Soul in Art Creativity, Creative Journaling, Creative Resources

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Creative Journaling

Creative journaling can have many purposes, including healing, self-expression, self-communication, boredom-relief or simple pleasure.

A reflective journal may be a general commentary on life; hopes and fears, previous achievements and future aspirations, affirmations, family life, lists, photos, tickets, quotes, stories, secrets, innermost thoughts. There may be a theme for each page, or for the entire journal, such as travels, dreams, major life events, gardening, cookery, goals or romance.

Creative journaling - art journals - creative healing

But what exactly is creative journaling,
and why do it at all?

There are diaries, and there are journals. They are similar, and for some people they may be seen as the same thing. However, a journal has no set structure, no chronological order or rigidity (unless you want it to have). As outlined at the beginning of this article, journals can have themes, or be general. Journals can be written linearly or randomly, depending on your style, your preference, your reasons and your feelings at the time of writing. In other words you might write on lined paper, write a story or description, or use bullet points. On the other hand you might enjoy scribbling, writing randomly on the page or using mind-maps and spider-diagrams.

The creative part is how you add expression to the words you write, with pictures, colours, patterns, textures,
photos, ephemera, memorabilia and anything else that means something to you. Again this could be precise and detailed if that is your creativity, or it can be random, splodgy and free-flowing.

The secret to getting the most out of your creative journaling, however, is to
let go. Let go of your inner critic, let go of the perfectionist part of you that thinks that you "can't draw" or "aren't creative", or that everything you do should be a proper work of art. It isn't the end result in terms of an end product - it is about the "journal therapy" process of creativity, the process of release, the cathartic and healing natures of creativity as well as relaxation and de-stressing.

Both art and journal-writing have long been recognised as great restorative tools for well-being, and are used in clinical settings for facilitating healing in those with physical, mental or emotional issues. Putting the art into the journal - bringing in non-linear forms of self-expression - combines the healing attributes of both practices. This combination is a powerful way of unlocking coping mechanisms, and promoting self-healing through the uncovering and release of hidden or pent-up emotions, relief of sub-conscious and conscious pain, and by allowing free self-communication.

Water-Resist Painting - watercolour paint over oil pastel

The very act of immersing yourself in drawing, painting, colouring, cutting and sticking takes you "out of yourself". You may lose all sense of time and find that hours go past before you remember that supper needs cooking or the dog needs its walk! This time away from your worries and stresses is restorative time, giving your body and mind a chance to relax and recharge. You may come away feeling refreshed and relaxed, or invigorated and energised.

Using art is also a way of expressing those feelings and thoughts for which there are no words. When we just "can't explain" how we feel, we may find we are drawn to certain colours, materials and styles that can help us express and understand these inner experiences.

The creative writing aspect of journaling is equally healing. Letting your mind run free and your hand follow suit gives you the opportunities to put your feelings into visible words, to ask and answer difficult questions, and to analyse or free yourself of worries. Looking at the words we have written can help to put concerns into perspective, or assist us in knowing our true feelings about a situation.

Example of creative journaling -collage

Remember, creative journaling is not about painting the prettiest pictures or designing the best-looking pages. It is about you, your feelings and your healings. Put aside the inner-critic and the picky perfectionist.

Be free!

“Confessional writing has been around at least since the Renaissance, but new research suggests that it’s far more therapeutic than anyone ever knew... Researchers found direct physiological evidence [that writing about your feelings and experiences is good for your physical health]: writing increased the level of disease-fighting lymphocytes circulating in the bloodstream.”

— Newsweek, April 1999

“Keeping a journal will change your life in ways that you’d never imagine."

— Oprah Winfrey

Soul in Art - Creative Healing Resources Article written and illustrated by Catherine M Evans, © 2010

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