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Value of a Daily Sketchbook Practice

Past: I’ve used a daily journal for much of my adult life. When I was a high school English teacher, I used to tell my students that freewriting can help you find what’s on your mind, judge whether it’s important, and clarify your thinking. But in Life Part 2, an art journal? I’m not sure “I get it” so…

Technique Question: Could I use a daily art journal for 30 days and would I find the experience valuable?

Answer: Yes and YES.

First, I have to admit that I ran a combo experiment, doing a daily 5-minute writing about adding a daily art journal practice. James Clear says in Atomic Habits that “habit stacking” something new with something you already do can help and it seemed like, for me, the two made sense together. I didn’t write about individual art pages, just the daily experience itself. As usual, the writing part helped me think through and clarify learning points about my new daily experience.

Reading back through my written entries, I found words and ideas like: stay loose, discover the unexpected, freedom, and creative impulses. But Day 17’s entry seemed to sum up the overall experience. Here’s exactly what I wrote.

Day 17: Sketchbook play allows me an easy space to challenge myself with new artistic practices. Everything feels lighter in a sketchbook. It’s just a piece of paper in a spiral. I have nothing “precious” going on and no impulse to make the best use of supplies. Even my time and focus commitment is low. All that is a needed set-up for trying new things and risking that it might be terrible. That it just may not work out. I may not have the skills needed to do it well. But it’s a safe space to try.

Future: I will definitely continue this sketchbook practice. I had a positive experience every time and, along the way, realized that I was repeating some moves and ideas that were evolving and getting stronger. Then taking those “practiced impulses” to canvas was exciting too. 

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