The Beauty of a Notebook

For decades, artists have been known to carry a notebook around with them. I remember learning this very early on and have kept one on me pretty systematically ever since. In her book ART INC. Lisa Congdon says:

“Bring a blank journal with you everywhere. When pockets of time open up, you can pull it out to sketch, draw or brainstorm ideas.”

My Notebook

People often ask me what I use my notebook for. So here’s a little list (I love making lists):

Thankful Thursday Notes  every Thursday I doodle what the highlights of my week have been, just on time to make plans for the following week and start to unwind for the weekend. Click here for a post I wrote recently on Thankful Thursday Notes.

Planning and To-Do lists  There are so many amazing resources out there to help you plan. Calendars have known a little revolution recently. Instagram is full of genius folk who manage to make up their own planners. I try as well and it’s a lot of fun. The key though is to be realistic with what you can actually achieve. Otherwise you spend your life shifting the exact same list from one page to the next.

Sketchnoting and Church notes   It is a trendy thing just now but many of us have done it for years. It helps process information. As a kid, I learned very early on how to take notes, probably like most kids who go to church. My Dad is a pastor so I grew up hearing sermons week after week. I soon found out that taking notes made that experience a whole lot more fun. Later, when I became a Christian, I wanted to process information better and LEARN.

Business Notes – It’s important to take effective notes when you get a brief, sometimes this happens in a meeting or over the phone. Often a conversation will happen very quickly and you will be expected to remember details you’ve discussed (budget, goals, themes, influences, etc. ). It’s good to keep these notes in one place.

Practicing Skills Just For Fun – As an illustrator and artist, I need a place to freely draft logos and scribble  and just doodle for the sake of doodling!! I want to keep practicing live sketching and scribble observations just for the process so this is a safe place for to do that.

Taking Part in Challenges – In June, I found myself lacking direction in my style. So I set myself some boundaries (a little like being back at college). I created my own little Instagram challenge. So my structure was this: use a calligraphy pen to doodle and write in my notebook, once a day for 100 days. There are real benefits in narrowing down possibilities as creativity often needs a little bit of structure.

The 100 Day Challenge

I noticed a few things along the way:

  1. Being disciplined is hard work. This was the summertime, everyone around me was relaxing and I could have just snoozed (quite happily) but I kept going.
  2. Best to keep things simple at first and aim high towards the end. Practising your skill everyday makes you more comfortable. You can manage more in that same amount of time.
  3. Frustration due to structure can be helpful. I experienced frustration in only using black. Through this experience, I realised how much colour was important to me and I knew that I wouldn’t be content with a black&white portfolio.
  4. Community is good! Letting everyone out there see your work online is a bit daunting and sometimes scary but it’s so worth it!! You feel vulnerable at first but with time, your expertise grows. You develop a community of encouragers who thank you for your hard work.

At the end of my 100 day challenge, I had a better idea of how I wanted to use my notebook. I’m excited to see how that will develop even more in coming months. What could you do for 100 days to improve a skill? Why not share your journey and develop a community.

I love seeing how people use their notebooks. There are so many folk willing to share their galleries. Go have a browse. You’ll be amazed.

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