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Are my journals beautiful? Not exactly, but they corral my lists, my observations, my ideas, my experiments and all the other little details that make my life so rich. Liberal use of tape flags helps!

Click here to go to part 2 of this series.
Click here to go to part 3 of this series.

The Workhorse Journal, Part 1
By Christine Cox



Now I know that a certain percentage of you, and itís probably a pretty high percentage, are not going to Ďgetí an article about organizing your journals. Youíve spent years developing them as works of art and display pieces. Whatís to organize? Great! Fantastic! Go for it! This article, however, wasnít written for you. The following will resonate for those of you who, like me, journal compulsively, about everything and anything, and disregard things like time, place, medium. The Creativity Hamster strikes and thereís nothing you can do but try to get it down on paper before you lose the thought.

I use my journal to practice drawing, to organize thoughts on business projects, to plan books and metal hardware, to take down phone numbers, to save greeting cards and photographs, to make lists of things that need to be done and to wax lyrical about my husband and my 3 cats.  It seems that Iím always hurrying to get thoughts down before I forget them. Then there are those delicious times when I want to mentally take a walk and see where my mind leads me . . .

Some journalers handle this inherent dichotomy by using different journals for different types of journal entries; a journal for dreams, another for task lists, one for sketching and one for business notes. This has never worked for me. Sometimes the Hamster just wonít let thoughts percolate for longer than it takes to find my journal and a pen. The last thing I want to do is stop whatever Iím doing at the moment, stand up and trudge around the house looking for, no not that journal, the other one, and where are my pencils? What was I going to write again? You see my point.

Iíve had people express shock when I ask them to write in my journal. If they see me scratch something out or rip out a page they cringe. I swear, if I worried about messing up my journal it wouldnít be the valuable workhorse tool that it is, and the pages would probably be blank. My journal is a day planner, a diary, a sketchbook, a business planner and a list minder all in one.  You can imagine that with so many different kinds of ideas swimming around in the depths of my brain my journals are testament to the chaos that is my life.

Do you worry that your journals wonít be meaningful or memorable (or whatever you are trying to achieve with your journaling Ė personally Iím taking mine with me into the Great Beyond) if they arenít full of beautiful artwork, esoteric thoughts and photographs of the kids? I live in a tiny gold rush town in California. Thereís one very popular book about the earliest times of our area and guess what, there isnít a piece of the authorís artwork in it. Itís the diary of a miner. Yes indeed, this man wrote down where he was, what his bacon cost, how much money he made, his thoughts on people he saw and the other entire minutia that make up the days of most of our lives. This is also what drives our townís tourists and visitors to buy his book. They want to know about the lives of the people who lived here as well as their artistic endeavors. My journal is to record my life, but more importantly it is to help me live my life.

In my previous career I was a hyper-organized office-type. I had systems and files and sticky notes and highlighters and calendars and all the other tools it takes to maintain the modern departmental organization. When I left that job I thought Iíd walked away from all that but it looks like 17 years of being organized got under my skin. I have a lot of organization tricks that make my journals into the multi-function tools that I need. Yes, it means that my journals usually bristle with things (ugly troll-like things, fit only to live under bridges, not beautiful, artistic, blonde things). Tape flags stick out the edges, pages get torn out to accommodate the thickness of I-Zone pictures, glued-in items make the pages warp. Pretty? No. Good art? Occasionally. Functional? Absolutely.

Creativity Hamster?

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

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 producted

Issue # 13

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

Since 10/21/04
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