Will Burns

Unleash Creativity Blog

Scientific studies that help us unleash our most human attribute: creativity.

The Act Of Writing A Journal Increases Creativity

Photo by  Brent Gorwin  on  Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I do a lot of writing for work. Often, I don’t know what I really think about a topic until I start writing. It’s weird. But I’ll sit down with a rough idea of what I think and start writing and, boom, suddenly my thought process has drifted to something even better, and something I didn’t anticipate at all.

Well, I read an article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about how there’s some science behind creativity levels and keeping a regular journal/diary. In it, psychologist Howard Wiseman says,

Journaling gives people perspective. It does that by tapping into the unconscious. Once you put a pen between your fingers or your fingertips touch the keyboard, it opens up this free-associative process of the unconscious, which opens the door to creativity.

In fact, I remember my old friend, Dr. Bob Deutsch, who is a cognitive anthropologist, once tell me, “I don’t know what I think until I start writing.” I can relate.

In the article, Lisa Page, a clinical psychologist in Park Ridge, Illinois, put a finer point on the creative benefits of writing. Page believes writing in a journal can slow down the mind and stop racing thoughts.

That last part is intriguing to me. On one hand, having lots of racing thoughts in our minds while doing a creative project might be a good thing, since you need thoughts to collide in order to form new ideas. More thoughts, more ideas, right?

But perhaps there can be too many racing thoughts. So many that it’s like pounding all the keys on the piano at once—it’s just noise.

Think about it. While writing, your brain must focus enough to type each letter, each word, each sentence, and I wonder if that focus does, in fact, reduce the noise levels in our minds and increase the odds of an idea. Just the act of writing.

Page agrees.

It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be complete sentences. Just try writing for five minutes. People come back and tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, it was so cathartic. I went on to write for 20 or 30 minutes.’

I would challenge you to take it further. Next time you have a creative challenge and maybe aren’t sure what to do with it, sit down at your computer and start writing. See what happens.

Could be that the act of writing might just unlock an idea.


Will Burns is a Forbes Contributor, a marketing consultant, and CEO of Ideasicle, a virtual idea generation company. Follow him on Twitter @WillOBurns.