Accepting Changes in Your Process

April 6, 2020
When I was in college (those journals are packed away and were never scanned) I’d have sometimes 20 things stuck on a page spread, notes everywhere, comments about what Kris, my roommate, and I did for exercise that day (to offset the donuts we loved to eat), along with sketches. In this page spread from 2019 I see how I easily fall into that fun mix of stuff when it is necessary because of what’s happening in life. (Apologies to actor Brenda Blethyn for murdering her surname spelling. I corrected it after I caught it on the scan.)

I’ve written quite a bit about accepting changes in your process throughout the 11 years of this blog. It is a common theme in my teaching. 

One of the things that seems to hang students up the most is the notion that there must be one “right” way to do something. I’m constantly telling crop after crop of students that isn’t so. 

Instead there are several right ways for you to do things at this moment. And when the moment changes and the circumstances change and when you change, so will the process. So at any given moment you need to be experimenting and engaging with your creative process to discover what’s working for you.

Last year, while I was going through the cataract operations and learning to cope with what are going to be permanent impairments I found that my journals jumped back to the “comfort food” approach from my childhood and college days—sketches mixed with notes and lots of things stuck in. You can see some of this on the page spread I’m posting today.

My books are once again bulging with stuck in sketches on loose pages, or prints of sketches (like the chicken in this image) with notes about what I’m up to and what I’m re-reading!

I have always believed that visual journaling was a life-long activity. It seems normal to me that there are changes in how I journal which reflect what is happening in my life.

I hope that you will take a moment to look at how your process changes over time. What modes do you return to? Why do you think this is? How are they valuable to you? What would you like to see in your journal? Why aren’t you putting that in your journal? What is stopping you?

If what is stopping you from journaling is a sense that you must do it the “right way” please go to your journal right now, and do a page spread about what you most enjoy including in your journal, which past pages are favorites of yours, and what you want more of in your journal. Then start brainstorming how you can get those things in your journal. 

Hint: Simple answer, identify what you want and start doing it. Accept that you are in practice and things are going to change. Keep asking how the journal is helping you do your creative life, or how it helps you celebrate your life. You’ve got pages to fill!

Remember your internal critic has a vested interest in keeping you from your creative outlet. Just say no. Dive in and do.

Fun Things To Do: If you are able to stream shows where you are right now check out Blethyn’s series “Vera.” Various channels and streaming services show it in the US. It runs on PBS a little behind. And Acorn and Brit Box carry seasons of it. She plays a police inspector in a northern part of England. The show is well written (from books by Ann Cleeves), well acted, and beautifully shot.


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