Creative Journaling

creativity Aug 09, 2021

When we think of artists in the mainstream: your authors, singer-songwriters, poets, painters, filmmakers... It is easy to assume that they spend their days sipping inspiration from the ever-flowing fountain of creativity.

But the truth is, maintaining creativity can be a challenge -- even for the sharp-skilled experts.

That’s why supplementing your inner genius with a creative outlet is necessary, whether you’re a hobbyist or a seasoned creative.

Creative journaling is the type of outlet that can maintain creativity, boost your confidence, and unlock endless inspiration. 

Here’s everything you need to know about creative journaling.

What is Creative Journaling

The good news is: journaling is not limited to writing words on paper.

In fact, there are many creative ways to journal that, not only, spark inspiration but keep the creative juices flowing.

Simply put, creative journaling is a mix of written words and art, all in one place. 

Doodles and diary entries, colors and poem collections, new ideas, and newspaper clippings… can all find a home on the pages of a creative journal. 

There are really no rules when it comes to the creative form of journaling. The only guideline is that your creative journaling will be typically done in a notebook.

But why should you consider keeping a creative journal?

Reasons to Use a Creative Journal

Although creative journaling still has an element of written words, it is very different from traditional journaling. 

There are a number of benefits this journaling technique holds over its fully written counterpart.

So what can you achieve through the medium of creative journaling? 

Overcome Writer’s Block

Have you ever seen the movie Adaptation? The one with Nicolas Cage.

There is a scene where Cage sits in front of a typewriter, staring at a blank piece of paper. As we see him struggle to start typing, we hear his thought stream.

Which goes something like this:

“I’m hungry… I should get coffee… Coffee will help me think…”

He catches himself running away with his own thoughts and brings himself back to the present moment:

“But I should write something first then reward myself with coffee…Coffee and a muffin! Ok... So I need to establish the themes... Maybe banana-nut… That’s a good muffin.”

And just like this, his procrastination continues.

Procrastination is one of the most traditional forms of inner resistance

If you haven’t faced resistance at some point in your creative process, you must be from a different planet.

Battling resistance is one of the most human qualities there is. Luckily, creative journaling is a way to beat it. 

How? By allowing you to have a safe space to mind-map ideas, visualize stories, and transport thoughts into the tangible, physical realm. 

The Antidote to Your Impostor Syndrome

A lot of resistance comes from negative self-talk: “I’ve never done x”, “I don’t know how to y”, “I am not a writer, painter, poet…” -- you fill in the rest.

Many of us have the tendency to get into our own way. By comparing ourselves to creatives that are already successful, or simply not even starting the creative process at all.

You spend days, months, years waiting for inspiration. And only when inspiration comes (if it comes) you begin your creative endeavors.

But what if there was a better way?

The creative juices will flow after you start, and you can really witness this process unfold through creative journaling.

Silence Self-Doubt and Build Your Confidence

Creative journaling isn’t like keeping a diary.

What creative journaling gives you is a visual portrayal of the inner workings of your heart, mind, and spirit.

Not to mention, the more you do something, the more you start to believe that you can.

This has little to do with skill, and a lot more to do with showing yourself physical evidence that you actually can.

When trust without evidence becomes hard to come by, you can build faith in yourself by referring to your creative journal entries. 

Types of Creative Journals

Can you already feel the call to start the journaling process?

Whatever your answer, here are some creative journaling ideas to get you started and inspired.

Art Journal

Whether you’re looking to explore your artistic side or you are a designer, illustrator, painter-virtuoso, this type of journal can really release your creative juices.

What can you do with an art journal? 

This approach to journaling can look like:

  • A sketchbook -- this will be a safe space where you draw, paint, sketch whatever comes to mind or what you see around you. Here, there is no pressure or frameworks that you need to follow
  • A coloring book -- here, you can create the coloring templates yourself. Such as bubble letters, shapes, outlines. Or you can purchase a ready-made coloring journal. This can be a very healing practice for your mind and nervous system
  • A scrapbook -- Newspaper clippings, favorite quotes, photos, magazine images, or any memorabilia you have are perfect for scrapbooking. You can even puzzle them together to create a ‘bigger picture', so to speak 

In an art journal, you can draw, paint, sketch, but you can also add a written element. 

You can make notes about the style of your drawings, the techniques you like. Or write about the reasons why you were inspired to include a particular image. Or how the inspirational quote resonated with you.

Dream Journal

Our subconscious mind has a way of representing the information we take in during the day in a very unique way.

Being chased by pink elephants, walking around a psychedelic-looking desert, or asking directions from a questionable cartoon character... is just some of the unorthodox imagery that people have dreamt of in the past.

The beauty of recording your dreams is that, in our subconscious minds, there are no inner critics, no limits, no ‘reality’ boundaries.

So, if you’ve never recorded your dreams before, start keeping a dream journal by your bed.

Once you wake up, just write what you dreamt the night before. Sketch what you dreamt. Even if you just remember snippets, phrases, or only images, don’t strain your memory. Write down what you can remember. 

And later, you might even want to dabble in dream interpretation (check out online dream dictionaries: dreammoods, auntyflo, dream glossary…)

Experiences and/or Travel Journal

Travel diaries are an invaluable resource for creativity, memory, and self-esteem.

This type of creative journal has the ability to show you what you have already achieved in life. But it also cements the special experiences that time will try to take away from your memory.

Plus, if you never know what to do with the leftover coins and small cash from a country you’ve visited, stick them in your creative journal.

What about the festival wristbands, concert and cinema tickets, or flight and hotel reservations… 

All of this can serve as not only decorations for your journal, but also as journal prompts to dive deeper into memories, experiences, and self-exploration.

Some More Creative Journaling Ideas

The creative journaling process can finetune your skills. But it can also become the creative space for your hobbies, manifestation practice, and relaxation rituals.

So, what else can you write in a creative journal? 

  • Whether you are looking for a physical vessel for your finished poems, or a place to jot down plot ideas, character inspirations, or pleasant-sounding words for future writing… a poetry/story journal will provide that space for you
  • Illustrate your favorite recipes and write them out as lavish, or as clean as you like, in your dedicated journal/notebook
  • If you’re the constant-stream-of-inner-dialogue kind of person, or you find that you often narrate your life out loud, a video journal can be something to try. Especially, if you’re not into writing too much. A video journal is just like a vlog, video diary, or insta story with one difference: it is just for you
  • Oftentimes, the books we read, or the songs we listen to, spark creative ideas in us. Why not organize those ideas in a book/music journal. A visual representation of your thoughts can often lead to the most unexpected places. You can even play around with writing your own lyrics or inspired stories 
  • If you have time for regular journaling then designing your very own daily planner/journal with an artistic element can be something for you. Dress up each day of the week, write down your plans/goals for the days ahead, or simply track your progress
  • Go the extra step in your visualization practice and turn your vision board into a scripting journal

There are many creative ways to journal. So, explore. Think of the things that are fun for you, that inspire you, that you like to know more about. 

There are no limits to what you can write in a creative journal.

Some Final Creative Journaling Tips

How you use a creative journal is very much up to you.

It can be something entertaining you do in your free time. Or a creative container for your memories, hopes, and dreams. It can even complement your self-healing practice as you dive deeper into who you are.

So, you can go ahead and choose whatever approach to journaling that suits your time, skill, and purpose.

How to Use a Creative Journal: Prompts and Layout

To get going try these 5 creative journaling prompts: 

  1. The Unsent Letter: write a gratitude letter, a forgiveness letter, or a love letter 
  2. Outside the Window: describe + draw the scene outside your house → especially great for travel journals
  3. Eavesdropper: write a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard
  4. Cloud Watching: go watch the clouds and write + doddle what objects you see
  5. An Ode To: write a poem addressed to your favorite plant, food, place, or activity

Your journal entries don’t have to be linear.

The way you layout your content can be: over one page or spread across both pages of the notebook. Why not even attach an extra sheet of paper that folds out?

Write and color outside the lines, literally. Draw the words, create pull tabs and pop-ups, glue in DIY envelopes. 

Don’t be afraid to lean into the different dimensions available to you.

Journaling Equipment Tips

You have many options of creative supplies, content to include, and journaling techniques at your disposal.

Your supplies may only consist of a notebook and your favorite pen/pencil (a creative journal does not need to be all colors of the rainbow).

If you’re using watercolors, gel pens, markers, or fountain pens make sure to get a notebook with paper that will not bleed through. 

And lastly, out of the journaling tips, to boost your creativity...

...Recycle and Repurpose 

You may find yourself accumulating mementos like postcards, stickers, shells, feathers, or stones from the places you’ve visited…

If you’re looking to declutter your space but can’t bring yourself to throw away these timeless souvenirs, they may fit in well in your travel, scripting, or art journal.

But they can also work as tracing tools for shapes in your journal. 

Stones and feathers can be used as drawing kits, instead of a brush, for example. 

And broken down pieces of shells, can serve as a way to add different textures onto the pages of your creative journal.

Whatever form of journaling stands out for you, it’s calling out to your inner creator.

Are you going to answer it?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adventurous by nature, Valery has been a world wanderer for many years. 

Her journey started in Russia, transitioned to the UK, and now she discovers a sense of home in nations all around the world.

She moves beyond borders - learning, participating, finding inspiration and familiarity in diverse cultures she’s had the joy of living in.

When not chasing adventures and out-of-the-comfort zone experiences, she explores the wonders of language and its impact on the self, the world, and interpersonal communication.

She never ceases to seek opportunities for self-development and to contribute to a brighter future for the world around her.

You can discover some of her experiences on https://medium.com/@valeryvoyager

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