When I returned to journaling it was because I was stumped, frozen by the blank-white paper, not painting, and grumpy because I needed a creative outlet. I started at the Chandler Booktique where I found a $1 used book with pictures and a plain attractive cover. Initially I just wrote and doodled right over the pages. No blank page, no fear. Creating is a courageous act.
My second journal was a small, cheap spiral-bound sketch book. I collaged different colored tissue papers on one side of each page. When it was dry I scripted 100 life accomplishments, 1-3 per page, over the colors. It’s thick and lumpy and I still love that little book. I started painting again, playing in a journal while watercolor dried.
Finding your style
I’ve now found the method that works best for me and you will too. It’s a different journey for each of us. I work in 3-5 simple lightly-lined notebooks at once, using whichever one is at hand. Writing from prompts I describe the day or view, gripe, tell stories and sketch. Sometimes I start with a photograph, take notes from a lecture, include quotes from what I’m reading or write unsent letters using collage, calligraphy or anything that strikes my fancy. I don’t let myself tear out pages, because anything can be a source of inspiration for other projects. It records time and my history, and it’s just fun to go back and look. What happens is magical! The three most important things I’ve learned:
- Date the page.
- Make it easy. Have things at hand to play with so you don’t waste creating time finding materials and setting up.
Use things from your junk drawer or paper keep pile. These could include special birthday cards, a painting of Cosmos, a graduation invitation, mom’s recipe in her handwriting, a drawing or a photo. Then write about it or doodle around it.
There are so many reasons to journal. Here are several good reasons:
- Uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary daily life.
- Tell stories and record personal and family history.
- Ignite a creative spark for other projects.
- Achieve goals and objectives.
- Track changes, celebrations and favorites.
- Build a safe place for self-expression.
- Reduce stress.
- Organize thoughts and make decisions or choices.
- Recognize successes.
- List to dos.
- Boost your mood and find gratitude.
- Improve your memory.
Create with me during monthly Journaling with Words and Images workshops. You can attend in person in the Perkins Room or virtually by Zoom. We use a variety of prompts and supplies to feed our creativity. If you want to work on your own or can’t attend, register for Journaling to receive the monthly prompts for writing and visual arts. To register simply search our events for “Journaling with Words and Images” to find the next session (be sure to adjust the date range when you search).
Our sessions have:
- No fixed rules. It’s a simple workshop with suggestions for writing or illustrated pages. You bring what you like, and we’ll provide art supplies and specialty papers for in-person attendees.
- People with all types of journaling interest and experience. Some are attending for the first time and others have attended many sessions.
- Nothing is finished or polished, but it is a delight!
- In the spirit of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within this is a supportive, welcoming group with people from all stages of creative journey. Those who volunteer to read their poetry or prose or share their art pages, generously inspire others. Participants express thanks, and may respond with a written story or illustrative perspective of their own.
“In journal and creative nonfiction workshops, I watch journals serve as building blocks, moving from lists to sketches to memoir. Always wait for the surprise I say, the way a journal opens out a life in unexpected ways.” —Alexandra Johnson from in Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal.
With your library card you have free access to Creativebug. Here are a few of my favorite Creativebug classes related to journaling.
An Introduction to Art Journaling with Dawn Devries Sokol. This 4-part workshop is the perfect place to start. In part one Sokol introduces all kinds of materials, but remember all you need is a writing implement and paper.
Daily Drawing Challenge: 31 Art Journal Pages offers “a month-long journaling exploration, and it’s not really making a page a day, it’s about getting into the journal.” She shares prompts and ideas for each day, “Just by visiting the journal every day, you’re going to get into the habit of creative expression.”
Daily Book Art Challenge: A Month of Book Art Ideas. Can’t find the perfect journal or want to make an entire book to write in? Faith Hale, a writer, bookmaker and artist leads this class where every day of a month you’ll make a two-page spread and at the end you’ll bind them together to make a limited edition, one-of-a-kind artist’s book. You’ll use mark-making techniques, ways for making backgrounds, and different things that book artists use such as cutouts, different kinds of pages and various structures.