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Rule #1: You’re Never Too Tired

January 15, 2010

In which I rant a bit about the benefits of journaling.

091230Pears
Above: prepainted journal page (red and yellow Golden Fluid Acrylics) with brush studies of a pear (also Golden Fluid Acrylics) from different angles.

I get questions all the time about how to keep journaling over time. I have addressed aspects of creating a solid journal habit in several posts. When I scanned this journal page and thought about whether I would post it or not I realized that it makes a point I always return to: "You are never too tired to work in your journal."

If you repeat that statement to yourself, and say it with meaning and believe it, you're on your way to a lifetime of visual journaling.

If you use that statement as your mantra:

1. You will be shutting your internal critic up (actually punching him in the gut which is way more fun).

2. You will not be holding paper or materials as too precious.

3. You will not be holding a prepainted background as too special or to be reserved for "When I can really do a full painting on it."

4. You will be letting go of perfect because of items 1 through 3.

5. You will be meeting your commitment to work every day on your sketching skills, even when you don't feel like it—which will have the result of increasing your skills over time even though you might not realize it as it is happening. (Think of this as exercising your creative muscles.)

6. You will reach your art goals sooner and feel better about them in general because of item 5.

7. You will be honoring your unique creative impulse.

8. You will be providing a model of how one honors his or her creative impulses to anyone around you (but it is particularly important if there are children present).

9. You will develop great work habits.

10. You will discover ways to take "mini breaks" that will refresh you for the really hard tasks in your life (and all lives have really hard tasks—they just appear differently).

11. You will experience waves and waves of serendipity and synchronicity. (The Doctor stamp on the above page spread was there when I got to this page in my journal. It just happened to be the day I took Dick's parents to their medical appointments. This is a small click of no real consequence, but happy coincidences following other happy coincidences just have the effect of making you happy—and I am not in anyway advocating a Dickensian universe where everything is connected (but it is), and where we all have a "happy ever after." Even he didn't believe that (who cried hardest when Little Nell died—but she died anyway didn't she!). I'm just saying it's very entertaining for that part of your brain that likes to scan and see globally. And modern life doesn't ask us to use those features often. And it rarely asks us to entertain ourselves…which leads me to…)

12. You will be entertaining yourself, your brain, that unique part of you which no one else has. Let's face it, you might think that Mr., Miss, Ms Wonderful is all that and really gets you, but when it comes right down to it, when it's crunch time and you have insight or epiphany, there is only one person on earth who really gets you and it sure would help the relationship if you learned to spend some time with that person: you.

13. You will become more comfortable with yourself because you have been spending more time getting to know who that "you" is (in a non-angst-filled way) and that will make you easier to be around. I'm not saying it will get you a date, but hey…

14. You will not be participating in unhealthy behaviors, such as wasting time making excuses, or "fill in your unhealthy behavior here."

15. You will discover that if you are not too tired to journal you are also not too tired to exercise, to cook a healthy meal, to make time for your family, to make time for your friends, and in general just to be more present in your life. (That's the bonus round folks!)

16. You will have less time for unproductive angst that stalls you and prevents you from reaching your goals, or simply enjoying your life (no small goal). (That's the double bonus round.)

17. You will remember to breathe. (That's the Jackpot round.)

18. You will come to believe it. (The fun, home-version, play it every day.)

Working in your journal when you think you might be too tired is actually the best way to make more time. But don't tell anyone, because if this ever got out—that there is actually a way to make more time—well just imagine everyone being present in his life and getting his work done and having time for creative pursuits and honoring the uniqueness of others (because he honors it in himself)—and just in general smiling all the time, well, really, what kind of a world would that be!

    • dave
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Roz: Great stuff.

    The single thing that I do to journal every day is:

    Always carry it with you.

    I use it for my day-to-day life. Eventually the pages become an extension of activity for that day.

    I carry a work journal (for designing) and a personal journal that’s always there for trips to lunch, store, etc. I only carry a waterproof pen and travel watercolors. This keeps things simple. I’m more likely to carry it everywhere if it’s not too much baggage.

    …dave

    • Deb Dugan
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Thanks Roz. I’ve been sort of disappointed in my journaling results of late, even though I know somewhere deep down that the important thing is to keep at it anyway. It really helps to hear someone with as much journaling experience as you reinforce it! Thanks so much for your encouragement. It came at the right time.

    Deb D.

  1. Reply

    AMEN…you said it sister ;} Great post Roz and every bit of it is so true…so true. Thanks for putting it out there is such a wonderful way. Fondly, Roberta

    • Christine
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Roz,

    You are the best. I am always always, always, inspired. Thank you for posting. I read the posts daily and they improve my life.

    Bulkage, bulkage, bulkage.

    • Paula Jarvis
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Lady, you do have it down… – paula

  2. Reply

    Thank you so much for this post, Roz. One of my goals for this year has been to try to work everyday in both my written journal and my sketchbook journal. It can be a struggle some days to turn off the computer and actually pick up my pen and write or draw. This post was just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

    • Debbie L
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    You are so right! Thank you for this mantra!! I am repeating it to myself right now.

  3. Reply

    Great post as alway, Roz. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Carolyn
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    This is so worth my subscription to your blog! Thank you! Where do I send my check? (I’m serious.)

    • Christina Trevino.
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    I am not saying anything about making time, but, hey, I’d like to see that world!
    Again you poke me mercilessly with many of those points you wrote about. I am going to print this and tape it in my bedroom and my studio.

  4. Reply

    All great reasons and I’m getting inspired. Thank you.

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Dave, you’ve got it. The number one thing I ask students who tell me they are having trouble keeping a journal is “Are you carrying it with you?”

    It will resolve 99.9 percent of the difficulties in journaling if people just carry their journals everywhere. And a simple travel kit like you use, or like that I’ve discussed numerous times on my blog, will get people through 99.9 percent of their needs while on the road.

    I’m glad you’ve got a healthy practice!

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Liz, I’m so glad you work through headaches. I find the same thing (except for a heavy duty migraine) works for me. I just feel so much better, less tense, and more clear. And if it’s a migraine, which happily I don’t get much any more, I simply wait until it’s pretty much over and then when I’m exhausted that’s the perfect time to work in the journal and build more energy, instead of wasting time resting. I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I’m dead.

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Deb, you might do what Christina is going to do, print out the post and have it on hand to remind you (because until I get that search engine things are difficult to refind on this voluminous blog) because the MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO KEEP GOING.

    When things seem as if they aren’t changing and haven’t changed for a long time (two weeks or two months depending on your attitude) then it’s time to take stock and look at your approach, revamp it, switch things around, take a class or workshop if that is something that you enjoy and a way that you learn, or set yourself a self-generated goal. And example of the latter might be drawing the same thing everyday for two weeks with the same tool, only from different angles, or to work on a particular visual problem or task (I have a landscape painter friend who goes to her cabin on Lake Superior and just paints WATER over and over and over trying to get the light and the action right, trying to build a vocabulary for water).

    You might also want to assess whether or not your internal critic is stalling you out.

    But through it all, just remember to keep doing it.

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Christine, thank you for remembering about BULKAGE!!! I have to write about that. Not all my readers will understand that—but you made me smile.

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Roberta, Paula, Debbie, Sandy, Maery, I’m glad this post hit the spot. Keep working!

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Christina, well you know me, I’m like a gnat, buzzing and annoying! I think maybe in a previous life I was a drill sergeant!

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Heather, good luck with turning off the computer and getting to your writing and sketching. Set a clock if you have to, so the alarm gets you up. Or sketch and write first! Now that’s a great way to make sure you get it in your day. Good luck with 2010.

    • Roz
    • January 15, 2010
    Reply

    Carolyn, that’s funny! You made my day. Keep working.

  5. Thank you Roz…this is a great reminder that sometimes you have to take time, vacation, whatever, and do your life;s work…drawing, writing, ship building, whatever it is that lives in your soul and desires to come out.

    • Roz
    • January 16, 2010
    Reply

    Thanks Lynne, It may just be a semantics issue, but to clarify, I don’t think of this as a “vacation.”

    I am actually against the notion of taking a vacation to catch up. I don’t believe in catch up. (There’s a whole post there I’m sure. I know I go on and on about it to my students.)

    I think one has to take time every day to do one’s life, ALL aspects of one’s life, from the cooking and caretaking and work to the creative endeavors (whatever form they manifest in, if they are different from those things already listed)—every day. Because when we do that we teach ourselves how richly time folds back on itself and rewards action, any action forward.

    But I’m just clarifying because I know you and you don’t believe in putting-off either.

    Thanks for writing in. I hope you can get away on Monday, but I know your schedule has been very full.

  6. Reply

    Thank you – more than you know. #2!!! I’ve been doing that!!

    • Roz
    • January 17, 2010
    Reply

    Janice, well the first step to resolving something is to recognize what it is and now that you have admitted it’s #2 (and so many, many people are in the same boat so don’t fret), you actually can do something about it.

    I hope 2010 is a year of burning through supplies in an artful way for you!

    • E-J
    • January 17, 2010
    Reply

    Love this post, Roz. I do carry my sketchbook and minimal sketching kit (few pens, a pencil, bijou w/colour box and brushpen) everywhere I go and try to engineer moments where I can sketch, but I’m working on pushing myself to do more of my sketchjournalling in the evenings. Step 1 has been to eliminate the crashing-on-sofa-with-glass-of-wine ritual which had begun to close off so many creative possibilities to me. My daughter (who’s 3) loves painting sessions but I find that making any kind of art of my own while she is this young just isn’t possible, though something simple like splashing gouache over a sketchbook page for future use is doable, so I do that.

    I’m off to pre-paint a few pages right now! 🙂

    • E-J
    • January 17, 2010
    Reply

    Just to clarify that I meant making art of my own *while we’re together* isn’t hugely possible. It’s late and I’m expressing myself poorly. But hey, I did just do that pre-painting! 🙂

    • Roz
    • January 18, 2010
    Reply

    E-J I totally understood what you meant. With young children too, the first priority is to be there for them. But think about finding 15 minutes for yourself after your daughter is tucked in to bed for the night, and use that time.

    There’s a famous woman author, but i can’t remember who right now, who did all her writing at the kitchen table after the kids were in bed. (Probably there are a whole lot of them!) And then then of poor Dorothoy Wordsworth, creating the stuff her brother would later steal and put into his poems, late at night in a dingy kitchen with wrapping paper walls stained with tallow smut and smoke from burning candles, while her brother got the walk out deck and view, and could call and interrupt her at any moment for any little thing. (I’ve visited this house and it is amazing what she put up with.)

    It’s doable if we simply keep in mind we need to find daily time to do it. And your daughter will be learning a valuable lesson from you as she grows.

    Good luck!

  7. Reply

    This is a great list, Roz. I am having angst and I know what to do! Beside which, my book making class starts tonight! So excited.

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