Thursday, February 05, 2009

lost idea + lost inspiration = lost potential


What goes through your mind when I say "journal"? A diary perhaps? Maybe daily events such as a rough travel itinerary? Maybe you think of fine artists or writers and don't see the correlation between a small book of personal notes and your personal creative activities. I can assure you there is a connection; and with a small effort any creative activity, no matter what it is, can be enriched with a journal.

Everyone has ideas. For professional creatives, these general and sometimes vague notions often end up as stepping stones to greater, more specific ideas for projects and approaches. On occasion, they can move an entire body of work to creative success. And sometimes, it's not the ideas but rather the subjects of inspiration that can lead to creative epiphanies. But these ideas, these epiphanies, these subjects of profound importance, along with the resulting creative success, won't happen if that initial kernel of thought is forgotten.

That's exactly what journals do, they help you remember.

From ideas to observations, journals are portable handwritten hard drives of information that you stumble upon from day to day. Sometimes they can read like exhausted ramblings; that's alright because it's better to have the ramblings down on paper than bouncing around in your head while you're shooting photography or trying to enjoy travel sites of interest. Observations can also inspire, which could lead to a lot of excited and messy writing, arrows, and scratched-out words. That's fine too; by writing out a thought process that was, for example, inspired by some really interesting signage you came across the other day, you help yourself make sense out of the bubble of excitement that just burst within your mind. And don't feel limited to writing or doodling. Take photo studies or quick pictures as observation, print them and cut them out, then glue them into your journal. Maybe down the road those pictures or doodles will inspire a new project or support an existing one.

For me, my journal is irreplaceable. I write prose and poetry, I draw, illustrate, and shoot photography so my journal pages have varied content (your journal should be tailored to your needs). And since it's something I take with me nearly everywhere I go, it had to be interesting to look at and to use while remaining durable at the same time. After buying a leather journal at Borders that used a piece of leather threaded through three holes as binding, I took it apart. Using a variety of paper from my art supply(newsprint, charcoal paper, packing paper, as well as plain white drawing paper), I cut the paper down to the journal size, punched the necessary holes in all the sheets, and re-bound the journal with custom paper. It's inspiration in itself but again, that's what works for me.

How do you know what type of journal will work for you and your creative interests?

That's easy, whatever you think will be fun and interesting to use. Just make sure it's durable since it will (or should) travel with you on a somewhat regular basis. If you carry a pack to store supplies such as a camera or paint/brushes, journal size may not be an issue. But, if you don't carry a bag of some sort, you may want to look for something small that can be tucked into a coat or pants pocket.

It sounds like a lot of work but once you integrate it into your creative life, using a journal becomes second nature. Even if it is a small inconvenience, the benefits are definitely worth it.

1 comment:

WMP Skin said...

Thanks for the info!