“Writing practice brings us back to the uniqueness of our own minds and an acceptance of it. We all have wild dreams, fantasies, and ordinary thoughts. Let us feel the texture of them and not be afraid of them. Writing is still the wildest thing I know.”

~Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life

Most people are no stranger to journaling. Whether you used to be an avid writer, or you dabbled in journaling after being gifted one–writing is something that most everyone has experienced at one time or another. However, even though creative journaling is not a new topic, many people aren’t familiar with all the benefits it can provide.

There is no age limit for creative journal writing. The myth that diaries are only for lovestruck teenage girls is one we should get out of our minds. Journaling can help people of all ages improve their mental, and even physical well-being. You can learn about writing your way to happiness here.

Creative journal writing can help access buried emotions, and allow you to process what you are feeling. By keeping a journal, you may find that you are “conversing with yourself” or your subconscious–figuring out what you really feel, and why. Creative journaling can also help problem-solve. As issues are fully fleshed out, you may find the solution begin to come to the surface. Journaling helps us get to know ourselves, and be more aware of our mind, body, and feelings.

Using a variety of arts media can add another creative dimension to your journal practice. Using drawing, collage, and photography can help your words come alive, or words can help bring images to life. Give yourself the gift and freedom of creative exploration and experiment with both.

Does the idea of creative journaling seem daunting? If so, you’re not alone. For many, spending time alone with their thoughts can be a scary thing. However, while it may be difficult at first, you will soon find journaling to be an extremely freeing activity.

Remember: you’re writing for yourself, not to share. If you want to share later, great! But start the process without this notion.

  • Release yourself from grammatical confines and allow yourself to just write.

  • No need to edit your thoughts before you put them down on paper, either.

  • Stay curious about your thoughts and emotions, without judgment.

A great way to get started journaling is with prompts.
Here a a few to try:

  • If you were a color what would you be and why? Try finding the color (paint swatch?) and putting it in your journal with your writing.

  • I have outgrown…(You might want to add images to your writing about what you have outgrown)

  • If I could give myself a message (at any age from the past), I would tell myself…(Consider writing to yourself in a letter format. “Dear 8 Year Old Self…)

  • Write down 3-5 things that you can see in the moment. Describe them in detail–what’s interesting about them? (This is a great mindfulness exercise!)

What do you need to get started? Here are a few ideas:

There are tons of books out there that offer guidance on journal writing. Sometimes the oldies are the goodies. Check out The New Diary and Visual Journaling. They are fantastic!

Unlined journals and sketchbooks offer the most flexibility and freedom. You can add drawing and collage and make your journal an exciting mixed media experience! Select paper quality that is appropriate for your materials–there are sketchbooks that are specifically for wet and dry media, for example. There’s a great selection here!

Pens, pencils, and markers are all great to have on hand. There’s such a huge selection of materials, so start with what you’re drawn to (no pun intended?) and what fits your budget. Here’s a place to start exploring writing/drawing media!

Other things you might want to have are a good pair of scissors, a glue stick or other adhesive, and some magazines to cut out images and words for collage.

Beyond that, you can get as creative as your heart desires! The most important thing about creative journal writing is giving yourself the time and space to do it. To get started, you might want to consider setting a timer for even 10 minutes to just write whatever comes into your head. Consider it a self-care practice and offer yourself some time each day or each week to engage and explore.

Are you working with clients and interested in how to bring this practice to your work? We have a workshop designed for therapists, counselors, social workers, and coaches. Check it out here!

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