How can journaling help my creativity?
Over the years, I’ve found keeping a journal has helped boost my creative thinking and practice immensely. There are many reasons why, but one of the most interesting to me is that journaling helps you get to know yourself and your thoughts better, with less judgment.
Creativity – not matter the form – involves making connections and solving problems. Whether you are writing a poem or a screenplay, painting on canvas, sculpting, or scribbling with crayon, your brain is connecting many different types of thinking to emotions, then physically manifesting your ideas.
To do this well, you need to be able to think freely and without judgment. Your inner critic will always be there, but journaling, like meditation, helps you allow thoughts to come freely. The more you journal, the less you worry about what you write being “good” or “perfect.” You accept your journal as safe place for free thought.
Whether your journal is a dumping ground to record the events of the day, a way to organize your thoughts before beginning your day, a place to house lists of good ideas or interesting interactions, the act of journaling is a creative exercise that allows you to think freely.
The result? Your ability to create and generate new ideas will improve the more you journal, and your creative practice – whatever that looks like – will flourish.
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What do I write in my journal?
When I first started journaling, I wasn’t always sure about what to write. And sometimes I still get stuck. As with my art journaling and creative writing, I’m a fan of using prompts for those times when I’m feeling stuck.
Here are the top 3 journaling prompts I turn to that help me ignite my writing on days when I’m stuck facing a blank page. These have helped me get to know myself a bit better and assisted in unlocking the creative floodgates.
3 Great Journaling Prompts
#1: 100 Things That…
While you can use this no matter what your emotional state, I find myself falling back on this when I’m stressed and my mind won’t stop spinning long enough to let me think.
To use this prompt, first fill in the blank in the title. Here are some examples:
- 100 Things That Are Stressing Me Out
- 100 Things That I’m Grateful For
- 100 Things That I’m Afraid Of
- 100 Things That I Need to Get Done Today/This Week/This Month/This Year
- 100 Things That I Don’t Want to Think About
- 100 Things That I Want to Write About
- 100 Things That I Wish I’d Never Said
- 100 Things That I Wish I Didn’t Do
- 100 Things That I Hope I Will Do
- 100 Questions That I Really Need Answers To
You get the idea.
Once you’ve picked a title, simply write WITHOUT STOPPING until you reach 100. Don’t worry if you repeat yourself. I’ve had times when I wrote the same thing ten times in a row. It will pass. Just keep adding to your list until you hit 100.
You can stop there, or you can do a little digging. After you hit 100, go over your list and circle things that repeated. I like to make categories, especially when I’m doing the “100 things that are stressing me out” list. For example, you might find that many of your items are actually all related to “work,” others to a relationship, etc.
I like circle them in different colors according to “category” so I can visually see what is really top of mind for me. This helps me with fears, stresses, and regrets because I can dig a little deeper, deal with the issue, and move on.
#2: A Full-Body Experience
Emotions are important. But so is your body and all of the wonderful sensory ways it explores and experiences the world. In today’s world, it’s too easy to overlook our physical natures. To help you get in touch with your body and senses, try this prompt.
Think about any experience you’ve had recently, and journal about it only using your physical and sensory experiences. Leave out all emotion and thought. It could be something as simple as baking a cake or eating a meal, or it could be about a meaningful interaction you had, like a big presentation at work or a celebration with family.
Warning: This exercise may sound simple, but it’s deceptive in its simplicity. Don’t worry about getting it “right” or doing it perfectly. Just do your best and see what comes out of the experience.
When I find it especially tricky, I like to focus on one sense at a time. For example, I might write about the smells I experienced first, then go back and do touch, sound, sight, and taste individually.
#3: Two Moments
It can be good for us in so many ways to revisit important moments – good or bad. You may have played the rerun of different events over and over in your mind, but journaling about it slows down the memory and forces you to process your thoughts and emotions about it more meaningfully.
For this prompt, start with the sentence, “Two moments in my life I’ll never forget are ____ and ____.”
Then write about them. Describe them in as much detail as you can. Use your five senses to really set the stage. Then explain why they’re so important to you. Sometimes this may be obviouse, but if you aren’t sure, record your questions about the experiences.
You can use this prompt again and again, with the same moments and with different. I’ve used this prompt more than once, and it’s interesting to compare my entries about the same moments. Becoming a mother has come up over and over, but my thoughts and emotions have changed in some ways and in other remained constant.
Let me know what you think about the prompts! And if you have any favorite journaling resources, add a comment and let us know!
I’ll be creating journaling prompt page soon with even more resources, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!