Developing your own creative practice(s) tips
This time we’re going to start by jumping in with some points to help you start your journal experience!
- Know your why
When you decide to start journaling or art journaling knowing your why can be helpful in deciding what kind of journal practice you want. Or identifying what you want to or just as importantly don’t want to do? Key questions to consider are:
- Why do you want a creative practice now or today?
- Why do you want to journal?
- What would I to get out of your my creative practice?
- How do you want to your creative practice to feel? (e.g. relaxing, adventurous, playful)
- What kind of journaling appeals to you?
- What inspires you?
- How do I feel about the different types of journaling?
- How long can I allocate to journaling each day or week?
- What type of journaling feels right to you?
For example, it could be that you would like to deeply explore your experiences, feelings and thoughts. Free-writing may be appropriate for this. You may want to set, track and manage your goals or progress. Then a bullet-journal may be appropriate. Do you want to just express yourself creatively? Then an art journal may be more relevant to your needs.
Personally I started with art journaling as I actually wanted to avoid written journaling. I just wanted a way to self-care and express myself without having to use writing. I had been taught to make an art journal in an art class I went to and now I had to decide what to put it in. I researched the different supplies I could use in my book and found a lot of information about art journaling. Now I’m addicted to art journaling and daily reflection written journaling for my self-care, wellbeing and want to show others like you, how to do the same.
- Start Small – 5 minutes is better than nothing (when building a creative habit).
You may have 5 minutes or day or 30 minutes a week to journal or you may have more. Most people can find 5 minutes in their day to sit down and journal. You may have to give up something like watching tv for 5 minutes or set your alarm 5 minutes earlier but it is achievable. If it doesn’t sound much, just remember 5 minutes is better than no minutes and you can do some great 5 minute projects (set a timer) or use 5 minutes to set up and build up a larger project each week.
My main point is that setting yourself up for 30 minutes or an hour or longer each day (or sometimes each week) may be overwhelming to start with and you may find yourself not committing to it in the long run. You may find that 30 minute slot or hour slot always ends up being taken up by something else or you can’t keep your concentration for that long (particularly if you are tired or busy). In my experience starting with something that is doable, just 5 minutes and then building it up to however much longer that you aspire to is a road to gaining a routine practice.
- A Routine or Regular Practice – build momentum.
I remember that there is suppose to be a 21/90 day rule to starting something each days. If you do something for 21 days it becomes a routine and after 90 days it becomes a lifestyle. I admit (for me) it I generally takes me a month to start a routine, and three months for it to become part of my lifestyle. But that’s not surprising when you think how long it takes to get rid of a negative habit (stopping smoking, changing your unhelpful mindset). Apparently it’s something to do with neural pathways developing, being over-written and dying off in the brain. So generally it’s ok for it to take as long as it takes. But I would recommend to try and establish a routine practice if you can. If you want to regularly journal or create more art, you will probably get more out of it and learn a lot faster even if it is five minutes a day.
Top tip: Consider what motivates you. It may often be linked to your why, but you may want to have something tangible, something simple or inexpensive. For example, I give myself a gold star when I complete a project, it may sound childish, but I think that’s why it works, because my I can still remember what its like to get a gold star as a kid, and inner child loves that feeling!
- Set out your creative space – in time and space.
I’ve already covered making time for your journaling, but it is worth remembering that this is part of you creative space, as much as your physical space is. I would recommend that you have a physical creative space also. This could be a box of supplies by your sofa or a table/desk with your supplies on. A place beside your bed for my written journal and your favourite pen(s). I currently have a table in the backroom with some supplies on and a shed in the garden, with a desk and the majority of supplies on. I think the biggest thing I have found with regards to this is – out of sight out of mind. So what helps me is to actually leave my supplies in a place I can see them. And if possible out so you can just dip into them and make a mark on your page, as you walk past rather than having to get everything out. It’s good to always be set up for creative action as you never know when the creative urge, flow or inspiration will hit you. If you can’t do this put your favorite supplies in a very small bag – a make up bag or whatever, with your journal, so you can just grab it and create. This is also useful for when you are on the go (out and about).
- Be flexible – What actually works for you in practice, in reality?
As discussed, my why has changed throughout journaling as has my journaling routine. I have different needs now, than I did when I started. For example, now I want to explore my writing (particularly after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) and I also want to use my journal to manage my goals. Therefore, allow your practice to change, evolve and be flexible in your practice. For example you may want to explore something in particular such as drawing girls faces in your journal or explore using a different medium. The key to having a practice is to explore, experiment, try new things, and change things up if they are not working. Or if you get bored with something. So go with the flow, try something new or just be flexible. Some questions to consider are:
- What am I enjoying about my creative experience?
- What is my ideal journal?
- Can I use different methods (visual, art, written, bullet) and mix and match them to get something that’s more ideal to me?
- What isn’t working? And why do I think it isn’t working?
- How could I change up my routine to make it more fun, interesting, fulfilling?
- Are there any new questions, inspiration, techniques or types of journaling that could aid my practice?
- Go easy on yourself – you can do what you can do, your best is good enough.
If you fall off the journal bandwagon, haven’t created for a while or don’t know where to start just go easy on yourself. It happens, it’s happened to me and many of the people I’ve spoken to about creativity. Its part of the practice stopping, noticing you’ve stopped and then starting again. So pat yourself on the back if you’ve noticed and well done if you’ve decided to start again, or change up your practice. You have set your intention to create and now you can take action to write or create again and that’s all that matters! Often easier said than done but I’ll leave that to a later post. But remember, it takes us so much energy to focus on what we are not doing. Energy which could be spent on re-starting our practice or just being creative. So, reframe it – celebrate your wins, what you are doing or are going to, even if it’s just 5 minutes!
Kindness Amanda & Jessie