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Why create a visual journal?
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People create visual journals for all sorts of reasons–namely because the discoveries we find in this process are fresh, offer new perspectives, and provide an insight that is unique to visual journaling.
Visual journals can combine sections of writing with visual entries, a technique we will experiment with later. Yet, even without “organized writing” visual journaling provides “a view of its own.”
In my own life, I have used written journaling for years. I found that a written journal became a necessary tool for recording the details of my life, making sense of experience on paper, and reconciling the past. Only recently did I enter visual journaling as a structured practice. Within two weeks of the process I made an interesting discovery. While written journaling is vital to help me make sense of the past, visual journaling helps me live in the present. When we begin the actual self-discovery exercises in week two of our online class, you will experience this firsthand. This is just one benefit of the visual journal, here are other reasons women find this to be an appealing and beneficial form of self-expression.
If you have approached a written journal before, you may have shied away from the blank page. We often approach writing with a need to have something predetermined to “write about” Writing is often used to communicate or record, and it is easy to bring this expectation to a lined-written journal. Take a moment to think about all the things you write… memos, to-do lists, work reports, papers, permission slips, the list goes on and on. Now think about the last time a piece of blank paper was set before you, along with a bottle of glue and some scissors. The very act of a blank page calls forth creativity. It becomes easier to approach the blank page with a sense of wonder versus expectation.
Telling the “whole story” can also be difficult. When we chronicle life in a written journal, we can become overwhelmed because life unfolds so fast it is hard to capture. Visual journaling follows the premise “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” It is a spontaneous act unconcerned with capturing all of life, and more focused on capturing moments in life.
Visual journaling also offers the perfect outlet for our deepest thoughts. Writing about difficult emotions or challenges can be intimidating. It might be hard to “find the right word.” We may worry about if our writing is “safe.” There is security in a visual journal.
What lands on the paper is open to interpretation – it represents what we feel but its true meaning can be interpreted differently by everyone. It isn’t like reading a news account; it is like viewing an abstract exhibit.
You will begin to see these benefits, and more, unfold as you continue with your visual journaling.
Project # 1: Diving In: A collection of words
Today’s project is a basic exercise that can be done quickly (the more quickly, the better!) And the great news is you likely have all the supplies on hand.
Take a few minutes to gather the following: scissors, adhesive (can be a glue stick, tape, a stapler–whatever you can find, 3 or 4 magazines, or newspapers, or books no longer needed, or catalogs–or a combination of these items.)
Place a blank piece of paper in front of you. (If you don’t have a blank piece of paper, find something with writing on one-side, turn it over, and the problem is solved.)
Sketch a 5 x 5 inch box on the paper. It doesn’t have to be exact. It doesn’t have to be even. You don’t need to get up and get a ruler–this is simply a guide. You will be working over the edge anyway so it will not be visible when done.
Randomly look through the materials you have gathered. Cut or rip out any words that are appealing to you. These words can be on any topic. They can be large or small. You can cut out single words or use whole phrases. Fill the square (don’t worry about going over the edge a bit) with all words. You can glue them down as you go, or glue them down after accumulating a stack. Do not overanalyze your words or attempt to “tell a story” as you would when writing. Instead, just collect any words that jump out at you.
A quick design note: When creating these pages, make sure to overlap your items so the entire surface is covered as you see in the examples.
Below is my example. I have some comments about what I unintentionally discovered in this word collection, but I do not want to “sway” the process for you.
After completing your own version, see if you can find a theme to your choices (don’t consciously try to create one beforehand–the whole fun of this process is letting the discoveries find you!)
Notice these are not exactly “square.” Remember that the 5 x 5
square is simply a guideline, not a requirement.
Below is my daughter’s collage she made at 10-years-old. I was very impressed with Samantha’s collage and how revealing and fun an activity this was for us to do together!
Dive in… So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and dive in and join us! Your visual journey has begun!
Here are some additional examples from previous class participants…
Created by Becky
Created by Tracy
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