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The Workhorse Journal, Part 3
By Christine Cox

Click here to go to part 1 of this series.
Click here to go to part 2 of this series.

The book form suggests order, chronology. Break those repressive bonds! Let your journal reflect your real life, in all its chaotic, smudged, torn, happy, tense, artistic, dreary and creative forms. It will be a much better tool and, since it will reflect your life, it will mean so much to you and others who may read it later.

Keep in mind that these are just ideas. Take or leave any or all of them. Even I donít do all of them all the time. Sometimes the Creativity Hamster strikes when I donít have a tape flag with me. 

  • A catalog company named ĎLevengerí makes a great product called ĎPage Points.í They are little pieces of metal bent in half. Each is made to hold not only your page but also the sentence you were reading when you put your book or journal down. Iíve been using them to mark the first empty page of my journal so that I donít have to flip back and forth when something is rattling around in my brain and trying to break out. www.levenger.com
  • 3-M sells a product called Ďtape flags.í They come in several colors and have a Post-It style temporary adhesive on them. The idea is that you stick one to a piece of paper and the colored flag sticks beyond the edge of the paper. Since I use my journal for so many different things, I use the tape flags to help me remember to go back and do things. Red means Ďimportant;í blue is a class idea; purple is for art ideas or things I want to try in the Studio, etc. If you donít have Page Points (see above) you can also use a specific tape flag color to mark your first empty page. Available at office supply stores.
  • Quite often when Iím journaling Iíll start to write about whatever motivated me to pick up my journal but then Iíll want to write a bit about my environment or who Iím with or whatnot.  If I think of it in time, I write about my environment at the bottom of the page at a 45į angle to the rest. This keeps the distracting (though sometimes essential) environmental information from getting mixed up with the other topics. You could do this with different colored inks or use some other meaningful way to break the information up, such as a large star, a highlighter or a drawn border.
  • If Iím going somewhere specifically to write or sketch in my journal I may take a lot of other stuff too, but at the very least I will have these items with me: my journal, a glue stick, a pen, a pencil and an eraser. I keep them in a Ziploc bag so that I can throw them into my purse, backpack, glove compartment or coat pocket. I suppose some artsy carrying case or a decorated cigar box would be better but a Ziploc bag seems to make some kind of statement about my life.
  • If you like to glue things into your journal, do it right away. Otherwise youíll fill up the spaces with writing and end up gluing your souvenirs several pages after writing about the event. Thatís the voice of experience and I still almost never follow my own advice.
  • Sometimes Iíll find that Iíll have a zillion tape flags in my journal. To make my life easier Iíll make a Ďcatch upí page and collect like thoughts together, removing tape flags as I go. Itís also a great way to collect your thoughts when preparing to complete a project youíve been mulling over for a while (like this article, which helps explains why it's 3 parts).
  • When you fill one journal and are preparing to move to the next, move anything unfinished into the new book and mark the pages with their respective tape flags (or whatever) from the old book. If you donít do this youíll probably never go back and review the notes in time to make deadlines. Donít forget to date the first page of your new journal and use the year.
  • I find that my journal is best for sketching, stream-of-consciousness writing and other forms of non-linear thought. In addition to my journal I use a Palm for storing things like grocery lists. While Iím moving information from one journal to the next I also convert any pertinent items to bytes.
  • Review your journal pages every few days. This is a great bubble bath activity. Youíll be surprised at what you may have forgot already and the bathroom door has a lock.
  • I like to go back and annotate my old journal entries so that subsequent notes have context. It also feels great to physically check off something youíve accomplished since you first had the thought. And yes, Iím one of those people who writes something on a list just so that I can scratch it off.

Issue # 15

Christine Cox was a regular contributor to ARTitude Zine. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted here with permission. Unfortunately, ARTitude is no longer published.

Christine Cox teaches metalsmithing and bookbinding classes in our Studio in Volcano, CA.