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Journaling for Creativity.

What media to use for creative journaling?

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.

Introduction Contents What Media to Use for Creative Journaling

Gardenstown Harbour There is not one single media option that can do a complete job when considering how to do creative journaling. Journaling for creativity is a holistic activity that uses all the senses and engages your entire mind to experience the world with awareness, awe and wonder.

It is impossible for the creative journal of a writer or artist to be just a traditional writer’s notebook – the ‘journal’ from which traditional journaling gains its name. In addition to recording written notes, a creative journal should also be able to capture visual scenes, sounds, graphics, movement, physical items, emotions, aromas, fragile thoughts (for example, whilst driving), tactile items and more. To do this, the creative journaler will employ every possible medium in order to cover every option, from hi tech gadgets crammed with digital memories to boxes bursting with interesting objects.

An Example

Imagine you have been taken with a notion to go on an artistic break and journal about a traditional fishing village.

After travelling to such a village, you pick up your camera and capture everything that catches your eye. However, photographs will not show the deft hand skills of the fishermen; you will need a video for that. Similarly, photographs will not capture the raucous racket of the gulls or the hubbub of an auctioneer in the market; you need a sound recording for that. Neither will a photograph embrace the subtle textures of a sea-star, seaweed or the weathered cork discovered during a day’s journaling; fortunately a simple bag can do this. Aromas and scents such as those of tarred rope, sea-lavender or kelp could be captured in nothing more technical than a sealed container.

Yet, not one of these media is able to capture the emotions, or thoughts brought to mind as you experience the lined faces, the smell of fresh fish, the power of the sea, the salt spray on your face, your awareness of the past, your concerns for the village’s future… To record these you have to write, and to do that you need a notebook.

A Paradigm

As stated in the previous post “Effect of journaling on the senses”, creative journaling is not a list of facts and observations. You cannot relive life experience simply from a list of observations as if it was a recipe. To re-live it later, you will need to pour passion into the page and not only write, but write emotively.

The posts on this blog are focused on a paradigm of a creative journal, consisting of a written notebook at its centre and all other media feeding towards, or away from that central (linking) journal. I have used this model because it is simple and a natural extension to the style of journaling that everyone immediately considers. It also happens to be my preferred style and the one I find most comfortable.

However, a creative journal doesn't have to be organised in a notebook centric way. An artist who thinks and works visually or spatially might switch these around, may scatter the text amongst graphical entries or even have a distributed journal that is unrecognisable to the majority of us.

We can see that a creative journal will be spread amongst the many different forms of available media and the form it takes will be as individual as the writer/artist who creates it.

The table below summarises various forms of media. In the New Year, I will start a series of posts exploring each one, discussing the properties or features which are important and their uses for creative journaling.


Media Good for Also useful for
Notepads Essay entries, notes, lists, holding thin items, small sketches, practicing, plans, creativity training.



Keeping details of other media used, until it can be added later, for example, names in photos.

Night notes, pressing flowers.
Loose paper Notes, sketches, creativity tools (cluster diagrams, mind maps….), working, training, thoughts, practice. Morning pages.
Post-it notes Notes, markers, bookmarks, planning. Being everywhere around the house, reminders.
Mobile phone Notes, photos, video, sound, short text entries, reminder text messages. Geo-locations.
Dictaphone Notes whilst driving/working, sound recordings. Catching conversation.
Computer (portable) Notes, photos, essay entries, writing, work in progress, reminders, beats, thoughts, creativity training. Some have geo-location ability.
Computer (non-portable) Notes, essay entries, writing, work in progress, reminders, beats, thoughts, creativity training. Holding/organising all the other diverse media in digital form, for example, photos, videos etc.
Opportunistic materials Immediate notes or sketches on napkins, discarded cartons, brochures, etc. Not forgetting; clippings from newspapers, magazines, advertising etc. and meaningful scraps or samples.
Camera Photos, video, sound.  
Video Photos, video, sound.  
Digital photo frame Displaying current muse or visualisations of work in progress  
Folder, binder, bag or box Tactile objects or samples, aromas, literature. Keeping old journals in.
Scrapbook Thin tactile items, arrangement of ideas, art Large layouts, maps etc.
Glass jars Samples with odours, very small items. Liquids and yucky stuff.


In the first post of the series we will look at the serious, and the not so serious, issues surrounding which notebook to choose for creative journaling.

Photo credit: Gardenstown Harbour, by Gordon Robertson.
"What media to use for creative journaling?" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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