A friend recently asked me about my journaling practice and how often I do it. I immediately wondered, “Which one?” I have several journal practices. I have hand-written journals—stacks and stacks of them stashed in various places–, and I also keep a monthly “Writing Practice” open in a Word document on my laptop. And I have an art journal, which is a wire-bound sketch book I picked up at Michaels. The first two are primarily words—essays, poetry, random lists, and regular old journal entries. I also sprinkle in generous amounts of ideas as they come to me, quotes and bits of conversation I find inspiring as well as questions that pop into my head and that I don’t necessarily have an answer for. The art journal is a collection of images and words, both from magazines and my own creation, and range from finished art pieces to hurriedly slapped-down words I’ve ripped from a copy of Yoga Journal and fastened with a piece of Scotch tape. In other words, it’s a hodge-podge mess of ideas and things I like. Simple.
This same friend said that she had tried to start a journal several times but became frustrated with it when she didn’t stick to a regular schedule or when it didn’t seem “good enough.” She said she really wanted to have a regular journal practice but that she didn’t know how.
Much like running, there is no secret. You just do it.
Here are some thoughts to ponder if you, like my friend, are interested in a starting a journal (written or art… or BOTH) and don’t know where or how to begin.
- Begin. Buy a journal or composition book or sketch book. These are cheap and easy to come by at any Wal-Mart or art supply store. Heck, you don’t even have to buy one. Snitch one from your kid’s stash of school supplies. You can pay them back later. The point is that you don’t have to have specially designed or expensive material to begin. Take what you have and make it work. There are awesome tutorials online that even show you how to create your own if you are feeling really inspired. But if you’re starting out, I recommend the path of least resistance.
ed for an art journal as well. Once you expand your journal and/or the supplies you need or want, you may require a little more than that. If so, that’s cool. Find a corner of the dining room table or a section of counter top or a spot in the garage or attic or laundry room where you can leave your stuff mid-project and come back to at your leisure. Again, nobody will die if crayons or a set of acrylic paints is left on the table.
Over the years, journaling, in all its forms, has been a source of comfort, insight, prayer, daydreaming, creative expression, and play. I will never make a living from my journals. I will never publish my journals—the thought actually sends shivers down my spine (as if people didn’t think I was crazy already!). I never have to worry about anyone other than myself seeing my journals. That’s what makes journaling so much fun—it’s just for me. And, if on the off chance I decide to share an entry or two, then that decision is entirely up to me. There’s no pressure. And you shouldn’t feel any either. Just begin it. And let the ideas flow.
Looking for some inspiration?
I highly recommend Shannon Kinney Duh’s e-courses for art journaling. She is great for beginners and beyond, but I think she has a flair for encouraging and inspiring beginners.
Journal 52 provides weekly inspiration and prompts.