Guided journals, or blank books that include specific prompts or instructions on what to write in them, can provide an interesting journaling challenge and plenty of no-sweat writing practice. They're great for youngsters but I think adults can get a lot out of them, too. If you ever feel blocked, unable to focus or otherwise cut off from the work, a guide journal can be like jumper cables for your creativity. You still have to think and write, but it's nice to have your direction mapped out in advance for you.
On a recent trip to BAM I picked up two newly-published guided journals: Michael Nobbs's Drawing Your Life and The Pocket Scavenger by Keri Smith. Michael, who is the founder of SustainablyCreative.com, has tackled guided journal via impromptu art by putting together a book of drawing challenges.
I struggle most with sketching, and when I spotted Michael's jourrnal I thought it would be geared more toward experienced/confident artists. But while flipping through it I discovered Michael has disabled since the late nineties and learned to draw himself as a way to come to terms with his health challenges. That comes through in the journal, as he puts it: I hope this book will encourage you to draw YOUR LIFE and perhaps show you a way you can enjoy each day just a little bit more. To me the fact that he not only wrote but also illustrated the book convinced me to invest; I like authors who practice what they preach.
I tried out the journal in the fearless sense -- with a pen -- and freehand drew a bunch of different keys I'd been working with on some BookLoop and art projects earlier that morning:
I've already enjoyed working through one of Keri Smith's guided journals, so I had to grab a copy of her latest, The Pocket Scavenger. This journal is a guided treasure hunt through your life where you hunt for ordinary and even mundane objects like postage stamps, buttons, part of a book, a used envelope, something that was given to you -- all of which you add to the journal along with the location, time, date, and a story/notes section where you write a bit about the process of finding the object.
Now to some of you this might sound a little tedious, but wait, there's more to do: once you've found the required treasure, you then flip to a random page in the journal, turn it upside down, and follow the instructions written in the bottom page border to alter the object you found. For example: I found some old postage stamps in my desk. I noted the details of the hunt on that page, then did the flip and got these instructions from the border: add some music. That I interpreted as making the background of my postage stamp page out of some old sheet music from my paper recycling bin. Which then turned the postage stamps into a neat mini-collage:
Both of these guided journals allow anyone, no matter what level of artistic skill they might have, to creatively explore their immediate environment, document their life in an interesting way and journal outside the box. If you've never tried to keep a journal, either one of these could make a great first experience.
As always you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, give us a journaling prompt you think would be interesting to do (or if you can't think of one, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, May 24th, 2013. I'll draw two names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners an unsigned new copy of either The Pocket Scavenger by Keri Smith or Drawing Your Life by Michael Nobbs (to keep it fun, the winner won't know which until my package arrives.) This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something at PBW in the past.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Be My Guide
Posted by the author at 12:00 AM
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I've been trying to include a bit of time capsule like trivia in each of my pages this time. Like the songs I liked on the radio that day or if I went to the grocery store I pasted in the receipt. The menu where I ordered Chinese with the fortune cookie message glued to it. I figure I can pull out my journal to use as a visual aid when I tell my kids about the time before cell phones (and I gasp dramatically here) xbox were invented, and how to price of gas used to be 4 bucks a gallon. LOLReplyDelete
Something inspired by an exercise in my editing class...ReplyDelete
Describe who you are without using any words or letters.
What was the worst day of your life? Now, look back and find the good that came of it.ReplyDelete
Thank you for continuing to feed my journal addiction. :) As for a journal prompt, I think it would be interesting to draw something with the hand you don't normally draw with and then write about a character who might have drawn it (preferably with the hand you do normally write with). Since the drawing will probably be below your usual drawing level, think about whether this person is young, artistically challenged, disabled. Think about why they are drawing whatever it is you chose to draw.ReplyDelete
A collection of postcards from road trips that were taken many years ago would provide a prompt for me which would enable me to treasure this journal idea.ReplyDelete
You have the ability to become one word for one day. What word would you become?ReplyDelete
In what document(s) would you be written? In what document(s) would you want to be written?
What might you learn (good or bad) from the document(s), and from the words around you?
I'm drawing a blank on a prompt, so I'll just throw my name in the hat. The second book, with the treasure-hunt concept, sounds perfect for my sister. She doesn't seem to think she has anything important to say in the world, but she loves Geocaching, which is very much a treasure hunt. I could see her doing that sort of guided prompts and maybe "accidentally" opening up on paper at the same time.ReplyDelete
I have saved my mother's old photos which give me pleasure. I would include these and use them for this purpose which is unique and intriguing.ReplyDelete
Since I can't think of a single prompt at the moment, I'm obviously in need of one of these books!ReplyDelete
What made today unique?ReplyDelete
Write the life story of a lightbulb? --LivReplyDelete
what you found in the gardenReplyDelete
Something positive or brought a smile to your face today.ReplyDelete
Draw your grandmother as a cyborg. (Don't put my name in the drawing. I have the Keri Smith book. It's great.)ReplyDelete
Write a positive description of someone you hate or hated.ReplyDelete
For writing prompts, I use an idea from Holly Lisle. From a tarot deck, I pull out a card and then use the imagery and symbolism on the card to write a scene or a character.ReplyDelete
I cannot draw. Not even a straight line. I love Keri's blog, but am also intrigued by Michael Nobb's book.
I hadn't heard about guided journaling!ReplyDelete
Hmm.. an interesting journaling prompt..
Turn on the radio (or click on a streaming radio site). Write down 5 of the first ten words you hear and build out from that.
I always take a small notebook or calendar with large squares on every vacation/trip I take. This helps organize my memories, for the retelling or sharing. I tape in ticket stubs, restaurant business cards, subway receipts, etc. As I get older (what????) I sometimes forget the little details that make all the difference.ReplyDelete
If I need to prompt myself I get up and go for a walk downtown, maybe stop at a cafe, sit at a bus stop and watch the people go by. It never takes long and I am back on track. It may be as simple as the change of scenery, but more likely my subconscious allowing itself to be stimulated that does the trick.ReplyDelete
Tossing my nameReplyDelete
Please enter my name - I would love this!ReplyDelete