Daydreaming on Paper
January 2020
Moving Beyond Notebook Envy

These days, more people than ever are sharing their journal, sketchbook, diary, and planner pages online. There are thousands of images of beautiful work to pore over: gorgeous lettering, lovely drawings and watercolor sketches, creative layout ideas, and recommendations for new products to try. I like looking at these images - indeed, I have wasted many an hour doing just that - but I also quickly become overwhelmed by them.

For one thing, the sheer abundance of them is a little daunting; even the most specific search nets hundreds of results. Also, so many (most) of the people posting their pages online are light-years more talented than I am. Rather than being inspired by their art, I often find myself too disheartened to do anything in my own notebooks, let alone post it online (this is one of the reasons why I stopped updating this site regularly - I'm too intimidated by everyone else!). This reaction, of course, is exactly the opposite of what I want to happen. So, I have begun thinking about ways to get beyond my notebook envy - ways to allow other people's ideas to spark rather than crush my own creativity.

The first thing that I try to do is figure out exactly what I like about the posted journal page(s):

  • The colors used?
  • Design elements like borders, lines, separators, or section breaks?
  • The handwriting, lettering, or calligraphy?
  • The art technique(s) used?
  • The overall aesthetic?
  • The actual content or writing style?

Sometimes it turns out that I really just like the image itself. Maybe it's staged really well. Maybe I'm intriqued by the setting or the tools, supplies, and other materials on display. Sometimes I like the aesthetic shown even if it's not really my aesthetic, or maybe I like the fantasy that the image inspires - the idea that I could be the type of person who creates pages like that. All of these are perfectly legitimate, and it is helpful to know if this is what's really going on.

For those times when this is not the case - when I determine that I do, in fact, like the actual journal page - I make a list of the elements that appeal to me. Then, I choose one thing to incorporate into my own notebook right away in the very next entry using what I already have.

By giving myself a strict, manageable limit, I am able to break through my envy and move toward greater enjoyment and artistry in my notebook pages. I move from creative inertia to stress-free experimentation and play.

And isn't that what notebook-keeping is all about?


Happy Scribbling!


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