Journaling to Embrace the Beautiful, Creative Mess You Are

I love journaling. If you don’t take me at my word, then I present the evidence: I currently have five journals going simultaneously—one for figuring out life, one for figuring out my fiction, one for art journaling, a scrapbook of inspirational images, and a sketchbook for the overflow of miscellaneous, rand-o thoughts.

So, yeah, you could say I’m something of a journaling expert.

The reason I keep so many journals is that they give me a place to be the messy, confused, creatively beautiful mess that I am. Like most creative people, my brain often feels like a crowded subway at rush hour. Whenever I stop for a moment, I get an influx of ideas flowing in, bumping and tangling with ideas flowing out. A mix of emotions get pushed up in each other’s personal space. Some ideas are patient, some are impatient and let me know by being incredibly annoying. As I go throughout my day, I carry all that chaos with me.

Jack London, American novelist, journalist, and social activist is quoted as saying:

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”

Jack London understood that your brain (or gray matter) is precious, and it needs a break from the constant waterfall of thoughts. Add in our modern society, where we’re inundated by a culture that worships perfection, success, and wealth, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed—as if there’s no place for fun exploration, no safe haven to be imperfect, flawed, and overflowing with all the feels. No place to figure out your goals, work out those idea sparks, or regurgitate the same “I can’t” message until you realize that, in reality, you can.

A journal, whether it be for words, art, scribbles, lists, or gratitude, is the place you get to be yourself, or dream up the person you want to become. You get to be in a place where no one is judging you and there are no rules. If it sounds a little like a utopia with a side of badass, you’d be correct.

I can tell you to take a few minutes today to buy yourself a journal, but it’s more about you than it is about me. It’s about doing something good for yourself, investing in your mind, your creativity, your future, or just some good old-fashioned sanity. Don’t do it because I said so. Do it because you deserve a place to be the beautiful mess that makes you so incredibly special.