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The life changing magic of keeping a sketchbook.


Why keep a visual diary or sketchbook?  Whether or not you call yourself an artist, a maker or creative at all there are huge benefits to keeping one.  For anyone who already has a written journal or diary you know how nice it is to look back at where you were in mind and body at a certain time in the past.  A visual journal is just the same but without text.  There are no limits and bad drawings, messy pages and writing are entirely allowed.  I began doing a daily sketch on Jan 1st 2015 and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen not because my drawings are so wonderful but because of the pleasure of having this little treasure trove of memories and ideas. I have kept sketchbooks fairly consistently for about 15 years, by that I mean anywhere from 8 x A3 sketchbooks to least a half a pocket Moleskine per year.  Before 2015 the volume of sketching had severely declined due to ‘blank canvas syndrome’.  The more beautiful the book the worse it got.  I have had this red beauty for over 10 years and have barely squiggled on 5 pages.  I think its an up-cycled Indian sari cover with sequins and silver thread and has handmade paper inside.


At the end of 2014 I came up with the solution to my problem of not knowing what to do or where to focus myself after stumbling upon Pep Carrio’s wonderful visual diary and decided to do the same and make it a daily exercise for a whole year.  I bought a cheap pocket sized hardback notebook with lines so I wouldn’t feel like it was special or required a brilliant idea to start and decided that any drawing was better than no drawing.  Sometimes I added things in like pressed flowers, magazine clippings and acrylic paint blobs.  About half the drawings are done in coloured pen and if I’m really feeling like there’s time I took my box of watercolours out.  I would draw things around me, places I go, things like, my cup of tea, patterns on a tablecloth, news snippets and whatever I’m thinking of.  Sometimes there was a run of ideas over a few days but it wasn’t important.


After a while of adding to this little book daily a trajectory of thought appeared and I could clearly see there were certain things I was dawn to.  It was a complete revelation to me how good it was to have this simple little book of stuff.  It brought to the surface small ideas I wasn’t aware of and saved patterns and colour combinations that probably would have been lost or forgotten if not committed to my book.

Here’s a quick rundown if you like bullet points and lists as much as me-

  • Get a cheap pocket-sized notebook or diary with lines and dates if possible.
  • Forget about perfect drawings and amazing ideas.
  • Draw, paste or write every single day.
  • Stop thinking about it.
  • Any drawing is better than no drawing.
  • Go get a little notebook.

If you try this sketchbook journal even for just 30 days I promise it will become a treasure to you.  And I may have something that can help you or someone you know to get started!


Sketching bags now available in my shop!  There’s a large and small option and each comes with 2 drawing pencils (different shades) and a blank eco-friendly notebook with enough pages for a 30 day challenge!  See them here.


So make a nice hot drink and happy sketching people!

PS For fellow messy creatives you must read ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo 😉