Journaling for the Sort of Artistic

Journaling supplies from Paper House. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Journaling is something I’ve been tempted by on and off. Every so often a stunning bullet journal style pops up on my Pinterest Feed and tries to tempt me into taking the plunge. I love the idea of a bullet journal, I’m just sort of quasi-artistic and get overwhelmed at trying to recreate what I see. GeekMom Missy wrote about “Bullet Journals for the Unartistic” last year, but what I needed was something sort of in the middle. I needed journaling ideas for the sort of artistic. I can’t do complicated free-hand art, but I can play with things like foil paper, stickers, and washi tape.

I blame Paper House and their Facebook adds for getting me started down this path, but they had a licensed Harry Potter line of journaling supplies that I discovered not long before their annual Black Friday sale (50% off site), so I decided to give it a shot. I wanted something I could use as one part planner and one part personal journal, which is why bullet journals have probably appealed to me. Paper House does not carry actual bullet journals, but I decided I could probably adapt a lined journal for my purposes. I grabbed a handful of items to start off with including a journal, some tiny stickers, lots of washi tape, and some foil paper.

As the new year approached, I decided it was time to set my journal up. The first goal was sorting out just what I wanted to use my journal for. Looking at a bunch of supplies and deciding how to use them can be sort of intimidating for some people. I knew I wanted monthly, weekly, and daily spreads, and I poked around online until I found a great list of ideas I could use to sort of narrow down on what I wanted here. Then, I grabbed my supplies, a few Pilot FriXion pens (they erase), and actually photocopied a few blank pages from my journal so that I could test out layouts without freaking out about ruining my nice journal. I was also able to trace out where I would put things like foil paper pieces or washi tape as well. You can make your journal as simple or decorated as you choose. I recommend starting small, as you can always add more stuff later on if you want to up your complexity or as your journal supply budget allows. (That cart total can escalate fast if you’re not careful.)

Testing out my layout really helped. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Between the layout ideas, I settled on an overview spread for the month that let me note important events and appointments at a super-quick glance. The weekly spread lets me put those events in a week by week order along with to-do items. I also allowed myself a writing section to keep track of my article planning for GeekMom and a random notes section, which is good for items that are not linked to a specific day but I still want to keep in mind. I also allowed myself some daily pages where I can reflect on my day and note things I’ve read and other projects I’m working on. Pick something that works for you, but here’s what I worked out if you like samples:

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A few things that I noticed while planning:

  • You’ll be amazed how fast you can use washi tape up. Unless you want to spend a fortune on it, you may want to keep it for more weekly or monthly spreads. Large stickers or foil paper pieces should be treated similarly. Smaller stickers, smaller foil paper pieces, or simpler doodles work better for daily spreads.
  •  I really liked the FriXion pens for planning. If you’re the kind of person that hates the thought of crossing things off if they need correcting or switching around, you might consider using these for your journaling. I like regular gel pens for actual use, but the FriXion pens were super helpful for planning.
  • I realized I still may need to tweak things a bit. I outlined stuff for my first month so far, but I’m going to let myself adjust the layouts in the next month if I find there are things I want to add or remove to make my journal more of what I need, and that’s okay.

I’ve used my journal for a few days now, and there are a few things I really love so far:

  • I’m having a far easier time keeping track of appointments and things. Electronic calendars never truly worked for me; I always ended up with one or two important things disappearing after I put them in within the first few weeks of using, them which really discouraged me.
  • The to-do list is pretty handy for me.
  • I like taking time for daily reflection. I’m hoping to use it as a tool for monitoring my depression and anxiety symptoms.
  • I really like that I can have fun layouts even if I’m not a free drawing kind of person.
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