Want to know how to start a visual journal? While it’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at what others are doing, the process is actually crazy simple.
As you try things, you will morph the process over time so that it exactly fits your unique life and style. But, if you are new to visual journaling, here are some basic rules for beginners:
5 Simple Steps on How to Start a Visual Journal
1. Use a notebook you can keep with you all the time.
For some people that is 8.5 x 11, for others it is the size of a passport or something in between.
Try a few different things in cheap versions until you find what works for you. The magic of visual journaling is in what you capture. Having an easy-to-carry notebook helps you capture more.
2. Trust what interests you.
Journalers can get hung up on what to write. How do you overcome that? Trust what interests you.
Write down a quote that feels significant, memories from the day, tasks to be completed tomorrow, mindmap that project, scribble the incomplete fragment of an idea you had, track a habit you want to add into your life… It doesn’t matter if it feels disjointed. Our thoughts are disjointed. Put your thoughts on paper so you can engage your eyes in processing them.
A good rule of thumb is if it plays in your brain more than once, it matters. Write it down.
3. Write most of your words in black ink, and save color for the embellishments.
We’ve been trained to see text in black ink by years of reading books and blog posts. Our brain recognizes black text as information to process. Also, the contrast between black ink on white paper helps our eyes. So, make it a practice to write most of your words in black ink and save color for headings, borders, drawings and callout boxes.
The color piece is important. Color engages our emotions. So add color to your pages, even if you do it later when you are reviewing them.
4. Put a header on each page of your journal.
Give each of your pages a headline–even if it is just one word. Just like in a magazine, make it bigger than the other information on the page. Not only will this help you navigate as you review your journal later, it also makes the information more “sticky” to your brain.
5. Give yourself permission to create bad drawings.
Scribble lame stick figures, draw a flower, doodle something random, throw in some arrows, clouds, borders and things. Making your visual journal visual helps your eyes process the information and makes it more memorable. These small doodles and drawings are important (so stop judging your skill.) This isn’t about art, it’s about thinking on paper.
And that’s it! Do this for a few weeks and you’ll start to notice a few things:
- You become clearer on what you want (and what you don’t want).
- You get a better sense of where you are spending your resources of time and energy.
- You plan steps to get to where you most want to go.
- You start to feel more organized and in control of your life because you can “see” it.
Want to get even more ideas?
Here’s a list of posts by category so you can dive deeper into what interests you.