Creativity, Meaningful Work

A free year of guided journaling: Journal Into You

Please note that Journal Into You is now available inside the Creative Journaling Toolkit.

I like to offer some kind of free guided journaling or prompts each year, and 2017 is no exception.

I thought long and hard about what would make this coming year one of growth, awareness and expansion. Finally I settled on this: Journal Into You.

Free 2017 themed journaling prompts: make this coming year one of growth, awareness and expansion.

What is Journal Into You?

A year of guided journaling and prompts, using monthly themes.

Each month we will explore a different theme that builds on the one from the month before. By the end of 2017 you will have learnt more about yourself and your life, connected with the core of who you really are and expanded your ideas of what you are capable of.

If you combine the growth from these prompts with the 2017 Magical Yearbook, you will end 2017 having achieved some awesome goals too!

There is one deep journaling prompt per week. I wanted to make it doable so that people didn’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of work involved. Also, the prompts ask you to explore in depth and may take some time to complete, so allowing a week per prompt means you can really get into the good stuff.

The themes are as follows:

  • January – Beginnings
  • February – Healing
  • March – Acceptance
  • April – Passion
  • May – Truth
  • June – Power
  • July – Success
  • August – Focus
  • September – Courage
  • October – Action
  • November – Faith
  • December – Fulfillment

Note – the themes may change or change order as we progress through the year, but this is a rough guide for now.

The prompts are designed to get you journaling in a variety of different ways – written, visual, even online if you feel like it. I’ve tried to keep them open enough that you can interpret them however feels right for you, while still being specific enough to guide you through a year of growth.

What you get

  • A beautiful, printable 2 page PDF each month
  • Weekly prompts centered around the monthly theme – that you can cut out and stick in your journal
  • Interesting quotes to guide your journaling
  • Tips and ideas for how to interpret the prompts and face the page
  • Inspiring notes and thoughts on our theme
  • Encouragement to keep you showing up to your journal and to help you grow
  • Access to a Facebook community to share ideas, journal pages, tips and get inspiration from others

How to get it

I’m offering this for free because I truly believe in the transformative power of a creative journaling practice. I know first hand how much impact a regular, in-depth journaling practice can have on your life, and I want that for you too.

You can access the prompts inside The Creative Journaling Toolkit.

If you want to share your journaling, questions, pages etc on social media, use the hashtag #2017journalintoyou

I hope you’ll join us for a year of journaling inspiration!

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Creativity

The power of journaling

I’m excited to announce that I’m opening registration for my new online class, Journaling Into the Deep. Why am I so excited? Because in this class I’m teaching you the prompts and techniques that literally changed my life.

Read more about the course here

I’ve been journaling for years – since I was 10 years old.

Like most people, I would pick up my journal when dealing with something difficult, like an issue with a friend or a break-up. My journal would help me deal with the difficult emotions at the time, and then I’d usually put it away and forget about it.

This was always helpful in the moment, but it never went much further than that. I had no idea what a powerful tool journaling could be – without wanting to sound too dramatic – to transform my life.

It wasn’t until I started to work through specific targeted journaling exercises that I started to heal some of the deeper wounds within me.

Slowly, I dug deeper and deeper and uncovered things that had been lingering inside, things that were still impacting me years later.

I worked through feelings of regret. I worked on forgiving others and myself. I let go of things that were holding me back from living my best life.

Learn how to use your journal to make peace with your past and create a future that fills you with joy in my new class, Journaling Into the Deep.

Not only that, but I learned more about myself – who I am, really, at my core. I learned what I valued, and after years of aimlessly pursuing various careers, my life developed a sense of purpose. From there, I set about creating an intentional life – one where I didn’t let fear hold me back, where I actively took steps towards making things happen for myself.

I went from being depressed – spending most weekends crying uncontrollably and wondering what the point of it all was – to being excited to wake up and dive into my journal.

I didn’t change anything externally – at least not to begin with – I stayed in the same job, I kept the same partner, I lived in the same house. But inside I changed, because I’d dared to dive deep in my journal and face things from my past – make peace with who I was.

Slowly though, things started to change externally. I found a way to make a job I didn’t like work for me. My fiance, after years of discussing it half-heartedly, proposed in an amazingly romantic gesture. We somehow managed to buy property with no deposit, and moved onto our beautiful peace of land. We found the courage to go ahead with an ambitious alternative building project (that’s not far from being finished, yay!). And I slowly built a business centered around my innate talents and passions, utilising all of my apparently disparate qualifications and experience.

Now, my fiance and I are expecting our first baby in January and I couldn’t be happier (except for the morning sickness – I could really do without that). It’s been two years since I discovered the power of journaling, and my life is looking more and more like my dream life every month.

Ok, I know this sounds a bit like an infomercial – the ones with the miserable black and white before picture and the super bright and happy after picture. I don’t mean to brag or be obnoxious.

I really am sharing this information because I believe that journaling is THE tool that has allowed me to heal my past and create a life that fills me with joy.

And it’s so easy – it’s not expensive like therapy, something that can be really helpful but we can’t all afford. Anyone can pick up a pen and write. If I can use something so simple to create a life I really love, you can too. I know that I can help people by showing them what has worked for me.

That’s why I’ve created my new course, Journaling Into the Deep. In this course, I guide you through making peace with and celebrating your past, getting to know your true self right now, and consciously creating a future that is deeply fulfilling. This course takes you out of the common journaling trap of focusing only on the surface – the day-to-day circumstance of your life – into the depths where true growth can take place.

Registration is now open for a limited time!

Read more about the course and sign up here

Course header main

I hope you’ll consider joining us as we dive deep and explore the wild within.

Creativity

6 ways to get out of a creative slump

Lately, I’ve been in a real creative slump.

It began when I finished running my first course, Wild Intuitive Journaling, and I noticed my creative well was dry. I’d poured so much into the creation of the course that I had little left by the end of it.

Add to that the fact that I’ve been feeling unwell for about a month and I’ve had no interest or energy to create anything at all. I barely picked up my journal, struggled to write any blog posts or share on social media.

Yep, I was well and truly in a creative slump. 

I did what I usually do at this point – panic that all my creativity and inspiration had left me for good. That I would never write or paint again. That, it turns out, I’m not an inherently creative being – that was just a front I’ve kept up for a few years – and really I’m this sad and hopeless person underneath.

But I’ve been through enough creative slumps now to realise that none of that is true. More than that, I’ve realised that creativity is cyclical – like anything else. It waxes and wanes. It made sense that after a period of intense creativity, coupled with needing to look after my unwell self, that I didn’t have the energy or inclination to create.

I’ve realised that creativity is cyclical – like anything else. It waxes and wanes.

So I allowed myself the time to do nothing. To step back and be gentle.

But as the weeks turned into a month, and I found myself feeling better, I wondered how, exactly, I could get my creative mojo back. I was ready to jump back in but had no idea where to start.

Here’s what I’ve found helpful as I carefully step back into the creative arena.

6 ways to get out of a creative slump

1. Go easy on yourself

First of all, don’t beat yourself up for not creating. Don’t add blame and guilt to fire. If you’ve found yourself in a bit of a creative slump, chances are there is a good reason you are there. For me, that reason was illness and needing to refill my creative well.

And you know what? Even if there isn’t a ‘good’ reason that you can identify – that doesn’t matter. Don’t make yourself feel worse by adding guilt or shame – let yourself off the hook. You’re allowed to take a break.

2. Seek out inspiration

This, honestly, has been my favourite part. I’ve taken it as a chance to soak up the work of others, to seek out what excites me. I’m scouring the blogs of my favourite journalers, I’m going back through my Pinterest boards to see images that fill me with inspiration. I’m watching YouTube videos and going back through materials from past journaling courses I’ve taken.

I have certain journalers whose work I love, who never fail to inspire me. Looking at their work sparks a little inspiration inside, and the more I look through it, the more it fans the flames. Before long I’m grabbing my paints and scribbling in my journal.

3. Join a challenge or group

There are so many free art groups and challenges out there. The best thing about joining something like this is the accountability. You feel you need to show up and participate – especially if you’ve declared publicly that you’re doing it.

Not only that, but there is so much support from other creatives. The more you share, the more people will cheer you on. That feels really good. And when you hit a wall, if you share that with the group, you’ll be amazed to find others are feeling the same. Sometimes we think we are alone in our struggles, but when we share them with others we quickly learn we aren’t.

Another good thing about joining a challenge is that it can be a good way to jump-start your practice. Often a challenge will have a theme or prompts, or other guiding material which can help guide you as you step back into your creativity.

Here are some of my favourite art/journaling challenges and groups – all of them are free. Some of these have time frames and some are ongoing:

Journaling Dangerously challenge and Journaling Dangerously group

15 Minute Practice challenge and 15 Minute Practice group

Index-Card-A-Day challenge and ICAD-2016 group

Inner Excavate Along challenge and Inner Excavation Group

Journal 52 challenge and Journal 52 group

30 Day Journal Project

100 Days Project

4. Treat yourself to new supplies

This can be a really fun way to get out of a creative slump. And let’s face it – who among us doesn’t have a massive list of dream art supplies? Don’t break the bank, but it surely wouldn’t hurt to allow yourself to grab a few pots of that paint you’ve always wanted to try, or some new brushes, or a few balls of that gorgeous yarn.

Sometimes the excitement of trying a new material, colour or tool can be enough to get us creating again.

5. Sign up for a course

Is there an online course you’ve been eyeing for ages but never allowed yourself to sign up for? Now’s the time. Find an artist or teacher you love or whom you’ve always wanted to learn from, and indulge.

A word of warning – this can be an easy way to waste money, if you’re not careful. Obviously, signing up for the course alone won’t get you out of the slump – you’ll need to show up and do the work. But, if you sign up for a course that truly inspires you, one that ignites that creative spark inside, then that should certainly be a good investment.

Another thing to consider here is to take baby steps – don’t sign up for the six month intensive, maybe just start with the four week introductory course and go from there. The last thing we want is for you to feel overwhelmed, and then guilty for not following through!

6. Take time out from other things

It might be that you’re in a creative slump because you haven’t had the time or energy to create – your life has been too full. Maybe you’ve found yourself working extra shifts at work. Maybe you’re taking on more responsibilities around the house, or helping a friend or family member with something. Perhaps you’ve signed up for a new exercise programme at the gym.

Whatever it is, if you want to have the time and energy to create again, you might need to make some sacrifices somewhere else. I’m not suggesting you quit the gym or leave your job, but you might need to ask for help from someone else to allow you a little time to create. Ask your spouse to watch the kids one night a week so you can journal. Take your knitting to work and use your lunch break as a chance to knit. Wake up a little earlier to get 15 minutes of writing in.

Try to find a way to allow more time and energy in your life to get creative, even if that means taking some time or energy out from another area of your life. Chances are, you’ll feel better for it.

*  *  *

I’m now finding myself taking careful and gentle steps back into my creative self-expression. Writing this post is one of the first ways of doing that, and I hope it helps even one person find their creative footing again.

Remember, you’re not alone and your inspiration isn’t gone forever – it will come back around when the time is right.

Creativity, Spirituality

Depression, journaling and your soul

Depression and your soul

A friend of mine – who is also a coach and healer – recently said to me that depression is simply when we become disconnected from our soul.

My first response to this was to feel a little angry. As someone who has experienced depression on and off for nearly two decades and isn’t afraid to get help in the form of medication and therapy when necessary, I felt that comment was a little unfair.

I know I’m not alone in experiencing depression – I’ve watched family members and many friends experience it too, and I know all too well how painful it can be when we are in the midst of it.

I nodded along with her comment, unwilling to rock the boat. In my graduate diploma in psychology we looked at various causes for depression, primarily chemical and behavioural – but not once did ‘disconnection from soul’ come up. Unsurprising, really.

A few days of letting that comment sink in and I began to wonder – what if it could be true? Western Medicine has many chemical, mechanical, logical, scientific and rational explanations for depression (although there still exists debate within the scientific community around what causes depression). But what our Westernised culture fails to take into account is spiritual explanations.

In fact, our culture in general keeps the spiritual at a distance, because it can’t be ‘proven’.

And we are more depressed than ever. Could it be that connection with spirit – in whatever form – is the missing puzzle piece?

Here’s my experience: the more I listen to my soul, through journaling, meditation, being in nature and just turning inward more often that I turn outward, the less I experience depression. The more I act on what my soul guides me to do – that is, moving towards my purpose by sharing more of my true self with the world, expressing my creativity and letting go of what no longer serves me, the more I begin to forget what depression even felt like.

For me, this always starts in my journal. On the page I can let out all my worries, concerns, fears, hopes and dreams – and my soul responds with wisdom, guidance and support. I’ve been doing this steadily for two years now and I have never felt more on purpose, in alignment and Divinely supported in my life.

For two years I have not had a depressive episode and I attribute this to regularly connecting with my soul and letting it guide me in living my life ‘on purpose’.

I’m not saying that a disconnection from our soul is what causes depression – I’m no expert. Even the experts can’t agree on what causes it. I’ve also not ruled out other more conventional forms of treatment for depression – namely medication and therapy.

But of all the things I’ve done in the past, this feels like the ultimate remedy, for me at least: daily connection with my soul in my journal.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal spotlight: Dream journal

One of my favourite things about journaling is learning more about myself – my values, desires, goals, fears, strengths and weaknesses. For me, journaling is a tool to dig deeper into who I am and what makes me tick.

One of the best ways to learn more about ourselves is to look into the symbols and themes in our dreams. Keeping a dream journal is a great way to record our dreams so we can better understand what they might mean.

I’ve always wanted to keep a dream journal, but whenever I’ve started one in the past I’ve never kept it up. After writing this post, I think I’m going to have a go, at the very least, at incorporating more dreams into my daily journal.

I have pretty vivid dreams most nights, and I certainly have repeated places, people, events and themes in my dreams. I love the idea of recording them to reread later and interpret some of the deeper meanings.

One of the best description of dreams I’ve ever heard is from one of my favourite movies, The Giver:

Dreams: A combination of reality, fantasy, emotions and what you had for dinner.

So what is a dream journal? Basically, you record the dreams you have at night, when you wake in the morning.

Why keep a dream journal?

There are lots of reasons to do so, but here are a few that resonate with me:

  • Greater understanding of yourself. You can uncover deeper feelings, desires, concerns and other things about yourself that are usually below the surface of your awareness. Recording them will allow you to dig deeper and possibly figure out what’s happening down there.
  • Inspiration. There are some really cool things that come up in our dreams due to the fact that our logical mind shuts down at this time. If you’re a creative who’s looking for ideas, you could stumble on some interesting things in your night time adventures!
  • Get better at lucid dreaming – that awesome state where you know you are dreaming so you can control what happens!

How to start your own dream journal

Choose a journal you want to record your dreams in and keep it beside your bed, or somewhere else you will remember to pick it up first thing.

Set the intention before going to sleep that you will remember your dreams.

First thing upon waking, record whatever you remember. It doesn’t have to make sense, just get it down – even if you have forgotten big portions of the dream, record what you can remember. Be as detailed as possible.

Don’t judge what comes up, just record it.

You can use drawings as well – you don’t have to stick to words! If you want to capture a certain place or feeling, you could draw it or use colour in your dream journal. Combining written and visual elements may also help to stimulate more dream recall.

Give the dream a title or sum it up in a sentence. This is a neat idea I read about here.

Practice – the more you do this, the more you will start to remember your dreams in more detail. Keep going.

And then what?

After you’ve been doing this for a while, you may like to look back through your dreams to get a better understanding of yourself. Certain images, themes, words, colours, events or people may reoccur. You could go through and highlight some of these, then journal about what they could mean.

You could use a dream dictionary for guidance, but personally, I believe that we are the experts on ourselves. You will start to notice patterns in your dreams that you will probably be able to interpret yourself. If you also keep a personal journal, you could possibly match up what has been happening in your life with what has been appearing in your dreams.

Try not to take it too seriously. While I think there most certainly are some deeper meanings we can uncover from our dreams, I also think that some of them are simply, as The Giver says, ‘what you had for dinner’.

Do you keep a dream journal? What do you enjoy about it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Creativity

What are your words hiding?

When you establish a regular journaling habit, and you have been at it for a while, you will start to notice something.

There will be certain words or phrases that are repeated, maybe unconsciously, throughout your entries.

You may even notice as you’re journaling that you’re repeating something you’ve already said that day, or a few days earlier. Or you may only notice when looking back through entries that you have a habit of repeating certain words or phrases.

When I’m journaling, words that come up time and time again are exhausted, fear, creative, inspired.

I almost always realise when I’m writing ‘I’m just so exhausted’ again, but I didn’t realise quite how much I used this word. Looking back through past journals, it’s in almost every second entry. I also tend to use ‘creative’ and ‘inspired’ in most entries – which is hopefully a little more positive than ‘exhausted’!

Our tics are a road map to our most hidden and sensitive wounds.

Shapiro says, ‘If we are interested in delving deeply, if we are students of the observed life, we’d best take a good hard look at these easy fallbacks. Repeated words. Familiar phrases. Consider them clues. When you discover them, slow down. In fact, stop. Become willing to press against the bruise – it’s there anyway – and see what it yields.’

That makes me wonder, why do I feel the need to constantly state that I’m exhausted in my journal entries? Is it because I am usually journaling first thing in the morning (6am) when I haven’t quite woken up and, quite literally, feel tired? Or is it easy to use a blanket term like ‘exhaustion’ to cover all the different negative emotions I feel – particularly in my job – like boredom, apathy, frustration or anger?

When my life isn’t going how I want it to go it’s easy to say I feel exhausted. But I think in many cases if I were to look closer, there would be more to it than that.

It’s not until I can be truly honest and confront these difficult emotions that I will make progress. The next time I go to write ‘I’m just so exhausted…’ I will pause and ask myself, is that what I am really feeling?

Have a look back through any journals you have and see if there are any patterns – any phrases or words that you tend to repeat. What might they be covering? Press against the bruise.

Creativity

Journal spotlight: Art journal

I’m going to start simply by saying that an art journal can be anything you want it to be, really.

In its most simple sense, an art journal is any kind of journal where you express yourself visually. Often art journals are mixed media – that is, a combination of elements such as collage, acrylic or watercolour paint, gouache, pencil, crayon, stamps, inks, etc.

I’ve spent the past two years trying to figure out exactly what an art journal is, at least for me. I’ve seen the beautiful works of people like Tamara Laport, the simple but touching pieces by Nicole Rae, the messy and inspiring sketchbooks of Lisa Sonora, and the gorgeous and striking works by people like Alena Hennessy and Hali Karla.

I’ve worked in sketchbooks, gluebooks, journals, binders, altered books… I’ve collaged, stamped, painted, drawn, written, sprayed, taped, watercoloured, lettered… and still I have struggled to define exactly what art journaling is.

I’ve struggled to find my own style and really claim my own art journaling approach.

Then, a dear friend of mine pointed out that I do have my own style – I just wasn’t acknowledging it.

You see, I had always thought that art journaling was not the same thing as visual journaling. In fact, here is an awesome video that discusses this point quite nicely.

So while I’ve been journaling visually for some time – in a similar sketchbook style to Lisa Sonora (if I may be so bold as to suggest that), I haven’t felt as though I have been art journaling, really, at all. Sure I was incorporating art techniques into my visual journaling, but it certainly wasn’t art.

Perhaps it’s the word ‘art’ in the name art journal – I mean, no pressure, right?!

I much prefer the term visual journal, or creative journal.

For a while, I saw an ‘art journal’ as more focused on particular techniques and creating a specific, visually pleasing outcome, and the term ‘visual journal’ as more about the process and self expression. Now… I’m not so sure.

When I saw Lisa Sonora had blown up images from her sketchbooks to put up onto the walls of her studio, a little thought crept into my head: maybe, just maybe, this could also be art? She says,

They’re not art…but they are artifacts of a creative journey. It’s like meditation, but with art supplies.

I don’t know. Seeing them up on the wall like that, they sure look like art to me. Surely they can be both?

As for my own messy journals – I may not have found a style that looks anything like the work of Tamara, or Alena, but I’ve got my own visual approach. Who’s to say it’s not art, in some form? And it will continue to evolve over time, as I do. I figure as long as I’m expressing myself visually, well, that’s all that matters.

My advice to anyone who wants to start an art journal: grab some art supplies you like (acrylic paint is a good one, as are stamps) and play. That’s it. I was going to give some lengthy list of instructions but really, you don’t need them and they would only serve to confuse or intimidate someone starting out. Find an artist you love and copy their style for a bit, then copy the work of someone else. Do this many times over and you will start to find your own style. Give yourself permission, try to get past the fear of creating, and practice being imperfect. You don’t have to show anyone, or you can join 15 Facebook groups and show the world. There is no right or wrong way.

Do you keep an art journal? How do you define art journal? Do you see art journaling and visual journaling as different things? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

How journaling can change your life

I’ve been journaling since I was ten years old, but it wasn’t until I committed to a regular journaling practice that things in my life began to really shift.

I’ve maintained that practice for four years now and in that time a lot has changed in my life. I don’t think it is a coincidence that these positive changes have happened since I’ve been journaling consistently.

In fact, my experience has shown me that regular journaling is one of the best tools we can use to transform our lives.

It might sound a bit too easy, but it’s true: anyone can use their journaling practice to create positive changes, overcome fear and bring their dreams to life.

Early on in my journaling practice I noticed some pretty massive changes in my life. In the space of two years, the following things happened:

  • I’ve begun and maintained a creative practice, including making and sharing my art
  • I’ve left a full-time job that was slowly sucking the life out of me
  • I’m more at peace and happier than I have been in a long time (as someone who has been through many depressive episodes in her life, I’ve not even been close to feeling that way since developing my journaling habit)
  • My relationship with my partner has improved dramatically (as a side note, he proposed to me shortly after I began my journaling practice, which I also do not think is a coincidence)
  • I’ve started and maintained a writing practice through a blog, something I’ve wanted to do for years
  • My partner and I have made our tiny house dream a reality – building our own house together after years of talking about it
  • I’ve created an online business using my writing, teaching and coaching skills
  • My partner and I have found a way to purchase our dream property and move to the countryside

In short: many of my long-term dreams have become a reality.

How is this possible? What is it about journaling, the simple act of writing down our thoughts and feelings regularly, that has allowed my life to change in such dramatic ways?

It comes down to a few simple factors.

Getting clear

Each morning when I open my journal to write, I find myself writing about what’s happening in my life: what I’m doing, how things are going, what’s working and what’s not.

I write about the things I dream of, what I hope for, what I long for.

This is what happens when you journal regularly: each and every day you show up to the page, you refine and clarify exactly how you want your life to look as you bring into your awareness the things that are and aren’t working in your life as it is.

You also get clear about the things standing between you and the life you want: journaling encourages you to dig deep so that you can uncover your doubts, worries and fears.

Before long, it becomes clear what it is that you want and what it is that is standing in your way.

It takes honesty and courage to get clear, but the more regularly you journal, the more clarity you will get.

  • Try this: make lists of the following:
    • What’s working in my life
    • What isn’t working in my life
    • What I want my life to look like
    • What I long for

Reread these lists as you journal over the coming days.

Connecting

Some believe that journaling, like meditation and other spiritual practices, allows you to connect with the divine or a greater power than yourself. Others believe that journaling allows you to connect with your own higher self, a source of inner wisdom. Some believe these two are the same thing.

God, inner wisdom, the universe, the divine… call it what you like, but something magical happens when you show up to the page often enough. You open up a channel to a higher source of wisdom, faith and courage to which you wouldn’t normally have access.

When you journal regularly, this connection is strengthened and can become a valuable source of guidance. This connection allows for inspiration. It helps you to feel strong and courageous. It reminds you to have faith even when you might falter.

Through this connection to something bigger, you can often find the answers you seek. By asking questions in your journal and being open, answers will come.

Fostering a daily connection with our highest and wisest self can only be a good thing.

  • Try this: take some quiet time alone with your journal. Decide how you would best like to address the source of higher wisdom you seek (e.g. God, inner self, universe, divine, etc). Then, write to this source asking a question you want the answers to. Be clear, direct and honest. Once you have written your question, take a moment to pause and sit in silence. Whatever comes to mind, write this down. This is the response. Be open to whatever you hear and allow it to come freely.

Overcoming resistance

So you get clear about what you want, you find the answers and guidance you need, but what about actually taking steps to make things happen?

The journal is a powerful tool to help you overcome resistance. Resistance is usually just fear disguised as procrastination, excuses, distractions, perfectionism, and other similar states.

Resistance is usually present when doing something new, making a change, or stepping out of your comfort zone in any way. Resistance is the reason so many wonderful dreams don’t become reality.

But I have found the fastest way to kill resistance is to expose it. Journal about it. Get honest and let it all out.

Why? Because when you write down your fears, when you put them into words and onto paper, they lose their power. They are no longer these big scary ideas floating around in your mind – they are mere sentences and words. And most of the time, you will see that they aren’t that scary after all.

  • Try this: in your journal, answer this question: what is stopping you from creating a life you love? Write honestly and let all your fears pour out onto the page. Don’t worry if they sound silly; just write whatever it is that is bothering you. When you have finished, write an affirmation encouraging yourself to be bold.

Staying in alignment

The daily act of writing means that you are regularly checking in with yourself. Instead of pushing through busy days without a moment to stop and think, the act of journaling forces you to slow down and reflect. It brings awareness to your life.

Each day that I show up to my journal and complain about something that is not working in my life is a reminder that I’m not doing enough of the things that bring me joy, that are taking my closer to my dreams.

Journaling daily – checking in with yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually on a regular basis – can help you to stay on track.

Why? Because it highlights areas of incongruity in your life. You may journal about how much you hate being in debt but then in the same entry write about how you love shopping. What may not be obvious in your daily life can be easily highlighted when you write it down – and especially so when you write it down often.

Journaling regularly reminds you of your goals and values and brings awareness to your thoughts and actions. Slowly but surely, the two will come into alignment and, as long as you keep journaling, they will stay that way.

  • Try this: for the next week, write every day for 15 minutes at the same time. Use this time to check in with yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually. How are you feeling? What is on your mind? What is your current energy? Note down anything else you want to.

I’m not the same person I was a year ago and it’s all because I pick up my pen to write and create for 30 minutes each day.

Why not give it a try?

Creativity

Journal spotlight: Morning pages journal

What are morning pages?

Basically, they are three pages written by hand first thing each morning. They are simply stream-of-consciousness and can be repetitive, whiny, complaining – there are no rules for the content, simply that you get out whatever is in your head onto the page, without stopping, for three pages. Another way of looking at them is as a ‘brain dump’ to get everything out of your mind. It is the junk in our mind that blocks us creatively, which is why the pages work well as a tool for creative recovery.

Julia Cameron – author of The Artist’s Way – says that morning pages are not negotiable:

Never skip or skimp on morning pages. Your mood doesn’t matter… We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t.

Some people swear by morning pages and won’t start the day without them. Others have tried many times to get into the habit, but can’t quite find their morning pages groove.

One of the other guidelines that Cameron recommends for the morning pages is to not reread them, at least not for a while – in fact, some people throw them out. This emphasises how they are intended as an exercise in emptying the mind of junk (something we would throw out) rather than gathering memories or recording our lives (something we would keep). Cameron describes morning pages as the following:

Three pages of whatever crosses your mind – that’s all there is to it. If you can’t think of anything to write, then write “I can’t think of anything to write…” Do this until you have filled three pages.

However, some believe that morning pages can hold wisdom in them, if we want to go back over them at some point. This makes sense. After writing them for a period of time – such as three months, say – if we look back over them then some things will become quite apparent: things we continuously complain about but never do anything about, patterns and habits that are not serving us, ideas for creative projects, areas in which we have grown, etc. Used in this way, the morning pages are not only a tool for creative recovery, but also a tool for personal growth.

Some people might not keep a separate journal for their morning pages – in fact, they might do their morning pages and journaling in the one notebook (and yes, morning pages and journaling are two different things). This is what I do, because I don’t strictly follow the morning pages ‘rules’ and I want to keep what I’ve written.

For those that are consistent with their morning pages, I can see how doing them in a cheap school exercise or composition notebook would make sense, because you would go through them pretty quickly. If you are using a beautiful journal for writing morning pages, you might find yourself trying to keep your writing neat, tidy and possibly even censoring parts of what you are saying, so as not so ruin your nice journal with whining or negative thoughts. In that sense, the morning pages won’t work nearly as well.

If you’re new to morning pages, I would recommend getting a cheap notebook to use. Make sure it is not something precious. You are going to be writing quickly, you are going to be writing about any and everything – sometimes it won’t even make sense. You are going to end up repeating yourself and probably complaining. But that’s ok – in fact, that’s good, because that is the whole point of the morning pages – to get that out of your head. It’s better on the page than in your head. Cameron says,

There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing… Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid or too weird to be included.

And after all this, you might be wondering why even go to the trouble of writing three pages each morning? Besides unblocking your creative energy as mentioned above, morning pages have two other, very powerful outcomes:

  1. You will start to get sick of hearing yourself complain about the things you don’t like in your life, and this will lead you to take action. As Cameron says: ‘It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action. The pages lead us out of despair and into undreamed-of solutions.’
  2. You will connect with your own inner wisdom and intuition, which can guide you in any area of your life: ‘Anyone who faithfully writes morning pages will be led to a connection with a source of wisdom within.’

Do you write morning pages? Or would you like to start? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Creativity

7 Things you can do right now to create a daily journaling habit

The start of a new year brings the chance to re-establish good habits. For me, this of course includes my daily journaling practice – a chance to recommit to my favourite ritual. Most importantly, I want to make sure that it is a priority each day.

I want to make sure that this year I will continue to maintain my daily journaling habit and not let it get lost in the chaos of life.

I’ve journaled pretty consistently for over two years now (and inconsistently for over a decade before that), so I know the best ways to make sure I stay on track. If you’ve struggled to make your journaling a priority every day, then these tips will help you.

1. Schedule it into your day

This might seem a bit obvious, but when you’re busy it’s easy to not make daily journaling a priority, or to just simply forget in the busyness of life. You could write it down with your important tasks for the day into your paper planner, or put it into your Google calendar to get a reminder. Even writing it on a post-it note to stick on your desk would be helpful.

2. Set your alarm earlier

One of the best ways to make sure your daily journaling gets done (much like exercise, so they say) is to do it first thing. And if you just don’t feel like you have the time, then set your alarm 10, 20 or 30 minutes earlier. It is such a positive way to start the day – to connect with your deeper self, get clear headed and invite purpose and inspiration into the rest of your day. Alternatively, get ready for bed a little bit earlier then spend a few minutes journaling before switching off the light. This is what I’m doing right now and it’s a wonderful way to wind down for bed.

3. Tell someone else

We all know that one of the best ways to stay accountable towards a goal is to share our goal with someone else. Maybe you can find a journaling buddy with whom you can share journal inspiration. Or join a group of like-minded journalers who have the same goal of daily journaling. Check in with them each day and share your progress. It can also be really inspiring to see others working in their journal each day – and it can push you to keep going with yours. Sharing your journaling journey can be a great way to keep you feeling inspired.

4. Prep your journal

This can be as simple as putting the journal and pen on your nightstand so you naturally pick it up before going to sleep, or it can mean preparing a background to write on when you get the time. For example, if you like to write in the mornings, you might prepare a background before bed the night before, so it’s ready to go when you wake up. If you like to use prompts, print out a bunch at once, maybe for the week ahead, and glue them onto a few pages. Then you can just pick up and go!

5. Work in the cracks

I can’t remember where I heard this phrase, but it makes so much sense: we think we need a good 30 minutes undisturbed to sit down and journal, but really it can be done in bits and pieces throughout the day. For example, if you leave a journal open to a spread you’re working on, it can be easy to swipe a bit of paint across the paper right before you head out to work. That literally only takes 2 minutes. Then when you get home and the paint is dry, you might stamp a few images or glue something down while you’re waiting for dinner to cook. Watching a movie with your partner that night you might scribble a few words down. Before you know it, you’ve got a page done.I find this really helpful when I’m busy – I will leave my journal lying open on my desk and then when I get a few minutes – say, if I’m waiting for the kettle to boil – I will scrape a bit of paint across the page and put down a piece of washi tape. It doesn’t have to be all done at once! Chip away when you have a minute or two free.

6. Take your journal with you

This can offer another opportunity to work in the cracks. If you’re sitting at the bus stop, or you’ve got 10 minutes free on your lunch break, or you talk to people on the phone a lot and doodle on a notepad – work in your journal! It can be mindless doodles or deep and thought-provoking -it’s up to you. So often I find myself killing time at work or waiting places (doctor’s waiting rooms, at cafes when meeting friends etc) that could be used creatively. I now take a tiny notebook with me for on-the-go journaling.

7. Get clear on your why

You won’t be able to create a regular journaling practice unless you really want to. It takes commitment to showing up each day, working through stuckness and dealing with the discomfort of trying new things and facing your thoughts and feelings. If you do want to create a daily journaling habit, get clear on why, so it’s easy to keep showing up. It’s not enough to just think it would be fun, because some days it isn’t. Some days it’s frustrating, disappointing, even painful. But it can bring so much growth, it can help you to create a better life and become a better person, and it can nourish you creatively. For me, those things are reason enough to show up each day, even when I’m busy. What is your why?

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If you’ve maintained a regular journaling practice most days, what do you use to help you stay on track?