Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your Journal Post 8 :: Write 31 Days

If you are a blogger or writer who keeps a journal, you have a goldmine of articles. There are a variety of ways that you can keep and publish your journal, and we'll get to those in a bit. 

First let's chat about what a journal is and why someone, anyone, would be interested in your journal. For some people a journal is a diary of sorts, a place to write or forge in some way a meaning of the day's events. It can be as simple as recording the people and occurences that one has experienced in one single day. However, it can be as intricate as keeping a record of hourly events, thoughts and ideas, personal experiences and inspiration, and interviews with others. Some journals are kept on a daily basis; others less regularly. For the sake of this article let's assume two things: that the writer (you) uses the journal as a supplement to your blogging and that you journal on a somewhat regular basis, perhaps two or three times weekly. 

Now that we have a fair definition and understanding of the journal being discussed, let's figure out why anyone (other than yourself) would be interested in your notes. Several times in these articles I'm mentioned that your readers want to know you. It bears repeating that they want to know who you are. Really. The real you. Not some writerly version of the person you want them to know, but the person who is really sharing her story and her knowledge. 

Other reasons for wanting to read or see your journal are mostly based on the information within the diary itself. A journal will answer at least some the following questions: how do you work; what hours, days, etc.; how do you juggle family, work and other commitments, and still find time to create and write; what is your process for creating; how do you record thoughts and ideas; how do these records inform your decision-making; what is your purpose for journaling; do you include drawings, sketches, notes, or thumbnails; and, depending on how detailed your notes are, many other questions. 

If you don't keep a journal, it's never too late to start doing so. Writers, photographers and artists of many genres will tell you that keeping a journal is the best way to capture the "aha" moments that inform their art. 

For example, one day while walking through a hotel hallway with my family I noticed a beautiful swirl pattern in the carpet. I stopped the entourage at the elevator so I could snap a few pictures. Later I reviewed the pictures, none of which I would show to anyone, and was inspired to create a new quilting motif. Because I had a notebook with me, I was able to draw out the motif, jot down the photo number on my phone, and note what drew my attention to the carpet to begin with. 

I find sitting in long meetings tedious and doodle as a distraction. Often times, I will cut out the doodles I like and tape them into my journal. It's amazing how often those doodles find their way into my quilting. 

Photo credit: 
Estée Janssens @esteejanssens 

Journaling can be done at any time or in any way that works for you. Jot lists, webs, notes, freewriting, clustering, drawings, doodles, experimenting are all great way to journal. By the same token you can begin in any way that works: mindless or mindful thoughts, shapes, colors, lines, ideas. Pre-plan for those days when it's difficult to get started: 

  • print inspiring quotes to cut out and paste onto the pages
  • start a list of questions you'd like to explore
  • keep a list of people who inspire you or write about family
  • review previous pages of the journal and choose something you'd like to explore further
  • begin with an odd shape (perhaps one you see at the moment) and try to recreate or tessellate it
  • explore your feelings--are you happy, sad, confused? draw or write about your feelings for this moment in time
  • explore the positives in your life--what are you grateful for? 
  • write about or draw a memory you cherish

In no time you will have a journal that expresses the many sides of you: family, art, work, inspiration, creativity, and so on. What to do with doodles on an otherwise blank sheet of paper? The answer is simple: do what you want with it. Add notes, write, continue with the ideas that your doodles inspire. Or simply toss 'em.

I never remove pages from my journals. If I don't like what I've drawn or written, I simply stop and turn the page. Oftentimes I return to those "failed" pages and explore what happened. Other times I recycle the page. I use "failed" pages to practice a drawing or motif before turning to a clean page. Another reason to leave the failures in is that I can return to those long-ago drawing and words and see how much I've grown and how my tastes have changed.

You do what works for you. Rip out page after page if that is what you need but try to keep going. It can be difficult at first to admit that something has fallen flat, and you may be tempted to quit. Try to avoid quitting. Change the subject, rework the piece, add a twist, or keep adding to the original. All of those can help you to move on. Moving on means finding some form of inspiration and writing about it. That writing can be minimal or extensive. Go where the writing takes you.

Let's say you have a journal and are willing to publish a page or two. You can take a picture of the pages or scan them and add them to your blog post. If you've used the journal as inspiration toward a finish work, show or explain how you started, how you transferred the journal pages into an idea that you could produce in a different medium. Then, of course, show the completed piece. 

As an art quilter, I've made a few quilts that began on the pages of my journal. One quilt in particular started as a jot list of things I could perhaps consider for a quilt. The list included several things that had belonged to my recently deceased parents: their house, a bird's eye view of the property, the barn, a favorite chair, the old tractor and so on. Later I reviewed the list and remembered that my niece had recently taken pictures of the place, so I asked her to send a few and asked permission to use them in a quilt. 

Daddy's Barn
One photo of the barn really spoke to me. I traced the photo to create a drawing in my journal and took notes of what I might need to do. (See a post about that here.) From there, I retraced the drawing on transparency film so I could blow up the picture to the right size. I continued working by taking notes of potential problems and began pulling fabrics that might work in the quilt. Eventually I made a pattern, cut fabrics and appliqued them in place, using the photo, journal drawing, notes and transparency. A quilt grew from an idea in my records to an award-winning memento of my father's favorite place. 

Now think, would you like to see the pages of my journal that show the progression of my work? If you answered yes, you understand why others would be interested in the pages of your journal. Maybe we should both get busy working on a journal post. 

1 comment:

Kaja said...

I love to know what's going on in other people heads. Sadly I find I am one of those who starts a journal with good intentions but never maintains the practice; I've been doing this since my teens, some more like diaries, some more like artist's sketchbooks, but never kept going for more than about a week or two.