For those of you who follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that last week I participated in a creativity challenge hosted by Kira Rudjen. I have lots of big creative ideas, but have been finding it hard to get them out of my head. I have these big dreams to spend at least thirty minutes a day creative journaling, but haven’t been able to get my act together to do it.
There’s something about staring at a blank piece of paper that can be really intimidating. It has so much possibility, but all that blank space can quickly become overwhelming. It was these feelings that led me to join in on Kira’s free Liberate Your Creativity Challenge.
What’s the Liberate Your Creativity Challenge?
The idea of a creativity challenge might seem counterproductive. Shouldn’t your creativity flow out of you? Will turning that process into a challenge spark creativity or snuff it out? I suppose it depends on the person, but for me sometimes a challenge can really get things moving and push my mental blocks out of the way.
This particular challenge came in the form of a daily email plus a lovely and supportive Facebook group. Each email included an assignment and several journal prompts to get you thinking, plus some excellent music and videos. For me the challenge turned into a creative journaling practice. I spent time responding to the journal prompts included in her emails as well as creating a drawing, pattern or illustration. We were encouraged to share how we felt, what we created or any other thoughts with the group, but of course this wasn’t mandatory. As the week progressed I was kind of shocked by the amount of work I had accomplished in one little week.
If that sounds like something you’d be interested in participating in (I highly recommend), you can check out her website or follow her on Instagram. I’m sure she’ll post more information when she’s ready to run the challenge again.
If you want to get started on your own creative journaling journey, here’s all the information you need to get started.
How To Get Started with Creative Journaling
Pick a Notebook You Love
First things first, find a notebook, sketchbook or some sort of book that you love. I’ve been using a Motto Journal, but I’m also a fan of Leuchtturm notebooks and sketchbooks. You’ll know the notebook you love when you see it or feel it. Whether you’re looking for one with a bright cover, dotted pages or ruled pages make sure you love it and can’t wait to write in it. Don’t pick something that you think is “too nice” to write in. This is going to be your creative journal, it’s destined to be filled with your thoughts, your dreams, your doodles and your sketches.
Find the Pen or Pencil of Your Dreams
Laugh all you want, but you know you have a favorite pen or pencil. The fact that you read this far down in this post is proof of that. If you need the safety of a good pencil so you can erase your mistakes go for it. At the moment I’m favoring my Blackwing 602 pencil (if you’re into sharpening) and my Lamy Safari Mechanical Pencil (it’s pretty much the best!).
If you prefer to write and sketch in pen go for it. Choose your favorite color, shape, type of ink and start writing. When it comes to pens I have a couple favorites. I’ve enjoyed writing with the Pilot G-2 since high school (always in blue) or the Pentel R.S.V.P. (also a classic). More recently I’ve taken to the ZIG COCOIRO which allows you to buy the body of the pen plus pretty much any color ball point you can think of. No matter what writing instrument you choose make sure you love it and enjoy writing with it.
Start Filling Your Pages
This is probably the hardest part of the whole creative journaling thing. I think we can all admit that buying the notebook and the pen is fun and exciting. What happens next requires a little more work and consistency.
Don’t think of creative journaling as something you have to do everyday. Yes, that is one way to approach it, but that’s not the only way. You can write in it daily, weekly, or even monthly. The key is to use it when you’re feeling inspired or when you have ideas you don’t want to forget. Pull it out when you’re feeling lost or discouraged. Open it when you have so many thoughts that you just need to do a brain dump on paper. No matter when or where you use it, just try to be consistent. That might mean writing in it daily, weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly.
If simply starting to write is a little too difficult start by writing a gratitude list. It can be filled with simple things. Maybe you’re grateful for your morning cup of coffee or the snuggles you got from your cat. Perhaps your partner gave you the worlds greatest hug or you finally finished that book you’ve been wanting to read. All things are welcome on your gratitude list no matter how big or small.
Another option is to choose a single word and expand out from there. Take the word expand. Now think about how it makes you feel. What areas of your life are you trying to expand? How can you illustrate the word expand? You can go through this activity with any word. Maybe there’s a feeling you’ve been battling or a mantra you’ve been saying to yourself. Use those as a jumping off point and see where it takes you.
One more option is to use creative journaling prompts or open ended questions to allow you to explore your thoughts. Here’s a few examples:
- Who is your favorite artist? Why does their work inspire you or make you feel those big feelings?
- Think about your favorite song. What’s the one lyric that really speaks to you? Write about why you love it, how it makes you feel and what it inspires you to do.
- Read an article by your favorite writer. Do you agree with what they said? Do you have a different point of view? Write about it.
If none of those prompts inspire you, do what you always do….Google journal prompts. I promise you there’s a lot of ideas out there.
Why Bother with a Creative Journal?
There’s plenty of reasons to start a creative journal, but let me just run through a couple. For me the number one reason to keep one is to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I find writing things down (whether on paper or in this little blog of mine) to be very cathartic. There’s just something about writing your thoughts and feelings down. It frees up space in your head and allows you to process emotions, move forward, or figure out where to go next.
Creative journaling also allows you to explore your own writing and drawing/painting/sketching style in a safe space. Your creative journal is just for you (unless YOU decide to share it). That means that you can mess up, make mistakes, create weird or interesting things in a no judgement zone. Think of it as play time. Time to experiment. Don’t be afraid to cross things out or rip out an entire page. Or don’t. Maybe you’ll look back on it with different feelings. You won’t know unless you keep it in there.
Whether you decide to start creative journaling or not I hope this post got you thinking about ways to engage with your own creativity. Maybe start with a creativity challenge like I did, or just take the plunge and go out and buy a notebook and pen or pencil. Think of this process as a stress release, not something to stress you out. Write about how you feel, where you want to go or dreams you want to become reality. Draw doodles, shapes, whole scenes or just practice some fancy lettering. Finally, there are no rules with creative journaling, the most important thing is to start.