Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Journaling Small

Today is National Handwriting Day, and to do my part to promote the art of writing by hand I thought I'd offer an idea how you can do that . . . in a small way.

While working on my 1000 Cards Project last year I wrote three small journals. One was an ATC-size blank book I found at BAM and wrote in for a week; fitting my handwriting and art on the tiny pages was an interesting challenge. I also made two other, shorter journals by hand; one that I wrote in for a day and the other a collection of ten thoughts about living the creative life.

Now I have much love for big, roomy journals, but those three mini projects did give me a new appreciation for journaling small. Reducing your physical writing space can be a good thing for your focus; when you're working on 2-1/2 X 3-1/2" pages every word really has to count. Although I'm not sure why, it also had the pleasant side effect of making my entries mainly positive - maybe because the space limit didn't give me a lot room to rant.

Working on a smaller scale can be a fast and fun way to explore some non-traditional journal making methods. The little accordian journal I made last year using fake fruit was fun but didn't require a huge chunk of my time. If you'd like an alternative to artist trading cards you might consider making a mini-journal out of index cards, old rolodex cards, or even some playing cards (card sleeves, an index card box, rolodex holder or deck box would serve nicely to hold them all together versus the usual binding and covers.)

Journaling small also makes your project more portable by reducing it to purse- or pocket-size, so you can take it with you on your daily travels. Since you don't have to wrestle with a standard-size book, you might be more inclined to jot down ideas or make a quick sketch on the run. If you want to embellish your pages on the go, use a pencil case or an empty Altoids tin to carry a few art supplies with you.

A small project can help you think outside the journaling box, too. I was fascinated by the shape of this reader challenge silhouette book in the Jan/Feb '13 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors; I'd love to make a little journal like this shaped by its own theme, like love poems in a heart-shaped journal or a quilting diary shaped by my favorite patchwork template. I can also see making a neat photo journal of my pups shaped like a bone or in one of their silhouettes. You can also find ready-made shaped notebooks around if you look; I spotted this rainbow-shaped notebook in the dollar bin at JoAnn, and it would make a great happy thoughts or gratitude mini-journal.

A pocket-size journal might also inspire you to journal more often, which can ease you into a more regular writing routine. Big journals with all those blank pages can be intimidating; a miniature version may prove less stressful. You're not under pressure to fill dozens of empty lines or pages with your thoughts; you can note simply what's most important that day in a few words or one paragraph. Writers, this is great practice for creating premises, hook lines, working out dialogue and other elemental story ideas. Poets can explore and play with short form verse by creating a daily haiku journal. Readers who like to keep track of what books they read and their thoughts about them might find a pocket reading journal easier to update and take along on the next book store excursion.

You can have fun with the artistic challenge of making small journals, too. I picked up a couple card decks, a mini spiral notebook and a pack of index cards, all of which I'm going to try to transform into guided small journals, and if I don't make a hash of it I'll post some pictures of the results.

Finally, for those of you who are fine writing instrument lovers, check out this penmanship contest being held by Fahrney's Pens. You can mail, fax or e-mail your handwritten entry by January 31st, and the winner will score a Pelikan fountain pen worth $348.00.


  1. One place to find some kooky and conventional writing journals, like a 'super' woman writing journal and others, would be

  2. You've got a nice little selection at your site, Mary Celeste. Thanks for stopping in.


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