Want to see inside my journal?
Normally, I interview other journal-keepers about their practice for the Peek Inside a Journal feature.
But this time, we are looking inside my journal.
I’m Cathy Hutchison, the creative spark behind YourVisualJournal.com. Here’s how I approach my personal journaling practice.
When did you start journaling?
Like many people, I had way too many journals that had the first three pages filled out, then were abandoned. That changed when I saw sketchnotes for the first time.
Rewinding to that day, I was at a point in my life where I was burned out. I felt like a hamster on a wheel.
Imagine me sitting in an auditorium at a conference listening to speakers which I should have found inspiring, but instead just made me feel overwhelmed. At the break, I walked to the back of the auditorium saw a man with markers filling whiteboards with words and doodles. (Later, I would learn these were sketchnotes.)
Suddenly, I had total clarity. I could see the ideas. Everything that had been presented clicked into place and made sense.
I became obsessed with learning the technique so I could have that clarity always. At first I just kept loose pieces of paper as I practiced, but eventually I bought a journal and kept it with me all the time so I could think on paper in this creative style whenever I wanted to.
How has journaling impacted you? What has it meant to you?
My journal is a workhorse. I plan my days, brainstorm ideas, take notes, and have it out for almost every conversation. (You never know when someone is going to say something brilliant that you want to capture.)
Here’s the thing: my brain loves this!
There’s no more worry. Stuff that used to get stuck running circles in my head are now poured onto paper where I can see them and deal with them. It gives me clarity.
After years of doing this, I can say it has made me much more intentional. I cross things off that don’t matter and embellish the things that do.
Tell us about your personal setup? What type of journal and tools do you use?
I’ve test driven a lot of things over the years, but I always seem to come back to crayons. My favorite are Caran D’Ache’s NeoColor II water soluble crayons which I blend with an Aquabrush. (I also always keep a cigarette case with me full of plain old Crayola crayons because they are super functional.) I also go through phases where I use Tombow Dual Brush markers because you can get such an amazing “pop” with the colors, and for journals with thinner pages, Prismacolor Colored Pencils lay down way more color than their drugstore counterparts.
I keep several pens on me. The Kaweko Sport is portable and a great fountain pen to learn with. (I’m not sure why I enjoy writing with a fountain pen so much, but I really do!) I also carry a few PITT Artist pens because they are waterproof which is a necessity when using water soluble crayons. For a basic black writing pen, I really like Paper Mate InkJoy because it writes so smoothly.
My go-to journal is the Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Sketchbook. A5 is the size of a folded letter sheet of paper. For me, it is the perfect balance of portability while having enough paper space to really think on. I like the thickness of the pages in the sketchbook version. (Hey Leuchtturm, if you are reading this, please add the index and page number features to your sketchbooks!)
When do you find time to journal?
My journal is always in my bag as I’m moving through my day making it easy to pull out and open wherever I am, so I journal all the time.
Do you go back through old journals? How often do you review?
I often reference past journals. I number my pages and keep an index of what is on each page to make it easy to find stuff later.
Once a year, I do a deep review of the previous year’s journal.
My personal practice is to take my birthday day off and spend it in nature in silence. I always take my journals from the previous year and look through to pick up on themes. Then I capture my insights in my current journal.
What advice do you have for people just getting started?
Having a journal you carry with you everywhere is a big win. Whether that is pocket sized, passport sized (A4), or A5, it’s easier to journal when you have easy access.
Capture whatever is pinging in your brain. If you’ve thought about it three times or more, chances are it is worth exploring. Trust that.