Maybe you're familiar with this creative problem. You want to make stuff. You have all kinds of intentions and goals and resolve. Lots of resolve. But when it come down to actually doing it — getting to the work and the fun of it — suddenly there's all this indecision.
What project should I work on first?
Which supplies should I buy? Which should I use?
Should I really write or paint (or create whatever) when I have this whole list of other stuff to do today?
Does this sound familiar?
I used to have a terrible time with this indecision throttle. I would start and stop and then not start. And then start something else some time later, but then stop before I actually finished....
I couldn't seem to figure out how to kick into gear and actually go from one project to the other in any consistent way.
Finally, I realized I needed something that would help me get to the art table or my computer more consistently and with more ease—with less indecisive panic.
And that something turned out to be a daily art journal practice. Emphasis on practice.
And I’m so excited!
This is a method prescribed by Julie Balzer and it really works for me. It might for you, too. It's a great way to warm up for any creative practice. The idea is simple, really: Do something in your art journal every day.
The trick is to add to one spread all week rather than create new pages all the time. I start my daily art journal practice every Monday and finish the spread by Sunday. It can take as little time as 10 minutes if that’s all you got. It can take longer (it often does for me once I get started). But the important thing is to work in your art journal every day.
To make it a practice.
Which changes everything. At least for me.
Five Reasons why I Love My Daily Art Journal Practice
1. I now start every creative session with my daily art journal, and suddenly I’m a lot less indecisive about all my other creative projects.
The “what should I work on” question just seems to have faded. Now I know what I’m going to work on first—my art journal. And then it’s interesting how art journaling turns into whatever I want to do next without much thought, even. I might I blog or collage or work in my other journals or work on my found art projects—whatever I feel like. What comes next simply comes next.
Okay, maybe that's an overstatement (I can't say I'm never stressed about time—that would be a lie.) But if I have a million things to do that day and I can’t find time to make stuff, I can take 10 minutes to add just one thing. A layer of paint. A doodle. A quick collage element. A quick journal entry. If I don’t have time for other creative work I at least worked in my art journal. And that feels great.
This one’s huge. Because all that indecision before? I couldn’t decide what to work on when. I couldn’t decide on the right words and the right colors. I couldn’t decide how to juggle projects and responsibilities.
That was fear. The Big Demon-Great Amygdala Lizard Brain-Worst Boss-Teacher-Parent-Authority ever, red flag waving.
The Inner Critic. The Very Logical "You can't possibly" voice inside your head that comes marching out, finger wagging. No. No. No.
Fear masked as indecision and kept me confused—and safely away from driving off that risky creative edge...
For instance, I'd get a window of time to make stuff and suddenly the To-Do list would loom and the next thing I knew I'd be saying, ”Too bad. Don't have time after all.”
Or, “I'm so overwhelmed. Way too many projects. I can't face it today. Maybe tomorrow.”
My favorite way around the indecision, though was to make a plan. I'd spin for awhile and then I'd say, "You know what? I need to figure out how I'm going to work on all this. I'm going to make...a plan."
So much less risky than actually making something.
Now, I come to my daily art journal with just the intention of adding one thing (or starting one thing if it’s the first day of the week). That’s easy! No decisions to make. No plans required. I can get out a few paints or a marker or two, the gesso. Just make a few marks, a splotch of paint, a doodle. The Great Inner Critic can’t complain about that.
A place to go to to warm up and meditate, really, and to play without judgment or expectation. I might paint or sketch or embellish or write and it doesn’t matter what I do because it’s just “one thing” that adds to another “one thing” which adds to another. Every day I enjoy the practice, and more importantly, I know I will enjoy the practice so I’m not afraid of coming to it. And I can play because the “responsibility” of creating a beautiful finished page isn’t there anymore.
Honestly, this is another big game changer for me. Anything that relieves me of that goal oriented tendency, that strive to perfection, is a good thing.
5. And maybe the greatest surprise is the final result.
So far, at the end of every week I’m delighted with the final spread. It may not be perfect—in fact it might not even be that good at all, but I always learn something and the final effect of seven days of adding details is always interesting.
Can you tell I’m a big raving fan of my daily art journal practice? There are other ways to art journal and other kinds of art journals (I have a few others as well), but an art journal as daily practice is insanely effective and I hope you’re intrigued enough to try it for yourself.
If this post brought up anything for you that you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below.
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