How to Start a Creative Journal
This is part two in our series on journaling for creativity. Check out the other posts here:
If you’re using our 5-part series as a ‘take anytime’ 5-day journaling challenge, your task for today is at the bottom of the post. Want to come back and take the challenge when you have more time? Bookmark this post (or Pin it) so you can find it again.
Now you’ve reminded yourself of the benefits of keeping a journal as a creative person, you may be wondering where to start. When should you journal? What should you write? And what should you do with what you’ve written?
If you’re unsure exactly how to start a creative journal, here are some ideas.
Disclosure: Sometimes my work here (and all around the web) contains affiliate links. Find out what that means here.
Determine how to use the journal
The first thing you need to decide is how you want to use the journal. Will it be a place to simply brainstorming your ideas, or would you prefer it to be a place you can practice your creativity? Maybe you’re looking for a place to set goals for your creative projects?
I do all of the above, and I’ve used two different strategies. One is to have different pages in the journal for brainstorming, creative writing and goal-setting. Another is to color code the above, writing each in a different color. To make that work you’ll need a clickable multi-colored pen (like these – the prettier the colors, the better), and the discipline to always use that pen in your journal. But it really does work. You can quickly find the creative writing you want to turn into articles and stories, the ideas you want to work on, or the goals you’re working towards.
Consider “Free writing”
One of the best ways to start a creative journal, is to practice free writing. This is basically where you take the time to sit down and start writing. Just write whatever comes into your head.
You don’t need to follow a certain structure or have any prior ideas of what to write. The things you jot down don’t even need to make sense.
Write as little or as much you want to, on any topic that pops into your head. You’ll be surprised at the creative ideas this type of writing can generate, and how cathartic it can feel.
Questions to ask yourself
If free writing doesn’t appeal to you and you need more a prompt to get you started, there’s a few questions you can ask yourself. Just a few ideas include:
What scares me?
What inspires me?
When was the last time I had fun?
What did I love doing as a child?
What do I want to do better?
What do I want to do less?
Those last few are taken directly from my Do Less But Better printable journal.
These random journal prompts or questions can have a surprising impact on your creativity. They’re great prompts to get you writing about ideas that are unique to you. Just the process of answering these questions can help to unleash your creative side.
Remember, there are absolutely no rules. A creative journal should never have to stick to a certain structure, or limit you in any way. Just keep in mind that you can and will want to use some of your journal ramblings in your creative work. Many of my essays, blog posts and stories started out as seemingly random journal entries, which is why it can be helpful to put all your creative writing in a certain section or color.
Often, starting the journal is the hardest part. Once you’ve actually made a start, it becomes much easier to keep it up and continue to nurture your creativity. Looking for a beautiful journal? I love this one and this one. Or check out my super affordable printable journal right here. It has prompts, drawing/mind-mapping pages, and lots of quotes to inspire your creativity.
Doing our 5-day journaling challenge?
Today’s task is:
Try journaling to one or more of the prompts above. Write a page or so if you can. Use some blank paper if you’re still waiting for your new journal to arrive.