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.


16 thoughts on “Favorite Journal Discoveries

  1. I speak in Spanish, think in Spanglish and mostly write in English.
    My scrapbooks are in Spanish, as they are for my kids {eventually}.
    I´m totally stuck with my art journals. Spanish, because it is my “true” language? English because it is easier to share? Both? In different journals? In one? [Inner chants Sacrilege! with horror film music background]
    PS: the solution to the many journals while you are out … is a bigger bag. 😀

    • I speak more than one language, too, so I get the “what now?” You will discover what is right for you, but some days (for me) are one language, some days another. For different ideas. My journals are for me to make meaning out of my life, so I do it any way I can. i do prepare journals for people to look at, but in mine, I am me–in whatever language I show up as. (Yeah, the inner critic speaks ’em all, too.) Yes, bigger bags!

      • After reading your reply I realized I write the morning pages in Spanglish but the daily record purely in Spanish.
        Maybe it´s because a) the pages will get burnt, nobody will ever read and therefore judge those or b) the time span is always related to projects I´m participating in which are always English based.
        The art journals are a middle ground which is still slippery for me.

  2. I find art journaling to be the ultimate therapy – I also have numerous journals because you can never have too many journals, right? But, I need to put the dates on my pages – love that idea! I love meet others who are as crazy about art journals as I am…:)

  3. I confess that I rarely date my pages, perhaps I should start doing that. Especially since my journals are rarely in a sequential order. One thing that is fun to do is share journaling with others. Find a group (or create one) where you can create journal pages to swap. Or do a round-robin type of journal. It is hugely rewarding to not only see what others are working on, but also to be able to keep it yourself.

  4. I started a colour journal this summer! It’s divided into sections according to a rainbow with browns, greys, whites and blacks at the end. I also added some specific sections such as one for turquoise. The idea is to add every colour – pens, pencils, watercolours, etc. – I have into it so that in the end it will be a colour chart book. I write the brand, number and the name of the colour under every swatch, and I’ve been thinking about making colour specific collages using found pieces of paper, adds, labels and so on. Years of fun! Can’t wait to see it finished and full!

    Maybe I should post about it on my blog? That would be a nice way to keep a record of the progress.

  5. s/([‘”()])\/\\\#/\\$1/g;

    Hmm, I work out regular expressions like the one above; does that count? (It’s part of a line of Perl that processes text files)

  6. I do carry a journal with me in my purse! And I have found that when I journal a pic or thoughts-and don’t like what I’ve done-I tend to fix/redo it on the next page. I didn’t think of the idea of leaving the last few pages of the journal empty to create a list–what a GREAT idea!!! Thanks Quinn!

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