Why the Most Creative Minds Journal
Do you journal? Have you ever considered it? Or do you think it’s only for people who are good at writing? Journaling is a practice that can greatly enhance your creativity.
Artists, authors, inventors, entrepreneurs, and scientists have used journaling over the years. It’s not only the great minds of the past like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou who have used journaling as a tool to enhance their creativity. Although these famous visionaries kept journals, present-day great minds like Tim Ferriss, Michael Hyatt, and Jim Rohn still keep journaling. So it’s not a thing of the past.
“A life worth living is a life worth recording.” ~ Jim Rohn
I started journaling when I was a teenager. There was something about writing my thoughts on the pages of a book that was very liberating to me. I didn’t write because I wanted anyone to read about my life’s accomplishments or keep a record for future generations. No! It was nothing like that. Contrary to all that, I just wanted to express myself and in fact, it was important to me that no one read my journal.
Your journal doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to be written by you and for you.
As a bookworm who read a lot of mystery books like Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and the Hardy Boys, I created my own code language (very nerdish, I know 🙂) which I used to write in my journals to make sure no one could read them. And that truly is the purpose of journaling:- self-expression. Your journal doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to meet any expectations. It just has to be written by you and for you.
Over the years, I’ve continued to journal consistently (well without my teenage secret codes). And it has served me really well. Now I know all the research behind why journaling is a good habit to develop. But back then I had no clue.
“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured, and unique individual, keep a journal.” ~ Jim Rohn
Benefits of Journaling
- Gets your creative juices flowing. Our mind space is important for cultivating our creativity. When your mind is cluttered with all kinds of thoughts, it can make you blocked and unable to be your creative best. Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way made journaling, which she calls, “Morning Pages” very popular among creatives for that reason.
- Makes you resilient. Although I didn’t intend it that way, my journal has become a record of my life journey. When I review my journal, it makes me realize that the things I was anxious and worried about, fearful of, and stressed over did not utterly “wipe me out” like I feared they would. So if I could overcome those things, I can overcome today’s challenges as well.
- Gives you an abundance mindset. Your journal will make you grateful for all the little things we often overlook in our lives. It makes you see how blessed you are with the joys of everyday life.
- It’s great for your health. The literature on the health benefits of journaling is really extensive. Here are a few health outcomes when you journal: improved immune system functioning, fewer stress-related visits to the doctor, reduced blood pressure, improved lung & liver function, improved mood, and feeling of greater psychological well-being.
- It helps you clarify your thoughts. Author Flannery Connor says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” And if you’re journaling by hand, there are special benefits for handwriting too.
- Trains you to build your creative confidence. The more you journal, the more you learn to express yourself freely and overcome that inner voice of judgment which blocks creativity.
- A source of ideas for creative work. I write everything in my journal, including my creative ideas. Usually, when I wake up in the morning I get fresh ideas. Journaling helps me capture those ideas before they elude me. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert in her famous TED talk explains how sometimes the creative spark comes when you’re not ready for it. As a result, you have to have a way of capturing it before it flees away from you. Journaling is a good way to accomplish that. Keep your journal next to your bed 🙂
- Helps you reflect on your creative process. I’ve written about this before. Journaling and in turn writing, has helped me tremendously to understand my own creative process and to blog about it. Without writing, I wouldn’t have been able to articulate my creative process as well as I do now.
There are definitely tons of reasons you should try journaling. If you’re convinced and interested in journaling, here are some tips to help you.
Simple Tips to Help You Start Journaling
- Get a specific notebook, journal, or app you will use for journaling
- Set aside a specific time of day to journal (mornings work for most people)
- Decide on a specific duration of time you’ll journal every day. Start small. 10- 15 minutes will be fine.
- Be consistent.
- Don’t judge what you write. You don’t want to edit or make it pretty either. And absolutely don’t worry about grammar. Just write!
- Write fast.
- Use journal prompts if you need help writing.
Journaling is a means to an end. It helps me think more deeply about my life, where it is going, and what it means ~ Michael Hyatt
Questions: Have you ever tried journaling and gave up? Why did you? Or do you currently journal? What do you like about it? Can’t wait to read what you’ve got to say.
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Jo Vdmey says
I have a thing for journals…buying them that is. I write in them for a few days and then they fall by the wayside. I keep thinking it would be a great thing for me to do. Thanks for a new look at journaling maybe it will stick this time.
Clara Nartey says
Jo, I try not to focus on ‘prettying” up my journals. I realized that when you take the focus of the paper and onto your thoughts it helps.
Another thing that helps is making it a habit. Do it at a specific time of day, specific place and with a specific book will help.
A third thing some people have found helpful is having prompts or a template so you don’t have to worry about what to write.
Give it a try again. In our busy world, it’s truly hard to stick to forming any type of a habit. But you can do it.
P Bacon says
I have three journals that I use regularly and it helps me both as a creative and educator to keep tabs on my thoughts and directions as inspiration strikes anywhere and at anytime. I have one small one I found at the Dollar Tree that fits in my purse. I have one medium sized one that I keep while I read by my bed and one large one for sketching and warm ups. Picasso said that he warmed up for three hours daily before putting paint to canvas. So while I do not have three hours, I take moments where I can. I so appreciate this blog entry because I truly believe in the need to make marks on paper and give our brains a break from the daily digital grind.
Clara Nartey says
Good for you.
I do find that I need more than one journal too.
I use both electronic and paper journals.
I like the paper best because I enjoy writing with my hands better.
But the electronic one is the most accessible because it’s on my phone.
Since you journal consistently, what are some of the personal benefits you derive from journaling?
Marmee Hartzell says
Clara, I use my art page on Facebook as a journal regarding my inspirations and artworks in progress. That way, those that are interested in my progress can see how my work is coming along. Its very stream-of-consciousness in nature & jumps all over the place. But it also serves as something I can go back & reference when I wonder how or why I did something in particular, what works, and what didn’t. I don’t worry about how vague or peculiar the posts are…just so that I have some sort of record of what I’ve been up to. I plan eventually to prepare a cleaned-up, more organized version on a webpage. Still researching which I want to use & such.
Clara Nartey says
It’s great you bring up internet-based journaling. What we now call “blogs” actually began as “web logs” – a log or journal if you may of people’s activities and now it’s evolved into this phenomenon we now have. There are also websites where you can go and type into your journal daily if you prefer typing to handwriting. Some examples are Penzu and 750 Words.
Emmy Jay says
I’ve been journaling for years. I try to do it daily, but sometimes I skip a day or two — any longer than that and I start to feel like something’s missing. I started handwriting morning pages in composition notebooks, but over the years I’ve come to favor a simple Word document — something about hearing the rhythm of the words as I type them, I think. My current version starts with a “creative update” section where i document what I worked on since the last entry; I often get ideas there that help me make decisions that get something moving again.
Clara Nartey says
Sometimes I also miss a day or two and just like you, I begin to feel something’s wrong after I miss a couple of days. Talk about the insights we get from journaling, isn’t that just awesome?
Thanks for sharing, Emmy.
Carol Cspozzoli says
Just getting caught up after a rather long vacation from the computer. This caught my attention, and I turned to the left of my desk and lifted a journal, with lots of pages left. I had used 11 pages in 2008 (a trip to Thailand with sisters and neices). I tend to journal when I travel, but after a few days peter out. I think that daily journaling might be a help. Thanks for the nudge.
Clara Nartey says
Carol, I hope you will try journaling more consistently. You’ll enjoy it.