To journal is to tap into your subconscious. To journal is to connect with yourself. And when you are connecting with yourself, your creativity has maximum opportunity to surface and flourish.
In this article, I want to look at how you can use journaling to swept away the cobwebbs off your creativity, or just to enhance your focus on it so that you can feel your creative power at its full force.
1. Free Write
Free writing works wonders. It is an incredibly powerful tool that aids with almost all kinds of creative/brainstorming problems. Free writing is a straight forward concept. Set a timer – I recommend at least 7 minutes, though if you are used to writing or journaling then go for 10 minutes. Once the time goes off, start writing, and keep writing. Just write. Don’t stop to think. Don’t try to edit. Don’t second guess yourself. Just keep writing. Until the timer stops.
2. Creative Writing Prompts and Journal Writing Prompts
When you are at a loss for what to write, prompts provide an easy substitute. If you want to focus on creative writing – writing fiction, creative-nonfiction etc. – then creative writing prompts may be the way to go.
If you want to focus particularly on journaling, i.e. self-awareness, unlocking the answers from your inner self, then journal writing prompts may be more suitable.
3. Talk to Yourself
In your journal, have a dialogue with yourself – between Self A and Self B.
Self A is the current self, who is not as creative as you would like. Or perhaps is just temporarily feeling blocked. Whatever you feel is off with your creativity is a part of Self A.
Self B is the one that embraces creativity, is aware of its untapped creative well. It’s the self you want to be.
Your Self A will now have a conversation with your Self B. For this exercise, too, I suggest you set a timer. Start with 7-10 minutes, and keep aiming for longer and longer as you get used to dialogue exercise. Have an actual conversation. Let your mind flow, and be organic. Through this exercise, you will figure out how it feels to be Self A and how it feels to be Self B. What is the difference, and whether that difference is worth the work you need to put in to be more creative.
Have you ever wondered why so many of us doodle? Particularly when we are just sitting in a meeting listening to someone, or talking on the phone? As David Robson writes in this BBC article, one study has found that “far from being a distraction, doodling can prevent our minds from wandering into daydreams about the past or future, boosting concentration and memory.”
Robson also references Neil Cohn of University of California, who studies graphic novels, and claims that “drawings can have their own repeated vocabulary.” This makes sense. If you read graphic novels, or read any comics as a kid, there is usually a big star for dizziness, a big blob of blackness if someone faints etc.
A study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology journal also claims improved recall from doodlers, compared to non-doodlers.
However, you don’t need to read all the scientific evidence to know that doodling is therapeutic. Doodling is freeing. It lets you express yourself, lets you connect your brain with your instinct without having to think about it. Doodling regularly in your journal enables you to tap into often neglected ability to comprehend and retain information in a new way.
5. Write in an Unorthodox Manner
You don’t always have to write from left to write, top to bottom. You don’t always have to write sentences in a straight line. Go crazy. Be a little creative. Write in a circle, or in a square, or maybe just in a snaky line. Write in big letter, and small letters. Use different colours. Perhaps skip writing altogether, and express your feelings through drawing or a collage or whatever else you can think of.
6. Write a Poem
But I’m not a poet, you protest. It doesn’t matter. I’m not telling you to produce Poet Lauret level of work here. Imagine you are a teenager again, writing a love poem for that special someone. Or just be you. Just write a poem. About something. About anything. Don’t worry about the form, or literary techniques or whether or not it’s the right number of stanzas and right sorts of rhymes. Just write it. Writing a poem, the one that comes fully from your heart is a creative process. It connects with your emotions. The words coming out – regardless of their literary worth – are the words coming straight out of your gut. And if you want to regularly be more creative then get used to wrenching words and feelings straight out of your gut.
7. Talk to Your Muse
Who better to talk about your creativity with then your muse? In Meet Your Muse, I devote two weeks worth of modules to doing just that. You don’t need to take the course to get familiar with your muse though. Think about your muse, and start talking to him or her. Your personal muse is at your disposal. Use your imagination. Picture him/her/it. See them as a real person. Then just have a conversation – in writing. Don’t just stop with one dialogue. Have a series of conversations. Get to know your muse personally, and let them be a conduit for your creativity.
Journaling by itself is an act of expression. It is a medium through which you can really express yourself in any way you like. When you journal regularly, particularly if you allow yourself to go with your thoughts, then it actually becomes quite difficult not to be creative. Using different exercises, such as combining letter writing with journaling, are merely different tools that enhance this creative practice. Don’t bind yourself with rigid routines in your journal. Just go with the flow, and do it regularly and you will soon find that journaling creatively is both immensely fun, and immensely useful.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
Do one of the above seven exercises for seven days in your journal, or mix and match. But give yourself at least 10 minutes daily for 1 week, and give space to creativity in your schedule.