website. It’s an experimental work-in-progress at the moment, but just like you … I’m eager to see where it leads me next.
      Hugs and blessings,

  5. Pingback: Writing the Labyrinth – Synchronicity and Truth | Labyrinth Journal

  6. Katie says:

    Love the blog

    • Virginia says:

      Thanks Katie – sorry it’s taken me so long to see your comment and respond. I’ve had some fairly serious health issues and have ignored both of my websites for more than 5 years, but I’ve recently renewed my hosting accounts and am getting reacquainted with the process. Hopefully I’ll publish something new soon.
      Hugs and blessings,

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