What is a visual journal?

What is a visual journal? 

A journal is simply a place to write things down. You can use a journal for anything: ideas, thoughts, feelings, task lists, dates, contact information--any piece of information that you either want to process by writing it down, store as a record, or keep to spark your memory. 

A visual journal adds visual elements - bullets, arrows, borders, callout boxes, simple drawings and doodles - to make the information more engaging. We will go deeper on this in Lesson 1: How It Works, but for now, just keep in mind that there is more going on than just “making it pretty.”


What will my visual journal look like? 

There are so many ways to journal visually. Here’s what determines your journal’s appearance: 

  1. How you use your journal
  2. Your personality
  3. Which techniques feel fun to you

As you try different things, you’ll find that your process morphs over time to exactly fit your unique life and style. 

Want a quick, fun peek from two different journalers to see how diverse visual journaling can be? Here are two case studies: 

  1. Michelle Marie of Seaweed Kisses
  2. Shelby Abrahamsen of Little Coffee Fox

(You can also always see what I’m doing in my journal on Instagram @cathy.hutchison.)

How much time does visual journaling take? 

So, here’s what’s weird about visual journaling… It actually saves you time because it improves your focus. When you write things down, you can quickly see what is essential and what is not--which will help you free up other resources -- like your time. 

I believe in journaling fast because my life moves quickly. Others like to savor the process. You will experiment to see what’s right for you. 

Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to have a journal that sits on a shelf collecting dust. It’s to create a tool that goes with you, is highly useful, and helps you think on paper.

A note about perfectionism in this course

Digital writing is perfect. Typed letters are all the same size and shape. There is complete continuity. They are identical. Sterile.

Handwritten letters are messy. Sometimes incomplete. They vary. They have warmth, and depth, and like the rest of the natural world, infinite variety.

Not only that, but they are endearing.

When you read someone you love's handwriting you don't think about how that letter didn't quite come together or how the K has an awkward slant. Instead, the imperfection warms your heart because the person you love created it.

Your visual journal will never be a showpiece you are going to set on a coffee table. It is a real tool for the real world.

So sometimes your lines won’t be straight, the balance of your layout might be skewed, the speed of your thoughts will cause your handwriting to be sloppy, or you will cram too much information into a margin.

Embrace it.

In a short amount of time, you will develop a rhythm and style simply through the process of using your journal.

But, if you judge what your hands produce, you will immediately take yourself out of the creative flow of journaling. Criticism blocks creativity.

Every time.

So don't critique yourself. You can do this.

And you will wind up creating something that is uniquely and beautifully yours.

Now it’s time to dive in and start your journal!

Well done! You’ve finished the first part of this course - the introduction. Now it’s time to start your own visual journal!

And, if you want some company along the way, join the Facebook Group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/661658337734653