Thursday, December 2, 2010


“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you hardly catch it going.” – Tennessee Williams

Some time ago, I wrote about the advantages of personal journaling. And, now – the same as a few months ago – I suggest that you keep a journal to capture some of those moments that go flying by so quickly. Your journal will help you hold onto the tiniest part of what happens or what you see or think about from day to day.

Most of the time when we speak of journaling, we are thinking about something that’s written – like a diary. But not all journals are a collection of written pages. The kind that I’m talking about here is a binder for clippings – a place to collect all kinds of printed, hand-written, and/or sketched material that can serve to motivate you to carry out new projects.

A clippings journal can save you time and effort.
If you’re like me, you consider yourself a creative person. Creation is everything you do that involves art and dedication. It’s when you make something, cook a special recipe, draw a picture, day dream, sing a song, sew, knit, build, etc. That said, unfortunately, you and I don’t have 12 or more hours a day to be creative. Sometimes we have no more than a half hour or even only a few minutes in a whole day to dedicate to our creative urges. So, we have to make the best use of those few hours or minutes and make sure to jot down any great ideas we come across.

Your clippings journal will be a filing system that allows you to categorize and store ideas for projects in the form of pieces of paper of different types and sizes. And your clippings binder won’t take up any appreciable space in your (probably) already crowded bedroom, dining room or whatever place in the house where you keep your creative materials. And things you want to review will take only minutes to find instead of hours of searching.

What’s in a clippings journal?
A clippings journal can contain prints of all sorts, cut outs, written notes and sketches – anything that can inspire you for your creative projects in the near or distant future. It’s not everything that you come across, of course. It’s just what captures your fancy as you leaf through printed material or surf the Internet. These bits of info and pictures are your “gems.” It’s whatever makes you say: “I think I can make use of this sometime later."

Sometimes useful ideas arrive to our doorstep in the form of cards or mail. Put all those great notes or greeting cards into your binder. Parts of them – their words, pictures, etc., -- can later be reviewed to produce new projects. Other things that can go in the binder include labels, stickers, fabric swatches, yarn samples, stamps – almost any kind of materials that are flat enough to be pressed onto the pages. Don’t worry about if and when these new projects may get done. Your clippings and notes are only another page or section of your journal, and not any kind of commitment.

So, find some kind of binder and make the clippings journal that you think will be most helpful to you. The materials arranged in your journal are some of your favorite things at a certain moment. Those hundreds of bits of media and added comments will surely jog your memory and serve to inspire future creations. Once placed in your binder, you’ll have them for as long as you want. It goes without saying that you’re going to collect a whole lot more stuff in your journal than you can ever use. That’s really not so important. And it’s great entertainment just to leaf through what you collected some months or years later.

You may want more than one.
After doing months of handicrafts and other domestic arts (and blogging about them), I’ve found that it’s handy to have a number of different clipping journals – for recipes, for decorating, for eco-friendly projects, and for handicrafts. I’ve put together two for handicrafts, one related to things for my own home and another for gift-making. (I use large photo album binders for my clippings. Before assembling these binders, I had a collection of all kinds of papers in shoeboxes. I found that the boxes took up a lot of space and weren’t a good way to store or find things later. Binders are much more accessible. When I consider it useful, I also write my own notes beside or under the clippings.)

You can even share your clippings journals with other people from time to time. When friends want ideas for projects, you can tell them: “I have something that you might like to work on.” Then, you can let them see some clippings in your binder. Your friends may not be inspired by whatever you show them. It doesn’t really matter so much. You’ll be sharing your inspirational treasures with them, and that kind of collaboration and the discussion that follows can be a great creative motivation to the both of you.

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