How Journaling Boosts Morning Creativity
Creativity is a unique skill that doesn’t come naturally to many. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are continuously finding the need to expand their innovative skillsets within their companies or individual careers. The importance of creativity within your professional career goes beyond the typical imaginative professions such as graphic designers, artists, writers or interior designers. This skill demonstrates your ability to solve problems and think outside the box.
Sparking creativity within yourself might seem intimidating at first, but there are simple, everyday ways you can hone in on this talent. Keep reading to learn how you can bring out your creative side through journaling.
The Science of Creativity
We often view creativity as a subjective matter, but scientists have determined that something is creative when it meets two specific criteria:
- It’s original or novel
- It brings value to someone
This means that it’s not only art or writing that requires creativity—you’d be surprised at the many different ways you can find creativity in business. Jobs in software, technology, mathematics and sales can all benefit from imaginative minds. For example, a software engineer can have a fruitful career writing code, but an engineer who creates a new system is limitless.
Researchers have been studying creativity for years and have discovered the science behind it is always evolving. While functions like decision-making and emotion are associated with particular networks of your brain, creativity isn’t contained to one part of your mind. Instead, scientists believe creativity stems from the three major components of your brain working together: one part of your brain generates the idea, another network evaluates the idea and another part decides which ideas are sent to the network to be assessed.
Many people believe creativity is something you have or don’t have, but it’s actually a muscle you can build over time. Spending time with other creative minds is a beneficial tactic to help foster your own creativity. Life experience can also help you develop your innovative and imaginative parts of your mind.
Additionally, many researchers believe that the best time to be creative is in the morning. This is because the creative thought process is often triggered by connecting things that aren’t typically connected. When you first wake up, your prefrontal cortex is very active, which is the editing portion of your brain. What does this mean for you? The best time for creative writing is when this part of your mind is engaged and determined—the morning.
Benefits of Journaling as a Creative Practice
People often think of journaling as an activity reserved for “creative people.” While it is particularly useful for musicians, artists and writers as a creative outlet, journaling can also be beneficial for anyone with goals they’re hoping to achieve.
Journaling is useful for business executives, salespeople, entrepreneurs and more. This practice can help you set goals, capture your most brilliant ideas, reflect on what you’ve accomplished and log important events.
Journaling can be particularly advantageous for goal setting. Many people lose sight of their goals. Journaling helps you remember why you’re so working so hard and keeps you focused on what you want to achieve. Reviewing and reflecting daily can also help you see what habits you have that are working well or not. From here, you can pivot as needed.
Many famously successful figures have been known as avid journalers. Ben Franklin and Leonardo DaVinci, both creatives and innovators, spent time journaling. This proves that journaling is not only beneficial for artists and writers like Leonardo DaVinci, but also innovators like Ben Franklin.
Many counselors also recommend journaling and writing as a form of therapy to beat depression, anxiety, manage stress and identify emotions. Writing can not only help calm the mind, but it can also strengthen your immune system, promote better sleep and even drop your blood pressure.
Journaling Techniques for Creativity
Some of the most creative people will say that creativity does not come naturally to them. They often employ different tactics to encourage creative thinking, such as watching someone else be creative or writing down their ideas. Writing, in particular, is considered one of the best ways to boost creativity.
Some people find their brains produce more imaginative thoughts when they write about their dreams. Others may discover their creativity is boosted when they draw or sketch their ideas. Expressive writing isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but here are a few journaling techniques to help engage your creative side.
Try Morning Pages
“Morning pages” is a practice intended to boost creativity, developed by Julia Cameron in her now-classic 1992 book The Artist’s Way. Simply put, morning pages are handwritten, for-your-eyes-only, journal pages in a notebook. For morning pages to be effective, you must write first thing in the morning. Before work, write three full pages, even if you have nothing to say. You can also write, “I have nothing to write.”
The goal of morning pages is to write what comes to mind as soon as you wake up—before you’ve had a chance to think about anything else. Whether you reflect on your life, write out your goals or simply write what pops into your head, there’s no wrong way to approach morning pages.
The pages you write are not intended to be art, but instead, they are meant to pave the way for creative expression and remove your internal censor. Be consistent with your writing, and remember, it doesn’t have to be a best-selling novel. If you feel like you’re not in the mood to write, do it anyway. You might be surprised at the creativity that arises when you feel the least inclined to write.
Keep a Dream Journal
If you find you need something to write about in your journal, try keeping a record of your dreams. This can help you not only become more aware of your dreams, but you might be able to remember them more easily, as well. If you struggle to recall your dreams at first, be patient and your dream memories will eventually come to you. Keep in mind, many scientific and creative innovations have stemmed from dreams.
By keeping a dream journal, you may find yourself more creatively inspired. If anything, it’s just interesting to reflect on what you dream about. Plus, it’s an exercise that encourages creative thinking, which is beneficial for awakening the imaginative parts of your brain. The more you dream-journal, the more the dreams are likely to come racing back to mind. You can evaluate your subconscious thoughts, connect them and spark new creativity.
Another great technique for getting your creative juices flowing is thought-dumping. This practice is exactly what it sounds like—dumping your thoughts and ideas onto a physical piece of paper.
When you wake up, don’t scroll on your phone, don’t check your email and don’t turn on the TV. Instead, grab a piece of paper and write down everything and anything that comes to your mind. No idea is too small to write down; let your mind wander and be free. Do this for about 5-10 minutes.
Thought-dumping is beneficial for a couple of reasons. It’s a proven therapeutic method for easing anxiety and preventing over-thinking. It’s also a way to keep track of your thoughts and better remember them later on. Creativity is often nothing more than the ability to connect two things that wouldn’t typically go together, and thought-dumping might help you make new connections by reflecting on your various thoughts.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” —Steve Jobs
Sketch Out Your Ideas
Did you ever sit in class and doodle in your notebook? You may have thought you were daydreaming, but you actually may have been more focused than you realized. Researchers have found that sketching, or doodling, can help you focus, sort thoughts in your mind, improve your mood and help you process and accept stressful situations.
Additionally, studies have shown that people who made art, even if they weren’t considered creative, had reduced levels of the stress hormone in their brains. This is likely why coloring books for adults have become increasingly popular in recent years. With an increased focus on lines, colors and drawings, your mind is more open to learning and thinking differently. These are two major components to boosting creativity and ideation.
If you’re looking for ways to bring out your creative side, try sketching out your ideas. Drawing and using your brain in this way can energize your imagination and even help with brainstorming.
Another useful technique is writing a gratitude journal. Expressing your gratitude in writing can not only have significant psychological benefits, but it can also improve your sleep and help you feel better physically. The key to gratitude journaling is to avoid writing lists of only things you are grateful for. It’s important to also focus on the people you appreciate. While writing, take a few minutes to reflect deeply on why you’re grateful and emphasize the details.
If you’re ever feeling like your gratitude is running dry, try to imagine what your life would be like without the people or blessings in your life. Capturing your thoughts and what you’re grateful for helps you to become more aware of them and deepens their impact on your emotional well-being.
Similarly to how counselors suggest writing in a journal to overcome traumatic events, they now also recommend writing about positive events in your life, suggesting the memory of these happy times will last longer. The happier and more inspired you feel, the more room you have for creative thinking.
Journaling as a Morning Routine
Take some time to incorporate journaling into your morning routine. When you wake up, your mind is clearer than before you go to sleep. Most people wake up with many thoughts floating around their minds—writing them down is an excellent way to get your day prioritized and focused.
Additionally, while you’re sleeping, your brain is learning things you might not make while awake. You’re more likely to remember these creative thoughts, connections and patterns if you write them down first thing in the morning.
Incorporate morning journaling into your daily routine. Set aside ten to fifteen minutes each day to journal and watch your imagination come to life.