Jada and David Parrish
5  Journaling Techniques to Unlock Creativity - Jada And David Parrish

5 Journaling Techniques to Unlock Creativity

Blog by Jada Parrish | Article | 02/20/23

Journaling is one of the most valuable creative outlets available to us. It takes our inner  thoughts and translates them into a physical format while providing us with greater understanding of our most intimate thoughts, beliefs, and desires. It's often referenced as a therapeutic tool, but for me it has been the single greatest tool for unlocking creative thoughts. Maybe that's because art is so closely tied to meaningful human emotions - but journaling truly is a powerful creative tool!

There's no "right" way to go about journaling because it is an expression of your own unique self, thoughts, and ideas. It can feel a little overwhelming if you're new to it though. I've explored some different methods that have freed my mind and let creative thoughts begin to flow. Try these methods and see which one(s) work best for you. 

So grab your journal and favorite pen - a good pen is everything - and find a calm space to  sit. I'm big into smells, so I encourage you to light some incense or sage and play music that calms or inspires you. I personally love listening to healing frequencies when I journal, but I know other artists who love free jazz or jamming out to their favorite bands while they journal - so play whatever feels right!


5  Journaling Techniques to Unlock Creativity - Jada And David Parrish


Stream of Consciousness

Sit down with your journal and favorite pen. Set a time for 5 minutes. WRITE. Write down anything and everything that comes to your mind within those 5 minutes. Get it all out on paper without overthinking or judging yourself. Write until the timer goes off. Read back what you wrote.

What emotions came out? Were there any thoughts that surprised you or you were unaware of? Was one topic consuming your mind more than any other? What was your tone? What else did you notice?

This exercise serves two purposes. It clears your head of any thoughts that are overcrowding your mind and allows for new creative thoughts to seep in. It also gives you the opportunity to reflect back on your thoughts and see if there are any deeper thoughts or emotions you may be curious to explore within your art. 

You can also do this exercise and center your thoughts on a specific topic. EX: "What themes do I see within my art - OR - What scares me?


5 Ideas

This is the journaling technique I find the most challenging but the most rewarding. Challenge yourself to come up with 5 new creative ideas. David and I often set the goal of coming up with 5 new photoshoot ideas, but this can be applied to anything. The only rule is you can't stop until you come up with 5. Some days the ideas come easily. Other days I'm really wracking my brain for them. But the ideas that come out of you when you really set an intention and ask your mind for them can be truly amazing. 

Some of our best pieces of art came from this exercise. 


Draw the same thing every day

A journal doesn't just have to be filled with words. Drawing might be a better medium for you. Sometimes deciding what to draw can be a major blocker to creativity. So, I challenge you to draw the same thing every day. You can pick anything - a duck, a flower, a spaceship, a dog, a house, etc. Just pick something and draw it every day for 100 days. There are no other rules. You can add variation, personality, and more detail and change things up a little each day but the subject matter must stay the same. 

This eliminates any decision making and lets your creativity take the lead.


List 10 reasons why you are able to create

Sometimes I find myself creating barriers to my creation. I go in this nasty thought loop of thinking my ideas are stupid or that I don't have the space I need or materials I need or people to collaborate with. Just a bunch of negative, junky thoughts that try to stop me from creating. 

If you ever find yourself doing that, a great way to break the cycle is to stop and make a list of 10 reasons why you are able to create. This focuses your mind on the resources and creativity ability sitting right in front of you. The only rule is you have to come up with 10. When you train your brain to think about why you can create instead of why you can't, so many new ideas and possibilities will begin opening up.

EX: I can create because:

  • I have Friday off of work, so I have a free day to spend creating.
  • I was just gifted an old film camera that I think would be fun to shoot on.
  • I saw this youtube video about a new type of film I'm dying to use. I'm going to order some.
  • I don't really ever use my guest room for anything. I can turn it into my studio instead.
  • The sun is shining and the light is gorgeous right now.
  • I have a ton of art books that I can look through and use for inspiration.
  • Someone just reached out on instagram and said they were interested in collaborating.
  • I have a strong desire to make something today.
  • I want to share my gift with the world in a way that can inspire and bring joy.
  • I was gifted with a creative mind and a body that provides me the ability to make what I see in my mind a reality.


List your feelings.

Set a timer for 60 seconds. Write down every feeling you are feeling. Really dig deep and self-reflect to make sure you hit on all of your emotions. When the timer goes off, look through them. Ask yourself, do you feel any more connected to one of those feelings over the others? If so, pause on that and ask yourself how you can translate that feeling into a piece of art. 


Here are some of my favorite journaling tools to get you started!

My favorite bullet journal (dotted is my favorite)

My favorite felt tip pens

My favorite ball point pens

Killer incense to set the mood

White sage to cleanse




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Jada + David Parrish are mixed media artists whose work explores the connection between painting, sculpture, motion, and photography.