For a special TGIF treat, we have a guest blog entry from Ricë Freeman-Zachery, the author of Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspirations from Working Artists. She lives in Midland, Texas, and is working on her fourth book, Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art, due out from North Light Books in September 2009. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can read her journal at voodoonotes.blogspot.com. Join her Creative Life group at groups.yahoo.com/group/thecreativelife. And now, enjoy her wisdom and tips on keeping a visual journal without abandoning your scrapbook:
Everyone needs to keep a journal. Period. It doesn’t matter what kind of journal you keep or whether you also keep a scrapbook: you need to keep a journal.
What’s the difference between scrapbooking and journaling, anyway? Ask ten people, get ten answers. One might tell you that scrapbooks are more public, meant to be shared, while journals are, well, not so much. Another might say that scrapbooks have as their main purpose the preservation of family history, whereas journals are more about introspection and personal exploration. And so on.
And when you begin to talk about visual journals and art journals, well, then, things really get messy. So I’m here not so much to sort things out as to encourage you to forget about all that, get yourself a notebook, and start keeping a journal. I have kept a journal for lo! these many years, seeing it morph from just lines of text in a written notebook to collage to sketches to pasted-in photographs and just about everything in between. I’m on volume #134 right now, and lately I’ve been working through a new Moleskine sketchbook every month: if it’s the first day of a new month, I’m cracking open a brand new book. And the things that go into these journals are the things you’d put into a scrapbook and the things you’d put into a diary, all together in one lovely, messy book.
And let me tell you, it’s wonderful. No matter what you call it—a notebook, a journal, an art journal, a visual journal—keeping a book of some sort that you fill with all the bits and pieces of your wonderful, crazy, busy, boring, joyful life—well, it’s an amazing journey. While most scrapbooks are made to be shared and passed down from one generation to the next, journals can free you from that obligation to make spreads worthy of showing your Aunt Gladys, and you know how persnickety she is. A journal allows you to record your days the way YOU want to remember them, rather than trying to preserve them for someone else. Sure, you can share your journals with your family and friends and leave them to your kids if you want, but you’re not hooked with the expectations of being The Record Keeper for anyone else. It’s just for you, and if you choose to focus on what it felt like to dance at your cousin’s wedding, rather than dutifully racing around recording the names of everyone who was there—for posterity, you know—then that’s okay.
And here’s something else: if you’re completely besotted with all the scrapbooking toys—the tools and the paper and the trims and tabs and stickers and, oh, my!—a visual journal is just as happy to accommodate all those little treats as is any scrapbook. In fact, that’s where the lines began to blur: when scrapbooking started having all the fun stuff, people who loved their journals wanted a way to keep a journal and add the frosting, too. Visual journals are perfect for that.
I’m not saying that you should give up on the scrapbook. Au contraire: if you love scrapbooking, don’t even think of abandoning it. What I’m hoping is that you’ll see that there’s room in your life for something else, something more, something that’s more about you and what you want—your ideas and inspiration, your hopes and dreams. Because here’s the thing: talk to the most creative people in the world, the ones who are coming up with the amazing ideas and making astounding art and just generally zinging around in a swirl of creativity, and the majority of those people will tell you that they keep a journal of one kind or another and carry it everywhere with them. Most of them will tell you that it’s where their ideas are hatched and worked on and brought to fruition. They’ll tell you that that’s where they dream and brainstorm, where they try out new color combinations and list the colors of paints they need to order and figure out how many yards of fabric it would take to make a tutu for a horse, anyway. It’s their place to play and wonder, and sometimes the results are pages full of scrawls and illegible scribbles, but sometimes the pages are gorgeous pieces of art unto themselves, with photographs and notes and poems and dreams and riotous color all woven into a book they’ve created just for themselves. Sure, they may share their journals. Some even publish pages or chunks or the whole thing in its entirety. But mostly it’s just a place to go and play and dream and work out all the wonderfully messy ideas that live in every creative brain. Give that brain a place to play, and it’s going to keep you happy in ways you never imagined.