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Creativity for Beginners

So...

You're ready to get started on your journaling adventure but you don't know how to begin? Well, you've come to the right place! Read on to learn more about gathering your materials, learning to draw, and finding inspiration.

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you've got to do if you want to be more creative with your journal is to collect your materials. It does you no good to have a spark of imagination and then not have the tools to bring it to life. You want to have everything ready when inspiration (or boredom) strikes.

As a beginner in any craft, it's kind of hard to know what you need versus what is only a good idea for someone who is dedicating his or her life to that craft. Also, there is a tendency when just starting out to buy the most expensive products, not yet knowing which cheaper things are just as good. I personally have spent thousands of dollars on art supplies in my lifetime. These days, I tend to streamline things and give myself limits. Art junkie though I may be, I think it's obscene to pay good money for supplies I never use.

Therefore, without further ado, here are what I consider to be the bare basics neccessary to add some splash to your journal:

  1. A Notebook

    I highly recommend getting a bound notebook instead of dealing with various pieces of paper. When it comes to saving your work and being able to put your hands on it when you want to, the odds are against you and 3 million loose scraps of paper. A bound notebook makes it easier to chart your creative progress. Three months from now, if you still feel like you "can't" draw or "can't" write, just take a look at those early pages. Mine are good for a hearty laugh.

    As everybody knows, there is a notebook for every taste, purpose, and budget. Two things I always consider are size and paper quality. For various reasons, I think a journal works best when it is portable. I like to be able to snatch a few minutes of drawing or writing time wherever I am. For this purpose, I wouldn't get anything smaller than about 5 by 7. If you're going to primarily use it at home, one of the big books might work out better. As far as paper quality goes, I strongly recommend that you get a book with good, thick paper. I hate it when ink bleeds through the page, because I like to use both sides of the paper. Plus, if you think you're going to want to keep this book for any length of time, the thick paper is going to hold up better than the thinner varieties.

    Other things to think about when buying a notebook are its function (are you going to write or draw or both), expense, and visual appeal. I tend to buy books because I fall in love with the covers, regardless of whether or not they really fit my needs. I still use them, but I don't get the full creative effect if they have lined paper, for example, or if the book doesn't lay completely flat. For my "real" journals, I like the black, hardbound, spiral bound artist's sketchbooks. The bottom line is, if you don't love it, you won't use it, so get what you like.

  2. A Pencil

    The only characteristic to pay attention to here is the hardness of the lead. You want to be able to make clean but malleable lines. The good news is that most of the pencils you have around the house will work just fine. I wouldn't use anything harder than a #2 lead. I personally like mechanical pencils better, because I get tired of getting pencil shavings all over my lap and having almost-sharpened leads break off into the sharpener.

  3. A Pen

    I prefer fountain pens for writing and drawing. I also prefer black ink, because it reproduces well. However, the only real requirement for a pen is that you can't imagine using any other one. A "just good enough" pen slows you down. Your hand gets tired more easily, and you won't feel like writing your name, much less anything else. I wouldn't suggest buying a pen of any type unless you can try it first at the store.

At this point, I just want to say that bad materials are extremely frustrating! There is nothing more maddening than a pen that skips, a pencil lead that keeps breaking or that is too light, or paper that tears too easily. A spiral-bound notebook versus a regular one can make all the difference in the world when you're trying to follow through on an idea. I've found that when I'm not feeling very creative, inefficient art supplies just make it worse. I'll hurl my notebook across the room and won't pick it up for months. Get good supplies! They go a long way, and you'll never regret it.


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