Un-Messing Up a Journal Page

In the North Light photo studio today, I created several projects from the book, while Christine took photos and Amy took notes. I expected to make mistakes and have things go wrong (my Inner Critic followed me from the airplane) but they did not. Christine solved some tedious instruction problems, and Amy made the day race by. I had fun. I made and threw a snowball for the first time in about five years.

And no journal pages were harmed in the production of the journal pages. But8 we do occasionally mess up a journal page. You can rip it out and burn it, deny it happened, or simply use one of these way to repair it:

You’re working in your journal and one of the pages doesn’t work out. You don’t want it to mess up the rest of the journal, so now what? You’ll know what I’ll say first–that your journal is not a piece of perfection, that some pages will work out better than others. And I’ll know your reply–tell me how to make it work. Here are some ways to fix a journal page that didn’t work out:

1.Cut it out. Trim the page out about an inch from the spine stitching. Put a sturdy piece of cardboard or a cutting mat under the page and cut with an art knife. You’ll get a better cut than with scissors. You now have a stub left in the book. You can attach another page here. Complete the page first, so you know it’s exactly what you want in this part of your journal. Attach with tape or glue.

If you use glue, you’ll want the stub to be on the back of the insert. Put the glue on the stub, after putting a protective page underneath the stub. No sense gluing pages of your journal together.

2. Take notes. If there is room enough on the page, make notes about what you would do differently the next time. This helps you feel better about the mistake. It also helps you learn how to avoid repeating the mistake. If there is not enough room on the page, cut out small rectangles of paper, make your comments on them, and glue them into place on the page you don’t like.

3. Cover it up. There are thin papers that will hide the work, but translucent enough to add interest. Parchment or tracing paper, and some kinds of washi–rice paper–do a good job. You can also add a piece of transparency film or mylar. Transparency can be colored by running it through your printer to put a colored image on it. (Make sure your printer will take transparency film first.) Transparency film can also be dyed or stamped with alcohol inks. Mylar can be tinted with colored pencils or inks.

4. Paint over it. If you don’t mind a thicker page, cover the page with collage or paint. If you are going to paint, use a heavy body acrylic or gesso to start. You’ll get muc better coverage than watercolor or thin acrylics. You can also cover portions with masking tape and paint over the rest of it. Collage works well because you won’t be able to write on paint very easily.

Your inner perfectionist should find one of those methods the right way to keep loving your journal.

Quinn McDonald is an artist and writer who is having fun at the photo shoot for her second book.

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11 responses to “Un-Messing Up a Journal Page

  1. Hmmm, I just leave my ‘failed’ pages in and don’t change them, tear them out or cover them up, nor am I afraid to show them. How is one supposed to get comfortable with making mistakes and ugly pages if you keep feeling the need to hide them away? Especially in a journal, which to me is a continuous process of page after page. Page ruined? Move on to the next. Sometimes the pages that I considered absolute failures in the past are somehow dear to me later on (not necessarily good or anything). I almost feel protective of them. ;-)

  2. It takes a lot for me to take a page out . . . I’m thinking of working on loose pages and then assembling a journal and filing the rest.
    I’m wondering what that says about me? That I like to show myself at my best but don’t discount the rest is there? Actually, my journal is private and rarely shown to anyone and even the I choose what I might show and to whom.
    Some interesting thoughts for the day . . . thanks Quinn . . . I think.

  3. If getting something wrong is messing up, isn’t fixing it messing down? There should be a better balance — like there is in human relations. In one short span you can meet up, get down, chat up and get the lowdown.

  4. Unfortunately the Inner Critic doesn’t need a ticket or a passport, and for some messed up reason the Inner Critic is allowed on board and so doesn’t get dumped in the security check along with the water bottles and nail clippers. It doesn’t even show up in the body scan (just goes to show how deep within it hides itself).

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