Creativity Today

A Different Way to Live Life


I was recently researching Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals and Islamic mosques for a paper in Art History, which prompted me to think about the intricate and decorative patterns used on the interior of the mosques. Interestingly, many of these patterns are geometric tessellations — the repetition of shapes to create patterns in which there are no gaps or overlaps of any of the shapes. The word tessellation itself is derived from the Greek word “tesseres,” or “four,” which corresponds with the fact that the first tessellations were initially made from four-sided squares.

Tessellations in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.  Via: Wikimedia Commons

Tessellations in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
Via: Wikimedia Commons

A tessellation that I created online.

A tessellation that I created online.

I first became familiar with tessellations as a child when watching an episode of Cyberchase, a PBS Kids show about math, in which the characters use patterns of tessellations to make rafts and other gapless devices so they can traverse over lava, piranhas, and other dangerous obstacles. While watching the episode, I was immediately fascinated by the simple, repetitive beauty of these patterns, as well as the idea that tessellations can spread out and repeat over an infinite surface. I have always loved thinking about the concept of infinity, and tessellations have provided me the perfect lens through which to do so.

Bird/Fish tessellation by M.C. Esher.  Via:

Bird/Fish tessellation by M.C. Esher.

Throughout my research of tessellations, I have been particularly inspired by M.C. Escher – a Dutch artist whose tessellations are quite famous — to create my own tessellations using wooden geometric blocks, online tessellation makers, or just by drawing patterns of shapes onto a piece of paper. I also enjoy playing the DaVinci’s Challenge board game, in which players must create certain shapes with their tiles within a large tessellation in order to win points.

Tessellations are often found in unusual places, such as on pavements, and, of course, in nature.

Creative Challenge:

As you observe the world, keep an eye out for tessellations. Additionally, create your own tessellation, either using the mediums mentioned above or using your own medium. Try to incorporate different shapes and colors to create a variety of interesting patterns. Send me pictures of your creations!


Do you find tessellations interesting? Why or why not? Comment below to discuss.


Thinking Putty

A few days ago, I received “Thinking Putty” as a gift. I opened its plastic wrapping and tin container and was ecstatic to find a giant mound of purple putty, which I immediately started squishing in my hands. Since I received this putty, I have not put it down or stopped playing with it, even when I was doing my homework, walking home from school, and writing this blog post.

Needless to say, I have loved putty my entire life, whether it’s in the form of Silly Putty, artists’ erasers, sticky tack, and, now, Thinking Putty. For me, keeping my hands busy with putty serves both as a means of maintaining concentration and defeating stress, as well as a constant source of entertainment — for I always have the opportunity to make a sculpture of a human head, an animal, or an abstract shape.

Elephant made of Thinking Putty

Elephant made of Thinking Putty

But, it is more than just these aspects that make playing with putty one of my favorite daily experiences. I also love listening to the slight popping sound it makes when I quickly pull it apart (of course, unless I pull it in a certain way, it is completely silent), as well as watching it change from thick to thin and from short to long as I mold it into different shapes.

Other great elements of putty include: its portability (the mounds of putty are small enough to carry around, although I often take smaller pieces with me throughout my day); its constant state of readiness (it never dries out); and its appropriateness for most situations and locations (for example, it is easy to use silently while watching a movie). Its versatility makes it a perfect companion.

My collection of Thinking Putty

My collection of Thinking Putty

The history of putty, particularly Silly Putty, has a long and circuitous route. Although the scientists involved in making Silly Putty failed in their initial attempts to invent a rubber substitute during World War II, when rubber was in short supply, Silly Putty finally became an incredibly popular item for both adults and children through ingenious marketing, serendipity, and a lot of good luck. Happily, for adults and children alike, as the song “The Roses of Success,” from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, reminds us, “from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success.” And thus, this wonderful putty, and all its successors — including Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, was born.

My name made out of Thinking Putty

My name made out of Thinking Putty

I strongly believe that this putty is the embodiment of creativity, for there are an almost infinite number of shapes you can mold it into and purposes you can use it for. Playing with it helps enhance my thought process as well, for, often when I am writing, the mindless stretching of the putty allows me to collect my thoughts, thereby making me even more creative.

Creative Challenge:

Buy any form of putty, whether it is one that I mentioned above or one that you have discovered yourself. Play with it as much as possible and discover new creations you can make and purposes it can serve. The possibilities are endless.


What is your favorite aspect of putty? What shapes have you created? Comment below to discuss.


The Rainbow Loom Craze

Every summer there’s a new craze to entertain kids in camp and on the beach. This summer it’s Rainbow Loom, a kit that features a loom, a hook, a mini loom, and small, multi-colored rubber bands. Using the materials in this kit, weavers can make beautiful rubber band bracelets easily and quickly.


A Peruvian woman weaving textiles. Credit:

Weaving is prominent in many elements of popular culture, such as the use of spinning wheels in stories such as Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin.  Also, weaving is featured prominently in textiles, as well as in art forms such as tapestries. The art of weaving tapestries has been a popular art form for many centuries, and many of these tapestries are still on view today. I have seen many tapestries, but two of my favorites are The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which can be seen at the Musée National du Moyen Age in Paris (and are the subject of a fabulous book by Tracy Chevalier) and The Unicorn in Captivity tapestry at the Cloisters Museum in New York City.


The Lady and the Unicorn “Sight” tapestry. Credit:


The Unicorn in Captivity tapestry. Credit:

The Rainbow Loom.

The Rainbow Loom.

Simpler weaving techniques have been created, though, that allow everyone to create art projects such as potholders, bracelets, and keychains, with materials such as cotton, rubber bands, and string. Rainbow Loom is one such example, but it distinguishes itself by providing instant gratification. Although I do love making pot holders and string bracelets, the one setback to these two activities is the longer amount of time required to complete them. With Rainbow Loom, on the other hand, anyone can make beautiful, complicated bracelets in a matter of minutes.

photo 2

My collection of rubber bands in a Plano box.

One of my favorite steps in the process of Rainbow Looming is choosing my color combination. The Rainbow Loom kit comes with a pack of assorted colors, but packs of individual colors are available for purchase as well. These colors range from turquoise to glow-in-the-dark to tie dye, and I always enjoy mixing and matching all of the colors to create infinite possibilities of bracelets. It’s also fun to use school or camp colors to add spirit to the process. Creating bracelets is especially intriguing for anyone who loves patterns, for each bracelet can be made using a host of possible patterns, both in the style of the weave itself and the order and arrangement of the colors. And these bracelets can be made anywhere, from the beach to restaurants to the car, which allows for endless fun, all the time. In addition, the creativity of organization comes into play with Rainbow Loom, for you can buy Plano boxes to store all of your Rainbow Loom rubber bands for easy access.

Furthermore, the Rainbow Loom company has created instructional videos online that explain step-by-step how to create all of the different Rainbow Loom patterns. But the best part is that there are still new Rainbow Loom patterns being invented, which gives you the opportunity to experiment and see what happens!

My "teardrop" Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My “Raindrops” Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My "original" Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My “Original” Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My "liberty twistz" Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My “Liberty Twistz” Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My block-color "fishtail" bracelet.

My block-color “Fishtail” bracelet.

A Rainbow Loom style that I invented.

A Rainbow Loom style that I invented.

My "flower" Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My “Flower” Rainbow Loom bracelet.

My "Double Rhombus 2" bracelet.

My “Double Rhombus 2″ bracelet.

Creative challenge:

This leads me to my creative challenge of the day: use a rainbow loom to create bracelets of your own! Look online at Rainbow Loom’s instructional videos to learn new techniques. Start simply and then move on to more intricate designs. Enjoy your creations!

As a second challenge, find a weaving community or class in your area and join in. If you’re in New York City, try Loop of the Loom.


What is your favorite bracelet style to make and what are your favorite color combinations to use? Comment below to discuss.


The Physics of Airport Metal Detectors

Airport metal detector. Credit:

You have just arrived at the airport, two hours early for your flight. You check in your bags, after waiting forever in line, and then walk to security, where you wait for an equally long amount of time. While on line, you take off your shoes, your belt, and your sweatshirt and take your computer out of your bag. As you get closer to the front of the line, you place all of the items you’re holding in a plastic bin, which you take from the pile of plastic bins waiting by the x-ray and metal detectors. You place the plastic bins and your bag on the conveyor belt leading to the x-ray machine and then walk over to the metal detector line in preparation for the final security measures. You try to remember if you have any contraband items on you as you walk through the grey metal detector (the color reflects your mood at the moment, for airport security is most certainly not the highlight of the day). This remembering is confirmed as the metal detector lets out a loud, annoying BEEP BEEP BEEP and the security guard nearby asks you to come with him so he can scan you and see just what you are trying to sneak through. He runs his scanner all over your body, and as it passes by your wrists, BEEP BEEP BEEP – you had forgotten to take off your metal bracelets. The security guard takes them from you, runs them through the x-ray machine, and makes you pass through the metal detector once more. You do so, and as you walk through, you are relieved that the metal detector is no longer angry with you, for it does not BEEP BEEP BEEP in contempt. Once safely on the other side of security, you rush to collect all your belongings from the x-ray machine deposit area and decide to visit the nearest Hudson News store to buy some chocolate for the plane ride, a reward to yourself for enduring the minor ordeal you just experienced.

It happened to us:

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, my family had a first-hand experience with the airport security machines. While on line waiting to pass through the traditional metal detector, my thirteen-year-old sister was ushered over to the line for the millimeter wave machine. My family thought nothing of it until she passed through the machine…and it detected an explosive material on her hands. The security officers immediately took her to the side and took a swab from her hands for further testing, and those results also indicated possible explosives. She was then taken into a separate room to do a more thorough, private pat down, the results of which indicated that the possible explosives the machine had detected on her hands were really the hairspray that she had used that morning.

The physics behind it all:

Although airport security measures can certainly be considered time-consuming, as well as sometimes annoying (when you and the metal detector do not agree with each other), it is a necessary procedure in order to ensure the utmost safety on the flight. The airport metal detectors themselves are able to provide this security using a great deal of technology and, more specifically, physics. Basic metal detectors are created by using two pieces of coiled wire (one called a transmitter coil, through which the electricity that powers the machine flows, and the other called a receiver coil, which is attached to a sound system) to create a magnetic field. When a piece of metal enters through the magnetic field, the electricity powering the magnetic field runs through the metal object, creating a second magnetic field around the object. This metal field then reacts with the receiver coil, which, in turn, then triggers the sound system. When implemented in airports, the magnetic field created by the metal detector is large and encompasses all of the space underneath the rectangular arch that the metal detector makes. If a person walks through the metal detector and sets off the alarm, airport security is informed that this person could potentially be hiding a dangerous, metal-based weapon, such as a knife or a gun, and further research is conducted.

According to a fact sheet on airport security produced by the Health Physics Society, “Even though magnetic fields [created by metal detectors] are a form of radiation, the radiation the machine emits is nonionizing … [and] does not cause biological damage. Therefore, even repeated exposure to metal detectors has no associated radiation risk.” With this in mind, airport metal detectors seem like a very effective and safe method of enforcing security in airports.This is certainly true in most respects; however, there are, in fact, some downsides to metal detectors. For example, many seemingly mundane objects can set off the metal detectors simply because they contain small amounts of metal. According to a 2010 article by Gary McKechnie, “7 Surprising Items That Set Off Airport Security,” these items can include aluminum foil wrappers (such as those used to package gum),  headbands (due to the metal used to structure the headband), and underwire bras. Aside from these minor setbacks, however, metal detectors are overall a great method of maintaining security in airports.

The concept of metal detectors was first introduced as a form of airport security in America in 1972 as a means of preventing people from hijacking planes, which had been occurring frequently. At that time, metal detectors were not sophisticated enough to detect all sizes of metals and security officers themselves were more lax regarding the security regulations, such as that everyone is required to pass through the security detectors. This did not change until after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; the airport security community knew that, in order to prevent another terrorist attack via hijacked airplanes, they would have to be more vigilant. Thus, the technology of the airport metal detector was improved and several other security devices were put into use, such as the backscatter machine and millimeter wave machine, that all approached the need for airport security slightly differently, regarding both the design of the machines and in what way they are meant to detect different materials.

Backscatter machine. Credit:

Backscatter machine. Credit:

Both the backscatter machine and the millimeter wave machine differ from the traditional airport metal detector in that they both have the ability to detect materials other than metal. They do this by utilizing either radiation or, similar to the airport metal detector, electromagnetic waves. According to a 2010 New York Times article by Susan Stellin entitled “Are Scanners Worth the Risk?”, “The more controversial ‘backscatter’ devices [(controversial in part because the exact amount of the radiation given off by this machine is unknown)] project an X-ray beam onto the body, creating an image displayed on a monitor viewed by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee in another room. The “millimeter wave” machines, which are considered less risky because they do not use X-rays, bounce electromagnetic waves off the body to produce a similar image.” At first, in 2010, both of these machines were used in airports, but they met some critical reviews, mainly by people unclear about exactly what image these machines displayed to an airport security officer. As with the initial reception of the airport metal detector, people also wondered if these security measures infringed on their rights. In the end, though, the TSA announced at the beginning of this year that all of the backscatter machines would be removed from airports and replaced with the millimeter wave machine, in addition to keeping the traditional metal detector in airports as well.

Millimeter wave machine. Credit:

Millimeter wave machine. Credit:

Although the millimeter wave machine, like the backscatter machine, is a bit controversial regarding the lack of knowledge about what exactly airport security can see in the images projected by this machine, it is, in the end, less risky than the backscatter machine because it does not use radiation waves that could be harmful to the human body. Instead, as explained by a New York Times article, “Using Advanced Physics to Find Concealed Weapons,” by Matthew L. Wald, “millimeter wave sensors are passive and rely on detecting energy emitted by objects.” The machines work by bouncing electromagnetic waves off a person’s skin to create an image of the person’s body and any objects on it, which can be detected because “[t]he energy the sensors look for is in an unfamiliar part of the electromagnetic spectrum…Human bodies radiate the energy at a rate higher than metal, plastic or composite materials, so those objects can be spotted under clothing, in silhouette.” So, by using physics that is more advanced than that used in the traditional metal detector and that relies on picking up the waves emitted by objects rather than searching for objects with a magnetic field, the millimeter wave definitely improves the level of security in airports by showing airport security officers exactly where a contraband item is on a person’s body and what exactly that item is, as opposed to the traditional metal detector, which just informs the security officer that the person has a piece of metal located somewhere on his body.

As my family’s experiences can attest to, the millimeter wave machines has its flaws, which is one of the reasons it is used in conjunction with the traditional metal detector. Neither machine is perfect, and so they must work together to make up for their flaws or incapabilities.I am sure that, as time continues to pass, the physics and technology behind airport security will only continue to improve; who knows what kinds of amazing security machines we will be able to utilize in the future! In the meantime, though, the next time you go to an airport and prepare to pass through security, I ask you not to think of the process as annoying and too time-consuming, as I once did. Rather, think about how amazing it is that concepts in physics, both simple and complex, can be used to ensure the safety and well-being of each airplane passenger.

Creative challenge:

This leads me to my creative challenge of the day: take a funny personal anecdote and explore it in terms of a certain field involved (for example, I took an anecdote about metal detectors and explored it through physics).


What are some of the anecdotes you wish to explore? What field of study does it relate to? Comment below to discuss.


Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix, colorful, wax-covered pieces of string that can be bent into any shape, are among my favorite art projects. I frequently play with Wikki Stix whenever my hands are free, and I love seeing what I can make. Some of my creations involve making people in different outfits and locations. For example, on a trip to Paris a few years ago, I made Parisian girls modeled after the girls I saw walking down the street. In addition to that, I have created surfers, hula girls, band members, and so many more. These bendy toys are fabulous, portable entertainment, perfect for restaurants, airplanes, and anytime when you can spare a few moments. I often carry them in a ziploc bag in my purse and pull them out whenever I have the opportunity.

I look forward to making even more sculptures as I continue playing with Wikki Stix; they are a true catalyst for creation and involve a lot of imagination!

Two of my Parisian girls made of wikki sticks.

Two of my Parisian girls made of Wikki Stix.

A wikki stick girl playing a wikki stick piano

A Wikki Stix girl playing a Wikki Stix piano.

A wikki stick girl.

A very fashionable Wikki Stix girl.


A display of many of my Wikki Stix creations.

Creative challenge:

My creative challenge for today is to make a sculpture out of Wikki Stix or any other flexible materials, such as pipe-cleaners - you’ll be surprised at how many amazing sculptures you can create!


Do you have any other crafts that you enjoy doing? If so, what cool creations have you made? Comment below to discuss.


Forget Buenos Aires: Evita Takes New York!

This post is an article I wrote that was originally published in The Hewitt Times. See below for the creative challenge. 


As a present for having to get my four wisdom teeth removed over winter break, my mother took me to see the Broadway show Evita, a revival of the original 1978 Broadway production. The show tells the story of Eva Peron - lovingly nicknamed Evita – the former First Lady of Argentina, who rose from being a poor girl living in a small town to being one of the most significant people in Argentina.

My Evita playbill.
My Evita playbill.

I was especially excited to see the show because its composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, happens to be my favorite composer of all time. He is brilliant for so many reasons. His creative mind and fabulous ear for music enables him to compose remarkable pieces. In addition, Webber uses the repetition of melodies in his different pieces to subconsciously instill in the audience member an association between a melody and an event or feeling. This is especially prevalent in Evita (as well as in The Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite shows). For example, in the opening scene, which portrays the end of the story, as Argentinians are mourning the death of Evita, the melody playing intermittently throughout the mourners’ song (called “Requiem” - skip to 1:45) is the same melody of the song Evita sings at the very end of the show (called “Lament”), as she is dying. Additionally, small aspects of this melody occur throughout the song Evita sings as she is preparing for a European tour (called “Rainbow High” - skip to 0:24) after she becomes the First Lady, which foreshadows Evita’s sickness (which the audience first becomes aware of during her European tour). Interspersing the same melody at three crucial points in Evita’s life (and death) keeps the melody in the audience’s mind as an association with and a signal of Evita’s illness and death.

The musical aspects of the show were brought to life by Argentinian star Elena Roger as Evita. As soon as I heard her distinct voice, I immediately fell in love with her (and, of course, as soon as I got home I downloaded the entire Evita soundtrack and watched countless videos of Elena singing on YouTube). Additionally, her attitude while playing Evita was spot-on; it felt like I was watching the real Evita going through her life.

The real Evita Peron. Credit:
The real Evita Peron. Credit:

In addition to the music, the presentation of the show was superb. The costumes were eye-catching, engaging, and, in the case of several of Evita’s dresses, beautiful. The set was charming. The dancing, choreographed by Tony award-winning choreographer Rob Ashford, was magnificent, and it truly captured the emotions of each song.

Evita at the Marquis Theatre. Credit:
Evita at the Marquis Theatre. Credit:

All of these elements combined lead Evita to tie with Phantom as #1 on my list of the top Broadway shows I have ever seen. However, much to my chagrin, Evita is having its final performance on Saturday, January 26, and I encourage everyone to see the show before it closes. The show covers many interests (history, musical theater, Latin America, just to name a few), so it is certain to appeal to every type of person.

I just have one request to those who plan to see Evita: buy an extra ticket and take me with you!

Creative challenge:

This leads me to this week’s creative challenge: find a show, movie, or book that you particularly enjoyed and write an article about it! Hopefully, you’ll find, like I did, that the experience of writing about something you love and articulating the reasons why you appreciate it makes you love it even more.


Have you seen Evita, either as a show or as a movie? If so, what was your favorite scene or song and why? And do you agree with me regarding the brilliance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in the show? Comment below to discuss.


The Museum of Mathematics

Last week, my family and I went to a new math museum in Manhattan called The Museum of Mathematics (also known as MoMath). To my delight, when I got there, I found it was full of interactive activities that involved math yet also involved creativity.

My cousin inside one of the exhibits.

My cousin inside one of the exhibits.

This museum is perfect for people of all ages; everyone in my family loved it, from my seven-year-old sister to my 28-year-old cousin (who, as an engineer, loves math).


The image I “painted” on the digital whiteboard.

Among my favorite activities at this museum was a digital whiteboard on which you “painted” different colors and patterns, which were then displayed on the whiteboard as if seen through a kaleidoscope.

There was also an area that was full of different puzzles, such as Rubik’s cubes, the game Rush Hour, the Fifteen Puzzle (my all-time favorite puzzle), and tangrams.

Creative challenge:

Overall, this museum was a perfect combination of math, creativity, and fun, and I encourage everyone to visit it – this is part one of my creative challenge.

The second part of today’s creative challenge is to play puzzles. These can either be traditional jigsaw puzzles or puzzles like those that are featured at MoMath. There are versions of these puzzles online or you can buy them here, as well as in various store.


If you could design a creative and fun museum based on your interests and hobbies, what would it be like? What kinds of activities would it include? Comment below to discuss.


The Science of Art

This past weekend, while visiting the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Station in New York City, I came upon a very interesting booth called “Internal Fire Glass.” Naturally, this sparked my curiosity, and I immediately went in to the booth. Once there, I saw beautiful glass marbles of varying sizes that contained optical illusions: if you held a marble in your hand and looked down into it, the pattern inside the marble seemed as if it was spiraling down below your hand. As a huge fan of optical illusions, I immediately fell in love with this art form.

One of Scott Pernicka's marbles.

One of Scott Pernicka’s marbles.

I began to talk to Scott Pernicka, the creator of these marbles, about his amazing creations. I soon learned that he was very interested in combining art and physics to create his own amazing, unique design.

One of the necklaces I designed.

One of the necklaces I designed.

This especially caught my attention because I have always enjoyed finding creativity within fields with which creativity is not commonly associated. For example, I love to design jewelry, which is commonly thought of as a creative art. It is true that, upon first glance, this hobby of mine seems to solely relate to art; however, looking more closely, jewelry designing can also fall under the categories of math and science.

My jewelry designs are often based on distinctive patterns I create in my mind, and this fascination with creating patterns can most certainly be attributed to my love of mathematics, which involves finding patterns both in mathematical formulas and in the surrounding world. One example of this is the tessellation, a pattern that repeats over and over with no gaps or overlaps. This same concept of patterns can also be attributed to science, as can be seen with Scott Pernicka’s marbles, as well as with Newton’s Cradle, which, when its spheres are dropped in certain ways, creates patterns through the spheres’ movements.

Creative challenge:

And so, I present to you the creative challenge of the day: design a pattern that appeals to you. This pattern could be in a tessellation, a jewelry design, a sketch, a poem, a sculpture, or anything else you can think of.


In your daily life, what types of creative activities do you participate in? Which fields do these activities relate to? Are there any fields that you gravitate more towards? If so, why? Comment below to discuss.

Be sure to check out Facebook and Twitter for more information on Internal Fire Glass and visit the Grand Central Station Holiday Fair up until December 24 to see the remarkable Internal Fire Glass marbles for yourself.


The Power of Writing Workshops

Last summer, I attended my first writing workshop at Writopia Lab. It was literally magical. I had been having writer’s block frequently for about three months, which was so frustrating. It had used to be so easy to become inspired and write a poem or a story, but, it had since become extremely difficult, and I didn’t understand why.

But then, I went to Writopia, and, suddenly, I could write again. I wrote plays, poems, and short stories in a warm environment full of people who loved writing just like I did. They all gave me feedback on my writing, and, because of that constructive yet informative criticism, I am a much better writer.

The Writopia logo.

The Writopia logo.

Although there aren’t Writopia classes everywhere in the world, there are certainly writing workshops everywhere. And I encourage you all to go to one if ever you find yourself without inspiration and even if you do have inspiration, so you have the opportunity to share and improve your work.

And if you can’t go to an official writing workshop, there is always another option: Talk to your friends who are interested in writing and create your own workshop! It will have the exact same effect as a professional writing workshop, with the added bonus of being with your friends.

Creative challenge:

This leads me to today’s creative challenge: write a story, short story, poem, script, essay, article, blog post, or any other genre you enjoy writing. It doesn’t matter if you are inspired or if you’re in the midst of writer’s block. Just write whatever comes to you. Bring it to a writing workshop near you and watch magic occur before your very eyes.


Have you ever been to a writing workshop? If so, do you love writing workshops as much as I do? Do you feel they add to your writing abilities? Why or why not? Comment below to discuss.


Is Journal Writing Really Effective?

I have a love-hate relationship with journals and journal writing.

My personal Moleskine journal.

My personal Moleskine journal.

On the one hand, journals are a great way to keep your thoughts and observations in an organized place where you know you will be able to easily access them later. Accessibility is something I have always loved about journals – after all, in our hectic daily lives, it is important to have some aspect of organization!

I’ve read that creative people with imaginative ideas always jot down their thoughts so they won’t forget them. British novelist and journalist Will Self is an example of this – he has said, “[a]lways carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” I agree with this philosophy, as thoughts are easily lost and I wish to remember as much as I can of my own personal musings and inspirations.

But, on the other hand, journals can be counterproductive, in my opinion, for two reasons:

  1. Sometimes my thoughts are simply too complicated to be organized into a journal. I find journals especially appropriate when I am traveling and documenting my vacation because my writings are full of concrete thoughts, so everything is much less chaotic.
  2. It’s often much more convenient to scribble away on a piece of paper or type into a word document or onto a phone (and with all the new technologies today, there are even apps to use as journals!) than to take out a journal, open it up to a blank page, and start writing. I often find that by the time that is complete, whatever thought I had in my head is gone!

Whether or not journals are the best way to document thoughts, it is still important to document them for future reference, as well as to make sure you retain all of your creativity and imagination.

Creative challenge:

And so I present my creative challenge of the day: Write down, or type (in a place where you know you will be able to find it later), any interesting thoughts, sentences, or phrases that come to your mind that you don’t want to forget. If someone tells you something funny, write it down. If you overhear a thought-provoking conversation (or any fascinating conversation, for that matter), write it down.

Use this collection of writing to inspire you in the future so you won’t easily be debilitated by writer’s block. Try to form some of your writings into a story, poem, or any other genre of writing, or perhaps try to create a piece of art based on them. I frequently use this method, and, I can promise you, it is both enjoyable and effective.


Do you like journals and enjoy keeping them? Why or why not? Comment below to discuss.

And please feel free to share some of the phrases you have written down either in journals or other places. I always love seeing what kinds of ideas interest other people.



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