Whether you’re a writer or not, as entrepreneurs, we could all use a creative boost every now and again. After all, creativity plays a big part in many aspects of business. If you ever find yourself experiencing a block in new ideas, consider journaling to get the creative juices flowing.
From Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones to Linda Trichter Metcalf, Ph.D. and Tobin Simon, Ph.D.’s Writing the Mind Alive to numerous other publications, journaling has enjoyed a long history of creative nurturing along with a host of other benefits.
Even if writing isn’t your cup of tea (let alone your dream), incorporating journaling—defined here as any sort of loose, longhand writing to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper—into your life is a wonderful way to jumpstart the flow of new ideas.
Here are three ways it can re-inspire your creativity:
1. Writing helps clear the mind.
We all have them—junk thoughts. From self-defeating comments (“Oh, I’ll never be good at that,” or “Who told you you’d be good at this?”) to the “worry of the moment” to neurosis of every type to the ever-growing, constant to-do lists that can hijack your mind, these types of thoughts can easily take up too much space, blocking new ones from emerging.
After all, who can be creative with all that noise distracting us? For that matter, who could even hear a creative thought over all that racket?
Journaling is a way to quiet the mind. Writing all that junk down transfers it from your head to the paper. Suddenly, you’re able to actually think rather than simply react.
The best part is that, once you’ve processed the thoughts into words on paper, the “quieting” lasts long after you set your pen down. And if you journal frequently, the effect is cumulative.
When I finish journaling, I feel peaceful. Calm. Able to focus. The junk is gone, and the open space lends itself to the creative.
2. Writing lets you “test drive” new ideas.
What better way to see if a new idea will work than to try it out on paper? List the pros and cons, describe a scenario, play “what if” games (“What if my new business was successful?” and/or “What if I tried that new advertising campaign?” and/or “What if I contacted the editor at Money Magazine?”).
It’s brainstorming at its best, all in a private little notebook no one else ever has to see.
Try writing down your hopes, dreams, goals, and visions. Play around with them. As you do, you just might find a strategy for making them come true suddenly presents itself, right there in the pages of your journal.
3. Writing builds a bridge to your muse.
This one typically kicks in after you’ve sufficiently accomplished number one above (at least, such is the case for me). It makes sense, though, that your muse is more likely to come out to “play” when there is less junk in the way.
How do you know your muse is active? When that brilliant idea flashes in your head. It may not happen while you’re journaling, but after … while you’re showering, walking, driving, or something else.
That’s when your muse tends to speak.
It’s important to remember that muses have quiet voices. They can easily be drowned out by the incessant bickering of the other noisy chatter going on in your head. That’s why it’s so important to establish the quiet … so you can really start to listen for your muse.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away. There have been weeks (even months) at a time when I write nothing but junk. But then, one day, that great idea appears on the paper or in my head as I’m walking my dogs.
And when that happens, I know all the time I spent journaling about nothing has paid off.
Stuck in a rut? Need some new ideas? Why not consider journaling. Keep reading for 3 ways journaling can get the creative juices flowing.
Like most things, if journaling is new to you, it will likely take some practice to “get in the flow.” Make a pact with yourself to journal regularly for a month. If you’re balking at the thought, simply consider it a creativity exercise that you can take or leave after you give it a real shot.
Here’s an idea to get you started:
Think of a challenge you’re facing right now. Write it down at the top of a piece of paper. Maybe it’s around ways to increase business or promote your products. Maybe it’s launching something new.
Now, just start writing.
Don’t think—just write. There’s no structure, form, nor concern for spelling, grammar, or even legibility here. Allow whatever thoughts come to you to flow out of your mind and onto the paper. Even if something doesn’t make “sense,” write it out.
Write for at least 20 minutes. If you find your mind wandering, gently nudge it back to the challenge.
If no clear answer presents itself in that 20 minutes, don’t worry. Try it again the next day, or even for a few days in a row. Sometimes, it just takes a bit to jar things loose.
And remember, great ideas have a tendency to pop up in the most unexpected places. So, practice quieting your mind and listening for your muse.
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