Tag Archives: journals

Creativity Boost

I’m always looking for ways to silence the critic in my head–that meanie who loves to tell me “Girl, you SUCK.” (Does it talk to you, too?) I also love experimenting with different approaches to the writing process. The books in my featured image–The Artist’s Way and Walking on Water–have each been calling to me for some time now. I’m finally ready to listen.

(Both books have been around for a while, too — around 27 and 36 years respectively.)

It’s early days yet, but already I’m addicted to Morning Pages. For a year now I’ve had a morning journaling habit in which I report on the details of the previous day, sometimes including insights but mostly just a recap. Morning pages are different. They’re just three pages of…whatever. Just keep writing. Have a conversation with yourself. Write nonsense. Write a scene. I personally cannot seem to write stream-of -consciousness passages. In my morning pages I usually write in response to a task or affirmation offered by the author, Julia Cameron. But I don’t even try to make sense or sound smart. I just write. Three pages each day. After this warm up/affirmation, I turn to my regular journal, and then to work. All in all the journaling part takes a little over 1/2 an hour. So far so good, but I’m still very much at the beginning of this process. I plan to report back after twelve weeks.

(If the idea of Morning Pages intrigues you, learn more by reading this blog post from Marisa Mohi: How Morning Pages Changed my Life)

When I posted a photo of Cameron’s book on Instagram and Facebook, I heard from a few people who have gained so much from reading (and re-reading) the book. Writers, artists, musicians, and performers. If you’ve used the book, I’d love for you to share something–even if it’s just a little thing–that worked for you. I also heard from an artist, Gracie Hogue of Woodland & Wing, that Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water is “a wellspring of wisdom for the creative person.” Of course I had to track down my own copy, and what a pleasant surprise that one of my favorite authors, Sara Zarr, wrote the introduction to this edition!

Both books link our human creativity to a connection with the Creator, but L’Engle is specifically Christian in her analysis, just so you know.

Time to wrap up. I’ll report back when I’ve finished both books. (Which means I CANNOT get sidetracked by shiny new craft books.) Don’t forget–I’d love to hear your favorite things about The Artist’s Way, Walking on Water, or any other book on creativity that has made a difference in your work/life. I’m so hungry for inspiration!

Journaling goals for 2019

I have long wrestled with journal lust. I even wrote a blog post about it in 2014.

Last year I decided to get serious about this problem and committed to buying fewer journals and writing more in the ones I have. In fact, I set the goal of journaling every single day. I didn’t demand anything particularly thoughtful, elegant, or poetic of myself. I only committed to recording what happened each and every day.

To facilitate this goal AND improve organization and productivity, I made a detailed to-do list in my daily calendar and checked off tasks as they were completed. Next morning I’d write my journal entry with the help of that checklist. Occasionally I would express thinky thoughts, but mostly it was just recap.


I ended up filling two largish Paperblanks journals (Brontës ftw!) and 1/3 of a smaller one that I use as a travel journal.


At the end of last year I reorganized my office (a never-ending process) and decided to do something about those motley fruits of my journal lust. Above you see my collection of journals from adulthood. The four in front are the ones I’ve completed. The stack directly behind them is comprised of partly-filled journals. The stacks on either side are blank journals. (Yes, I do have a Paperblanks fetish.)

My journal goals for 2019 clarified over the next several days:

Goal 1: Somehow consolidate pages from partly-used journals into one volume
ACHIEVED! It’s not pretty, but all the pages are collected in a binder with clear pocket inserts.

Goal 2: Donate usable journals
ACHIEVED! I sent my friend Susan a big box of partly used (with written pages carefully torn out) and unused blank journals to use in her classroom. I’m hoping she’ll set aside a few for herself.

Goal 3: Incorporate prompts into 2019 journaling
Hmmmmmmm… I’ve done a little of this. I didn’t want to require it every day, but I was hoping for at least once or twice a week. Part of my problem is that I’m looking for the best book or website of journal prompts. Ones that are perfectly suited to me. There is no such thing! I did find these pages somewhat inspiring, however:

19 Daily Journal Prompts that Will Change the Way You Begin 2019

2019 Daily Journal Prompts by Month

Journal Prompts to Inspire you in 2019 (short, simple, reusable prompts)

What about you? Do you know a good source for journal prompts? Any funny journaling stories? Do share!

Journal Lust


I have a problem.

Here’s the scenario: over the summer, during one of my many visits to Blackwell’s in Oxford, I somehow failed to avert my gaze when walking past the journals. Instead of getting the heck out of there, I headed straight for the rotating display and proceeded to handle those lovely bindings. (I almost said “manhandle” but ladies like to grope things, too, don’t they? It’s just . . . we tend to grope purses and books and teapots. Or maybe that’s just me.)

One of those journals was so gorgeous I just couldn’t resist. Even though I already have a closet full of journals too impractical to be of any use–pretty little books that don’t open flat, are too small for my gorilla hands, are narrow-ruled or have no ruling at all. But they were all so pretty I just couldn’t help handling them, which inevitably led to acquiring them.

That day at Blackwell’s I told myself “Sonia, you CANNOT buy another journal until you fill all those orphaned journals in your closet with thoughtful thoughts. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.”

Yeah right. I bought the journal. Isn’t it gorgeous?


It’s a Paperblanks Grolier Ornamental, if you’re interested in one for yourself.

Part of the deal for me is I’m enamoured with fictional depictions of journals and journal writers. Like László Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) in The English Patient, when he uses blank pages of his battered copy of Herodotus for writing poetry and painting pictures. Or Roland in Possession, who writes poetry in his journal, too, but also uses it to hide the stolen draft of Randolph Henry Ashe’s letter to Christabel LaMotte (or is that just in the film?). And of course, there’s I Capture the Castle, but I already exulted over Cassandra Mortmain and journal writing in this blog post.

I shouldn’t forget the film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, which was memorable to me only because of Cecily’s amazing leather-bound journal that looks almost like an illuminated manuscript (it appears around 1:38):


Yes, there’s all sorts of romantic schmoopery going on in that clip, but you know what I was thinking? “Let’s see more of that JOURNAL!”

In the end, I did make good use of the Grolier Ornamental from Blackwell’s. It has become my research journal for a new story. Who says a research journal has to look serious and researchy? Can’t it be pretty? I’ve jazzed it up by coding the ink color and putting sticky notes all over the place. I’ll probably paste photos and stuff in there, too. It actually inpsires me just to look at the thing, so I count this as a WIN for journal lust!

I know there must be others out there who share this depraved and insatiable appetite for journals. What attracts you to a particular journal? And how do you use that crazy sexy thing? (You know, that thing you bought with a stack of crumpled singles because you didn’t want your husband to see the charge on the credit card bill?) Do you have favorite fictional/cinematic depictions of journals? Please share!

P.S. If you like the look of that stack of journals in the photo at the top, go here for more info!