How many of you a constantly seeing on social media the hype around journals and journaling? It's everywhere right? Are you tired of reading it whilst also secretly wishing you had one and where journaling on the regs?
So, full disclosure, I have tried multiple times to keep a consistent, written journalling practice and found that it was really hard for me to keep it up. It actually got to the point where I was making myself feel bad about not doing it everyday, it became another yard stick against which to measure myself. Pretty much the opposite intended impact of keeping a journal was happening to me, I was feeling worse, less relaxed and not reflective.
This pattern of trying new types of written journals and "failing", as I so often saw it, continued for years. Most recently I tried a planner/journal which actually worked quite well initially, better and longer than usual, but alas like every other time, eventually it started to feel like a chore. I soon avoided the journal and it sat there staring at me from the far side of my desk.
I pretty much decided to pack it in at this stage.
However, a couple of weeks ago as I was doodling in my sketchbook and I had a lightbulb moment. It was a smack you in the face, epiphany on the toilet kind of experience - I shrieked - daily/ scheduled written journals don't work for me because my reflection preference is sporadic doodling! I looked down at the sketchbook in front of me and realised I have been keeping creative journals (or sketchbooks) for years, without striving, without pressure and they were a sacred space for me.
Duh! it shouldn't have been about trying to keep a journal like everybody else, it should've been about keeping a journal like me. *big smile*
The 5 steps below are for everyone who has tried to keep written journals and is ready try something else or approach it from a new angle. Enjoy and I hope they help.
This might seem strange as a boundary and may feel limiting for some people, but having a portable size sketchbook or journal at first is really helpful. For a start you can pop it in your bag and doodle, write, scribble or whatever takes your fancy when the moment strikes you. This style of 'journaling when you want to/ feel like it' really works for me, and I often find I do it quite regularly because my mood dictates the process rather than a timetable prescribing it. A portable size is also less of an intimidating black canvas/ white page to get started on.
Be prepared with a small selection of materials
The first hurdle to getting art materials to paper for so many people is not having everything you need from the start. It's really simple, if you don't have a range of doodling tools you probably won't doodle. Depending on your budget you may want to buy a wide or select bundle of art materials to get started, I recommend getting a couple of fine liner pens and maybe some pencils. Having just a few materials in advance of buying the sketchbook/ journal means you don't just have a blank book in the corner of your room mocking you for weeks until you get yourself equipped!
Don't schedule or overcommit
This has been one of the biggest learnings for me. As someone who loves to schedule their life and make plans, noticing that the consistency of my creative journaling relies on not having pressure or a plan attached to it has been extremely eye opening! If you can, try not to set out a plan for the creative journaling at all. Allow yourself to be prepared with the tools you need and having them in your bag so you're ready to go whenever, can be enough for many people to feel inspired to crack that first page. Over committing, like we do every January 1st, generally leads to giving up. I'm so over this way of working and thinking so I approach creative journaling more from a position of being prepared if I want to rather than, I will do this everyday and feel the benefits or else!
I appreciate not having a plan at all can be a bit daunting also, so the next point will help you with that.
Creative exercises are a great starting point
Taking the pressure off yourself with starting those initial pages is really helpful. The starting of something can be the biggest turn off, so how lucky are we to live in an age where there is endless creativity at our fingertips 24/7. Search for creatives on the various social media platforms - there are tons showing you tips and tricks of how to make different creative things in a range of materials and styles. For example, I do a top tips video on instagram and facebook every Tuesday with collage techniques and ideas! Pinterest and YouTube also have millions of creative ideas and how to's!
Keep it as a space for you
I'm not saying you need to do this or make your sketchbook/journal a 'dear diary' with all your deepest darkest secrets in it, but perhaps keeping it as a personal doodling space at first may help you feel more open to being experimental and let go of the pressure of making every page look 'complete' or 'perfect'. I find that my creative journals are free and aesthetically pleasing to me and I don't worry about what other people would think because, well simply, they don't see it. This often means I enjoy making in them more, because they're freer, a bit more wild, something I enjoy being in my own space!
Hope the above is helpful and useful for you on your creative journaling journey!