How to start and keep a journal

Why start journaling?

Journaling has been a great source of comfort and inspiration to me. The fact that you can slow down and quietly express yourself on paper is incredibly wonderful. It’s more common for artists to talk about sketchbooks, as they represent their own visual thinking process, and which I believe to be essential on our journey to develop strong imagery language.

So WHY should you keep a journal?

Being able to express oneself is important in my opinion, and writing is one of the easiest ways. You don’t need certain supplies but pen and paper. It’s not about writing a masterpiece, not even a full story or a poem. It’s just about discovering and rediscovering our soul, to understand ourselves, to learn to express what we feel inside out on paper. Very much like a painting process, but instead of colours, you do it with words.

As an artist, we are collectors, collecting, documenting, filing, archiving thousands, millions of things, images, ideas… We have to keep on feeding our creative mind to be inspired, to be motivated. Journaling is also a way to record our existence and the world around it.

If you have heard of ‘morning pages’ invented by Julia Cameron, you’ll know what I mean. In her famous book ‘The Artist’s Way’, she suggests to spend 30 minutes every morning to write 3 pages. You don’t have to worry about the content, just write down everything going on in your head at the very moment. Jotting down your thoughts can help deliberate your mind, unblock your way to create, and motivate you to take steps towards your artistic goals. Also it would be extremely useful in helping you articulate your thoughts and visual ideas better.

The Basics

To be honest, you just need pen and paper. That’s all. But if you would like something more comfortable and inviting, you might find a trip to a stationery shop exciting. Get yourself a cute notebook, with or without lines or grids, with nice, smooth paper. I tend to write more in smaller, decent but unexpensive notebooks, those are portable and comfortable, making it easier to write anywhere, anytime. Buy what you love but beware of the most high-end or fancy ones. I wouldn’t want to be stucked in perfectionism, not writing because my ideas won’t live up the perfect notebook.

If possible avoid writing on napkins or a cigarette box. Cherish your work, document it well.

To write, you can use everything you can make a mark with. Pencils, ball pens, fountain pens, felt tips, markers, coloured crayons, watercolours… Choose the most basic thing that you like and start from there. You can always expand your collection as you go.

How to start

Choose a moment in the day where you’re free of chores and work, when it’s calm and you can be alone, undisturbed. Doesn’t take much time than a few minutes to start with.

You can write about anything. Your thoughts. Your emotions. Your routines. Your particular day. Your sufferings and your happiness. Just drafts and scraps, ideas, names, fragmented narratives… You can also draw and paint to capture what words cannot describe best. You can also make lists, to-do lists, bucket lists, inspiration lists, reading lists, and even shopping lists. Stick some photos, clip articles, decorate it with stickers and washi tapes and everything else to your heart’s content. It’s yours and yours only. Do what it seems fit, you don’t have to show it to anyone.

Use your notebook everywhere, on the train, on the bus, at the post office, outside your medical appointment room, at home on the sofa, in bed.

Get used to the tactile sensation when in contact with the real paper and pen. Feel the way the nib moves on the smooth surface of a page. See how the intangible things inside your head come to life. Develop the love for this wonderful way of becoming your trueself.

in your inbox

Be the first to receive news on arts, books, music, muses and other poetic inspirations in your inbox, every month!

I don’t spam! Read my privacy policy for more info.

Share your thoughts