Art and Journalling

Today I’ve had the most views in one day I ever expect to have – at least until I make another post about notebooks. A gratifying percentage stuck around to check out the rest of my blog, which was really nice. So thanks to anyone who came along from FYN.

Actually come to think of it, today’s topic is a little notebook-related too: Journalling.

I’ve been journalling haphazardly for years. Sometimes I’d forget about it for six months or more. Other times I’d be journalling almost every day. Right now, I manage a couple of times a week. Journalling is one of those major writers’ tips, and if nothing else it keeps the pen moving and the mind working. I just like getting all my crap out of my head and onto the paper. I find it therapeutic.

It was Brain Picking’s page on Lynda Barry that got me thinking about art journalling. I’m not much of a visual artist outside of photography, but I do enjoy sketching and doodling, especially with a fine fountain pen. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started the odd art journal page, nothing particularly interesting, but something to keep my artistic juices flowing. I particularly like Barry’s own thoughts on exuberant imperfection – “I do not like ‘Dog and Beaver’.” “Yet it survives your dislike! Astonishing!” – which I confess I have difficulty applying to things that are not a first draft.

This page in particular struck me:

Did, saw, heard, drawn. “Did” I had already mastered. “Saw” I needed to work on. I spend a lot of time – actually a potentially pathological amount of time – daydreaming. And I’m fine with that; I just think of it as a writer thing. But it means I’m not very often “present” or mindful, and that’s something I’d like to work on. (If only it means I trip over things less often.) The other day, I found a tiny baby skink that had had some sort of accident, leaving it with a dent in its back and two legs that didn’t work. It was sad, but the skink didn’t seem too worse off for it. I hope the little thing wasn’t in pain or anything. On its own, this little anecdote is worth nothing much, but in a story it could be an interesting little aside, potential symbolism, something to flesh out a moment or a scene. And on my own I’d never have thought of it.

“Heard” I have trouble with. I don’t spend a lot of time “in public” and so don’t overhear things terribly often. I’ve taken to browsing my twitter feed and filching out ones that particularly amuse me or that I think are interesting, which I then illustrate in some way or other.

“Did” and “saw” go in my basic journal – currently a moleskine because I have trouble resisting their cute limited edition covers. “Heard” and “drawn” go in my midori.

It isn’t something I do every day, or even every time I sit down to write a journal entry. Once a week, maybe. But it’s certainly made me pay more attention to the world around me, and how it may be relevant to me and to my characters.

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