I had one of those infamous pink diary’s with the lock and key when I was in elementary school. That pink diary became my constant companion when my father died when I was seven years old. I’ve been an avid journal-er since. For more than two years now I’ve been using art and text to document my life in my journals, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized and took to heart, got past the fear, and said, “It’s my journal(s), I can do what I want….” I think the rebel in me knew all along and pushed the boundaries, broke the “rules.” Refused to even acknowledge that there are rules to keeping a journal, to doing things like adding your planning into your journal. And the diarist knew that I could journal about whatever I wanted, and was happy to be writing down the feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, plans, and more. But the artist… oh, the artist…the artist in me was filled with fear.
I have followed LittleRavenInk (Courtney Diaz) and Rhomany from Rhomany’s Realm, as well as many others on YT, for a good long while now, and the thing I love about both of them is their individualism, how they have found their voice in their art, on the pages of their journals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a journal, a sketchbook, a planner, etc., their style is unique. I’ve got a style, I suppose, but it ebbs and flows, it’s not ingrained yet… it’s still underneath the surface, appearing and disappearing as I find my way… As I delve into deeper recesses of my artist.
You see, writing down my thoughts, my feelings, adding bits and bobs of things like quotes, pictures, every day ephemera and/or bought ephemera, and other things isn’t the problem… I can do that and do do that on a regular basis. I often use my journal(s) as an art journal, scrapbook, common place journal, planner, and more. I add bits and pieces of my day on the page in a variety of ways, from drawing and water-coloring, to using markers, to writing diary style, to quotes, adding pictures and receipts, bits from magazines, receipts from stores, etc…, and the thing that has been bugging me about my whole journal journey is that I wanted to do something else… something more. To hone in on the artist part of me. To improve my skill and technique, to experiment with different mediums, but to concentrate mainly on the art. On creating at least one piece of art from my day. Maybe it was the new notebook I received in the mail, or maybe it’s my favorite fountain pen or the current watercolor palette I’m using, or maybe it’s my grandson playing or Mr. Rockstar using the grill, or maybe it’s a selfie I’ve drawn and water-colored. Not necessarily in a “sketchbook,” though I do that from time to time especially when I go somewhere and want to chronicle the moment by drawing the outside of the coffee shop or the lake at Swan Lake or the people at the park, which I have learned is called urban sketching and I enjoy, but more like a real life journal that chronicles everything from the mundane to the special event to travel to just playing around and drawing one of my supplies.
I did some serious soul searching last weekend, and my past Tuesday Talk video was about some of this… about investing in myself and my goals, about delving deep and realizing that I’ve been putting off trying to really “illustrate my life,” out of fear… out of insecurity… out of a lack of self-confidence. And yet the past year has improved my self-confidence, lessened my fear, knocked loose some of those insecurities and I’ve tried things and done things that the artist in me wouldn’t have even thought I could do–things like open my own journaling group, start Patreon, call myself an artist… WHOA! Did I just call myself an artist? Yep, sure did!
I’m not a professional artist, but I’m learning… I’m going back to the basics of drawing and learning to do so in a class offered by Danny Gregory on Sketchbook Skool. I’m experimenting on my own with watercolor until I can take a watercolor class–that is on my To-Do list after I finish the Drawing class. I’m learning on my own and taking classes. I’m journaling every day, drawing and water-coloring every day, and have gotten serious enough about that I purchased a new journal with 68 GSM Tomoe River paper in it from Taroko Design, the journal is called the Enigma and it’s got the most divine paper. I also have a Strathmore Watercolor paper journal/Sketchbook with 140lb paper for when I do happen to go Urban Sketching, or for practice, since painting with watercolor on Tomoe River paper is quite different than on watercolor paper.
Right now I use a Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor set, but I want to invest in the Daniel Smith Watercolors and create a basic travel set and then add to my collection as I go. I have goals… plans, but first it’s time for me to just start. I can’t wait until I can afford the Daniel Smith watercolors, though I do have a small travel kit that one of my wonderful friends made for me (I use those when I create works of art for people). Instead of waiting around, procrastinating even more, I sat at my DIY craft table and opened up both the A5 and the A6 Enigma and created my first page. I’ve realized that the A6 is going to be my fun, experimental tiny book of sketches, watercolors, etc… I’m going to take it with me every where I go and sketch something… anything–it might be the mailbox or the neighbor’s car or dog or pool or tree, or the coffee shop, or the front of the grocery store, or the people waiting in line at the doctor’s office. And the A5 will be my actual “Illustrated Journal,” also known as an “Artist’s Journal.” Some of those sketches might be of my supplies, of a tree in my own backyard, of Mr. Rockstar, of my grandson Mr. Viktor, of my own car, of myself, of pictures I’ve taken, of people (Friends, Family, etc)… I am going to illustrate something each day.
If any of you have seen the pages of my (Omni) journal or my Hobonichi you know that I often sketch bits and pieces of my day on my journal pages, sometimes it’s cartoon like, sometimes it’s fancy stick figures, sometimes it’s an actual sketch and watercolor… but I also add a lot of text, ephemera, photos, etc to the pages of my (Omni) journal/Hobonichi. I am going to continue to do that, because those are fun… I’m not always serious when I draw those bits and pieces of my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are some serious sketches within the pages of my (Omni Journal) and Hobonichi, but there are far more fun drawings…
I’m going to be chronicling my journal in depth on Patreon, but in bits and pieces here and on YT. I hope you enjoy the process, I know I hope to.
Once I get things together, I’ll make a revised Journal Supply post and video.
What is a planner? 1. A person who makes plans, 2. A list or chart with information that is an aid to planner (example, a day planner). What is a journal? A daily record of news and events of a personal nature; a diary. synonyms: diary, daily record, daybook, log, logbook, chronicle; trademarkdaytimer, “he keeps a journal.” For a long while I’ve called my combination journal and planner an Omni-Journal, since Omni means:or maybe “all in one place” might be a good phrase. Or I could say “one (note)book to rule them all.” Or maybe “my life all in one place,” might be a more apt description of what my journaling and planning all in one notebook is. Maybe even a “creative bullet journal,” or a PlanJo, or maybe a JoPlan. It doesn’t matter what I call it, it’s actually a hybrid of the Bullet Journal, Hobonichi, Planner, Illustrate or Sketch or Doodle Journal, Common Place Journal, and whatever else.
So what’s the big deal? I mean does it really matter if I use one notebook and combine my journaling and planning? I don’t think it should. I mean there aren’t any steadfast rules for planning, journaling, and/or both together. In today’s Coffee Chat video I address the issue. I hope you’ll watch this… I’m thinking about making a series about using an all in one, along with other things–multiple journals, planners… what some people think of as breaking the “planning” rules.
I remember when I first heard about a Traveler’s Notebook. I felt like Dorothy when she landed in Oz… Once I got on the Yellow Brick Road of TN’s I was hooked. Especially after I received my first Jonelifish, which was the not quite infamous Writer’s Bible (an A5 bifold Jonelifish in my custom color–a combination of reds, purples, and a touch of blues). My first TN was a Buteo Bunker. I got Mr. Rockstar and myself TN’s from BB, his in the standard size, and mine in the Wide/Cahier size. BB’s leather is supple, like “buttah.” And it patina’s beautifully, but I’m a color kind of person, and I’d seen Rhomany’s video from Rhomany’s Realm about her Jonelifishes and that was it!!! The colors!!! The leather!!! The uniqueness (not sure that is a word, or what, but it fits so it’s staying) of Jonel’s work appealed to the creative side of me.
I knew that I needed a TN that could house an actual journal/notebook, not just a few inserts. I knew my TN would end up a chunky monkey. I have big handwriting, I like ample room to write, and A5 is my “go to” size for notebooks/journals. But I had to wonder, later on after having both a Wide and then an A5 if maybe there wasn’t a better size… now I can honestly say that nope… the best size for me is the A5. When I got my Writer’s Bible (A5 bifold), I also got a passport sized trifold and immediately set it up as a wallet. I realize that the trifold might be too much bother–opening it up every time you go to use it–for some. I have a Field Note’s size bifold, and an A7 (I think it is called the Micro), that I could use as a wallet, or if I really wanted I could use the personal size I have as a wallet, but I love my passport, and to me having to open it up means that things aren’t as likely to fall out, it’s safer.
The Yellow Brick Road of TN’s has lead me to this:
Yes… those are my TN’s, I also have a few Leather Journal Covers, like the new to me (deep,dark, gorgeous) red leather Hobonichi cover that my friend Maya sent me, or the new to me purple journal cover from Imperfectly Perfekt that looks like a tarot card on the cover–but I’ll get to those in a different post since this post is about TN’s. What I love most about Jonel’s work is that even if you choose the same color, say a Mermaid or the Dark Unicorn, your’s is going to be unique… each one is made by her, it’s handmade. She dyes them, engraves them, paints them, etc all herself. 😀 And each one is unique. A work of art. I have several different one’s in my custom color and not one of them is EXACTLY like the other. 😀 That makes me feel special. The uniqueness of it draws me, the fact that it comes from an artisan–an artist. I have in my head this dream Jonelifish… a likeness of Michael Whelan’s Gunslinger (Roland) standing in the field of red roses with the Dark Tower in the distance on the inside or outside, I’m not sure of which yet, and then on the other side (inside or outside) Snoopy in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night… either lying on his dog house staring up at the sky or on his typewriter (most likely staring up at the sky)… And I’ve started a conversation with Jonel about creating that… what I call my “unicorn” Jonelifish… My DREAM TN. It would, of course, be an A5, because that’s my size of preference. But that’s because I prefer to use notebooks like the Leuchtturm 1917, or Nanami Paper’s Seven Seas Crossfield, or Taroko Design’s Enigma, all of which are A5 sized notebooks, and I tend to put more than one of those in my Jonelifish. Right now I am using several of the trifolds: one houses my Spiritual Omni Journal (book of mirrors/spirit) and my Spiritual Bullet Journal, another trifold houses my OMni Journal and my Morning Pages notebook (which is a Lechtturm 1917), and then there is my Writer’s Bible which houses my Writer Bullet journal and a Clairfontaine notebook that I use as a writing journal.
Just because I use mostly Cahier, Standard, or A5 sized TN’s doesn’t mean that your perfect size TN is one of those. So here are some suggestions based on my experience, and what I’ve heard from others who are also lovers of TNs.
- Look at some of the notebooks you already own and love–what is the most common size? Measure the notebook if you’re not sure of the size. Once you know what size the notebook is you can look at the chart I’ve provided (this is based on Jonelifish, and I’ve noticed that size is relatively similar in the TN community but not exact, so base it on having a bit of extra room for your inserts or notebooks to sit in the TN comfortably, especially if you have OCD about overhang (which is when your inserts/notebooks edge hangs out of the TN). For example, I use standard A5 sized notebooks– the Leuchtturm 1917 and the Crossfield and Enigma measure about 5 3/4″ by 8 1/4,” which is why I get an A5 TN, especially if I’m getting a bifold. 😀 (I don’t like overhang at all!)
- If you aren’t sure, you can always make your own sized inserts based off of different sizes and try the DIY insert for a week or so to see if you like that size. Spend some time in that size so you can see which one you like the best.
- You can look through videos on YT about TN’s, there are a ton out there about various sizes, brands, etc… I find that as a visual person, photos and videos are really helpful for me. You could also ask around… in FB groups, etc…
My Dark Unicorn is a standard sized trifold, and it actually holds an A5 notebook plus an insert, so I was using it as my Omni Journal cover… and I really liked how snugly it held it, but if you want to have more notebooks/inserts/or a notebook and some inserts, your best bet would be to get the Cahier size or the A5, but if you’re looking for something smaller she has lots of options. I just know way more about the A5 sized notebooks/journals. You can always join any number of TN groups on FB, and/or the Jonelifish FB group.
One last thing… As a Brand Ambassador for Jonelifish, I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE Jonel’s work. If you order from her shop at https://jonelifish.com/ and you use my code “Burgess10” you’ll get 10% off your order, as long as it’s not a custom order. If you’re not sure just ask…
**** This post contains some affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I might receive a small commission (this doesn’t cost you anything) if you purchase something through some of the links I’ve provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love!****
On Friday I posted a “What’s in my bags?” video because for the month of April I’m getting #backtobasics. To be honest, when I was first thinking about all of this back in March all I knew for sure was that I wasn’t really using my journals or planner(s). And if I’m not journalling then there is something seriously wrong. One of the things that has really worked for me in the past is #onebookjuly. I remember the first time I heard Rhomany of Rhomany’s Realm talk about #onebookjuly–getting back to the basics of planning. If the system you’re using for planning isn’t working it doesn’t matter what notebook you use… And since then I’ve been working on my actual planning system.
As a lover of all things stationery, and a journal/book/DIY/art/book/writer nerd, I am, I admit, often tempted to start a new journal. Sometimes the temptation arises because I see a shiny new journal on a shelf in a store, or a new journal via someone’s YT video, FB post, IG picture, etc., or simply because I have gotten bored, anxious, or tired of the current journal I am using–or perhaps because I’m frustrated with what I’ve been doing. Maybe it started out great but somewhere along the way what I wanted the pages, and eventually the journal, to look like is not what it looks like.
I’m not alone in this. About once every few months someone asks me if I am ever tempted to start a new journal before I’ve finished my current, or how to do stick with a journal until I’ve used up the whole journal, or am I ever tempted to start a new journal–shiny new journal syndrome (much like the shiny new idea syndrome in regard to writing, which I know way too much about for my own good). Every time I start a new journal before finishing the current journal I regret it for all of about 5 minutes–the shiny new pages are just so pretty, the crisp clean feel of the new journal is overwhelming in its beauty, the newness… and yet–
I can’t help but wonder if all of this angst over my journals and planning system are about the journals/planning or if it’s really about the depression and anxiety that have increased from being sick for over a month. Being sick has definitely taken a toll on me. Now that I’m finally feeling better and more like myself I realize that it’s probably a combination of all of the above. I’m working on things so that I feel
If you would like to see what I’ve been up to you can watch my coffee chat video from Monday where I talk about how I’m not feeling the journal/planner peace. Continue reading
This month marked the actual 2 year journalversary… two years that I’ve been journaling on a steady basis using art and words. I know it might not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it’s been a big deal. Not only has adding art to my journaling increased my creativity, lessened my anxiety and help manage my depression, but it’s also helped me with self-doubt and self-esteem.
I talk about much of this in this video about Fear, Self-Doubt, and Creativity:
Another thing I’ve realized is how far I’ve come with my art. By the way, I am not a professional artist. Nor am I professional writer (yet). But I am an artist. A writer. And I’ve learned that combining art and words in my journal, in my outlining for my novels (using Tarot is visual (artistic) and the Hero’s Journey is structure), has helped me figure out an outlining method that works for me.
2016 taught me a lot about what worked and didn’t work for me in regard to planning, journaling, drawing, painting, goal setting, editing videos, etc… I learned so much last year. Part of what I learned is the living a creative life is my passion, but it’s also part of my purpose.
Because there were a few things that did and didn’t work I changed things up this year.
Here is my coffee chat about some of this:
As I was getting everything together for 2017, my planner/journal systems, I realized I had a bit of overlap. Last year I started out the year with a Leonie Dawson planner, a bullet journal in a Leuchtturm 1917, my Omni Journal, and my writer bullet journal, along with a few other things. Within a month or so I knew that I wouldn’t really use the ring bound planner–I’m not a fan of ring bound or spiral bound notebooks, journals, planners. I have a large ring binder that I store my writing stuff in: research, printouts, etc, but it is for reference only, I don’t work out of it.
And as the year progressed, I soon realized that bullet journaling was being merged with my art journal/chronicle your life journal/Hobonichi-Fauxbonichi style journaling, so I (once again) combined bullet journaling with everything else that was in my Omni Journal. My hybrid/everything/catchall journal. 🙂
For #onebookjuly2016 I used my Omni Journal for everything, except for the writing stuff. I learned how to use the “one journal for all” and as the month progressed I learned that I could even include my writing stuff in the Omni Journal, at least the basics, like shiny new ideas that pop into my head, or a line that kept bugging me, or a character that didn’t want to act right… Working things out on paper is so much easier for me… ADHD and all that. Thanks to #onebookjuly I learned how my brain works in regard to planning, journaling, and what system works best for me.
After #onebookjuly, and on into the end of the year, I worked on putting my systems in place, systems that work for me.
My Omni Journal: the Hub, sort of the Grand Central Station of everything, which is usually in my trifold Jonelifish Mermaid TN, along with a few inserts for specific things.
My Writer’s Bible, a Jonelifish TN (traveler’s notebook) that houses my writer bullet journal, my novel insert, and my writer journal.
My Projects Jonelifish TN, which housed my project bullet journal, an insert for the Dark Tower reading project, and a few other inserts for certain projects.
And my Hobonichi Techo Cousin (A5) that was sort of an art journal.
For 2017 I knew I wanted to change a few things. Make changes that would help me stay organized, still be creative, and would utilize my strengths and yet help me improve my weak areas (getting distracted easily, forgetting things even though I wrote them down, etc). So I took a look at the systems I had in place, what was working, what was only working so-so, and what I knew I wanted to change. Then I did a bit of research into what was out there. I love the Hobonichi. Love Tomoe River Paper. My Omni Journal has 68 gsm Tomoe River paper, it’s an Enigma from Taroko Design. 😀 And my prefered journal size is an A5, so I knew I wanted another Hobonichi Techo Cousin, but did I really have a need for it? And I wanted to try the Hobonichi A6 English planner, but (again) did I have a need for it? And then there was the Hobonichi Weeks. Need or Want?
If I’m being honest, the Hobonichis’ were wants, not needs. The Enigma–my Omni Journal is more than sufficient for all of my actual needs, but if I used it for every single thing I’d go through it in 3 months, which means I’d need 4 for the year instead of 2. I write a lot. Draw a lot. Write big…
Here is the video of my Coffee Chat about Journal/Planner overlap if you’d like more detail. Soon I’ll be doing a show and tell of exactly what I am using and how. 😀