Writing Lessons From My Art Journal

Happy Halloween, and/or day before National Novel Writing Month, to all who participate. The extrovert in me loves the community of NaNo, and the competitive side of me loves the pounding toward a goal, hell-bent for leather, as my Aunt S used to say, but anxiety is not as thrilled about the pressure, so, for me, doing the slow and steady thing works better, so I will cheer on all who are participating from the sidelines, and keep on going at my own pace..

Once again, we have Monday’s blog on Wednesday, and I am okay with that. Domestic Tornado Season is, hopefully, winding down, fingers crossed. In the meantime, butt in chair, fingers on keyboard and/or pen to paper whenever possible.

Lately, I’ve been using my art journals to destress, and, as usual, they’ve taught me a few things about the writing life. I don’t know how I settled on it, but, in the middle of one of the bigger tornado surges, I took out the nearest art journal to hand, and turned to a fresh page.

First of all, I did not draw anything on these pages. Both pages are stencils, by Jane Davenport, whose art supplies I love, love, love. The notebook cover and insert are both from her collection, as well. No compensation here, just a fan, sharing what works for me.

I’ve tried to start this blog entry many times, and I always get in my own way, so I am going to go ahead and throw whatever is in my head onto the page, which is generally how the best stuff happens, anyway.

Earlier, this week, I grabbed the art journal, pictured above, some face stencils, and a Pitt artist pen, and started throwing stuff down. These stencils have options as to what features I can put, and where. Usually, I start off placing the eyes too high. Moving them around before I actually set down any ink helps, and keeping a small notepad next to my art journal also helps, because working with art stuff is a great way to get my story brain on the back burner, which is when my imaginary friends often do some of their best stuff, while I’m looking at lines and shapes and colors.

Right now, it’s already after 3PM, which means that the ideal posting times have passed for the day, and I could call myself now two entries behind and promise that I’d take care of it tomorrow. I know this is bull, because tomorrow is already booked (no pun intended) and a post written after the ideal posting times is going to get more hits and reach more readers than the post I’m going to write, eh, sometime. This is also the first thing that my recent art journal experience has taught me about writing:

* Put Some Stuff On The Page. 

This is important, because, without that, nothing gets done. The idea stays in my head, and, no matter how many people I tell about it, nobody will get the full experience. Including me. As long as the idea stays in my head, it stays perfect, and I can’t fail. Once I commit ink to paper (or the digital equivalent) the ball is actually in play. If I don’t like what I made, A) nobody has to ever see it, and B) I can open to a new page and start again.

*Use What You Already Have. 

I love going to art or craft stores, looking at all the pretty stuff, imagining what I can do with it, and petting the packaging. Sometimes, some of it even comes home with me, which means I can actually use it. I can also actually let it sit there and taunt me with its un-touched-ness, but I don’t get to find out what it can really do, unless I bust it out of the packaging and put it on the page. See first point, above. Those craft store displays and online adverts are very tempting, buuut know what? That box of stuff is right here, and everything in there was the shiny new thing once. It came home for a reason. Time to actually let it fulfill its purpose, or, at the very least, see what it can do.

*Experiments Are Good

When I first started using the traveler’s notebook system of covers and inserts, I was very adamant that I only wanted one particular size, about five by eight inches, because that was the size of notebook I already liked. Two sizes, if we count pocket. Then, I had to have this particular cover, which came with this particular insert, which is standard size, eight inches square, folded in half (my brain is not going to do the math) but this was the insert that came with the cover, and it was marker paper, and I have markers, and what’s the worst that can happen?

In this case, I can fill the entire thing in a record amount of time (I am one spread away from filling the whole insert) and then start making my own, from paper I already have on hand, because I love what my brain does when I am art-ing, which leads to the next point.

*Take Notes

This one, I cannot stress highly enough. My story brain works best in a fertile environment. If I’m making art, I have a pen in my hand already, so, if there is a pretty piece of paper (or the back of an old envelope) nearby, it’s ready to catch any thoughts that pop into my head. I am also usually listening to something while I art, and, recently, that’s included a lot of You Tube videos on writing and/or reading.

This is normally where I want to wrap the post together and relate it directly to writing, but I’m not going to do that right now. I’m going to leave it where it is, hit “post,” and grab a notebook or two.

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