Keeping an Idea Journal

Great ideas strike any time anywhere. Great designers keep paper handy so they can record and sketch whenever inspired. A journal or book of blank pages can help facilitate this process. The word journal is rooted in the French word for day jouras in a daily log (like soup-of-the-day: Soup du jour). A work-in-progress collection of words and images, a journal can help remind, motivate, encourage, and archive your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and discoveries. The journal can be a collage of elements or organized into sections. This process should help you improve and clarify your thinking, ideating, and concepting. It can also become a record for archiving sketches, notes, and thoughts for a particular project. It can allow you to sketch whenever you are inspired.

A journal can also help you clarify personal thoughts and help you resolve inner conflict. When faced with a dilemma, writing to yourself or just writing can help you see and think more objectively and clearly. Our personal values and beliefs, already established, affect our thoughts. We reject what we consider to not be consistent with what we believe to be real/true. This self-perception affects our creativity. Assessing, clarifying, and affirming your beliefs will help you feel more centered and confident and, therefore, make it easier to open up and innovate.

The journal can be a bound book, loose leaf notebook, or a spiral notebook. Whichever style you adopt, some pages should be blank so that lines won't affect or influence sketches. Some journals on the market have a half page that is lined for notes and the other half blank for sketches.

The journal should be large enough to sketch in and small enough to be convenient to carry around. There should be enough room to tape in postcards, pictures, letters, and any other found items of significance. Avoid getting one with too many pages - having 100 empty pages can be intimidating. It may be better to fill one up a shorter book and get a new one than to lug around a larger book. Experiment with different sizes until you are comfortable with one.

Cover and binding
Select or make a 'book' that will be convenient, appropriate to you and your lifestyle, and adaptable to a variety of uses (writing, sketching, taping, etc.) Design a cover and/or title page with a unique identifier.

Content headings/pages
• Personal mission statement - what you want to be and do; what you're about
Definitions of design, art, creativity
• Design philosophy (motivators, passion)
• What inspires you
• Favorite quotes
• Biography
• How you want to be remembered
• Favorite things
• Dislikes
• Great ideas
• Thoughts
• Photos
• Sketches
In addition to creative idea sketches and notes, your journal can also serve as an organizer. Put in a calendar, your to-do list, and notes for other projects or thoughts. You can even write in it like a diary: expressing your private thoughts and clarifying them on paper. This may be one of the most valuable uses for your journal.