How Journaling Can Help You Stay Creative in Uncertain Times

How Journaling Can Help You Stay Creative in Uncertain Times post image

A good artist friend recently wrote me a note of gratitude for my Pansy-in-Watercolor Tutorial. In it, she shared the lovely bouquet she painted and also described how––as a result of the current pandemic situation––she finds herself “unfocused and jumping from one thing to the next throughout the day“.

If that describes your day, I know exactly how you feel. Our emotions can fluctuate between extremes of despair and hope. The outcome is that we lose focus!

But I believe that, no matter how we feel, in order to bring some structure and calm to our days, one of the actions that can help us is to keep on being creative.

For me, creativity goes beyond producing artistic pieces of painting, music or poetry.

Keeping the creative spirit alive comes from recognizing that we, as human beings in the present moment, can use our imagination to make new connections and solve our challenges.

We can begin by reinventing the small ways in which each of our days evolves.

The current state of the world, deeply affecting us, is an invitation and opportunity to find ways to handle ourselves resourcefully under circumstances that we couldn’t have predicted.

By recognizing and practicing different aspects of our creativity we can contribute to our own physical and spiritual wellbeing. Taking care of ourselves in all dimensions is taking care of those who surround us.

What Journaling Can Bring to Your Life

I have been journaling daily for many years. It brings me solace and a deep connection to my inner creative self.

These days, I have made a conscious decision to keep up with my daily writing. Even if I can’t bring myself to focus energy on other artistic endeavors, I make sure to use my pens and my keyboard.

Here I’d like to share with you how I practice my journaling so that, if you have never tried it, you might draw some ideas and inspiration.

I actually keep two writing journals. One is a regular notebook for the “Morning Pages” as described in the book The Artist Way* by Julia Cameron. Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, ideally done first thing in the morning.

My other journal is a Moleskine Daily Diary*. Having the date printed on each page prompts me to not leave empty pages, and to write something about each day.

Here is how I’m presently using color-coding on each page of the Moleskine notebook to divide it into sections that I can easily scan and reference in the future.

PINK ink is used to write a few items under the heading: What will make this day great? Every morning I checkmark what I was able to accomplish the previous day and place an X next to the items I didn’t get done.

GREEN ink is to express gratitude. I jot down at least one thing for which I feel particularly grateful each day.

PURPLE ink is used to transcribe quotes of wisdom that help me stay motivated and take action.

RED ink is used to circle new ideas that pop up in my mind or names of books I’m am interested in reading in the future.

YELLOW ink highlights what I have done for my health and my body.

BLUE ink is to record a few thoughts, happenings or particular feelings of the day. For writing in blue, I have the luxury of using a fancy and beloved Montblanc fountain pen that I received as a present many years ago.

Many times I examine my written pages later on. By using color-coding, I can easily assess what is a priority in my life at a particular moment, what new ideas I’d like to pursue, and what I can celebrate as an accomplishment.

These days, journaling can help you to bring calm and go back to the center when your feelings swing too much to the extremes.

What about you?

How are you staying creative these days? Perhaps working in your garden? Experimenting in the kitchen?

What is helping you to stay calm and keep your routines in place? Send me a note or leave a comment and tell us what you do.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Yeribel April 9, 2020, 10:00 pm

    Hola también me gusta escribir, no lo hago a diario, pero si anoto frases, cosas por hacer, ideas que me vienen a la mente….de esa forma organizo lo que quiero hacer en corto plazo…. también anoto textos que me gusta memorizar….el año pasado me propuse colocar al lado de mi espejo en el closer, un papel en el cual anoté por un mes tres cosas por las que estaba agradecida….aún lo conservo….fue genial….
    Gracias Leyla por compartir tus buenas ideas… un abrazo

    • Leyla Torres April 10, 2020, 9:37 am

      Muy bien Yeribel. Creo que para llevar un diario (a pesar de su nombre) no se necesita que sea de todos los días. Pero un cuaderno con nuestras notas o un desafío de tres meses, como el tuyo, para escribir por qué te sientes agradecida, es una buena manera de mantener la mirada en aquello que es importante en nuestras vidas.

  • Jane Nelson April 10, 2020, 12:54 pm

    Hello, Leyla, I have so enjoyed this blog post! I, too, have been journaling for many years. I love your color coding idea! I also have read The Artist’s Way. Although my journaling has not been as “daily” as morning pages, I seek focus and comfort in retreating to my journal often. I also keep a calendar which serves as a diary and a planner for daily/weekly goals and lists. My journaling, however, is my real place of spiritual renewal and source of guidance as I address all of my entries to God. I am a Christian so all of my entries are entreaties beginning with Dear Jesus. I find support and direction as I allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. Thank you for your excellent instruction and enlightenment/encouragement through origami and painting! I make greeting cards and have incorporated your instructions into my creations. I also am a singer and I play the guitar and piano (crudely!) Creativity defines my life. All to the glory of God! I’m going to order some colored gel pens! I live in St. Paul, MInnesota….and, yes, we are under stay at home restrictions. I am 72 yrs old.

    • Leyla Torres April 21, 2020, 11:03 am

      Hi Jane,
      I am very happy you enjoyed this post on ideas for journaling. Thank you for sharing what journaling means to you and how you express your creativity using different mediums. We all can use journaling in such different and very creative ways!

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