Writing Makes Photographers More Creative — 5 Easy Tips


Getting personal and a little scientific here…

Once our basic three needs are met (and often even when they’re not), there exists within the human species a hard-wired desire to pursue happiness. For me, happiness has always been inextricably linked with creativity, the two enjoying a direct relationship. The happier I am, the more creative I am. Or more metaphysically speaking, the happier I am, the more open I am to inspiration and creativity. As if joy, laughter and contentedness can fine-tune the antennae that allow inspiration to be channeled from the Creative Source.

There are myriad studies and books that link journaling to happiness. Turns out journaling is a powerful tool that not only unsticks the blocked Creator but also increases happiness. Turns out it’s not just for junior high girls.

Like Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which pours on and on about wonders of journaling, I make regular “artist’s dates” (read the book or infer as you will), and keep “morning pages,” where I write, first thing, every day. The practice, Cameron insists, is not just for the writer. Any “artist” — be you painter, screenwriter or photographer — will benefit from getting the “juices flowing.” I can attest to this. When I’m on it, I’m ON it creatively.

[aside, I use Evernote for my journaling – allows me to pull my journals up anywhere, computer, ipad, iphone…]

But the other benefit of regular journaling, it turns out, is an elevated mood. University of Hertfordshire psychology professor Richard Wiseman wrote the research-backed “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” which boils down peer-reviewed scientific studies on happiness into an entertaining, simple reduction. Ultimately, journaling distils into five main types, the conjunction of which can have a profound impact on one’s happiness:

1) Expressive Writing. Put your feelings down on paper and watch your self-esteem grow and your smile widen.

2) Gratitude Journaling. There’s been plenty of this bandied around the web recently, and for good reason. Spend 15 minutes listing that which you are grateful for.

3) Describe your Perfect Self. Recall a time in your life when everything just…clicked. That amazing experience. A high point in your happiness history.

4) Affectionate Writing. Now this one is win-win: Write to a person you love or care about and tell them how much they mean to you and why.

5) Progressive Review. Make a record of all that is going well in your life. Note the progress you’ve made towards goals you have set. Don’t dwell on the obstacles — focus on the breakthroughs.

Sure, it’s becoming a challenge to fit into each day all the stuff we should do. Between the daily exercise, yoga, meditation and to-do listing it’s hard enough to find time for the 9-5 stuff that MUST get done. But the rewards of happiness — as opposed to the age-old mentaility of the tortured, brooding artis — are too substantial — and immediate — to be ignored.

If only blogging counted…but it doesn’t…. Skip that b/s email to a buddy and write for 10 minutes everyday next week.

I already felt some of these while blogging. But what is the difference of journal? Can someone show me some samples of a journal? jphilsantos@me.com thank you.

Nassim says:

Blogging count too ;)

Alborz says:

Nice one, I’m going to try it for a while!

Jeff says:


You are so right. I journaled for years before I awakened my creative self. Maybe the creative self was what was looking for. A few years ago after photographing for about 5 years. The Artist Way became my guide and mentor of getting the juice flowing. I had followed the 12 week practice and then I continued it on my blog for sometime. The blog still flows but not as often, even though I keep at it.

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Barbara says:

I know the value of those morning pages and journaling, but it’s so tough to eke out a few minutes to work on my novel-in-progress! But thanks for the reminder that it might make my writing time more efficient! I do argue that blogging helps keep the words flowing – at least the non-niche kind like mine, where you’re free to write about whatever’s on your mind and get that junk out of there.

stuart says:

I’ll second Tom B’s recommendation of http://750words.com/.

Tom B says:

There’s a great site called 750words.com that lets you set up a private blog for the purpose of your daily journaling. Also supplies some analytics that are useful.

You are so interesting! I do not suppose I’ve read something like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with a few unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

I’m a big expressive writer. I love putting my feelings down on paper and noticing the reaction. I own my own blog and i can’t help but notice peoples reactions to my writing. I also use progressive review writing to keep track of my day to day business transactions.

rob andrew says:

Excellent post, could not agree more. Been reading some Mark Twain and I cannot believe how much it inspires my photography. His descriptiveness inspires my photographic thinking as well as my blogging. Now to practice writing some more!

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susana says:

I think blogging “doesn’t count” because you cannot be as free and open with a blog as you can with a journal, or perhaps you can, but then you are revealing issues with boundaries and privacy, and revealing your lack thereof, which is another ball of wax

. Another therapeutic journaling tool is to write with your non-dominant hand, this accesses different parts of your mind and I have heard (not tried yet so cannot attest) that it is an amazing repressed memory prompter.

Matt says:

I 2nd the “Why doesn’t blogging count” question. And, what to write? Any sources or pointers to advice and studies?

Im following your blog and webcasts and I think they are great. You are the kind of photographer both in attitude as well as person that I appreciate and admire.
– hope it is okey to include a link to my site, if not remove it.

faisal says:

Writing gives a sense of freedom, every time.

Solveig says:

Why doesn’t blogging count?

perception says:

I would count blogging if it were a private entry, most blogs are for others to be read and I’d consider this type of writing to be more for yourself.

Sergiu says:

I thought I had it all better back when I was writing regulary.You gave me conformation.Interesting how you touched the age-old cliche of tortured artists.The truth is, however, that some of the world’s greatest talents were most creative when at their worst.
Writing is another way to chanel your juices and it works great when oyhu feel you’re stuck, when you have no inspiration and no drive.Just write,.Good things happen to those who write.Also, reading for me is essential.Your mind feels like a spoonge absorbing awesomness when you stumble upon a good book.

ali anderson says:

i railed against “the artist’s way” for a long time before i finally succumbed to the intrinsic value of writing. now it’s like brushing my teeth. maybe more like flossing…doesn’t get done *every* day, but darn close.

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