Monday, August 10, 2015

The Importance of a Sketch Journal (especially if you're a writer)

A few months ago I was listening to The Accidental Creative podcast and one episode talked exclusively about sketch-journaling. My mom heard the same one and mentioned that I should try it. I didn't think much about the concept until I got really stuck in the writing process. Then I remembered the podcast mentioned that switching from words to pictures can lead our minds to different places. I didn't entirely believe it. But, why not give it a try?

Fast forward to today. I sketch regularly in that journal I started about eight weeks ago. I flip through the blank pages and see spots where inspiration started and grew, see my story line ironing itself out, and then end up with a new idea to jot down.

I know the writers in you are leery, but let me give you some reasons (because we all love reasons).

Creativity can so often feel like a puzzle where you've got a bunch of pieces but it's just not going together as you imagined. So, this Some pages have a simple word or phrase or object that I want to make into something more. It's there, I'm thinking on it, but it's not time yet. Thankfully, it's kept in ONE place and can easily be paired with other things. Like, the black-eyed susan that I can't stop doodling on everything or the quotes that jump off Pinterest and right into my life.

I've always been fascinated by the Pointillism movement in art. You'd know it best by this piece. Those people are made entirely of dots. And I've always had a fascination with bringing together my style with the bold lines and filling it entirely with dots. It's fun. But I'm not at a place where I'm completely in love yet. So, what's the answer? Practice. Nothing like the blank pages of a sketchbook to learn how to create shadow and shape and texture.

I know, I used to say I couldn't draw either. I think we all have a capacity to draw -we all did it as children. It's just now, as we've matured, we have an idea of what good drawing looks like and what constitutes bad drawing. It does't matter if your drawing is good or bad, it's going to change the way you think about and approach writing. I know it sounds crazy, but try it. Draw out your plot in simple, light sketches. Then watch as you imagine things changing and moving.


As a writer, I love Instagram. As a blogger, I love Instagram. There's something about the visual scrolling through my feed that leaves me hungry to make beautiful sentences and vibrant paintings. The next few times you feel uninspired, do a little bit of scrolling and see what happens. I promise pictures help, they'll spur you on, even if you just write a little imaginary story in your head about what's happening there in that frame. The same thing will happen to your sketches.

I had a really, truly frustrating day at work last week. It was a day where kindness was forgotten, grace was thrashed, and it brought everyone to their fighting stances. I wanted to extend myself in a way that was kind, but was met with brashness. And I heard my mom saying, "You'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar." I tried to be honey, though I'm sure I came up short. But it became a page in my book, a page that was turned and made the past in a book that I get to close. Physically, that's a blessed feeling.

Another beautiful surprise is the times when the ideas you come up with turn into real life things like these:
It doesn't always happen (I can't tell you how many pages in that journal will remain ONLY in the journal), but there are occasions where the art is fun and purposeful and worth bringing out into the public.

Do you sketch journal? 
Are you going to start if you haven't already?

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