Favorite Journal Discoveries

Yellow pepper, on the way to red. Watercolor on paper. © Quinn McDonald

Yesterday’s post started a whole rush of good ideas about keeping multiple journals for different reasons.

  • Cut up your old business calendars/notebooks for recycling in new journals
  • Keep a journal online, in a different language, to give space for the different aspects of your personalities.
  • Keep ideas in a small journal you carry everywhere. Expand them later.
  • Fiber work can be a journal, too. So can quilts. Don’t be shy, experiment!
  • Make your own journal–after you have completed some pages to get it started.
  • Work in several journals at once so you can dry pages without having to stop creating.

Today, I thought it might be fun to add some tips I’ve discovered to make my journal more interesting or fun to work in.

Date every page of your journal. It’s better than numbering pages, it lets you track growth and changes.

Storm warning. Ink on paper. © Quinn McDonald

Leave the last few pages of your journal empty. When you are having a bored day, use the dates to create a list of interesting ideas you had in the book. It will make it easier to find that special page if you have an index to check.

Make a mistake? Don’t paint over it. Figure out how to fix it, then re-do it on the next page. You’ll create a problem-solving how-to and gain pride in your work, not anguish over mistakes.

Want to show your journal to someone but have some pages you’d rather not show? Punch holes in the outer edge and use a ribbon to tie the pages together. People won’t untie without asking.

Brass doors at old movie theater, Phoenix.

I’m a writer, so I keep writing journals. Every month or so, I “harvest” phrases, metaphors and ideas and “distill” them into separate pages. It keeps me from hunting aimlessly for that phrase I liked so much.

Keep one journal for color swatches, alternative uses for and reviews of products you use regularly and lists of color names (for markers, yarn and paint). Take the journal with you when you go shopping. You won’t keep buying your favorite color over and over again. Instead, you’ll see what you have already and what you need to add. Stick coupons in this journal.

Keep a bin with leftovers, scraps big enough to work with. When the bin threatens to get full, organize a round robin with your friends (or Facebook friends) and swap scraps. Instant inspiration!

What are some of your favorite tips for keeping your journaling fresh?

—Quinn McDonald is an art journaler. She is writing a book on inner heroes and inner critics.