I have been into journaling some 30 plus years ago, back when fancy journals weren’t in style. My journal was my go-to pal at various stages of my life.
And coloring? My interest in coloring started in early 2015 back when the adult coloring book market was flourishing. The books looked awesome, the designs to me were a source of envy. I thought “I must create art like that.”
I bought all sorts of coloring books, courses, apps, learning materials, and anything I could to get a grip on this thing called coloring.
I got a number of software applications that create designs automatically. They were okay but I wasn’t pleased with them.
To make the story short, I painstakingly learned to create my designs – from hand-sketching to transforming them into digitized print quality images. I packaged my designs as coloring journals and published them at CreateSpace and Amazon. I also sold them at Fiverr and Etsy.
Since taking on my creative hobby, I have gained new meaning in life beyond being a work-at-home mom. Although I had creative streaks while at a young age, like all of us probably did, now I am confident about the idea that I am an artist.
Lessons from a Hobbyist
Here’s what I found out through the course of roughly four years pursuing my hobby:
First, it’s fun. It is like child’s play and enjoying a treat at your favorite candy store!
Second, it’s rediscovering my long-lost creative self again. It’s liberating.
Third, it blessed me with a strong sense of pride in my hands. It feels really good to let things come out of the realm of imagination and give it form.
Fourth, it can be a great source of income. I haven’t fully maximized my earning but I did earn something.
Fifth, it can be a life-long career especially when taken seriously so that it matures from simply just a hobby.
How to Transition from a Hobbyist to a Careerist
You know that a hobbyist is one who pursues a particular hobby. A careerist, on the other hand, is one “whose main concern is for professional advancement, especially one willing to achieve this by any means.” (Source:Oxford Dictionaries)
It’s great to have a hobby. It keeps you up and going and always young at heart; but how about making a career or business out of it?
I am not there yet but I have learned valuable lessons that I live by, moving forward:
Have a goal. What do you want to achieve with what you have? Where do you want to be? How do you see yourself years from now?
Small steps matter. As a saying by Confucius goes, “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.” It’s also about practicing the Tortoise mindset: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Practice, practice, practice. As you may have already known, practice makes perfect! It is also by practicing that you earn experience.
Learn from others. You don’t always have the answers nor the skills needed so you have to turn to others as a rich resource.
Develop your own techniques. You may copy or emulate how others do things. Let it be a start, but it should not be the end. There’s no place for stagnation in this dynamic world. Soon, you’ll discover that you are unique on your own. You can never replicate others nor can they replicate you.
Believe in yourself. It’s so easy to succumb to insecurity and self-pity upon seeing the remarkable works of others and how far they have gone. However, you should always believe in yourself. If you don’t, who would? No matter how well people cheer you on, it would all be for nothing if you run away from who you are and what you could be. As Jason Mraz’ song Details in the Fabric says, “Hold your own, know your name and go your own way… everything will be fine!”
Take action. After all is said and done, brilliant ideas are useless without action. Action makes things happen so go for it with the belief of success despite the odds.
So what now… or what are you waiting for?
If you’re a hobbyist, you may want to think about taking your hobby to the next level. However, if you are happy basking in the joy and solitude you get from your hobby, by all means, stay on with it. After all, you are the captain of your ship and there’s not one single path to everything.
But if you’re ready, why not?
It’s worth a thought, a try, or a challenge. For sure, everything starts with a single step.
This is unlike an accountant’s, academic or scholarly journal.
A journal is a written, personal account, expression, creation, illustration, log, record, monitor, chart, chronicle, doodle, presentation, documentation, organization or diary of what’s going on in you.
How Your Journal Should Look
Keeping a chic journal surely inspires and motivates to start and pursue a journaling habit.
You may use a textured leather-bound classic journal or a spiral-bound floral-inspired and colorful one. You have plenty to choose from.
I have used simple, lined notebooks over the years, back when journals were not in vogue.
I do have the fancy ones but there’s something about how they look that stops me from journaling. Weird, I find pleasure in just looking at them.
Different folks, different strokes…
Your choice of journal is preferential.
Moreover, how your journal looks is really immaterial.
What gets written on your journal
How often or regular you write
How engaged and committed you are to journaling
How you experience the process of journaling
Those are the more substantial points in relation to keeping a personal journal.
Personal Journal: A Mirror of You
With everything that gets into its pages – the beautiful and ugly, good and bad, truths and half-truths and what not, your journal really is a mirror of you. It speaks tons of you.
Your journal is yours.
You own it.
It is yours to keep today, tomorrow and for years to come.
You decide what goes in, what comes out of it, and where it takes you.
Journaling is an adventure and your journal is your personal companion in this trip.
For a 30-day gratitude journal, you get leads on what to write about on each day of journaling.
You may be asked to list down 3-5 things that you are thankful for identify concrete ways or specific actions to express gratitude.
For inspiration, you find quotations on top or below a number of lined pages.
Blank spaces are provided for doodles or drawings.
In general, you follow a guide for each day of journaling.
3 – Art Journaling
Journals are great to express creativity, whether done through free journal writing or guided writing.
However, there’s a third way that has grown in popularity among artists and non-artists alike.
It is art journaling.
Art journaling is keeping a visual or graphic journal or diary using art, imagery and text.
Graphic art is touching, moving and powerful.
An art journal is usually peppered with words or phrases, drawings, doodles, sketches, paintings, charts, cut-outs, photos, shapes, stickers, symbols, quotes, conversations, poems, songs, stories, patterns, graphic marks, and whatever feels good to be on the journal pages.
To start your art journaling practice, you need whatever art material that’s handy like:
You’re the keeper of your journal but your journal is not always safe from prying eyes that could cause untoward circumstances.
Here are seven practices to keep your journal safe and private:
Journal privately. Find a place where you can write without being disturbed and bothering about people passing and peeking.
Close your journal pages when not in use. Don’t leave your journal open, even in a private place like your bedroom or office. You don’t want any of your family members – no matter how dear they are to you – to read what’s written on them.
Put your journal away as soon as you’re done. Never leave your journal anywhere public as this exposes your vulnerability. It would invite prying eyes, may be picked up inadvertently or worst, stolen intentionally.
Assert your privacy. Label it with something like “confidential,” personal property,” “please don’t touch,” “return to… if found,” or something to that effect.
Choose simple over flashy. Shun attention. If you can help it, do away with ones that arouse interest and curiosity. Keep away from intriguing journal covers like “Journal of My Sexcapades,” “Journal of People I Hate!” or “Journal of Dark Secrets.” Such titles are just too tempting for a thrilling read.
Camouflage. Put a simple, plain-looking or scruffy jacket to your journal. You may also put it among your other books on the shelf. If creating your own, use covers of vintage books.
Lock away your journal. Keep your journal in a safe place like a locked file drawer, desk drawer, safe box, or a secluded special place that others can’t easily access.
Taking these extra measures can protect you from being exposed to unnecessary risks and consequences.
This hormone boosts your mood and makes you more sociable and likeable. It regulates a range of behaviors including appetite, sleep, arousal and aggression. It is responsible for diminishing craving, achieving restful sleep, boosting self-esteem, relieving depression, preventing agitation and aggression, and reducing anxiety.
This is the pleasure hormone that is responsible for your feelings of bliss, contentment, euphoria, pleasure, fulness of appetite, controlled motor movements, and sharpness of focus. It is strongly associated with reward mechanisms while striving to achieve a goal or pursuing a rewarding experience.
Morning pages is a form of journal writing that you do upon waking up in the morning. How you do it is pretty simple.
3 Requirements of Morning Pages
While any form of journaling in the morning would work, the most widely known method of doing morning pages has three requirements:
Requirement #1 – Write as soon as you wake up.
It’s best to do your morning pages right when you wake up. It is when your mind is fully rested and relaxed enough to not overthink and rationalize. It’s also when you’re able to write honestly and from the inner depths of your mind.
Requirement #2 – Don't stop until you have done 3 pages.
This three-page requirement, which is roughly 750 words, is a good amount to come up with in-depth writing. If you stopped after one page, you’d only be scratching the surface with your journaling.
Write whatever comes to mind.
For the first half-page or page, you may find that you’re filling the page with blasé observations, but stick with it and you’ll likely end up with some gems in the rest of your writing. It’s all about being patient and committed.
While how long morning pages take depends on how quickly you write, people typically complete theirs within about half an hour. You’ll likely find that you get through yours a bit faster when you get used to writing them.
Requirement #3 – Write your morning pages by hand.
There is this thing with putting pen or pencil to paper that’s special.
Writing with your pen or pencil rather than using the computer creates a much stronger bond between yourself and writing.
Computers, on the other hand, can stifle that connection and creative flow.
It’s also much easier to jump into your morning pages when you wake up if you’re just grabbing a journal, not turning on your computer and loading your word processing program of choice.
Since morning pages are intended to be private, it’s best not to let anyone read yours. This makes it easier to write honestly because you don’t need to worry about being judged for what you write. In fact, you may not even want to reread yours later.
Flexibility with Morning Pages
Creating a habit with morning pages takes commitment and action. However, if these requirements constrain you, then go ahead – do journaling in the morning, your style.
If you prefer using your computer or tablet, do so. Nothing can stop you. There are even sites like 750words that are specifically designed for that purpose.
What happens when you engage in the journal writing?
How does it work?
These are relevant questions you need to ask yourself most especially now when journaling has become a really big thing.
Before being drawn into this craze, it’s best to have a look at nine benefits you may possibly get from journaling:
Solitude and freedom
Relief from stress
Self-esteem and confidence
Positive mindset and energy
Data, insights and applied learning
Feel free to identify your own as journal writing is really a personal thing and one is good to one may not be to you
Benefit #1: Solitude and Freedom
When you sit down to journal, the first thing you reap is solitude.
A desire for solitude may be misconstrued as loneliness, emptiness, isolation, seclusion, privacy, detachment, separation and solitariness.
Indeed, you may engage in journaling when feeling lonely or empty.
However, it could be more than that.
Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company. ~ Hara Estrof Marano, Psychology Today
More often than not, journaling is where you find:
Peace of mind
Sense of security
Peace of mind
It is in solitude where you let down your hair and become the person you truly are.
It’s enjoying the freedom to be oneself.
You lose yourself and claim it back, way better when you let it go.
The magic takes place in solitude
Benefit #2: Relief from Stress and Anxiety
To many, there is no place better than being alone journaling.
Journaling relieves stress and anxiety.
It’s calming, soothing and relaxing.
It is a powerful tool for self-expression.
When you write in your journal, you let go of thoughts and emotions that frustrating, troubling, stimulating, and even uplifting but stressful.
As a result, you gain clarity, self-understanding, focus, confidence, and strength.
Now you are able to face and solve problems with calm, grace and confidence.
You notice that your health condition improves. Ailments such as migraine, depression, anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, and other forms of illness diminish or disappear.
Benefit #3: Creative Spark
Journaling sparks creativity.
It is a tool for creative expression.
It challenges you to think, feel and respond in familiar, strange, novel or untested ways.
If you are new to journaling, you probably may have asked:
How do you start journaling?
Is there a proper or right way to do it?
When can you start?
What materials do you need?
How can you succeed at journaling?
I started journal writing in my late teens over 30 years ago (yes, that’s how old I am) when journals weren’t in style and were called by a different name. Yes, diary! And guess what, I used plain old ballpoint pens and lined notebooks. My journaling practice included writing my thoughts and feelings, inspiring quotes, expenses, contact information, daily to-do list and accomplishments, sketches, stories, insights, class notes, outlines of things to write, relevant facts and figures, among other forgettable stuff.
My daughter started journaling at elementary some seven years ago with just a pen and paper. It was a lot of girlie stuff, love notes to me, doodles, and stories. She still does now that she’s at Grade 10 and oh, dear! She has become so much better. She does it every day non-stop. She loves art so her journals are full of it.
We both weren’t well aware that what we were doing was journal writing. We just started it.
We didn’t think if there was even a proper or right way to write our thoughts, feelings, and creations on paper. We just did it.
We started when we felt ready. We didn’t give a thought about when. We just did.
We used whatever was there. Nothing fancy. Just plain old paper and anything that writes on it.
You may do that, too.
Journaling is simple. It knows no rules. People make their own.
It is inspiring to use fancy journals and accessories such as:
various other embellishments.
You don’t have to.
It’s really up to you.
So about those questions, the answer is – Just start.
There is no right or wrong with journaling and how you do it is really up to you.
If writing long entries is what you enjoy or find helpful, do so.
Even the format is up to you.
You may jot down a few bullets or lines to serve as your memory aid.
However you do it, find a medium that’s comfortable.
Journaling or journal writing is putting pen to paper to write, express, illustrate, document, capture or record just about anything you want, need to or feel like.
In the past, journal writing was done using a simple lined notebook, blank book, slum book, or diary.
These days, you have all sorts of fancy, chic, colorful and handsome journals on just about any topic.
You may even create them yourself, by binding lined or blank sheets or through printshops.
Journaling with Shabby Sheets
But who says you need to spend a fortune for those commercial journals?
Well, you don’t!
You may use any writing material for your journals:
Clean, unused paper
Crumpled or torn paper
Bus, movie or event ticket
If there’s nothing else, your palm would do the trick. I use Google mail on my cell phone every day, these days.
Worry about posterity later. For the moment, capture whatever you must.
Your goal is to seize the moment (and making sure to move your writing over to a more durable form afterward).
Believe me. I’m no newbie to this kind of journaling.
Journaling for Moms
Like any kid with a fertile imagination, my little ones whipped up just about anything – stories, poems, jokes, quotes, thoughts, doodles, songs, shapes, shades, textures.
Their creative stock came randomly, unplanned, and in splashes, bursts and roars. A mom has to be ready for these but many times, I wasn’t. I had to settle with what I had, including shabby, throwaway sheets.
I could tell lots of stories about this but that would be for another post.
Looking back, I find those moments precious and priceless. I can say with certainty now that they won’t happen the way they did… especially now that my kids have grown up.
I’m glad I took the pains of “catching those happy moments” even with shabby sheets, which I have kept, by the way.
Publishing: Journaling to Write a Book
For those glued to their screens like forever, rest assured that your computer doubles up as a journaling tool.
That’s how my youngest son’s book got created. I was sitting on a work table across him tapping (almost pounding) my laptop keys to capture his words, verbatim.
Blogging: Journaling with Your Computer
Those who are into blogging know how well they are able to chronicle their activities, take note of their experiences, thoughts, emotions, wisdom, even silliness. Call that online journaling or weblogging where you use a website as your diary or journal.
Journaling is for everyone and for various purposes. It may capitalize on writing materials that are readily on hand, including shabby sheets.
The purpose of journal writing is to capture ideas, emotions, memories, stories, poems, art, and practically anything you want to be written.
On unplanned moments, use shabby sheets and move them over to a form that would withstand the test of time.
Here’s your challenge: Do whatever it takes to write down what you must.
Journaling is an experiential process whose benefits go a long way.