What's New

What's New

Ten Ways to Creative Journaling

Arkansas Arts Council - Thursday, December 13, 2018


Artists need to know themselves to be able tell their stories through their art. In fact, top art schools, including the Savannah College of Art and Design, ask students to keep a journal to increase their creativity and to aid their final artworks.

Personal diaries are a great way to help artists through emotional turmoil, too. Therapists often ask their clients to keep a journal or diary because it is a great way to become self-aware, think of new projects and deal with personal issues.

Traditional diaries, the kind with lined pages, can be great, but we decided to offer alternative journal tips with creative minds specifically in mind. Here it goes:

  • 1. Check out spiritual "journaling." Companies make Bibles with scripture on thicker pages and enough space to allow artists to draw, color, stamp or write next to passages. That means you can blend your art with your spiritual meditation and studies. (PS. We also found journal books/tools for other religions. Or you can substitute adult coloring books and add your own motivational quotes.)
  • 2. Use a voice recording. Not all of us like to put pen to paper to write. A great alternative is to use a voice recording app on your phone or to make personalized videos. Both can be saved on computers or an iCloud. Videos, by the way, are a great way to capture one moment in time — like a time capsule.
  • 3. Try creating a scrapbook. Keeping a scrapbook is an old-school favorite, but there’s plenty of new fun in using collage, photos and script to showcase your feelings. Scrapbooks can also incorporate outside-the-box items, like cloth or even leaves.
  • 4. Sketch or doodle every day. If you aren’t feeling wordy, maybe try doing a sketch once a day. Whatever is around you, doodle or sketch it out. Do a self-portrait. Or, if you aren’t into drawing, try snapping a photo of yourself or whatever’s around you at the same time every day. This can turn into some pretty interesting art projects themselves.
  • 5. Make a lists. Jot down a five-point list instead of drafting an essay. This can be a list of random words, a grocery list, to-do list, a bucket list or just a list of things that have happened this week. Lists are a great way to concisely preserve what’s going on, which is why Facebook added the list option for its social media pages. Even some websites are in on the list-action and ask people to submit lists they have found.
  • 6. Write an “overheard.” Maybe you want to capture a moment but you aren’t really interested in writing down your feelings. In that case, take a cue from journalism school. Go to a coffee shop, airport or bar and eavesdrop. Write down the dialogue. Not only does this help you capture a moment, it also helps you understand how people talk. It pretty much moves writers a step closer to being Ernest Hemingway.
  • 7. Create a storyboard. Another great option is to create a storyboard, similar to what famous writer Gay Talese used for his creative nonfiction stories. A storyboard can be like a graphic novel with squares outlining “what’s next” or just a flowchart. We’ve seen Pulitzer Prize winning journalists use this technique in their narrative journalism stories, too.
  • 8. Write love letters. This can be love letters to your kids or partner. You don’t have to share them, but the letter platform will help you figure out your thoughts, which may help you communicate better with your family members.
  • 9. Use those cell photos. We have thousands of photos on our phones. Why not turn those into albums? There are apps and online book printing sites that allow you to send off your cell photos and get back a bound album. You can then write stories or messages next to the images — kind of like your old yearbook.
  • 10. Try out a planner instead. For those of us not interested in writing more than a sentence or two per day, try using a five-year planner for jotting down one thought per day. This is a great way to get into keeping a journal because it takes so little time (just write something before hopping into bed) and because you can look back to see what you were doing the same day a year ago! It’s always good to see how far we’ve come.