Is there a correlation between mental health and creativity? This may be a loaded question, but my quick answer is yes! I’ve created this post full of journal prompts for creatives because of my experience with clients in the creative industry. There have been studies done with inclusive or conflicting results. And there may actually be two sides to asking and answering a question like this. Are you asking if utilizing creativity improves mental health? Or, are you wondering whether being a creative person makes you more prone to mental health issues?
As a mental health professional and a creative writer, I’ve looked at myself and my clients from both perspectives. I use journal prompts and journaling, in general, to help you process your thoughts and feelings. In this way, utilizing a creative gift of writing helps improve mental health because you’re able to take what’s in your head and get it onto paper. I have also found that the clients I work with have been through a great deal of trauma in their lives. Some of it was because of their differences from their family and others, which is often the case for creative individuals. There were, of course, many other events that led to the traumas that may have had nothing to do with the creative gift.
Are people with higher creativity more likely to suffer from anxiety? Although research results are mixed, there have been studies that would suggest creative individuals are no more likely than anyone else to experience anxiety or any other mental health concerns. However, the same study deems writers to be the exception and were found to be more prone to mental health concerns than other creative groups. Another study conducted in the United States in 2007 sited no significant differences between creatives and non-creatives when it comes to mental health disorders. Again, with the exception of writers, who showed marked differences in terms of coping skills.
Regardless of results or more research that is yet to be done, I know for a fact that creative individuals and those who operate in the creative industry deserve attention to be drawn to your mental health. You don’t have to be a pop culture icon for someone to be concerned about you either! In this post you will find 13 journal prompts for creatives that will get you on the road to mental health. I’m going to give you the prompts and I’m also going to explain why the particular prompt is helpful. And I want you to understand how to respond to the prompt just in case it isn’t completely clear. Grab your journal if you have one and let’s get started!
What are your creative gifts and how do you use them?
Do you see your creative skill as a gift? I ask this in journal prompts for creatives because I most certainly see your craft as a gift! What I’m also asking is if you’re a painter, a musician, a writer, a baker, a singer, a stylist, etc? And please keep in mind that I’m not only asking about one gift. Most of my clients have at least two. One may be predominant, but there is another that you may also dabble in.
Take into consideration here, if you happen to be a minister of the Gospel, as well as having a creative gift. You may be a teacher or preacher and you can also sing, write, play music, etc. You may look at these as two different things with two different functions. And they are! However, I view them as callings and each of them fall under the gift of creativity. Preparing a sermon is no small feat!
Knowing what your creative gifts are is important because you need to recognize that it is a gift. Not everyone can do what you can do. Also, I want you to identify whether you have more than one because the secondary or tertiary gifts you possess can be very helpful in processing any mental health concerns. With my clients I use what I call “craft switching” to help them with creative blocks. Connect with me if you want to know more about this.
How do you feel about Operating in your gift as a profession?
Not everyone wants to be a professional in the creative industry, but you might! Be honest with yourself about how YOU feel about that. In these journal prompts I don’t want you to focus on what others have said about it. I want to know what you think. If you’re a professional already I still want you to write out how you feel about having chosen your craft as your profession. If you’re not a professional, do you want to be? Why or why not?
This question if one of the reasons journal prompts for creatives are so important to me. You’re often misunderstood which can sometimes make you wonder if your thoughts actually make sense. When you can write out your thoughts and feelings and then process them, you can decide for yourself if you like the path you’re on. You want to make sure you’re doing something by choice and not by coercion or fear from other sources or even yourself. Whether you do or don’t want to be a professional creator should be your choice.
What do you do on a regular basis to perfect your craft?
Even if you have a natural gifting and talent to do what you do, there’s always room for growth. Whether you’re a professional or not could make a difference here. If you’re a professional, you likely have to do certain things to maintain your career. If you’re not a professional, you have to be more internally motivated to do things on your own. It’s said that 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert or a master in your field. Add the deliberate practice with your natural gift and you’re definitely headed in the right direction!
The things you do will also depend on what your craft is. Because I’m a writer, I write constantly. The journal prompts for creatives I’m sharing with you are things I do to help me write more. I write on a daily basis and it’s usually in my journal when I’m writing by hand. Of course, when I create blogs like the one you’re reading, I write by typing. That may not be everyday but it’s often. Keep track of what you do on a regular basis. You don’t have to count the hours to try and prove you’re an expert. But, it might beneficial for you to know that you’re being productive with your time.
What activities would you like to participate in to help you perfect your craft?
This is a great opportunity to write down all the things out there you want to be a part of but maybe haven’t been to yet. It also gives you a chance to be creative. If there are activities that don’t exist, think about how you could be a part of the solution and create it! The last prompt was about what you’re already doing to perfect your craft. This one is about things you want to do. This is where you get to dream!
Once you have your thoughts down on paper, use this journal prompt for creatives to help other people with their wish lists of activities. Is there a workshop or conference you’d like to attend? What kind of conventions are out there for you and others like you? Remember, if it doesn’t exist, you get to create it.
Also, think about private lessons and/or mastermind classes. Anything you believe would help you perfect your craft. I know that sometimes money or location is an issue. I don’t want you to take that into consideration while you’re journaling because I don’t want anything to stop your flow. Because you’re a creative, I know you know how to think outside the box. That’s exactly what I want you to do here!
What has been your experience with depression and/or anxiety?
Alright, here’s where we start going a little deeper. Keep in mind that you’re only talking to me and your journal and I can’t see it. Be honest. Anxiety and depression are common challenges that many of us face. There’s absolutely no need to be ashamed of whatever your experience is. I have even had a couple of bouts with both of them myself. Anxiety has been more of a consistent annoyance for me, but I am in the process of mastering it.
If you haven’t had a chance to look at the studies I linked in the beginning of the post, you can check those out at your leisure. If you’ve struggled with either anxiety and/or depression in silence, this is great time to start processing. As I always say, journaling is not a replacement for a qualified mental health professional, but it is a good place to start. If you can’t or won’t be honest with yourself first, it’s going to be near impossible for you to do so with someone else.
What is your experience with substance use?
I made this question a part of journal prompts for creatives simply because substance use is prevalent in pop culture. Use doesn’t mean abuse. However, what I will say is that the use of substances, whether legal or illegal, are not good sources of coping. Anything that can lead to an addiction will take you there without your permission. I don’t believe anyone ever intends to become an addict, but once you’re there it’s a beast to come back from.
Alcohol is legal, but for an alcoholic it can become lethal. Marijuana is legal in some states, but some of my clients use it to numb themselves and escape their problems. Whatever your experience with substance use is, make sure you’re in control of it and not the other way around. Do not overestimate your ability to stop when you want to.
One of the reasons why I work with creatives is because of my love for the arts and my charge to help not lose anymore of us. My favorite artist of all time was Michael Jackson. He was and is one of the best creators I’ve ever seen. My mom’s favorite was Whitney Houston. Both were lost to substance use/abuse in some form or fashion. There have been countless others as well. I’m not in this to be judging or condemning. I’m in this to save lives.
Do you see your craft as a difficult profession to be successful in? Why or why not?
Of course, you know there are successful people who do what you do. You may even be one of them! Regardless of your current station in life, do you see your craft as a difficult profession to break into or to sustain? What has been your experience or what have you heard about it? Breaking into and sustainability are two different things. If you’ve ever watched the series Unsung you know that many pop culture icons rise to fame and then fall or simply disappear. Sometimes it’s not about getting in, it’s more about staying power.
On the flip side, there are those who have been successful for decades. It may have been more difficult for them to get started but once they were in, they figured out how to keep it going. If you’re one of those people, talk about how you’re doing it. If you’re not, talk about what you think you would or could do. Use these journal prompts to map out your game plan to get in and stay in or remind yourself how to remain relevant. Every creative in every industry doesn’t have to do the same things. Talk about the ins and outs of your industry from your perspective.
What do you think would help you and others be more successful using your gifts?
This could go back to one or some of the previous journal prompts. When you answer this one, allow yourself to think about how to avoid any of the pitfalls that you or others you know have experienced. Also, think in terms of where one might start or go to get the best help. At what age would you have done certain things differently? What are the activities and who are the people you want in your life right now to guide you? This is another opportunity to dream like you were able to before. There are no limits!
I want you to get into the habit of framing things in the positive. Of course, you want be aware of the people, places, and things you don’t want in your life. But, you also want to have a firm grasp on the people, places, and things you do want. Sometimes it can make it more difficult to reach your goals when you don’t really know what you want. You only know the things you don’t want. If you had a mentor who was at the top of their game in your creative industry, what would you want to know from them?
Tell me about a time you felt discouraged.
I’m sure you don’t even have to guess as to why this would be included in journal prompts for creatives. Discouragement is an emotion and/or an event in life we face often. I want you to tell me about either the last time or a significant time when you felt discouraged. It’s important to identify how you felt and why you felt that way. Not because you want to try to avoid it, but because you want to shorten the amount of time you spend in that place.
There will always be moments of discouragement in your life. It’s normal to be disappointed when something doesn’t go the way you planned or thought it should. You want to identify if there are times in your life where the same or very similar incidents are happening. That way, you will be able to put a strategy in place to either change how you do things or set some boundaries that will give you a bit more protection from the same types of disappointment.
By nature of being a creative, you can face discouragement in your gift or craft. Having a mental block and being unable to create can be very discouraging and scary. Of course, someone rejecting or criticizing your work can cause you to be discouraged as well. You don’t have to minimize your feelings. I want you to acknowledge them so you also learn how to bring yourself back to a place of harmony.
Describe what it feels like for you to share your gifts with others.
As a creator, especially as a professional, this is important because you need to be able to share your gifts for many reasons. Is this difficult for you only for certain projects? Is this difficult for you most of the time? Is it easy for you mostly? When you use these journal prompts, think about it in general as well as for special circumstances. Even if you’re not a professional, you want to get used to putting yourself out there because you never know what could come about simply from you showing up!
Do you have the jitters or butterflies when you share? Are you exhilarated or petrified? Consider why it’s difficult or easy. Is there something that will help make it better for you? Do you understand how you process critiques or criticism? Not how others process it, but you. Even if you are really comfortable with sharing, how do you respond when there is negative feedback? I want you to begin to understand your thoughts and feelings so well that you’re able to prepare yourself for almost any occasion.
Why do you think some creatives experience great success and then lose it?
We’ve seen so many great ones make it and then fall. Either unto their untimely demise of death or to a total loss of their careers. Those are just the ones that were famous enough for us to know about. There have been many who haven’t been as notable, yet still reached some level of success and then lost it. This is a question I’m asking in journal prompts for creatives because I want you to start thinking about the end before the beginning. I want you to consider both what it takes to attain the goals you want as well as sustaining them.
Have you put much thought into what success looks like for you? Because it doesn’t look the same for everyone, it’s important to know how you see it. Once you know what your success looks and/or feels like in your imagination, then you can see more clearly an action plan to ensure you can have and keep it. It’s just as, if not more important, for you to have a sustainability plan for your success. I’ve created a template for my clients in my book Before You Blow Up. I don’t want to see you or anyone else reach the top of your platform only to let it slip away from you.
How do you think we can keep you and others from this experience?
If you haven’t thought about it before now, I hope it’s at the top of your mind going forward. As a mental health professional, I’m always looking at how to be more proactive instead of reactive. I want you to use these journal prompts to consider thinking this way as well. Start creating a strategy of what you will and will not do. Who do you need in your corner as far as support that will keep you on track? What people, places, and/or things do you need to avoid in order to maintain your success?
When it comes to others, what types of information can you find that will teach what to do to remain healthy and successful? Consider the activities that those you know have fallen into that helped lead to their losses. When I work with my clients, I talk about coping strategies in the sense of positive or negative habits that can help you sustain success or lead you in the wrong direction.
If someone younger than you wanted to follow in your footsteps, how would you advise them?
Your participation in journal prompts for creatives is not just for you. You’ve been writing about your thoughts and feelings and that will not change for this prompt. But, I also want you to think about bringing up your successors. What would you have wanted someone to tell you before you got serious about your craft? What answers are you still looking for that will help you improve?
Depending on where you are in your creative endeavors, think about what traps you have fallen into that you could keep someone else from. Get into the state of mind of helping someone else start off in a better position than you did. Of course, there are some areas where everyone will need to pay the dues of the industry, so to speak. However, is it necessary for those coming behind you to start at the bottom? There are some things that only experience will allow you to learn. On the other hand, there are many things that can be taught.
I’m a firm believer that experience is not always the best teacher. There are some things that you just don’t want to have to go through if you don’t absolutely have to. What can someone do for you to keep you from unnecessary trouble? What can you give to someone following in your footsteps that will put them ahead of where you were when you first started? If you’re willing to give to someone else, it’s highly likely that you’ll also be able to find someone to give to you!
Final Thoughts On Journal Prompts for Creatives
Improving your mental health in any profession is important. For creatives, it’s imperative. The studies are being done but the results are mixed when it comes to creatives and mental health. At the least, creatives struggle with mental illness and diagnoses at about the same rates as others. At worst, some creative groups might be a bit more prone to certain disorders.
Journal prompts are great tools to help you process your thoughts and feelings. However, they are not a replacement for speaking with a mental health professional. Because you want to be proactive about your mental health, use the 13 journal prompts for creatives included in this blog to help you get started. I’ve also created a full downloadable, lined, E-book of journaling prompts. If you need additional resources, check out Psychology Today. If you’re in crisis you can dial or text 988 at any time, nationwide.