Creativity

Journal spotlight: Personal journal

The personal journal is your ‘dear diary’ sort of journal, where you pour all your thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, fears and doubts onto the page.

Some people argue that the terms ‘journal’ and ‘diary’ have different meanings – that a diary is to record daily events and experiences, whereas a personal journal is a lot more, well, personal.

Regardless of what you call it, it’s the sort of notebook where you are usually quite candid and it’s the kind of thing you tend to keep private.

I started keeping a journal (although at the time I called it a diary) when I was about 11 years old. At that time it mostly was a daily record of events, with a few thoughts and feelings mixed in. Slowly I started to include crushes, conflicts with friends, worries about the future, feelings of inadequacy.

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My first journal, started at age 11. Somehow this tiny notebook lasted me for two years!

I didn’t think much about what I was doing or why I was doing it, although it was right when I started middle school (what we call intermediate school in NZ). I think I did it to have a record of my experiences, but the practice grew into so much more.

My personal journaling practice has grown and evolved over the past two decades.

I spent most of my teens and early twenties turning to my journal mostly in times of trouble: breakups, career concerns, friendship dilemmas, existential crises. It was my go-to place to process these things, and I almost always felt better for doing so. When I was deep in a depression a few years back, simply writing in my journal each day made me feel much better.

Now I keep a personal journal for many reasons, including processing emotions more effectively, developing a sense of self compassion, overcoming fears and creative blocks, and increasing my self confidence, among other things.

I certainly still turn to my personal journal in tough times as I’ve always done, but I write a lot more often and explore many more positive things too.

It functions as a record of my life, a portable therapist (accessible 24/7 and a fraction of the cost!), a friend and mentor, a creative coach, a life coach, a container of fears, dreams, secrets, and the mundane.

If you’d like to keep a personal journal, it’s very simple.

You write by hand (it can certainly be done digitally but I think there are many benefits to writing by hand). You write stream-of-consciousness, you write honestly, and you try not to edit yourself. You don’t share what you write with others.

You can literally write about whatever you want, but the aim is to include personal aspects. If you want to describe your day, great, but bring in the personal elements of it too – how did you feel today? What did you think about? What do you hope for tomorrow, or next week, or next year? What bothered you today? And so on.

There really aren’t that many rules when it comes to keeping your own personal journal. You can write as often or as little as you like, however, writing more often than not can be very rewarding.

I think the most important thing is to write for yourself, not for someone else – that means keeping the journal private and writing openly and honestly without censoring yourself.

Do you keep a personal journal? What do you include in it? Share your personal journaling experiences in the comments.

Creativity

Why fear is a friend, not an enemy

Last night a had a dialogue with fear in my journal. It was simply a case of me writing what I wanted to say to fear, then waiting to hear what fear had to say back, and writing that down.

I’ve done dialogues in the past, and they always feel a little silly. Each time I go to use this journaling technique I think, but isn’t it just me writing those words?

Well, yeah, of course. But the fear is a part of me.

And this turned out to be an incredibly useful exercise.

You see, it started out as a rant. I’ve been pushing myself to dream bigger lately, with creating an online course and offering my coaching services online, as well as redesigning the website. I have a lot of ideas and inspiration floating around at the moment.

And then fear comes along and – as Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic – screams the one word it knows: STOP. STOP STOP STOP.

So when I sat down to talk to fear last night, I was all ready to give it a piece of my mind. I was sick of it getting in my way, ruining my plans and basically just crapping all over everything.

But the strangest thing happened.

I found within myself a sort of compassion for my fear.

It is so worried about me, about protecting me and keeping me safe. It’s like a little child who just wants us to hide under the bed. Instead of yelling at it and pushing it away, I took a moment to see things from fear’s perspective. No wonder it’s so worried – going after big dreams can be a scary thing!

And then I realised another thing – I actually need fear. Fear is a great indicator that I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Whenever fear starts to pop up, I know that I’m growing and challenging myself.

So I reassured fear that I wasn’t trying to get rid of it, but that I just needed it to trust me. I said:

But here’s the thing: I’m going to keep going even when you feel like stopping. And I know we will be safe, because of faith. I have faith that things will work out – I certainly wouldn’t be asking you to quiet down and let me continue if I didn’t have faith! So I need you to trust me, to trust that I know things will be ok. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now and I am absolutely on your side. It’s just that I have access to information that you don’t – and that’s my faith. You know, if you worked along with faith, we could do some amazing things.

I’ve always thought of faith and fear as polar opposites – natural enemies. One of my favourite sayings is, ‘let your faith be bigger than your fear’. But what if they could help each other?

Imagine that – getting faith and fear to work together!

Fear pops up and says ‘stop! This is too scary!’ and faith says, ‘thanks for that – we’re definitely on the right path then. Ok, we can keep going, just trust me.’

Maybe this sounds silly to you. It feels a little silly as I write this, in all honesty. But I can tell you one thing for sure: I feel so much better for talking with my fear, for reassuring it that I need it and it is heard.

And from now on, I’m going to approach fear in a much different way: less anger, resentment and irritation at its arrival, and more compassion, reassurance and trust instead.

How does fear hold you back? How could fear become a friend to support you?

Creativity

Overcoming fear in the creative process

4 ways that fear can hinder the creative process and what to do about it

Of all the things I’ve thought about myself, I never would have thought to describe myself as ‘fearful’.

But, when I began a regular dialogue with myself by journaling every day, I started to see how much fear held me back in my life. I have lived a lot of my life in fear, mostly without knowing it.

As I developed my journaling and creative practice, I noticed a strange thing happening. As much as I loved creating, I also found a great deal of resistance towards it. I would sign up for the latest course, buy the art supplies I’d been lusting after, then stop.

The tricky thing about fear is that it has so many disguises, we sometimes don’t even recognise it. I wasn’t not creating because of fear! How silly. No, I was just really busy, you see. Plus, I wanted to do it just right, so I was waiting until I had the skills and time to perfect it. Also, it was really important that the house was clean and I checked my emails before starting.

No, it wasn’t about fear at all, right?

Nonsense. It was fear all along.

But because of the way that fear is so sneaky it took me a while to realise what was actually going on. Resistance is fear. Avoidance is fear. Perfectionism is fear. Procrastination is fear. It was just fear in its many disguises.

I suspect I am not alone in battling the many faces of fear when creating. I wanted to share some of the things I have learnt and the tricks I have used to beat fear at its own game.

This is one of the easiest ways fear gets us, because it can seem so legitimate. Of course you have to clean the house, that’s not fear – that’s being responsible. And you’ve been meaning to organise your bookshelves for ages anyway, so now is as good a time as any. And today is probably a good day to sort out the dry cleaning you’ve had waiting to take in. And of course, you can’t begin until your desk is tidy.

STOP!

It is amazing what we can convince ourselves to do when we are procrastinating on a project. I can put off folding the laundry for days if I feel like it, then as soon as it’s time to start writing a blog post I can hear the laundry calling my name.

Or, it could go the other way: I sign in to my computer to see the next video in the art course I’m doing, and before I realise it I’ve spent two hours on Facebook and another hour reading blogs.

That’s the thing about the internet – it is the ultimate procrastinator’s tool. It can start with a simple ‘I’ll just check my email’ and then you fall into the procrastination vortex, only to resurface an hour later wondering what happened.

But procrastination is nothing more than fear, particularly when it comes to the creative process. You need to be wise to the signs and look it right in the eye.

Try this:
  • Make a list of all the ways you procrastinate. Be as specific as possible.
  • Post this list somewhere you can see it so that you can be aware of when you are procrastinating.
  • If you’re prone to online distraction, use an app that blocks access you the internet for set periods of time (yes, you will survive).
  • Something a bit different: In your allotted ‘creative time’, deliberately do all the things on your list (or as many as possible) instead of creating. Procrastination is often an unconscious process, so once you start trying to procrastinate, it usually stops working.

There is a lot more to procrastination than what I’ve covered. For more amusing and insightful reading on procrastination in general, you can’t go past this article and then this one on Wait But Why. Yes, I spent some time reading those posts instead of writing this one.

Perfectionism

This one is a bit tricky because it can be quite deeply ingrained, especially if you are a bit of a Type A personality or prone to perfectionism in many areas of your life. This is something I struggle with constantly when creating.

In fact, I like to buy spiral-bound notebooks for art journaling because I can always rip a page out if I ‘mess it up’. In my mind, working in properly bound books is tantamount to getting a tattoo on my face. It cannot be undone! It takes all my strength to just create anyway.

But your work will never be perfect. And that is why perfectionism is one of the most destructive ways we stop ourselves from creating – because it is based on a myth: that our work could possibly be perfect, if we just try hard enough.

No. That’s a lie that fear tells us.

And in believing that, we are really short-changing ourselves because often we know that if we don’t start it, we won’t mess it up. If we keep it in our minds, it can remain perfect. I love this line:

Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly – Robert H. Schuller

Or, stated more simply: a done something is better than a perfect nothing.

Try this:
  • Buy yourself the cheapest notebook/journal/supplies possible. This should take away the ‘preciousness’ of them. Fill them with wild abandon and then buy another cheapie.
  • Do something poorly on purpose. Don’t try to make it good – just do it as if you didn’t really care. Then do another and another. Practice being ok with not being perfect.
  • Make a copy of the quote/saying above and place it somewhere prominently in your workspace.
  • Something a bit different: I think that the benefits from journaling or art journaling are often found in the process of creating, not in what we create. When you sit down to create, try to focus on the process instead of the product. Take a few deep breaths before beginning and bring your attention to the present. Eliminate any other distractions. Take pleasure in the movement of the pen across the page, the sweep of the brush. And when you are done, throw the finished product away.

Avoidance

This could potentially have been put under the heading of Procrastination, but I wanted to pay particular attention to the way that avoidance can manifest itself in other ways.

Similar to procrastination, we can often find ways to avoid doing what we deeply long to do, simply because we feel fearful. In particular, I find busyness and numbing to be two powerful avoidance tactics.

Busyness is symptomatic of life in the twenty-first century. We are more overwhelmed by professional, social, familial and financial commitments than ever before. Add in possible health commitments, domestic commitments and other distractions and it starts to become impossible to imagine fitting in time for a creative practice.

But if you want to make time to create, you will – you can. Make sure that you are not using busyness as an excuse to avoid creating.

Numbing is another tactic that can help us avoid creating.leap

Creating is scary stuff: we have to be comfortable with making mistakes, growing, being vulnerable. It’s easy to avoid the dangers of this if we just watch TV, or have a drink, or go shopping, or have another nap. These things can take the edge off our feelings of fear, and disconnect us from ourselves.

The scary thing is that we can’t just numb some feelings – when we numb feelings of fear and vulnerability, we also numb good feelings.

It is only through facing the scary feelings that come with creating that we get to experience the growth, inspiration, accomplishment and bliss it can bring. That’s not to say that all creative experiences will be a bed of roses, but, more often than not, facing the fear and vulnerability head-on leads to a rewarding experience.

Try this:
  • Literally schedule in creative time. Write it in your planner, on the family calendar, put an alert in your phone – whatever. Tell your friends/partner/self that this time is sacred and will not be given up. Try to make it the same time every day/week so that you and others know that Sunday evening is creative time and you are unavailable then. Getting into a routine can help to make creativity a habit.
  • Make a list of all the ways that you numb. My main numbing activities are watching hours of TV episodes, eating when not hungry and oversleeping. Yours might include online shopping, watching lots of movies and drinking. Whatever these numbing habits are (no judgement please!), you need to bring awareness to them.
  • I have found journaling to be invaluable in bringing awareness to my numbing habits. Often I will sit down to journal and think, ‘I don’t have much to say, there isn’t a lot going on’. This is usually a sign to me that I’ve been numbing in some way or other, because I don’t seem to be feeling much. Try journaling regularly each day to check in with what numbing activities you have been doing and how they are making you feel.
  • Get comfortable with discomfort, and go gently: accept that you will feel some feelings you may not enjoy, but that they cannot harm you and they will pass. Be gentle with yourself.

Inner Critic

I couldn’t write a post about creativity and fear without mentioning the inner critic. While not necessarily a separate category from those above, it does deserve special attention.

The inner critic tends to rear its head once you actually start the work. It’s the voice inside that tells you your work is no good. Often it will spiral into a rant along a the lines of: this sucks, you can’t do this, you’re worthless, just stop.

It’s a shame that once you have overcome the obstacles of perfectionism, procrastination and avoidance to actually start creating, the inner critic is waiting to pounce. You’ve managed to sit down and get to work, but the inner critic makes it so painful and unpleasant you want to stop.

The inner critic is once again based in fear. Often the inner critic and perfectionism can work hand-in-hand to make the whole process one big crapfest.

All I can say is this: the sooner you learn to deal with your inner critic’s wily ways, the sooner you will make progress creatively.

Try this:
  • Draw a picture of your inner critic or find an image that represents how you think it looks. Give it a funny hat, or a monocle, or a silly bow tie. You could even give it a name, so that when you’re creating and it speaks up you can think, oh that’s just Dave doing his job. Silly Dave. This takes a lot of the power away from it.
  • Talk to your inner critic as you create. Every time you have a thought along the lines of this is no good, respond out loud by saying something like ‘thank you, but I will keep going anyway’.
  • Write a dialogue between you and your inner critic in your journal. Ask it questions, tell it how you feel, stand up to it! You might be surprised by what it says!

* * *

Artists and creators have struggled with various forms of fear for centuries, and will continue to do so. It is natural as part of the creative process because being creative requires vulnerability and risk.

The topic of fear and creativity is widely discussed and this post barely scrapes the surface – there is so much more I could say! For further reading, check out this book or this book or even this book!

In the meantime, hopefully these ideas will help you to get around fear and give you a way into your creativity.

Creativity

Three simple journaling prompts for when you’re stuck

Many of us want to create a regular journaling routine but worry about what to say. Journaling prompts can help with this.

We know that journaling regularly can create amazing life changes, but where do we start? Do we just talk about our day? Even that can get a bit boring.

As someone who journals every day without fail, I’ve come up with a few starters that help me when facing the blank page.

I prefer to let me words flow naturally but when I find myself feeling stuck, I turn to these simple journaling prompts.

Sometimes the words come quickly and easily and I can write for hours. Other times I write the date and find my mind drifting off to think about what’s for dinner. In these moments, I find the following simple journaling prompts to be invaluable. They always lead me to something.

1. Right now…

Take a deep breath and take in your surroundings. Use all your physical senses – what do you see, smell, hear, taste, feel? It might be the sound of birds outside, the smell of incense, the bitter taste of coffee, the sound of your pen as it moves across the page, the feel of the chair beneath you.

Then add in emotions and other non-physical senses. How are you feeling internally?

Just write in stream-of-consciousness, in whatever order things come to you. There are no rules, there is no correct way to do this. It is simply a ‘way in’.

A lot of the time when I start with this prompt other things will come up and I will simply follow them. It can lead to hours of writing, simply by getting the pen moving and warming up. But other times I don’t get much further than ‘right now’, and that’s ok too. Let it happen however it wants to.

2. I wish…

This is one of my favourites. It gets me excited thinking about the future, about what could be. It gets me thinking about what I’m working towards. Sometimes, it simply acts as a little escape from my daily life – a chance to dream big and imagine a different reality.

Either way, it can have a positive effect because it gets us focusing on what we do want, rather than what we don’t want. The more we focus on what we do want in our lives, the more likely we are to draw it towards ourselves.

You can be serious with this one and write down what you really want to work towards, or you can be playful and imagine more outlandish possibilities. Do what feels right for you in the moment.

3. I don’t want to write about…

Oftentimes when we are facing the blank page and feeling stuck, it’s because we are avoiding writing about something. There might be an issue at work, a nagging health problem, a tense situation at home.

Whatever it is, I can guarantee that you will feel better writing about it. This may not happen immediately – it might take several sessions of coming back to the page – but ultimately, I always feel better for facing something rather than avoiding it.

Start simply. If there are several things you’re avoiding, write a bullet-pointed list. Then pick one and free write about this. Set a timer if that helps. Even 15 minutes of getting it all out can be therapeutic.

A lot of the time we find that actually the thing we have built up so big in our minds is not really that big at all. By seeing it down on the page, it takes some of the power away. Not only that, but solutions can come a lot more easily when it’s down on the page.

*  *  *

I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of showing up to the page even if you feel like you’ve got nothing to say. The positives come from building a creative routine, and keeping that channel to your inner self open.

Next time you’re feeling stuck, try one of these simple journaling prompts to get you going.

Happy journaling!

Creativity

Creativity: lover on the side or lover in the center?

In Page after Page, Heather Sellers asks, ‘Is your writing life going to be a lover in the center of your life? The thing you pulse toward, the fever in your soul? Or is your writing life more of a casual crush, something you think about, but don’t do much about?’

I would ask you the same thing, but about all creative pursuits – whatever sets your heart on fire. Is it a lover at the center of your life?

For me, it’s creative journaling… and a bunch of other creative interests I have difficulty categorising:

  • Painting
  • Writing fiction
  • Creating found poetry
  • Creating inspiration cards
  • Blogging
  • Typography/handwriting
  • Collage and mixed media
  • Visioning journals
  • Crafting – using stamps and washi tape and stickers…

These are the things I ‘pulse toward’. These are lovers at the center of my life. How do I know? Well, it’s much like a love affair:

  • I can’t focus on my job.
  • I don’t want to make plans in case I can spend that time with my ‘lover’.
  • I need to see my lover each day.
  • I feel complete with my lover, like I don’t know how I lived before.
  • I get a rush of excitement at the thought of spending time alone with my lover.
  • Instead of checking my phone for texts, I’m checking my instagram and browsing blogs for inspiration.

Sometimes, the feeling is almost too much to bear. I want to spend every spare minute with my lover, but other things get in the way. Work gets in the way. Housework gets in the way. I’m tired after a day of taking care of others. We try to steal moments together, but it never feels like it’s enough.

I wish I had a solution to offer here. But I don’t. All I can say is that this feeling is so delicious, so exquisite; I have to keep following it. Nothing sets me alight like it. Even though I can’t spend all the time in the world with my lover, I know we are meant to be together. I need to just keep following my heart.

What is the lover at the center of your life?

Creativity

Simple journal prompt for when you’re short on time

Today when I got home from work I didn’t really feel like writing, but I still felt drawn to my journal.

When we are super busy or stressed it can be easy to feel like journaling is too much effort, or takes too much time.

Today I used a really simple journal prompt to just check in with how I’m doing, without writing pages and pages. It took all of 5 minutes.

I got this idea from a random piece of scrapbooking paper I had floating around.

All you do is simply this: create the following headings and jot down whatever comes to mind for each.

  • Loving
  • Wishing
  • Dreaming
  • Feeling
  • Thinking

It was great to help me get some of my thoughts and feelings down. Here’s a few of the things I came up with:

  • Loving – sleeping, glasses of wine, journaling, cuddles with my pup, cups of tea
  • Wishing – the holidays would get here faster (less than a week to go!)
  • Dreaming – about living in the tiny house with my partner and working less
  • Feeling – tired, stressed, overworked, grumpy
  • Thinking – about business ideas

Some positive, some not so positive. But it has made me feel better to get some of it off my mind and onto the page, even though I’m short on time and energy. And it has provided a concise little snapshot of where I’m at today.

Another thing you could do is add some prompts to include your senses:

  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Smelling
  • Tasting
  • Feeling

So a journal entry could look like this:

  • Hearing – the rain on the roof, the ticking clock
  • Seeing – the blank paper, the lamp light on my page
  • Smelling – dinner cooking
  • Tasting – a sip of coffee, sweetness
  • Feeling – the soft and warm blanket over my knees, the chair under me

If you’re short on time or energy, try using one of these lists/prompts to quickly and easily check in with yourself.

Creativity

Journaling vs. morning pages – what’s the difference?

 

I’ve kept a journal sporadically for twenty years and written morning pages on and off in the past.

Throughout my teens I wrote about crushes, friendships and fights, my biggest dreams for the future. In my early twenties I wrote about my disappointment with the real world, my struggle to meet ‘the one’ and how much I wanted my life to be different.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned my journal could be so much more than simply a place to pour my heart out. It could be used to transform and change my life dramatically, and that’s how I’ve been using it ever since. My goal with a year of journaling dangerously is to really focus this powerful tool into creating an even better life for myself.

I got the idea for the project from the awesome book, Paris Letters. The author has a ‘year of journaling dangerously’ where she writes morning pages every day for a year. Her life is transformed in unexpected ways.

What I’m doing isn’t strictly morning pages, but I am hoping for the same outcome: a life that looks different in a year’s time. The more I thought about how I wanted my project to look, the more I thought about journaling and morning pages and wondered, what really is the difference?

Morning Pages

The term ‘morning pages’ comes from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. She defines morning pages as: ‘three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness’. Unlike journaling, morning pages have a set of rules:

  • Write every day
  • Write by hand
  • Write first thing in the morning, before doing anything else
  • Write three pages
  • Write whatever comes to mind, without stopping, until you reach three pages (even if that means writing ‘I don’t know what to say’ for three pages)
  • Write whether you feel like it or not
  • Do not reread the morning pages

That’s a lot of rules, but Cameron assures us that doing so will lead to great insights, unblocked creativity, inspiration and a better relationship with ourselves. It’s designed as a sort of ‘brain dump’ – to get all the whiny, petty nonsense out of our brains and onto the page, so we are free to focus on other things.

Journaling

This is a very broad term and cannot be as easily defined as the morning pages. While morning pages are focused entirely on stream-of-consciousness writing, journaling can take many different forms. It’s up to each individual to define what their own journaling practice looks like, but here are some of the most common approaches to journaling.

Types of journaling

  • Written journaling, which can include:
  • Art journaling using some or all of the following:
    • Paint
    • Pencils
    • Pastels
    • Crayons
    • Stamps
    • Collage
    • Inks
    • Writing
    • Photos
  • A combination of any of the above

Journaling is entirely up to the journaler to define. We can journal in the morning, the evening, the middle of the night, or all of these times. We can start and stop, leave a page for days, pause to reflect, and reread as much as we like. Journaling is entirely open to interpretation, and I think the reason for this is that we all have a different purpose for journaling.

The purpose of journaling

The purpose of journaling goes beyond unblocking our creativity, which is the primary goal of morning pages. Journaling can include any and all of the following goals:

  • A form of creative self-expression
  • A way to connect with our inner, wiser selves
  • A way to connect with God
  • A way to process emotions
  • A place to explore goals and dreams for the future
  • A way to keep track of day-to-day appointments, events, goals, etc
  • A place to record favourite quotes, song lyrics, sayings
  • A way to learn more about who we are and what we desire
  • A method for tapping into inner resources such as courage and determination
  • Creating a channel to receive inspiration
  • A place to play with colour, composition, media, language – whatever we like

I’m sure there are many more reasons that people journal that I’ve not covered here. Feel free to share yours in the comments!

The difference

While journaling is very open to interpretation, morning pages come with a set of rules. We could certainly include morning pages as part of our journaling practice, but the same could probably not be said the other way around.

It seems to me that the greatest difference between the two is the rules with the morning pages, and possibly the purpose of each.

What matters, really, is that you find a way of journaling that works for you. If you find the guidelines of morning pages helpful, then do that. If you prefer the freedom to approach the page differently each day, then let yourself do that. The important thing is that you enjoy the process and that it brings some benefit to your life.

I believe that any form of journaling regularly (morning pages included) will bring all kinds of benefits to your life, regardless of what method you choose. Instead of worrying about whether you are doing morning pages ‘right’ or whether you are journaling ‘properly’ – just enjoy it, and keep showing up.

What does journaling mean to you? Do you do morning pages, journaling, or both? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Creativity

Join me in a year of journaling dangerously!

At the beginning of last year I was not in a good place. I was unhappy with my life and felt like something was really missing, although I couldn’t put my finger on what it was at the time.

On a whim, I enrolled in a journaling course. A friend of mine was doing it too, and we both fell in love with everything journaling.

After the course I continued to journal every day, and found my life turning around in unexpected ways. I no longer felt on the verge of tears for no reason every day. Instead, I wrote and poured my heart out on the page. I tuned into my own source of inner guidance and found out what my soul was really calling out for.

I tapped into a wellspring of creativity within that I didn’t even know existed. I kept up my daily journal writing, and began to blog, paint, collage, carve stamps… and my creativity blossomed. I felt constantly inspired to create, and I found courage inside me to try new things and share them with others.

For about a year after taking the journaling course that started it all, I was riding the inspiration high. Sure, I still had dark days and moments where I just wanted to crawl back into bed – but most days I turned to my journal for comfort and inspiration.

Notice there that I say ‘most days’. It’s easy when things start to feel good to let habits slide. It’s easy to relax into the things that bring pleasure without challenging yourself to move forward. And that is what happened to me: over a year later and my lovely daily journaling habit has slipped away. I check in with my journal a few days a week, but the joy and inspiration is short-lived, and fades quickly.

I know that the best way to tap into inspiration and courage is through my journal. And I know that these things come through a regular creative practice.

That’s why I’m launching my new project: a year of journaling dangerously!

main header

Simply put, I’m going to journal in some form every day for a whole year and I invite you to join me.

Some of you may remember that Journal Wild started out as Journaling Dangerously. Even though the blog has gone through some changes, the idea of journaling dangerously has never left me.

I see it as committing to showing up to the page every single day, even if all I do that day is write the date or swipe some paint on the paper. It is the act of showing up that makes it worthwhile.

So I send out an open invitation for anyone who wants to join me: all you have to do is show up to the page in whatever way you want, every day for a year.

Creativity

Feeling uninspired? Try the creativity switch

I’m in a wee bit of a creativity rut. Despite journaling every day, blogging every day and planning a creative business, I’m still feeling a bit uninspired.

I’m not sure why this is. But my partner told me about something interesting today: the ‘creativity switch’*.

Apparently, the idea is that when we get stuck in routines in our daily lives, we can also get stuck in a creativity rut. When we get up each day and go through the same motions in our lives, we start to coast without needing to think too much. We aren’t stimulated.

This is bad news for creativity.

But the solution is supposed to be simple: mix it up! Change things in your life – in a simple way. Switch things around.

For example, if you usually get up and take a shower and then have breakfast, do this the other way around. Or shower in the evening instead. Drive a slightly different way to work. Go to a different cafe to get your coffee.

By changing the order or the way in which we do things, we force ourselves to pay a bit more attention and notice things. This creates the chance for novelty and creativity.

You could also switch up your journaling. You could journal at a different time of day, or in a different spot. You could try a different pen, drink a different tea while journaling, or listen to different music. You could bring a new ritual into your journaling – perhaps light a candle or draw a tarot card, if you’re so inclined.

The change doesn’t have to be huge – just enough to make you notice.

Here’s a few things I’m thinking of changing:

  • The way I drive to work: taking a different route and seeing different scenery will be more interesting, I won’t have to sit in the same traffic, and I can spend more time singing in the car. Win!
  • New music: this always inspires me. An hour or so exploring on Spotify and I have a whole new playlist.
  • Journaling in different places: I’ve already mentioned how I’ve taken to journaling in my car, and that offers me the luxury of picking a different location and view each time.
  • Walking my pup in different neighbourhoods or different streets.
  • Trying different types of journaling in the morning: rather than just writing, I’m thinking of bringing drawing and watercolour into my morning journaling routine.

What tiny change could you make to get you paying attention again? How can you make a small switch in your routine to inspire you and reignite your creativity? Post your changes in the comments below.

*Note: full credit for this idea of the ‘creativity switch’ goes to Jay Abrahams.

Creativity

The problem with creative shoulds

Completing the 30 Life Lessons last month was full-on. It took a lot out of me, and while I didn’t plan on taking the following month off from blogging, I found myself delighted to have some time free just for me again.

I dove headfirst into multiple creative projects. So many that I started to get overwhelmed and disoriented. Before long, my free time started to feel a little crowded.

During July, I was involved in or contemplating these projects:

Not to mention I’ve been doing my own written journaling, thinking about the blog and newsletter, brainstorming ideas for creating my own online courses, thinking about making a bucket list journal, and mulling over novel ideas. Oh yes, and working and building a house too.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.

In an attempt to combat this next stepsoverwhelm, I made a list of all the things on my creative radar. I divided this list up into three categories:

  • Groups/courses
  • Blog
  • Personal

This way I could clearly make sense of all the directions I was feeling pulled.

Then I prioritised each item on the list in terms of what was urgent (for example, a live course that was running now only, or a membership that was about to expire) and what could wait.

Great, I thought. Now I know what to focus on and what to put aside for later.

I had created a sense of creative direction for myself. It was foolproof. If only I could have ignored the fact that the priorities I had selected were of no interest to me at that time, then it would have been perfect.

It was my own fault, really. I took a totally left-brain, logical, rational approach to an entirely creative and intuitive problem.

You see, the issue wasn’t that I had too much going on. The issue was that I felt like I should be doing something else, rather than listening to my creative intuition.

I felt like I should be making the most of a course I had signed up for.

I felt like I should be finishing off a set of prompts I had already begun.

I felt like I should complete one journal before beginning another.

I felt like I should try to get the most out of a course before it was over.

I felt like I should finish one course before doing another.

If I had just stopped to ask myself, inner compasswhat do I really really want to do? then I would have had my answer: paint. I want to paint, in journals. I want to fill journals with paint.

I see creativity like this: it is all over the place. Some days I want to write in my journal for hours, others I want to carve stamps. Some days I want to watch YouTube videos of my favourite painters at work, others I want to read about journal writing. Some days I want to play with paper and glue, others I want to write. Some days I want to do a bunch of prompts from a course, others I want to play with watercolours.

Each and every creative activity nourishes us as we need it to, when we need it to. The act of listening to our creative intuition in each moment allows us to do what is most important to us in that moment.

I have learnt that sometimes I am incredibly focused on one thing to the point of obsession. But it is these short bursts of creative focus that allow me to get things done.

Other times, I am a creative butterfly, hopping from one project to the next, not really finishing much but loving the variety.

Accepting this and allowing myself to follow my creative intuition has been incredibly freeing. Trusting that I will find the focus I need when I need it, I can enjoy the pull to new things for now.

The problem only really comes about when we insist that things be done a certain way – when we let our shoulds interfere.

I invite you to consider the following prompts in your journal:

What are your creative shoulds?

How do they limit you?

How can you give yourself more creative freedom?

What would happen if you followed your creative intuition and released the shoulds?

How can you put more trust in your creative process?