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Journaling to Bring Creative Ideas to Life

Journaling to create cool ideas videoMaybe you kept a diary – or still do. Or use a notebook as a helpful tool for personal growth, to track thinking and inspiration.

Artists, as well as entrepreneurs and other creative people, often use storyboards, journals, mindmapping and other idea tools for developing creative projects.

In a New Yorker profile article, Dana Goodyear wrote about writer Neil Gaiman meeting Alan Moore, who was “transforming the comic book into something literary, psychological, and self-aware.”

Gaiman “asked Moore to show him how to write a script; they sat down and Moore sketched it out in a notebook: page one, panel one, FX for sound effects, and so on. Moore’s style shaped Gaiman’s early work; his scripts were fully realized texts, dense with visual information.”

From my article: Neil Gaiman On Writing.

In our interview about making his movie Gattaca (1997), writer and director Andrew Niccol talked about developing the script by filling multiple notebooks with drawings: “I’m told this is not the normal way to do it”, he says, “but since nobody told me the correct way before I started… I mean, I start with a big, blank wall and fill it up with images as I go, and revise those as I go.”

The image at the top is from this video: “Journaling to create cool ideas!” by Brian Johnson – talking about his journaling focused on ideas for growing his company en*theos. He comments, “I love using journals to capture my thoughts.”

The en*theos mission is to “help people optimize their lives so we can change the world together” – with that kind of broad vision, there are many ways to go, many details to work out – as shown by Johnson’s journal in the video.

One section of the company is the Academy for Optimal Living, which provides online classes by many different teachers.

One example: How to Create Fearlessly with Dr. Eric Maisel“The creative process and the creative life come with a fair amount of fears, anxieties, worries, doubts, and scary challenges. These many challenges can easily cause a creative person to avoid creating. Here are ten tips for bravely manifesting your potential, creating deeply and regularly, dealing with the art marketplace, and living your life as an everyday creative person.”

Artist and creative business consultant Lisa Sonora Beam thinks:

“Creatives tend to be visual, action-oriented learners. We respond to visual stimuli. We also need to be engaged in a personal, meaningful way with the material. We don’t learn well through abstractions…

“Visual journaling helps us go beyond what we know in our rational mind, so we can access other ways of knowing—the kind of knowing that results in truly original thinking, ideas, and creative breakthroughs.”

[From her book The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real.]

In the video above, she talks about this approach, and has an online workshop to help participants use journaling, opening Feb. 20:

Dreaming On Paper.

She describes her course: “Dreaming On Paper helps you excavate your own true desires, innate wisdom, and intuition, with ease, gentleness and joy. I will show you how to create without fear of the blank page, learning how to play and make a happy mess without fear of doing it wrong or not doing it perfectly.”

She talks more about how this process is different from “making art”:

“Visual journaling is one of the most powerful tools I know to gain insight, solve problems, and explore new ideas without the pressure to produce a product… it’s an appealing and unique vehicle for entrepreneurial explorations.

“If you have trouble with the word journal, call it a sketchbook or a notebook. Sketches and notes are never confused with the work they ultimately inspire.

“When we make ‘art,’ we feel compelled to share it, sell it, or do something meaningful with it. Those who gain the most from the visual journal process are able to separate process and product. They are able to think of and use their visual journal as a container for their inner process rather than treat it as a work of art.”

Visit her site for information about her other programs.

Have you found journaling helpful in your creative life?


Journaling to Bring Creative Ideas to Life

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Journaling to Bring Creative Ideas to Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 2 Feb 2014
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