I have a colleague who has grappled with her creativity for a long time. She’s remarkably uncomfortable thinking of herself as “artistic.” We’ve been working forever together on it and making good progress. One of the tools that helped her has been journaling.
For my purposes, I’m describing journaling as any sort of longhand, loose writing. Whatever ideas come into your head, you put them down on a document paper. There’s no form, no structure, nor concern about grammar or spelling or even readability.
Even if writing isn’t your fantasy, incorporating a regular journaling program into your life is a beautiful way to jump-start your creativity and foster a continuous flow of new ideas. Here are a couple of reasons why.
- Helps you get rid of the trash in your head. We all have it. Trash thoughts. Everything from self-defeating remarks (“Oh, I’ll never be decent at work.” or “Who told you that you could be a painter?”) to the “worry of the second” to the neurosis of every kind to the ever-growing, endless to-do lists.
Who can be artistic with all that yelling going on? For that matter, when the environment is too noisy, who could even hear a dreamy creamy thought over that racket?
Journaling is a way to silence the mind. Writing all that scraps down transfers it from your head to the document or a paper. Immediately, you find you can think rather than merely react.
The best part is this silence lasts long after the writing is done for the week. And if you journal daily, then the effect is better.
When I finish writing, I find that I find peace. I am able to focus. The trash is gone, leaving space to be artistic and creative.
- Quickly allows you to explore new ideas. What better way to notice if a new thought will work than to jot it down? You can pen the pros and cons, explain a scenario, play innocent “what if” games (“What if my new venture was thriving?” “What if I tried that new social media advertising campaign?”). And the most amazing part is it’s all in a hidden little notepad that no one will ever have to read.
Try penning down your dreams, hopes, visions, goals. Play around with these adjectives. As you write about them, you may find a strategy for making your dreams come true presents itself, right there in the lines of your page.
- You build a bridge to your passion. This one only kicks in after you’ve done number one. It seems only after I’ve gotten most of the trash out of my life that the passion sometimes slips out to enjoy a bit.
How do you know the passion came to visit you? When that amazing idea dances in your head. It may not happen while you’re writing, but instead, while you’re walking, driving, walking, or something else. This is your passion talking to you.
It’s vital to remember passions have silent voices. They can quickly be depleted by random bickering of the other loud chatter going on in your mind. Once you can get those noises to shut up, you can begin listening for the passion.
Don’t worry if this is not a quick process. There have been days and even weeks when I write nothing but think trash. But then, one day, that great thought appears on the paper or in my head as I’m out walking my dogs.
And when the thoughts and ideas come to me, I know all the time I spent writing about nothing has paid off.