Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within
by Janet Conner

Conari Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-57324-356-8.
Reviewed by Susan Ideus
Posted on 11/09/2009

Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration; Nonfiction: Creative Life

"There is a Voice inside you. There is a Voice inside everyone. Whether you hear it or not, the Voice is there. Whether you acknowledge it or not, the Voice is there."

In Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within, Janet Conner gives her readers her method for connecting with that Voice.

The Voice is one's Higher Power, and can be named whatever makes one comfortable with It, or as Conner says, whatever It wants to be called. Suggestions over the years have included Light, Guide, Friend, All That Is, Listener, Life Force, Divine One, Witness, and many more. If none fit, she suggests asking the Voice its own choice. After all, she tells the reader, no one would want to call an intimate friend by the wrong name.

This is an intensive writing program, ritual if you will. Writing is imperative as a medium, because only speaking one's feelings does not have the same impact. Michelle Colt, a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming explains why:

"When you write, you use several modalities at once: visual—you see what's on the page, and you also see the events you are writing about in your mind; auditory—you hear yourself talking to yourself in your head, and you can actually amplify that by speaking out loud; and kinesthetic—you feel the pen, the paper, the whole physical experience of writing. That alone—using all three modalities—makes writing very, very powerful." (p.64)

In addition, there is a trust factor. One never knows how another human being will react to the spoken word. Will it be judgmental, accepting, disbelieving? When you write using Conner's methods, it is all between you and the Voice. It is never intended for anyone else's eyes or ears. She suggests making very sure the writing is kept in a secure place.

Conner found the Voice or it found her in the midst of personal upheaval—divorce, custody issues, abuse and financial disaster. She began one day to pour out her soul onto paper—and found she couldn't stop. She admits to "screaming" on paper to the Voice which she began by addressing as "Dear God". Every day, more feelings and more questions and more pleas went down in her notebooks. She filled one after another. She was finally calmed enough to sit back and listen—and she felt the voice make contact. There are times, she says, when the writer can just feel the Voice taking over the pen and writing through her/him. Some of the Voice's more important communications come this way. But there is that element of listening that is very important.

Conner tells people to start where they are—stuck in a rut, having major problems, just needing some guidance about where to go from here. The Voice will find you where you are.

There are only four steps in the program and they are easy to remember—not always so easy to implement, but Conner offers suggestions as to how to proceed. The steps are:

  1. Show up
  2. Open up
  3. Listen up
  4. Follow up
This is not a program for those unwilling to commit. It is intensive and could be time-consuming. Of course, like anything else worthwhile, the benefits are directly in proportion to the effort made. Conner offers so many good suggestions and writing prompts for every step of this program that it would be hard not to find something to write about every day. She even has suggestions for what to many is difficult—listening, really listening. It's not a skill often taught, or exercised.

If this sounds like a program for you, and thousands have benefited, Conner has two words for you: Show up!

Janet Conner's teaches workshops, teleclasses and retreats on Writing Down Your Soul. In addition she writes a weekly column for UPI's Spirituality and Religion website. Find out more about Conner on the book website and on her blog.

Check out our interview with the author of Writing Down Your Soul.

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