Writing was my first creative outlet. Specifically, creative writing, which I loved since I realized that real people wrote the stories I read. In elementary school we wrote our own books, which our teacher laminated and bound and I just wanted to make so many of them. I dove into all my writing assignments in middle school, usually making them about wizards. In high school I spent a summer taking creative writing classes in Scotland, which is still one of my favorite summers with some of my favorite people ever. In college I participated in NaNoWriMo.
Personal, non-fiction writing has also always been important to me. I look to writing as a way to get out thoughts that are swirling around repeatedly in my head. For a long time I would tear a sheet of paper out of any notebook, write all my feelings out on it and then tear it up or throw it away. I didn't want to save or remember any of it.
I always liked the idea of keeping a journal or diary. Because of the historian in me, I have always loved recording things and having something to look back on in the future. Keeping a diary never really worked out for me though. Like many people (I think) I would start one, write in it for a few days, and then forget about it or abandon it. When I started art journaling, I often included a lot of written journaling on the pages, but as I got more interested in art, that became the main focus of my art journal spreads.
More recently, I was pretty faithful with morning pages, which is a practice of (obviously) writing several pages in the morning popularized in the Artist's Way. I did pretty well with sticking to it, but they weren't really achieving what I wanted them to, so I set them aside.
Most recently, I found a notebook that I started almost exactly a year prior and had completely forgotten about. It included lots of feelings, lists, and a little bit of everything. I was struck by the feeling that I was in an incredibly similar situation to the one I was in a year ago, but also completely different. And I liked what I had written. I found it helpful and it made me want to write more.
So I have been. I continued on with that same journal from a year ago and I have found writing in it to be so satisfying. It sparks some creative impulses in me that are entirely different, but related, to visual art.
I don't force myself write in my journal every day, just when I feel like I have something to write about. I make sure to keep it nearby and easily accessible to I am encouraged to write in it. I try not to put any rules or restrictions on the writing - I keep it as short or long as I feel like and I include quotes and lists and notes.
Although it is not an art journal and is specifically devoted to writing. I am adding some visual interest to my pages, mostly because it is fun to do and make me even more interested in writing in the book. I don't put a lot of effort in, usually just sticking down stickers or washi tape or a label to make the date more interesting. Apparently I also have a thing for including self portraits in there as well, either through blind contour drawing or image transfers.
I mostly see the journal as a tool for me to work through a lot of feelings (I have so many of them) and as something for me to look back on in the future. To remember what I was doing and thinking at this time in my life and see how it compares to where I end up. I find the act of writing a very helpful exercise to help me find clarity and relief. I don't plan on ever publishing or sharing this writing anywhere and I don't try and get creative or particularly polished with it. I just write what comes to mind.
But, I am interested in what I can do with writing as a part of my visual art practice. I want to try paying attention to the themes and patterns that continually show up and how I can translate those into visual art or freewriting on a topic that I want to make art about to see what ideas are sparked.
Mostly, I'm really jazzed about keeping a journal as an emotional and creative outlet (and as a piece of history because I'm a huge nerd). I know that this isn't a new concept at all, but it is really thrilling me right now. So, do you keep a journal? Are you interested in writing at all? I'd love to know!