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.
Why do I need a Journaling date?
Each day, we all continue to toil away at tasks that confront us on a daily basis, whether they are creative and artistic or the more mundane tasks and chores required by everyday life. As we work on them, we are drawing from our well of enthusiasm and creativity.
Continuously drawing from your creative well, without putting back or replenishing it, will eventually drain it, leaving you dry of creativity and lacking in enthusiasm to be active with what you normally enjoy.
The journaling date is a way of refilling your creative well, a way of regaining your creative spark and recapturing previous enthusiasm for your passion. It is a concept borrowed almost exactly from “The Artist’s Date” as proposed in Julia Cameron's famous book "The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”
They are effectively the same, both of them intended to, as Julia puts it, “Refill the well, restock the pond”. Where the journaling date differs is that it uses the practices of journaling for creativity as a tool to focus your awareness and ensure presence and mindfulness whilst enjoying your journaling date.
The act of journaling whilst experiencing something, will hold your attention on the present and stops any tendency you have to rush to the next experience before fully absorbing the current one. The simple concept in your mind of “I should be mindful of this experience and I should be recording my observations” along with the physical action of making a journal entry will immensely enhance curiosity and awareness of the moment.
What is a Journaling date?
A journaling date is a block of time when you go somewhere or perform some activity specifically to nurture your creative-self. At their most basic, they are an excursion, an outing, some playtime. Armed just with your journal and awareness, you set out to spend time soaking up the world and leaving an entry about the experience in your journal.
They may be done ad-hoc, at times when you feel the need for them. However, it is recommended that you firmly schedule some into your calendar, as they can be easily overlooked and you will find yourself defending them against your other ‘life’ pressures. You may even find your own thoughts, such as ‘This is silly, I don’t have time for this’ or ‘This is my writing time’, ganging up against you.
Julia Cameron’s take on this is;
“…identify that reaction as resistance. You cannot afford not to find time for artist [journaling] dates.”
Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way:…”
A journaling date can be quick, for example, twenty minutes spent watching people in the street; they can also take all day, for instance, a day trip to a fishing village, or they can take any amount of time in between these two extremes.
There is no need for them to be expensive; every street, park, library, sporting event, building, lake, school, museum, field or piece of music is brimming with journal entries, if you allow your curiosity to come forth, and you employ the awareness techniques taught on this site.
However, they do need to be fun and pander to your artistic side, your creative-mind. If, for example, you go to a museum and journal about a topic, scribbling copious notes, taking photos etc. then yes, you have journaled but it has been done out of duty, what you have actually done is research. However, if when you go to a museum you imagine the world that surrounds your topic. If in that time you stretch your awareness and imagination so that you live, breathe and experience the topic in a fun and entertaining way. Then you have created magic.
“The artist brain [creative-mind] is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are the elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art.
In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do … Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.”
Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way:…”
Now is the time to think of what and where your next journaling date might be. It is also the time to think of when it is going to be. It is time to commit to making an investment in yourself, for yourself.
Here are a few ideas that you may like to try;
Standing in the rain
Sitting at a train station
Attending an auction
Standing still on a busy pavement
Looking out of the window of a tall building
At a pavement café
Talking to a farm worker
Standing outside at 1am
Inside a pet shop
Visiting a massive civic building
Observing from a bridge over a motorway (freeway)
The journaling date is one of the basic, but also one of the most important, tools in using your journal for creativity. It matters little how many advanced techniques such as active listening, active looking, mindfulness, emotive note taking, awareness, sensory extension or temporal envisioning, you have learned if they are not practised and employed in your journal.
Decide now what you would like to do as a journaling date. Write it down in your journal to define it and give it solidity. Then when you have completed it, come back and let us know in the comments area what you chose to do and what you gained from the experience.
Photo credit: 40+255 Thunderstorms, by bark
"Journaling dates and Artist dates" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.