Journaling Tips: When You Run Out of Words

Note: Please join me at Barnes + Noble at Desert Ridge (Tatum and the 101, Phoenix, AZ) October 6, 2011 (Thursday) at 7 p.m. to try this technique–and to get your book signed.)
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There are days when even the most fearless and constant journaler runs out of words. No problem, skip a day. But what if you want to spend time with your journal but still have run out of words?

My favorite laptop file is one of quotes and clever sayings. It started innocently enough, with a quote I liked. I typed it in, added the name of the person who said it and the source (the permalink url where I had found it). Done.  One day, when I had a design in mind, I reached for a quote to complete the design. It was easy and fun.

Many of the quotes come from friends or witty class participants.  I add it to the file along with the name of person who said it and the date and place of the class I was teaching.

From p.84 of "Raw Art Journaling", ©Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

Some quotes require research to figure out who said it first. Google is not a research tool, it’s a popularity engine, so Anais Nin often gets the attribution for “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” Occasionally Steven Covey gets the attribution because he used it (unattributed, I think) in one of his Seven Attributes books. About 1,500 years before either Nin or Covey were around, the phrase was in the Talmud, the volumes of Jewish customs, philosophy, and commentary. Using quotes can be more than a page filler. It can be a study of positive and negative space. I used this small quote to define a whole page that has been sprayed with ink. The quote is a translation of what’s on the red chop (Chinese stone carving).

It says, “Do not become complacent in victory. Do not become frustrated by defeat.” It’s a quote I need to read again and again, both when the class has been wonderful and when it has been less than wonderful. It allows for growth and improvement without a lot of ego getting in the way.

Filling a small negative space is just one way to handle a quote. You can also use

From p 84 of "Raw Art Journaling", ©Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

words as the edges of your page, to frame a photo, a design, a doodle.The one at the right is the same quote as above, but it looks completely different when used as a frame.

This is that intersection of words and design that so intrigues me. You can see the frame as a simple space demarcation, or you can see it as a design, or you can begin to connect the frame with whatever you put inside. In this case, it’s still blank, because it is part of the instructions in my book.

Using quotes can free you from having to come up with a lot of words. Keeping them in a file allow you to sort through the exact match for your emotions, and that’s the heart of happy journaling.

For another design to go with the quote idea, see tomorrow’s blog:

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art is available at your local bookstore, or on her website, with free shipping till December 31, 2011.

4 thoughts on “Journaling Tips: When You Run Out of Words

  1. Although I too have been collecting quotes since my teen years (30 years ago), I have seldom used them in my journals. But I really like the idea of including them in the edge (bottom, top, side) as a decoration item as well as inspiration. This is really new to me. Thanks Quinn.
    Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. -Oscar Wilde

  2. I began collecting quotes (both short and long), poetry, any odd snippets, interesting pictures and such when I was 14-15 years old. I got the inspiration from the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade-movie, in which Jones senior has kept a journal about the Holy Grail. It was such a cool looking book I just had to have one too! But I had no idea I was doing something age-old until last summer when I visited Cawdor Castle (a place linked to Shakespeare’s Macbeth) in Scotland and bought a book based on the commonplace books of the late count. I had no idea what a commonplace book is, so I googled it and what do you know, it’s a method that’s been around since the Renaissance! Now how cool is that!

  3. I love to use quotes in my journal too, or as the inspiration for an art journal page. I have my quotes hand-written in several notebooks, and while I have circled the main word in the quote, I often search and search for a quote I know I have recorded, but can’t find.
    Wondering just how long it would take me to put the quotes in an organized computer file. It would be lovely once it was done, but seems rather daunting…
    I like the framing of a page with a quote. Offers lots of possibilities — have to try that.

    • I had various quotes in various journals and over time, I’d type them into a file. You really don’t need to sort them, because there are too many ways to sort them–by author, by length, by keyword. And your computer sill search through documents easily. I had several longer quotes that made the whole document look a lot longer than it was.

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