How to Journal for Creative Mojo

By Catharine Bramkamp

Lose your creative mojo?  Hunting around for the next big thing?  Journaling is a great aid in facilitating the creative process.  Here are a few journaling methods that will get you from mired to inspired!

Challenge: You have run out of ideas
Solution:  Journal about how you’ve run out of good ideas.

Write for ten minutes in your journal about everything you really want to say on a target subject, any subject.  It may take more than just a ten-minute write, but if you keep at it, day by day, interesting work will start to rise to the top or at least hide in the middle of a paragraph.

Record whatever comes to mind, possible novel scenes, dialogue, ideas for photography, sculpture, a new trip.  With consistency, random thoughts will either flare up and disintegrate into ash or actually catch fire.

Challenge:  You waste too much time thinking
Solution:  Write it out

We often ruminate so hard and so long on a difficult section of our creative work in progress that it feels as if we actually did the work. Thinking can leave us more exhausted than simply doing the work.

Stop worrying and write. Journal about your creative angst in general as well as the specific block that you can’t get out of your head in particular.

Review your writing. Is there a theme? Is there a discoverable block or problem that can be more specifically addressed?  Take that observation and journal about that for a few days.  Allow for the tedious repetition of this exercise because the benefit of this work is you will get bored with your own circular thoughts and start to search for a solution.

Challenge:  You are uninspired
Solution:  Make an appointment for inspiration

Jack London advised hunting down inspiration with a club. You can certainly do that, but showing up is another equally and less violent way to court the Muse.

Show up every morning ready to write whatever comes to mind.  Do this consistently enough and soon the Muse will stop by and join you for coffee.  Keep the appointment and she will appear to help.

Challenge:  You can’t concentrate on your creative work 
Solution: Use your journal as your emotional dump.

Journaling is not a replacement for professional help, but if you are temporally overwhelmed (perhaps due to this COVID pandemic time) journaling provides the space for massive emotional downloads.  Once you’ve written sad, sad, stories about you, you, you, not only will you create space for admittedly more actionable ideas, you will probably now have a store of some very raw, possibly interesting emotions to inspire the next phases of your creative project or next journal entry.

Challenge:  The journaling itself is getting dull
Solution:  Move

If you usually journal on a lap top in a local cafe, journal on your bed using a pen and a legal pad.  If you write every morning long hand in a leather bound book in your Downton Abbey library, journal on a typewriter in a basement lit with a single lightbulb.  If you usually type out your work on your phone, journal using a stick in the sand.  In other words, mix up the whole thing for a different perspective and a different way of writing, either slower or faster, either by hand or by key.

Once you find a different way to express yourself, the expression itself will be different.  Set that into your work.

We like to say that to get a different answer, ask a different question.  Journaling helps us discover the new questions so we can work with much better answers.

Journaling can make all the difference.  That’s why we are all fans.

Author Bio:  Catharine Bramkamp is a writing coach, bringing her clients from idea to published book to promotion as well as an adjunct professor for writing, journaling and art history.