Monday, February 15, 2010

Visual Diaries, Journaling Creativity, Getting it on paper...

Sketch books...
Visual dairies...

Every article I've come across regarding creativity bang on about these things being essential.
And by large they're right.

In order to live a creative life you need to first let go of the notion that you can only create when the  muse' or 'inspiration' hits ("I can only draw when I'm inspired"). Don't wait for things to strike you; pick one thing each day and then write about it or do a drawing from it. In this way, you'll train yourself to look at the world with a creative eye.

But if you've never keep a dairy or sketchbook - how do you start?

Step One: find a book that you like.
You could use:
  • A pretty album designed specially for the purpose
  • A lined school exercise book
  • A spiral bound sketchbook
  • A novel with gessoed-over pages
  • A board book (peel off the laminated layer of paper)
  • Loose pages that you've bound together

The only prerequisite is that it should be something that you like the size of and that you are comfortable with.

Step two: Scribble all over one page...Draw, doodle, write the name of your one true love surrounded with hearts - whatever - but MARK that fresh, clean paper as soon as you can. Get it out of the way - make that perfect book imperfect.

I ALWAYS feel guilty when I do this; a blank book is a beautiful thing, full of potential. It could contain ANYTHING. How dare I sully it with my pathetic scribblings...?
This impulse not to draw all over it is Artists Block - the entire purpose of keeping a sketchbook is to help you break out of this type of thinking..
You are not obligated to create fantastic art inside a sketchbook - just as you don't have to show anyone your personal dairy.

Step three: If you THINK you can't draw (and that is a WHOLE other topic - and one I'm very passionate about...) but want to draw in your book - then DRAW IN YOUR BOOK.

If you feel that your appalling spelling means that you will never be able to write, but want to write in your book - then WRITE IN YOUR BOOK.

If you want to glue things in there - WHO CARES if cutting and pasting is something done in kindergarten - then GLUE STUFF IN YOUR BOOK.
  • Make notes
  • Write lists
  • Draw stars and circles and faces
  • Thumbprint doodles
  • Sketch your kitty
  • Ask a small child for a suggestion of what to draw - and draw the first thing they suggest!
  • Try writing some bad poetry!
  • Collect pictures of haircuts you'd like to try
  • Write your favorite quotes and illustrate them
  • Write affirmations and goals
  • Compose letters to fairy tale characters
  • DRAW fairy tale characters
Basically, go nuts!

These books are meant to be records of your thoughts, of things that catch your eye, things you are trying to work out. My sketchbooks are eclectic, messy affairs - drawings interspersed with lists and diagrams for my day job. Watercolour paintings and Sharpie pen scratchings. Pencil studies and schematics for dolls. Character designs and Scrapbooking layout plans. Concepts for jewellery and balancing my budget. Pasted in print-outs of designs and toys that I love. No ryhme or reason to the order that these things appear in these books (but I'm working on that! Honest!).
A journal is for YOU! It is your rambling feelings on paper and whether those thoughts are drawn, written or cut'n'pasted from magazines does not matter. Just get them out.



  1. Haha, I have a storage chest 75% filled with used visual diaries :) And numerous ones I have yet to store xD

    And then I switched to Moleskines because they had a greater page count, But I may buy more of those then I may possibly need xD

  2. I like your idea of visual journals (I call them illustrated journals though). A mix of writing and illustration / art is the best way to keep a journal for sure.

  3. Great post! I started this year and have several books on the go at once, I love it!