What was it about my English teachers that was so intimidating? Was it that they expected me to write on demand about whatever subject they chose? Was it the way they wielded their red pens like Zorro brandished his sword? Was it that my English teachers demanded an outline of my essay before I even knew what I was that I going to write?

For me it was probably all of those things. I believed I was a hopelessly poor writer, and that I’d never be able to string words together in a way that made sense or conveyed ideas clearly. And then during college I discovered journaling and slowly my relationship with words changed.

I would write a paragraph or two about what I was thinking about: The issues of the moment, like what college classes I should take next semester. Or, a conversation I had with a friend. Soon I would include how I was feeling about those conversations. Over time I started tapping into some interior place, writing without any idea of what I was going to write. I’d find myself opening my journal and seeing what happened. The process of writing became a leap of faith, knowing that words would begin to flow out of my pen.

When I write for myself with no one noxiously breathing down my neck, I write whatever bubbles up. When writing without a particular agenda–what I call creative journaling–writing is original, imaginative, and springs from my core. Once I give myself permission to let my fingers do the writing, creative journaling appears. Perhaps it takes a few minutes to sink into that interior place, but if I let go and give myself full permission to write WHATEVER appears from my hands, and bypass the brain, I’m surprised. I may be writing about something that I’ve been quietly chewing on internally, almost imperceptibly, and now is the time it will find its way into the light of day.

What does creative journaling mean?

  • Creative journaling means writing with no rules, less fear, and with permission to fully express what and how you want.
  • Creative journaling means that you can write or draw or add pictures/photographs/images in any way that you want.
  • Creative journaling means that you decide what, if any, journal writing techniques you want to use.
  • Creative journaling means that whatever you have in your journal is acceptable. You can write without worry of proper spelling and grammar and syntax. You don’t even necessarily need to make sense and be linear and logical. It’s the process of writing that matters, not the product.
  • Creative journaling acknowledges that your internal critic exists, but that you don’t have to listen. (The internal critic is one’s own interior voice–often based on a critical parent, teacher, or older sibling–which we all have within, perhaps shouting, ridiculing, or in some manner criticizing.) You can tell your internal critics that they aren’t welcome now, and they can go sit in the corner and quiet down until you are ready for them.
  • Creative journaling means writing in a way that feels comfortable and right for you, and available, and doesn’t demand more than you are willing to give.
  • Creative journaling means being able to stop writing if you want to, if what you are writing feels too uncomfortable for you to keep writing.
  • Creative journaling ultimately is a freeing activity.