Journal Keeping: Something old, Something new

About the same time that I had my first real crush on a boy, I learned about writing in journals.  Looking back, I still feel sorry for Mrs. Lyons, my eighth grade English teacher, because just about every entry she had to read that year was about Allen Kientz, the ninth grade Don Juan I was coo-coo for.

As I matured, so did my journals.  They have held the most secluded secrets of my heart, the deepest yearnings of my spirit, the wild movements of fresh love, and the quiet sobriety of tender grief.  When no other human would witness what ebbed and flowed from my psyche, my journal could stand testament to what must be expressed.

Over the years, I began experimenting with adding in visual compliments to my words until eventually, some of the journal entries were completely void of words.  Thus began the era of visual journaling.  During this time, my inner life took on a fresh vitality.  Suddenly I could expel feelings, images, stories, and realities that previously eluded me.  Somehow visual art could hook onto something that words couldn’t touch.

Visual art journaling also feels like more of a discovery than journaling with words does.  Often, I feel like I know what I want to say and explore with my writings, but when I approach a clean page of my art journal, what comes is often a familiar surprise.

Recently, I have been playing with blending visual art journaling with written, but instead of engaging in them both for an entry, I use one to explore the other.  I may start with a drawing, then use list-making to describe the drawing.  I will choose a word from the list and do a drawing about that word.  I write about the drawing.  Back and forth, I weave visual and written.  The process is dynamic and powerful.

For many people, journaling has a very strong association, sometimes positive and other times, not.  I wonder how journaling has played a role in your life?  When do you turn to journaling?  Have there been times when journaling has helped in a situation, or fallen short of your hopes?  Do you have a journaling technique that you particularly love? Tell us about it.  We love learning new way to connect with ourselves.


About Rachél

Hi, I am Rachél.... the quirky, big-hearted soul behind Creativity Tribe, a sanctuary for your creative spirit. As a life coach and artist, I know the importance of community, celebration, and transformation. Creativity Tribe is abuzz with connections to other creative bloggers and offers tips and stories to inspire your creative lifestyle!
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9 Responses to Journal Keeping: Something old, Something new

  1. melody says:


    How deligthfully synchronistic!

    My creative strength is my writing but I need to pour myself into painting, doodling and general arty looking things to get the daily flow happening.

    It’s a bit like journalling in reverse – the pic and then the words. Now you have given me another relationship to build- the words back to the pic – thanks so much for sharing!

    As always your blog is a fulfilling nurturing space. Thank you for making it available to us fellow travellers!


  2. I have been journalling since 1984, always in words, collecting quotes on the left hand page, writing on the right. Sometimes I write with my right (non-dominant) hand to hear from my other hemisphere. Now I am blogging: I suppose I do my process in my journal and review it in my blog. If I try to tell the truth, in a way I think some possible reader might understand, I get it clear in my mind, or if I write what I feel, more feelings come up. Anything it is possible to do with words, I can do in my diaries.

    • Rae says:

      Clare, non-dominant hand writing and drawing has been a grand part of my creative unfoldment. That is actually how I got my feet wet as an artist. I was reading Lucia Cappachione who writes a lot about that. Thanks for sharing about you journaling evolution.

  3. Pingback: Keeping the Imagination Flowing « Escaping the Inkwell

  4. rosemary says:

    beautifully pictured and worded !!! Since the right words often alude me, I find if I can focus on a picture for my inspiration the emotions and feelings come flowing out more easily. I know that from combining both I have been able to close many hurtful chapters in my life finding a way to turn them into lessions and guidance as well. Journaling has enabled me to gain better control over what events and even people I allow into my world. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “no”. Lori morgan says it the best in her song… “what part of no don’t you understand” . Thankyou for sharing your thoughts as well. Love and Laughter -Rosemary

  5. galyn says:

    I keep journals regarding reincarnation, art, dreams and what is going on in my life. With regards to dreams, they are at times extremely lucid, Spirits don’t always speak in English (not if they’ve spoken a dozen different languages in past lives) and I’ve trained myself to grab onto as much of a conversation as I can and write it down immediately. I keep journals because interpreting what Spirits mean isn’t always instantaneous. Finding out what they refer to can take days, months or years. I paint portraits, and I’m one of those artists who always has a critical eye on my work, and has to make myself keep ‘hands off’ when it’s done. I’m one of those journalists who find keeping a journal gives me an outlet for what I think and feel. The journal doesn’t judge or talk back and allows me to explore my thoughts and ideas.

  6. I love the idea of a visual journal. You talk about wanting to combine the visual with words but the two haven’t meshed yet. I recommend reading Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. There is a chapter in there called ‘The Answer Squash’ where the author pastes words on to blue admission tickets then uses the word tickets to ‘label’ things. Or resting the word tickets with an item that brings importance.

  7. Journalling has long been a part of my healing journey and, come to think of it, my creativity journey as well. At times, when I am truly stuck in feelings or anxiety, I begin with my journal entry with “I don’t want to write about….” It’s amazing what comes through me onto the page at those times. I’ve recently bought a copy of Visual Journaling – by Barbara Ganim & Susan Fox and I know I’m hesitating to start it for ‘fear’ of what will come onto the page. I may find out I’m more creative than I think. That will be a joy, I believe, I just have to dive in and begin.
    walk in beauty this day.

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