Using a Creativity Journal

A creativity journal


On Christmas Day I received a small book from a friend as a gift. I tore the shiny wrapping paper from my package to see what kind of book I was given, and was delighted to discover it was a journal. This wasn’t an ordinary journal, but rather a “Daily Creativity Journal” by Noah Scalin. This book offers suggestions for a creative project for each day of the calendar year. I was enthused at the idea while slightly intimidated—a new project each day is no easy task. Even if each day’s project is relatively small and uninvolved, the idea of creating something new every day (above and beyond my usual projects) was daunting. It would be so convenient to say I don’t have time for an endeavor like this, but as I looked through the book during the week, I became intrigued at the thought and decided I could devote time to one extra small project each day. If I could successfully apply myself, I would have a wealth of creative ideas to build upon by the end of the year. No matter what the end results were, I would benefit from this test of my creative endurance.

I read the first thirty pages of the book and was encouraged to undertake the challenge. The author emphasized that there were no rules; it was just as valid to create 365 different pieces of work as to spend 365 days on a theme or even a single project. If it was too much to handle, Mr. Scalin simply recommended scaling back the project. He wrote of his own efforts at creating a poem in haiku each day. While he didn’t meet his goal, he enjoyed the task and was encouraged by what he accomplished. A few years later he resolved to take up the task again. Instead of writing, he ventured into visual arts with a skull for his recurring theme. Along the way he arranged video cassettes in a local video store into the image of a skull; he also cross-stitched a skull, sent drawings of skulls through the mail as “mail-art”, and even created sushi that resembled a skull. His ideas were fun and whimsical, and I wanted to push myself in the same way. Scalin’s book listed web sites belonging to others who accepted the 365 day creativity challenge, and a blog site for posting updates.

I was sold. I’m in.


Creativity journal inspirations

Using a journal
Using a journal
Flower pot
Flower pot
Drawing animals
Drawing animals
Making art from leaves
Making art from leaves
Heads, I win.....
Heads, I win.....

Beginning the creative journey


The book itself serves as a journal, with suggestions for each day and space for notes. Scalin makes it clear that his ideas are suggestions only, but I want to see if I can use his ideas to create something unique. A quick scan of his daily suggestion includes: create something using an old map; use fingerprints to create an image or portrait; use dirt as your medium or inspiration; regress—work as if you were a young child and use materials children have access to; ask a stranger for a suggestion for what to do that day; make something inspired by a fictional character; open a random drawer where you live or work and make something from its contents. These unusual ideas should give me a wealth of unique pieces by the end of 2011. I am ready to begin.


Day 1

The first day’s idea was to make something that could fit in the palm of my hand. New Year’s Day was unusually busy for me, and I already felt pressed for time (pressed for time in the first 24 hours—uh oh!). I have been making Art Trading Cards (ATCs) for several months already, and this was certainly something that could fit in the palm of my hand. I made a quick sketch of a flower pot that sat in my parents’ kitchen, and when I returned home I drew the image onto an ATC. It turned out better than I had hoped, and I was thrilled with my first day’s efforts.


Day 2

My task was to make something using my favorite animal for inspiration. Over the years I have made cartoon drawings of dogs, rabbits and other animals, but actually drawing an animal is not among my strengths. It was almost as if the author already knew how to challenge me. A few months ago I made a truly horrible silhouette of a cat, and I resolved to revisit my work. I considered using a fine-tipped pen to add detail to my earlier silhouette, but opted not to change what I had already done. I preferred instead to draw a new cat. A few sketches were still awkward, but they seemed somehow childlike and innocent and I liked them.


Day 3

The suggestion for the third day was to make something out of paper without using scissors, gluing or drawing on it. I knew this would be challenging because I couldn’t even remember how to fold the paper footballs we flicked with our fingers in junior high. I tried tearing paper in interesting ways, but I was disappointed. The torn paper looked like—well, like torn paper. I could find something similar in nearly any wastebasket. I considered burning the edges off a sheet of paper, but wondered what to do after that. I finally decided this was perhaps too far out of my comfort zone and gave up.


Day 4

On the fourth day I was to take a five-minute walk and make something from whatever materials were available wherever I ended up. Afterwards, I was to leave them for someone else to discover. I tied some old leaves together after tearing them in what I hoped was a creative way. I didn’t document my “artwork” before leaving it in a mailbox and returning home. My artistic “gift” will probably be viewed as tampering with the United States Mail, and I will subsequently face arrest and prosecution. (Hopefully the judge will go easy on me.) This was interesting and fun, but I wasn’t particularly proud of the results.


Day 5

On the fifth day I was instructed to work with a collection of objects within my home. I collect coins, magnets, buttons, DVDs, comics, music… what to choose from? Most of us collect things because we like them and while it was okay to use a collection for inspiration, I didn’t want to use anything I collected as raw materials for an art project—I like my collections in their original form AS collections. I did some drawings using coins for subject matter, and it occurred to me that coins could make for a good recurring theme. I am unsure where to take the idea, but it feels as if a series of works depicting coins might yield some interesting results.


Enjoying the process

I have enjoyed my first tentative steps in using a creativity journal, even if the results have been nothing spectacular so far.  As was the author’s intent, new ideas spring from the daily suggestions.  I have enjoyed pushing myself to work outside my comfort level—admittedly something I have not done for awhile.  Although I have little to show for my time after the first seven days and have been remiss in documenting my efforts, it has been an interesting week that could lead to more elaborate projects.  In this sense, the journal has already accomplished its purpose with more than 350 days remaining….

Happy creating.


Comments 60 comments

1person profile image

1person 5 years ago from NC, USA

I've met Noah. He's a cool guy...along with his family.

Great Hub.

Wow. Every day. It does sound daunting, but yet...hmm...maybe something that I might give a try.

Thanks for the Hub!

~carol welch


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 5 years ago from Delhi, India

Very interesting!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

The Journal seems like a fascinating way to prod creativity, Mike. Only problem for me would be a suggestion that concerned making or doing something with a collection of objects in my top desk drawer.

I would be so lost in reverie about each object I re-discovered, I would never get out of that drawer.

But I'm sure the task would work for 'normal' people. :)


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

A journal is what I need or maybe just a notebook, I am forever scribbling ideas or whatnot on whatever paper is within reason and it is madness when I try to find a certain one, it could be anywhere from fridge, purse to under the bed. By the time I find it it doesn't sound like such a good idea after all.

Yours does sound like fun though, well except the mailbox thing, I wouldn't dare that one.


gloryvetten profile image

gloryvetten 5 years ago from Long Island

That actually sounds like fun...I want to try doing artwork with my fingerprints...Can't wait>! Thanks for your Hub!


Husky1970 5 years ago

Now that is a challenge that is way out of my league. What a great hub though. I'm impressed with your first week results. Anyway, it made me think. I am going to try to keep a record of the most memorable shot I hit in each round of golf in 2011. It would probably be easier to identify the most forgettable, but there is no way I want a record of those.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

What a brilliant Journal. It will also reveal some hidden talents within you. Thanks for sharing.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota

Mike-What a perfect gift for you as they obviously know you are the creative type. I think this journal can be like hub pages. Don't over-think or pressure yourself and just enjoy the journey. That's where you will come up with some great stuff.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 5 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

This is a beautiful and perfect gift! Thank you for sharing with us, how much this gift impacted you. I am bookmarking for further reference on gift giving.


WE5 profile image

WE5 5 years ago

Great reading Mike! I keep a journal and sketchbook of sorts along with 'lists'...not quite as creative as your project but its got me thinking...hmmmmmmm


Noah 5 years ago

Thanks for the kind review of the book and for giving it a shot! I hope you continue making things and enjoying the benefits of this creative challenge!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines

Wow, what a beautiful hub about a beautiful gift! This is truly a beautiful way to awaken one's creativity.

Thanks for sharing Mike!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Carol (1Person), thanks for your comments. It is indeed daunting, but so far I'm hanging there. How lucky you are to have met the author of this book--he is clearly a very creative and talented person. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jacobkuttyta, thanks for stopping by. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Drbj, thanks for your comments. A project involving the contents of my desk drawer would include an inexhaustible supply of pens that no longer write. I'm not sure what could be done with such materials, but it would certainly be interesting.

Oh, yeah, I also have some erasers in there that have hardened. Instead of erasing pencil marks, they leave a smudge of their own.... which might make for a fairly interesting idea. (Nah...)

Thanks again. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Polly, thanks for stopping by. The mailbox idea was mine--not the author's. It would be interesting to know what the owner of the mailbox thought of my little gift. It might not have been good enough to even think of as art, but I did enjoy the challenge.

I always make notes and scribbles and lose them, as well. I have doodles and random thoughts scattered everywhere. I have kept journals, but sometimes I misplace them, as well--or I never have it with me when an idea strikes me.

I do enjoy this one and like having so many ideas tossed at me. It is interesting and challenging.

Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Gloryvetten, I liked the fingerprint idea, also. This journal has a lot of good ideas in it. I really have enjoyed it a great deal. Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Husky, I like your idea. I sometimes had someone keep stats for city league basketball games I played in, but I started to see too much of 42 (my number) misses shot, rebound to other team. That said, I like the idea of finding ways to remember significant personal events in sports. Good luck on your golf game.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Elena. I hope this journal does uncover something new inside me. It is one of the best gifts I've ever received.

Hope you're doing well these days.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Minnetonka Twin, thanks for the insight. You're right, this could be a lot like writing for HubPages where we are always looking for the new idea and new ways to stretch our creativity. I know there will be some days when this will feel like pressure, but for now it is a lot of fun.

And, you're right--the person who gave me this gift is a true supporter of my creative journey.

Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Lilly (Grillzit), thanks for stopping by. I would very much recommend this as a gift for any creative person you know--I have enjoyed it so much. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

WE5, thanks for reading. I have lots of little journals and sketch books also. This book does a nice job of focusing one's thinking in new ways. It is fun and very imaginative, and I heartily recommend it. Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Noah! Thank you, sir, for stopping by and saying hello. I am honored to find you here. Your book is a treasure chest of good ideas, and I thank you for the inspiration you have provided with it.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Jill, thank you for reading. This is a wonderful gift, and I couldn't wait to write about it here. It has given me a creative boost that I am riding the crest of even now. I was also delighted and honored to find the author had stopped by to leave a comment.

Thanks again for stopping by--it's always nice to find your comments.

Mike


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi Mike It is sometimes difficult to think of a new topic, this journal seems like a good idea. Cheers mate.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

What a great idea and your stick to it ness is impressive! I have the hardest time journaling. I'm a big note taker, does that count, a huge compilation of notes... Inspiring and great creative thoughts! :) Katie


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Sounds like a great gift idea and a new way to get the creative juices going. Please keep us updated on how far you have gotten in it. I used to keep a daily writing journal and really enjoyed. I may just start doing that again.


Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 5 years ago from Vermont, USA

Just want to say I concur, a daily creativity journal is a great gift to give or receive. I hope Noah moves a million of 'em.

I have enough irons in the fire presently that I find it difficult to chose one from the bunch to concentrate on and complete. I kept a journal, writing in it regularly for years. I drifted away from that mode of expression some time ago, but plan on dredging up portions to use in future projects.

Good luck with your new-found creativity booster.

CP


arthurchappell profile image

arthurchappell 5 years ago from Manchester, England

sounds a great book - good luck with your projects inspired by it - hope you share some of the results in future hubs too


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Attemptedhumour, I agree--it is difficult to keep the ideas flowing. That is the beauty of this little book in that the inspiration is consistent. Even if some of the suggestions don't inspire me directly, sometimes it will inspire a new thought of my own, and that works just as well.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Katie. I agree with you that it isn't easy to stay with projects like these. When I was younger I kept many notes and journals, but I reached a point where it seemed living through the days was tough enough without writing about it, also. I still made sporadic efforts but nothing steady.

A creativity journal is different enough that it has kept me inspired so far, and I'm going to ride the wave and hope it takes me somewhere nice.

Hope you had a great birthday!

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Susan, it was definitely a nice and greatly-appreciated gift that I have enjoyed tremendously. Hopefully I can provide an update or two here along the way. I confess it has made me want to keep writing journals again, also. We shall see, I guess. Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Christopher, thanks for reading. I used to keep journals regularly, and I have relied on them while creating many of the articles I have written for HubPages. In fact, many people have wondered how I remembered incidents from the long ago so completely--it is to some degree because of the journals.

Thanks for your comments and good wishes. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thanks, Arthur. I hope to share some glimpses of journal-inspired projects in the future. I appreciate your stopping by.

Mike


CollB 5 years ago

I'll be trying out these ideas soon. Thanks for this hub.


Edoka Writes profile image

Edoka Writes 5 years ago

Thanks for this hub. I'm going to purchase the journal.


coffeesnob 5 years ago

Mike,

This sounds awesome. I will have to look for it. I bought a journal/book called living out loud. It has activities to fuel a creative life. One activity is to create your own superhero. It's kind of cool. Also Have you ever heard of the "Wreck this Journal" I bought one of these for a friend. It is wild...Tells you to do things like dribble coffee on your journal page or to tear out a page wad it up and the staple it back in. when I read the reviews some said it was very therapeutic...Any way, nice article...

Blessings

CS


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CollB, thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy a burst of creativity with these ideas. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Edoka, thanks for reading. I am sure you will enjoy the creativity journal, it is a wonderful little book. I hope you will let us know in what ways it inspires you.

Thanks again.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, thanks for reading. I have never heard of "Wreck this Journal" but it sounds madly creative. I might have to look for it. Not that this relates to your comments, but I used to create superheroes when I was a kid--I dressed my GI Joe in a superhero costume and created comic book adventures for it (him). I even listed comic book titles. I wonder if that stuff is still around somewhere.....?

Nice to find you here, CS. I hope you're doing well.

Mike


coffeesnob 5 years ago

Mike, I can see you coming up with new super heroes and creating their adventures..You have an incredibly creative mind. I am doing well. Life has just taken a very busy turn for me. All is good though.blessings


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

So cool that one of your readers met the author of the creativity journal, pretty awesome. I think you've accomplished a lot Mike. For many artists I think getting pen to paper or brush to canvas or video cassettes into a creative arrangement is 99% of the battle. Sounds like an interesting book. I've gone through a few writing and art making exercises similarly in my past, your attempts here reminds me of the value of giving it a try.

Ben


RosWebbART profile image

RosWebbART 5 years ago from Ireland

I love this idea Mike , you have inspired me , thank you.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

CS, I'm glad to hear things are going well for you. It has been an incredibly busy time for me as well, and I look forward to things slowing down a bit and allowing me to get back here more often. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Ben. The author himself made a visit to my page here, and I appreciate that he took the time to say hello.

It is very easy for me not only to fall into creative lapses, but to find the same solutions to creative problems each time--a different kind of creative stagnation. I like the way this little journal forces me to look for new solutions to problems, not just content myself to reusing the same old solutions. It was a very nice gift.

Hope you're doing well. Take care.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

RosWebb, thanks for reading. I'm glad my article could provide a little spark. Take care.

Mike


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Noah Scalin got it! What a cool website he's got too, looks like some powerful art. I see what you're saying now too, about a different kind of stagnation. I'll try and check out his book.


BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

What a great thing! I love the art work. Do you have more you're showing? Linked back to this entry in my hub about journal writing. Carry on!


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Hi, Ben! Noah Scalin does have a great web site, and I am still benefiting from his book. The spark from his ideas continues. Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

BigSerious, thanks for reading. I do have some other hubs where I have displayed artwork, and I also have some artwork on my Facebook page. Still working on a more professional online venue, but hopefully that will happen in the future. Feel free to check out my other sites, and thanks for the link and the kind words. Take care.

Mike


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

Mike, what an inspiring hub! Years ago I kept a journal, but it was like an expanded diary. This sounds like a much greater way to spark creativity.


globalsky profile image

globalsky 5 years ago

So interesting, you create impressive hubs.


pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

What a thoughtful cool gift. The exercises should keep your creative muscles from growing stale. They also help you think out of the box. Voted up, marked useful.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Mysterylady, thanks for stopping by. I have kept journals also, and this is a little different. I am almost a month in and doing well.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Globalsky, thanks for your kind words. Feel free to stop by any time.

Mike


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Pmccray, thanks for reading. You're right, this little book has done wonders for keeping the creative muscles from growing stale. As I mentioned in a comment above, sometimes artists think they are coming up with unique ideas when in reality they are using the same solutions repeatedly (although perhaps in slightly varied forms). I fell into that trap, and this book has shown me when I relax and fall back into a rut.

Thanks again, hope your week is a good one.

Mike


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

mike what an swesome idea for "becoming" more of a creative writer. I think this is awesome and i will try it out.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 5 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Thanks, Rebecca. Although my time has been far more limited lately (evinced by my delay in responding), I still use and benefit from this journal.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

This was interesting. I never knew of these types of journals before. You could actually take the suggestions in it and use it for ideas to overcome writer's block. Like this (with ideas you mentioned but I switched around)...

Open a random drawer and write an article about its contents.

Write about something that could fit in the palm of your hand.

Write about your favorite animal, or car, or place.

It's endless! This opens up a whole new way of thinking up ideas for Hubs. Voted up.


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA Author

Glenn, thanks for your comments. You are correct--a creativity journal opens up endless possibilities. Taking an idea and looking at it in a new way allows for fresh thinking, and is an excellent way to overcome writer's block. As you suggest, it can help us see even the most mundane things in exciting new ways. I have used it consistently throughout the year, and it was always a great source of inspiration for me.

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them a great deal.

Mike

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