How to create a simple journal writing practice
If you don't follow Jamie Ridler, you should. She has a seasonal podcast and behind the scenes videos available on YouTube with some of the most thoughtful creative inspiration out there. I've taken a few classes from her and enjoyed every one. In Creative Practices, she walks students through forming a creative practice, from what that means to how to decide what your practice will be.
The class helped me see that a creative practice doesn't have to be something I start now and do every day for the next twenty years. It can change with the seasons, or with my need to move on to new things. See, I'd been trained to be in awe of great artists and writers who wrote in a journal every day for their entire lives, or diligently practiced one craft for decades. I can just choose to stop doing one practice and try another? Mind. Blown.
My current creative practice is writing in a journal in the morning. I do it almost every day, but to accomplish that I had to scale back my ambitions. I was envious of others' art journals, and how they made time for them regularly. My art journal pages took a long time, and as much as I enjoyed them, I've recently dedicated myself to pursuing other dreams. How could I include some visual beauty in my journal without taking hours to complete a page?
Inspired by Jamie Ridler's glue book (video at the link, check it out), I decided to start each journal writing session by pasting a pretty image from a magazine onto the page. It's a practice that has a bit of ritual about it, gets my mind ready to write, and looks beautiful. I get a lot of magazines from Stampington & Co., which I now cut up into small images and keep in an organizer to sift through each morning. Sometimes I use purchased ephemera. One day, I pasted in the submission guidelines for Bella Grace, where I one day hope to be published.
1. Know what you want to get out of your practice.
This is a good topic for your first page of a new journal, or to set your intention for a new approach. What is it you want to be getting out of this practice? There are almost as many reasons to journal as there are writers: self reflection, skill building, memory keeping, self expression, etc. This intent is your true creative practice. Knowing it will help you decide where to spend the most time and effort. The key here is to understand what to focus on so that you can pare down the things that aren't serving your creative practice.
2. What will help you get the most of what you want?
If you want to build your writing skills, your journal should be focused on responding to prompts focusing on those skills. You don't need to draw, watercolor, or paste in pretty images. On the other hand, if you're looking for a place to dump your thoughts and ideas in a free and easy way, you might want to spend a little time doodling in the margins. To keep things simple, stick to just what it takes to focus on your true creative practice.
3. Decide how much time you will spend.
To really keep it simple, set a time limit. It can be flexible. I write in my journal every weekday before work in whatever time I have available after I'm showered, dressed, and made up. It's fairly consistently 20 minutes or so, but it depends on my getting up on time. It provides a natural limit to the time I can spend, so I'm forced to keep it simple no matter what. You can set a timer, or find a gap in your schedule like your morning routine or before picking the kids up from school that will force you to stop.
I'd love to hear from you! If you currently have a simple journal writing practice or you're trying to start one, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, or show off your simple journal pages on Instagram with the tag #curiousjournals