Today I want to talk about the impact of journaling on the creative process.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, advises writing “morning pages” — 3 handwritten journal pages — every day upon waking. I’ve done them faithfully in the past. They’re great. They get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper, where you can either examine them or forget all about them. The pages allow ideas to flow, and epiphanies to appear. Sometimes you just write about how you don’t know what to write about. Other times, I found myself thinking, Oh, so THAT’S how I feel about that thing. Journaling is an incredibly helpful life practice.
I’d argue that anyone can benefit from journaling, but for writers it’s useful on multiple levels. The journal allows you the freedom to write without the mysterious future phantom reader looking over your shoulder. Writing by hand with a pen elicits different thoughts and sentences than typing does.
For me, one of the biggest benefits to journaling is that it helps me move past stuck points, whether in my writing projects or life. The act of writing something down in a notebook helps me get out of my own way and see the next steps with greater clarity. And you really only need to know that next step.
Bonus: gratitude journaling at night (jotting down 5 things I’m grateful for, everything from my parents to finding awesome shoes on sale) helps me clear my mind before bed and puts me in a positive mindset so I can fall asleep easily. If you already journal (or even if you don’t), try adding this to your practice. It only takes a few minutes.
Do you journal? If so, what benefits have you found from the practice?