Expressive Writing Boosts Creativity in the Workplace

12 January 2021 – Jamie Petersen


Creativity is important. Given the rapid pace and competitive nature of the business world, companies are exploring new ways to inspire creativity to find ways to improve production. Many psychologists have taken to studying the benefits of a creative workplace. They have found that by promoting creativity, companies create a healthy avenue for employees to establish a psychological distance from their problems. Furthermore, this finding explains why it is easier to give others advice than to use it to solve your own problems.

A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that increasing spatial distance between individuals and problems helps boost workplace creativity. Creative workplaces allow employees to look at larger issues, and since they experience more psychological distance, they can think of more innovative solutions.

Teresa Amabile, Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, recognized and validated this same finding. She described a time-pressured employee “who moved to the room where the boxes were stored and stayed there for the entire day, really getting into a flow state” of uninterrupted creativity. Hence, the spatial distance helped achieve the creativity they needed to complete their work.

So, we understand that creativity in the workplace is essential, but how do we promote creativity? This article will explore how expressive writing boosts creativity in the workplace and why a creative working environment is so important.

Creativity at Work

The Benefits of a Creative Workplace

The benefits of encouraging and establishing a creative working environment include the following:

Better Teamwork and Team Bonding

A creative workplace encourages employees to work well with each other. As their new ideas ignite, they will turn to their colleagues for their feedback. One of the most important benefits of providing a workplace that encourages creative thinking is that the creative process encourages collaboration.

Likewise, team bonding also helps motivate engagement among employees. The interactions are more common among co-workers and even between those who do not regularly work together.

“When CEOs were asked, “What is the skill you most value in your people?”, they said creativity, the ability to solve problems, come up with new solutions, and use brainpower to figure things out.” – Source

Improved Ability to Attract and Retain Employees

A company that fosters an environment that encourages creative minds attracts more talented professionals. Employers will be able to fill positions more efficiently and effectively. Similarly, current employees will be more likely to stay with the company because of the creative environment.

About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality. Compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking. – Fast Company

Increased Problem-Solving

A significant factor in creativity is how it affects our work. When creativity is inspired, employees are more likely to think outside of the box. They can come up with innovative solutions to problems and challenges. With an eagerness to solve problems, tasks will be better handled.

Think outside the box with expressive writing

Creativity Relieves Stress

A recent study by Taylor Francis Online gave forty participants art supplies. She asked them to create anything they wanted to for 45 minutes. After the short creative session, 75% of this group found a decreased level of Cortisol. This is a hormone that the body releases in response to stress.

The result of this study? Creativity is calming and relieves stress. Additionally, calmer and less-stressed employees encourage a higher rate of productivity and rational thinking.

Creativity Helps Find Success in Failure

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. – Picasso

Creativity helps you find the motivation to see the success within and after failure. If you are less stressed, you can focus on solving problems better, and finding success in failure is an achievable task.


Expressive Writing Boosts Creativity in the Workplace

One of the best avenues for problem-solving is writing. The process of writing, especially expressive writing, allows us to digest and distill experiences mindfully. 

If you find yourself stuck in the same task or project, it’s worth pausing and writing about it to understand your thinking process. You might go over the problem repeatedly in your head, but if you write your thoughts out to see the language you’re using—and for a colleague to provide feedback on—therefore it is a much better method to untangle the mess in your head.

Slow the Work Treadmill

This is why Teresa Amabile speaks about slowing the work treadmill.

She compares work-life to running on a treadmill. Employees continuously try to keep up with the demands and pressures of deadlines, meetings, and interruptions. Consequently, the result is that they make very little progress, especially with creative endeavors.

“The single most important thing managers can do to enhance workplace creativity is protecting at least 30 to 60 minutes each day for yourself and your people that’s devoted to quiet reflection.” – Teresa Amabile

Some studies have highlighted a significant relationship between emotional response writing and work satisfaction. This is why employees should use 30 to 60 minutes a day to do expressive writing. This type of personal writing or journaling is about self-reflection, and expressive writing boosts creativity significantly.

By writing out your emotions and exploring yourself in your private time, you are on the path to creating clarity. You acknowledge your fears, doubts, concerns, and ideas that are often ignored or dismissed. Expressive writing encourages brainstorming, new ideas, and dreaming. Furthermore, when you connect your own dots, you find innovative ways to improve your home and work situations.

When you give yourself frequent permission to explore the ‘adjacent possible’ with no restrictions on where it leads, then you increase the likelihood of a creative breakthrough in all areas of your life and work.”Todd Henry from Manage Your Day-to-Day

Success at work through creative writing

Expressive Writing Positively Impacts the Workplace

One study evaluated the impact of expressive writing protocol on coping strategies, emotions, and relationships on job satisfaction and workplace performance. The hypotheses are that: 

– Expressive writing improves job satisfaction, encourages adaptive coping strategies, and reduces emotions and damaging relationships.

– Benefits, coping strategies, emotions, relationships, and job satisfaction are more significant in subjects who use expressive writing than neutral writing.

The use of expressive writing increases the number of positive words, thus reducing negative affectivity. In the texts derived in this study, this was noted at the beginning and end of the expressive writing sessions. According to the Pennebaker model, there is a reduction in words with negative emotional significance during writing sessions and an increase in those with a positive meaning.


Start a New Habit of Expressive Writing

You can develop a habit by doing something regularly (daily or weekly) at a specific time. Keep your expressive writing appointment in the same way as you would keep a meeting with a colleague. Aside from the self-serving benefits expressive writing will give you; it is undoubtedly a fundamental skill set that will enrich your life professionally. Because expressive writing boosts creativity, it adds unique value to your working environment and personal life.

Want to start writing? Then try Emote today!

Home Page Emote