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Creative Fuel Challenge #45
Take Note


***Quick reminder before we start today: don't forget to do your collaborative prompt and send to me.*** 

I have been teaching a weekly creativity class on most Wednesday afternoons (hosted by my friends over at JAM Collective, give them a follow if you want to join us), and a couple of weeks ago we focused on journaling.

I have never been a person who keeps a regular journal. My "dear diary" attempts as a child always petered out after a week or two, and there have been plenty of journals since then only filled with a few pages. As a writer I always feel like I "should" have a regular journaling practice, and as an artist I "should" have a regular sketchbook practice. "Should" is a dangerous game.

Any time you hear yourself saying "I should [insert activity]," follow up your statement by asking, "why?" It's important to know where our expectations of ourselves come from. If we can identify what is behind our expectations, it can help us to better navigate what we are or aren't going to do when it comes to our creative practice. 

Here's the thing: keeping a journal gets to look like whatever you want it to, just how your creative process gets to look however you want it to. 

Today is for taking note. What you'll find below is an outline for rethinking your own journal practice. You may already have a regular journal practice, and if you do, maybe some of these ideas will spark something new to bring to the table.


  • Paper or notebook
  • Pen or pencil
  • Anything else you need

I titled my recent class "How to Fill This Space." Because really, how do you fill the space of a blank page? The blank page can be intimidating, overwhelming, and on the worst of days, put you off from doing anything at all. I often say here that "constraints breed creativity," and we can apply that to our blank pages. If you are wanting to get into a more regular journal and/or sketchbook practice, here are some parameters to consider.

Remember that there are many forms of journaling
There are all kinds of ways to keep a journal and not one of them is "right." It is entirely dependent on what you need and what you want out of your practice. 

Ask yourself "what is my purpose/intent?"
This is where the "shoulds" come into play. Instead of saying to yourself "I should journal more" ask yourself why you want to keep a journal/sketchbook. What purpose does keeping a journal serve for you? Answering this question (and you may have a couple of different answers) will help to guide what kind of format you take on. Examples:

  • "I want to practice writing" --> A journal practice where you respond to prompts that kickstart new ideas might be good for you.
  • "I want to clear my head" --> Julia Cameron's famous daily practice of three pages of stream of consciousness writing might be perfect. 
  • "I want to be more mindful and present in my day" --> Maybe something like a gratitude journal will work well for you.
  • "I want to keep track of creative ideas" --> In this case, maybe a strict daily journaling practice isn't the right thing for you. Maybe a process journal might be a better fit, where you keep track of ideas, snippets of inspiration, and how your general work is evolving. 

Create boundaries/constraints
Now that you have a little more of an idea of what you want out of a journaling practice, it's time for boundaries. There are many ways to give yourself constraints, but here are a few ideas:

  • Time limits - start by setting a timer for a short amount of time and see where you end up. 
  • Medium limits - you don't have to journal with pen or pencil. Maybe one day you want to use collage, or watercolor instead. 
  • Color constraint - write in only one color other than black.
  • Size constraints - draw boxes on the page and allow yourself to only write inside of them.  
  • Content constraints - give yourself prompts to answer and explore. 

Let your journal be whatever it needs to be
Remember this: you can write/draw/create in your journal as little or as much as you want to. This summer I have taken inspiration from Andrea Slusarski (you may remember her back from prompt #16), and my journal has ended up more as a process journal, in which I am noting down ideas, quotes, and references, all related to a certain theme that I am exploring. This has encouraged me to sit down far more often to write/draw/paint in the journal, because I feel like it is leading somewhere, even though I am not entirely sure of the destination. 

One more thing: enjoy the process
If you don't feel like a journal practice is serving you, scrap it. You're the one that gets to decide how you show up for your creative practice, and what best works for you. The one rule of creativity? There are no rules.

You can find all of the Creative Fuel Challenge archives here

ps: I'd love to see what you create, so share your work! feel free to send me photos of your work, or send me what you have written. I'll try to share some of the work here and on my Instagram feed, so you can tag me @annabrones and use the hashtag #creativefuelchallenge

pps: feeling inspired? Send this email to a friend

ppps: Creative Fuel Challenge is free and open to the public, but you can also become a monthly supporter of my work on Patreon if you are inclined/able to. You can also support my work by checking out my shop, where I have prints, cards, etc. I did a big summer shop update this week and there are lots of new prints and original pieces!

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