This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
“Journaling, just isn’t for me!”
Right or wrong?
Some people find the idea of adding regular entries to a journal intimidating. For them the idea of attempting to develop a journaling habit is seen as an activity that is doomed to failure. Maybe they have tried previously, but not knowing how to journal, only for it to fall by the wayside and be left gathering dust along with many other good intentions and resolutions. Maybe they just aren’t suited to journaling.
Or just maybe it is something else. If the writer cannot see the value in journaling, if he/she is just going through the motions because they have heard that it is something that great writers do, then without a solid commitment, without a real expectation of return, self defeating thoughts creep in. Destructive thoughts like "I can't set a specific time" or "I'll forget" erode the initial commitment and daily entries soon become weekly, then monthly, before eventually stopping altogether.
This is a malady that can also afflict someone possessing a stronger commitment. A writer who is starting a personal journal or who is using a writer’s journal in the manner of a personal journal can run into the doldrums. Until personal journaling becomes a regular habit, benefits do not become apparent and some benefits take a good while to manifest. If then the writer fails to perceive or experience a benefit from his or her labours, the desire to add further entries will diminish. This extends the time before benefits become evident and causes further resistance against journaling.
If you've tried journaling, and you've made the effort to write entries every day, you’ve committed the details of your days to the page and you've either experienced little or no benefit, and eventually the task just became a chore. Then you've been doing personal journaling and that is not the right sort of journaling for you and I would suggest you try something different. I would suggest you try your hand at creative journaling.
There is an essential component of any journal writing and that component is pleasure. This comes in three complementary flavours, first is the pleasure gained whilst making an entry, second is the pleasure derived whilst revisiting previous entries and the final pleasure that of feeling the creative spark ignite inside you as you revisit and recall your entries.
The first pleasure is nearly always present, unless you are writing the equivalent of a shopping list, the action of capturing a moment or thought or feeling is always pleasing.
“The very words I set down here… look a little skimpy on the page, but they carry secret pages in them.”
James Wright from “Writers and Their Notebooks”, Diana M. Raab
The second pleasure that comes when revisiting depends on how well you captured the previous event. Entries that are evocative and full will always make you recall more than what was recorded. This does not mean massive entries, it means evocative entries.
The final pleasure occurs when entries begin to unfold in your mind, when they open a door to new possibilities and in doing so, allow you to experience much more than what was simply placed on the page.
If all of these pleasures are missing, then the writer will not be able to feel attraction towards journaling and is sure to stop quickly.
If the journal is not being reviewed, then the writer is simply keeping a diary.
If a journal is being reviewed but is not ‘speaking’ to the writer, then its contents are just details and taking a step towards awareness can remedy that.
Creative journaling is performed constantly as life presents itself and the methods used facilitate the writer in experiencing the important last two pleasures. It requires that you practice awareness in order to fill your entries with evocative images and thoughts, and that you invest time in revisiting old entries. It demands that you make some personal changes but all this is not an onerous price, since the practice provides almost immediate and nearly always positive feedback. Subsequently, once you can appreciate the tool held in your hands, the price is paid willingly.
Creative journaling is not for everybody and indeed it may not be for you, but everybody has a logical side and an artistic side and you owe it to the other you, the artistic you, to attempt creative journaling and to discover just what a more creative you can achieve.
Photo credit: Wipeout, by Kellinahandbasket.
"Journaling might not be for you" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.