Journaling to Find Your Creativity
One of the most frequent questions I get is: “What journaling practice do you use?"
One of the most frequent questions I have gotten from readers is: “What journaling practice do you use?” Many readers have expressed interest in the practice and stated that they had recently started the practice.
There is a lot of information out there on journaling. There are many methods, systems, and pre-formatted journals that you can buy to get started today.
I have tried a handful of different systems over the years and have eventually settled into a routine with journaling that works for me 90% of the time.
I have tried free writing, using a specific pre-formatted journal, and event tried some of the journaling apps that are available.
I have also tried journaling on the notes app on my computer. While it was a convenient option, I routinely forgot to complete the journal at the end of the day.
This left me with a number of pages that were half-written. When it comes to journaling, I prefer to use a notebook and a pen to write by hand.
Below are all of the journaling methods I have used in the past. In the end, I created a hybrid system for journaling that works really well for me.
Method 1: Free Writing
This is the method I used on and off for years. Free writing is exactly as it sounds, free-form writing about whatever is consuming your thoughts. This is a great way to get an idea or a concern out of your head and onto paper and give it a place to go so as to not have it consuming your thought space.
Every evening I would jot down a few sentences about my day or whatever was bothering me, or encouraging me, or if there was something that I had an idea for that I was trying to work out. It was sporadic and not a great practice for me.
The free-form nature allowed me to write as little or as much as I wanted and it felt as though I needed a little more structure to the practice.
Method 2: Morning Pages
The second method I tried was “The Morning Pages” from The Artist’s Wayby Julia Cameron. The idea behind morning pages is to write by hand and complete three pages of stream of consciousness writing. The benefit of this is that you can write whatever crosses your mind.
It can be a great way to map out your day, do a complete brain dump to begin the day without carrying all of your thoughts with you, or just generate ideas and creative thinking.
For me, three pages hand written was a lot of writing, and it was not a practice I could keep up with. I found tremendous value in it, and recommend it to anyone who is suffering from writer’s block.
It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning, but if you are stuck, just write three pages by hand and you will quickly get back on track.
Method 3: The Five Minute Journal
I think I found this method through The Tim Ferriss Show. I was immediately taken with the idea that I could journal in a way to catalog my thoughts and a snapshot of my life, without having to spend more than 5 minutes on it.
As soon as I started completing the Five Minute Journal, I loved it. It was an easy practice to complete in the morning and at night before bed and was a good tool for reflection and learning.
After a while, I started to realize that something was missing from the practice and I wanted to learn a little more about whether I was on the right track with my career.
I needed a better way to track where I was spending my energy and what type of work was giving me energy and what kind of work was sapping em of energy.
Initially I added some free writing to my five minute journal and found that I was too sporadic to have real added value. Enter Alex Banayan.
Method 4: Alex Banayan’s 30-Day Journal
Okay, I am not sure if that’s exactly what Alex would want this called or not. Alex, if you are reading, hit me up and let me know what you would prefer I call this!
At it’s base level, Alex describes this method on The Broken Brain Podcast with Dhru Purohit. In Episode #67: The Keys to Unlocking Your Larger-Than-Life Dream, Alex Banayan talks about journaling for 30 days. In this journal you record the following ideas: Three things the gave you energy, three things that drained you of energy, and what you learned about yourself that day.
Simple, right? He recommends that you purchase a new notebook just for this purpose and do only this for 30 days. It seems like a short time but when you are journaling it can feel like a long time to be paying attention to every detail of your day.
I loved this idea and that you could track where your energy was flowing throughout the day. So I combined this in order to create my own method.
Method 5: The Mashup, my chosen method
Admittedly, this is not a new form of journaling. I just took two methods that worked for me and my goals and created a hybrid of the Five Minute Journal and Banayan’s 30-Day Method.
This combination works for me because it is simple. Not only does it only take a handful of minutes to complete, it really makes me think about my day and what type of work I enjoyed and what really wore me down.
It ends up looking something like this:
Today I am Grateful For…
Today would be great if…
My mantra for today
Three Amazing Things happened today…
Today could have gone better if…
What Gave me energy?
What drained me of energy?
What did I learn about myself?
Writing down what gave me energy is a great way to reinforce that I am treading the right path and making progress towards my goals. Noting the activities that drained me shows me opportunities for growth, or suggests that perhaps I am spending my time on the wrong thing.
This method has been the most consistent method for me for a while now and is the best way I have found to track and catalog what I am enjoying working on. I use this method in a handwritten journal.
I find that the tactility of writing by hand allows me to really connect with what I am writing.
Journaling is a powerful tool to track where you are excelling and where you need to put in a little extra effort. I think it is also a great reminder to look back and see where you were at any given moment in time and how life has changed.
I used journaling to keep track of my creative projects and see where my energy is resonating within any of those projects.
If you want to start journaling, I would recommend that you pick one of these methods and give it a two-week trial period. If it feels like it is working for you, keep going. If not, try another method for two weeks and see how it works for you.
I’d love to hear what journaling is working for you and I would love to to hear if there are other methods you use to journal. Please share your journaling experiments with me by tagging #32regrets on your social posts.
I hope you enjoyed this post — if you enjoyed it and want to connect you can reach me here via email or connect with me on social: Instagram, or on LinkedIn. Also, you can also find my book on Amazon and learn more about how creatives are reclaiming their creativity here.