Do you keep a journal? How often do you write in one? How do you feel while you write in one? For me, it’s a bit of struggle. First of all, being consistent. Secondly, sometimes it flows, sometimes it’s a standstill or awkward. I think it is because I don’t like to write about what happened that day, or even how I felt that day. Many times it feels trivial to describe them. Instead, I’ll sit for a while, and sometimes there come things I want to write about. Sometimes it’s a thought or emotion, sometimes events. They are not necessarily connected to that particular day. But I cannot help thinking that if they are not about the feelings and thoughts that are in a timely fashion, does it even have value as a journal?

Sorry, it got a little long about describing how I feel about journals. But, while I’m not a good journal taker, I do have constant desire to be, and I’ve been thinking about the illustration journaling. When I was in elementary school in Korea – probably during 1st ~ 2nd grade, illustration journaling was daily homework. (I think starting around 3rd grade it was to be all-writing-journaling, still a daily homework.) At stationery stores dotted around schools, you could find notebooks or sketchbooks that are made just for illustration journaling. Now I think about it, it is such a great way to practice some of the basic building stones of creativity – writing, drawing, and consistency.

Recently I’ve discovered Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and have been attempting to keep daily morning pages, her powerful tools for bringing out creativity. Her method of writing the pages is to write whatever comes to your mind (that’s my own transcription). With her own words, they are “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness”. (Read the book to get the entire picture!) Although I write a little shorter than 3 pages (1~2 small pages in my sketchbook), it has been fun and calming. It’s exciting to see the words come out more natural day by day, and my writings sound true to how I think. This way of writing feels like a great way of journaling – I don’t feel too restrained about “record-keeping” of the present, and my mind has the freedom to wander a bit and say what matters the most. But still, at the same time, present thoughts and atmosphere made their way into the writing when I felt least restrained to do so, in a very natural manner.

So I married the concept of journaling in the “morning pages” way with a bit of sketching. Although writing is a core of journaling, I’ve been wanting to get back in drawing regularly, and the combination of the new-found freedom of freestyle journaling and fun little sketches seemed perfect. My goal is to make this exercise a lunchtime ritual.

For assembling a kit that is easy to carry around, I opted for a black ink pen (my favorite is Pilot Precise V5), a moleskin cashier’s journal, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, a brush, and a little container for water. I tried many different sketchbooks, but it’s hard to beat the feeling of the black ink pen on the moleskin notebook paper. The watercolor pencils are nice knickknack to have – you can color your drawings casually, and decide later if you want to make them a bit like watercolor by dabbing on little water.

Small sketch and writing made in Fort Greene Park on a day of 96-degree heat. Those bright yellow spots of sunlight were HOT. I was very grateful for the shade I was in, and my (fast-melting) ice coffee.