Your Own Custom Made Project Planner

by Barbara Martin

in Try This

Earlier this month I spent an agreeable day attending a hand made journal making workshop with Lisa Sonora Beam — you may recognize her as author of the excellent visually-oriented creative business primer, The Creative Entrepreneur.  If you aren’t familiar with her work, read on because you might want to experiment with making a journal or two of your own to use as planning tools for your upcoming creative projects. Rest assured, no artistic ability required!

NOT your normal “journal” making exercise

Disclosure: Although I have played a bit with art journaling and with sketchbooks, I have never been a journal writer. I’ve never kept a reflective or soul confessional type of diary, either, with the possible exception being when I faithfully wrote the Morning Pages during The Artist’s Way — and that stopped as soon as the program ended.  

Journals I made

a few of my project planner journals

I was curious to learn more about not only the process of constructing “visual” journals but equally so how to use them as tools, especially in view of Lisa’s approach to using a visual journal as a way to explore and plan a business or a project, or even for annual goal setting.

The Project Specific Journal

One of the big take-away ideas for me is that a journal can be purpose made to serve as the touchstone for a specific project. By mindfully selecting a cover image and interior page materials, using a particular binding style, and generally instilling an intention and a “look and feel” to the journal, you can begin to suss out the project itself. 

Journal Making as Meditation

As you collate the pages and assemble the booklet by hand, the work takes on a meditative quality which is great for letting your ideas meld. While your fingers smooth the folds and caress the texture of the pages, brush across the cover and bind the book with thread or winding ribbon, your mind naturally begins, on some level,  to work through the problem or project at hand. 

Journal as Inspirational Planning Tool

The visual and tactile themes of the journal can help you stay true to the theme or intent of the project itself.  This gentle reinforcement or reminder quality takes the journal into the realm of motivational or inspirational tool. Of course it is also serves as a purpose-made container: a designated place reserved to dignify and record your thoughts,  develop and set down plans, and generally keep track of  where the project is heading.

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a visually oriented person, the journal’s physical presence can be an inspiration.  This type of multisensory construction process can also be surprisingly illuminating — and is potentially super helpful if you are stuck somewhere in bringing your ideas to the concrete reality of implementation. 

The Journal Literally Makes Your Dream Real

Simply having a physical piece to hold in your hands can be reassuring — and once the project idea begins to take form on paper, in words or images or a combination of both, it is that much closer to becoming real. If you tend to keep ideas swirling in your head and then hesitate or get stuck in getting out of your head and into action, this might be something to try.

 Your Personalized Planner Keeps You on Track

Once you make your journal,  continue to use it as you refine your plans and work your plans. You can add or subtract or adapt the pages and contents to suit the project as it matures. And when you are ready for the next chapter, simply start with a new journal. Eventually, you could even combine several journals together into a more substantial book.

How often do you refer to a journal? It’s up to you, although a tool that sits on the shelf is not terribly useful.  When I asked,  Lisa told me she looks at hers daily.

For more information about upcoming journal and creativity workshops, visit Lisa Sonora Beam at The Creative Entrepreneur.

Do you make your plans in a journal? Do you make your own? If you already do or if you try one of these, I’d love to hear how it works for you.

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