One of the tools that I use on a regular basis for awakening my creative spirit is journaling my own stream of consciousness every day. I may not write creatively every day; but I do journal every day. I find putting all of my thoughts, completely unfiltered, on paper, whether that be physically or digitally, to be a very liberating process that has allows my creative spirit to blossom. I hope that reading about my struggles and breakthroughs in writing and journaling can help you find your way to awakening your creative spirit as well…
Awakening Your Creative Spirit: Journaling Stream of Consciousness
The number one suggestion that almost every published author gives to new writers is “write more,” “write often,” or “write every day.” To be honest, when I first heard this advice I was daunted by the idea of writing every day (writing has never been my only job). I found the concept overwhelming not because I didn’t think I could write everyday, but because I placed such a strict, self-imposed expectation regarding the quality of that writing. I thought that I should write something amazing and worth while every day and if I didn’t there was something wrong with me. Eventually, I realized that it’s impossible to write fantastic every day and that’s ok as long as I write something every day.
My Struggles with Writing Everyday
I’ve written in a journal ever since I was eight or nine years old; I simply writing down my thoughts and locking them up in a book — literally. In those days I actually had a lock and key for my journal. Eventually I lost that key and the words within that book, but that started me on my path to writing. Throughout my life I journaled my thoughts as a way of analyzing and reconciling my feelings that I didn’t always feel safe expressing outwardly. For many years this was my primary use of journaling, it was a way to display my thoughts in a more tangible and deceivingly organized fashion. It helped clear my mind, but I did it irregularly and as I began to write stories I made the mistake of making myself choose between journaling and story writing.
It wasn’t until I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I really started to think of journaling in a different light. Within the context of The Artist’s Way journaling is called “writing your morning pages.” Julia Cameron suggests that you write three pages every day as a means of purging your thoughts and emptying your mind to prepare it for your creative activity. I have to admit that I find this concept very liberating in practice once I figured out how to make this work for me.
At first I became desperate to find a way to make sure that I wrote my three pages every day. Ms. Cameron suggests that you write in the morning, hence the name “morning pages,” but when I first started my process with The Artist’s Way I found it extremely difficult to wake up before going to work to write those three pages. So, I wrote after work or during my lunch hour; but those were times that I usually devoted to whatever creative endeavor I was pursuing at the time. I started out writing three hand-written pages every day, but found it took too much time away from what I really wanted to be doing. Sometimes I’d spend an hour to write those three pages — I’m not sure why. Eventually I decided to write for 30 minutes and sometimes I’d get the full three pages written within that time frame and sometimes I wouldn’t.
But after a while writing those three pages everyday became too challenging and unsustainable. I found that I spent more time writing my “morning pages” than I was writing my actual stories and that was disconcerting. Some days the idea of writing would become so overwhelming that I wouldn’t do it at all, not even journaling. 30 minutes felt like so much time and I wanted to be spending my time writing my story. So I ditched the morning pages and I fell back on brainstorming and writing my story. This worked for a while, but then I found my mind wondering so often as I wrote that it became difficult to focus on my creative work.
I was desperate to change my habits, to create something new.
Reconnecting with Journaling and Writing My Stories
For the last two months my husband and I have been encouraging each other to align our days with good intentions first thing in the morning. I’m not much of a morning person, but the idea of taking the reins and manifesting my day the way I want it to instead of allowing the world to control me sounded so positive and encouraging I had to try it. The process we both use is outlined in a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
In short, Mr. Elrod suggests that you spend approximately an hour after you wake up to do a series of actions to help you manifest your dreams and create a day that aligns with your goals. And I was intrigued to learn that one of the activities that he suggests you do first thing is to write. Mr. Elrod suggests to “document your insights, ideas, breakthroughs, realizations, successes, and lessons” and do it every day. Obviously there has to be something to this “morning pages” thing that Ms Cameron so deeply believes in.
So I decided I had to give writing the morning pages one more try.
Now, instead of writing three pages, I write continuous stream of consciousness for ten minutes straight. Even if all I write is, “I don’t know what to write right now. My mind is drawing a blank.” I write for that whole ten minutes. For me, writing for that ten minutes, even stream of consciousness, only comes up to about a page or a page and a half. But in the end, I’m actually writing consistently every day, which is amazing!
What I like most about journaling stream of consciousness is that I find that my brain becomes less cluttered by what’s going on outside my writing world. This is where I allow myself to discuss or complain or plan things that has nothing to do with my writing, so that when my writing comes I’m not plagued by those other things that are going on in my life or distracted by irrelevant thoughts. Sometimes I get lucky and the writing evolves from daily life into story brainstorming and then into meaningful story writing. Of course when the writing is organic, as in those kinds of situations, life feels great and it’s always best to let the writing flow.
Journaling stream of consciousness also allows me to feel confident and accomplished because even if I don’t write my story or don’t write a blog post that day, at least I spent time writing — even it it was only ten minutes. Because in the end, any kind of writing you do will improve your writing.
Awakening My Creative Spirit
The thing that has helped me most in addition to journaling first thing in the morning has been journaling for five to ten minutes just before starting any of my writing projects, whether that be a blog post, a story outline, or a story scene. This beginning stream of consciousness writing frees my mind and prepares it for the task ahead. The nice thing about the five or ten minutes is that if I only have thirty minutes or an hour to write then I’m not intimidated to take that five or ten minutes to prepare myself for writing. Or if I’ve been writing for a couple of hours, I’ll take a break and write stream of consciousness for five or ten minutes and then go back on task.
Taking some time to write out my thoughts just before writing my has been one of my breakthroughs in opening my creative spirit.
What are your thoughts about journaling stream of consciousness? What are your struggles with writing? How do you inspire yourself? I’d like to know and start a conversation.