journaling practice

Start a Journaling Practice – Day 8 of Build Your Creative Confidence

Several times throughout this 31 day series on Build Your Creative Confidence I have mentioned journaling, encouarging you to take out a journal or some blank paper and write down your thoughts and feelings. I cannot encourage you enough to start a journaling practice today! Whether you want to create more art with paper, fabric, paint or pen, journaling is an important part of any creative practice. Writing is good for the soul.

I am a big fan of Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and with a group of friends from my Meetup in Santa Barbara, we are working our way through the book and writing our morning pages every morning. If you are not familiar with this quintessential book on recovering your creativity, I encourage you to check it out. One of the tasks set forth in the book is what Cameron calls “morning pages.” These are three pages that you write when you first wake up. You can write them on plain paper, a spiral notebook or a beautiful blank journal. It’s essential, according to Cameron, that you write them every morning. Perhaps that seems overwhelming to you, writing daily. Once you start the journaling practice, it becomes as easy as breathing. I have one friend who keeps her journal on her kitchen table and writes in it every morning while drinking her coffee.

What I am finding as I write my pages each morning is that this process has become an integral part of my spiritual practice – it allows me to record any dreams, dump any leftover to-dos on the page or gripe about what’s to come. It doesn’t matter what comes out and I rarely go back and re-read these pages. The biggest benefit of the consistent writing is the opening of my creativity again. I get inspiration for theses posts, business insights or write down what my kids need from me. It doesn’t matter, I am stretching that writing muscle.

I arrived last week in Estes Park, Colorado a week ago realizing I had not brought along a journal, gasp! I have several in various stages at home and couldn’t believe I hadn’t tossed on into my suitcase. So I have been writing on plain printer paper and you know what, I love it. There is something so satisfying about watching the pages pile up, very different than filling the pages of a journal. I am left-handed, too, and often find journals to be constrictive and difficult to write in. Like everything else, they are designed for right-handed writers. The ability to shuffle through these pages without a binding has been a treat. Here are my pages from this morning. You can see where I have scribbled notes along the edges in boxes. When I get distracted by a wayward thought, I write it down in the margin so I don’t forget it and then return to my stream of consciousness writing.

julia cameron

I have always had journals lying around and have kept them on and off over the years, at times more consistently than others. I have been much more consistent for the past two years as I managed a huge life transition – sold my home of 13 years, sold my business of 12 years and left behind a wonderful community of friends and colleagues to move my family of four across country. We left because we felt like we were becoming stale and weren’t living the life we wanted. We left because we could and we wanted too but it was still hard. It was especially hard on my two kids, aged 10 and 13 when we moved. Selling and buying homes is always stressful!

My journal became the place where I made to-do lists, expressed my sadness over leaving and my enthusiasm and excitement for the new life unfolding. It’s where I wrote down our family’s description of our dream house (which I found and purchased in less than 12 hours). My journal became the safe place where I poured out the stress, asked for guidance and built a new business.

I have heard many women say, “I only keep a journal when I am sad or going through a difficult time in my life.” What?? What about the celebrations? The passions? The joy of adventure and exploring new places, new people and new ideas? Keeping a journal becomes a record of your life but it’s also a practice and a process that will remind you how creative you are!

I require most of coaching clients to keep a journal during our time together so that they can track their thoughts, feelings, idea, notes, etc. One client kept a a journal that saved her marriage, no joke. The pages became the place where she was able to safely express her feelings and work through her anger or frustration before entering a difficult conversation with her husband. We all need a safe place to express ourselves!

But a journal isn’t just about spiritual growth or capturing our to-do lists, it’s also a safe place to remind yourself that you are creative. To record dreams, ideas, plans, sketches and other notes about what you want to create. Whether you love to write or think you can’t write your way out of a paper bag, a journal practice is a great way to boost your creative confidence. When you start to write regularly, you find that random ideas begin to flow, to make sense and to develop, to bloom into ideas for projects.

Start a Journaling Practice Today!

Convinced yet? The only way to know if this will work for you is to give it a try!

Buy a beautiful journal and a new pen if that inspires you. Or just find a nice spiral notebook or stack of notebook paper. Just make sure to have plenty of blank pages to fill.

Wondering what to write about? Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • In yesterday’s post I talked about the importance of reading as a tool for finding creative inspiration. You can use your reading as inspiration for writing. Pick a quote from the book or magazine article and write it at the top of the page. Then just start writing. I promise the words will come. Writing is like day-dreaming, one thought quickly leads to another.
  • Start by writing down your most important to-dos for the day. Get them out of your head and onto paper so they won’t distract you. Then write a list of how you would love to be spending your day if you could do anything you wanted.
  • Write a list of what you are grateful for or who you are grateful for and why.
  • Want to get silly? Write about a funny memory.
  • Write down your bucket list of things you want to accomplish in your life.
  • Or write about your day, your kids, it really doesn’t matter. Just get started!