How to Keep a Creativity Sketchbook

Last week I talked about the importance of creative exercise. One of the best ways to stay creatively in shape is to keep a creativity sketchbook or artist journal. It’s quick and easy and you don’t even have to be able to draw...

How to Keep a Creativity Sketchbook (even if you can’t draw) - tips and tricks for filling an artist journal or creative sketchbook with brilliant ideas //

Step 1 - Buy a Sketchbook

I usually have two sketchbooks or journals. One is a standard size (8.5” x 11”) and the other is small enough to fit into my shoulder bag. I always like to have a sketchbook handy - you never know when an idea might strike! 


I highly recommend that you buy a simple inexpensive sketchbook; you’ll be less afraid to “mess it up.” I’ve been gifted with, and have bought beautiful journals and sketchbooks for myself and many of them sit empty. I feel too much pressure to make sure whatever I draw or write in them is as beautiful as the exterior. Creativity is a messy process so pick something you’ll be comfortable making messes in.

Here are some creative sketchbooks to get your started -

Step 2 - Destroy the First Page

So now you’ve bought a sketchbook and you open to the first page...BOOM! You’ve just been hit with paralyzing fear.

I hate the purity of that first page. It mocks me with its perfection. There’s this sense that if I screw up on the very first page the whole sketchbook will be ruined. My favorite solution - destroy it on purpose!

Here are some destructive techniques to get you started -

  • take a sharpie and make an “x” across the whole page
  • scribble with wild abandon
  • rip the page
  • spill coffee on it
  • splatter paint 
  • put tape or stickers all over it

Whatever method(s) you use, have fun with it!

Step 3 - Fill Your Sketchbook

Congrats on destroying that first page. Be proud! That’s often the scariest part of starting a creative sketchbook. So now what?

It’s time to start filling up that sketchbook and creating a sort of visual journal of your creative adventures and inspiration. Here are some ideas for what you might include in your sketchbook :

  • clippings from magazines of images that inspire you
  • ticket stubs 
  • doodles while you’re on the phone
  • favorite quotes
  • a drawing made while not looking at the paper
  • sketches of the people and things around you
  • grocery, reading, or to do lists
  • journaling about what’s on your mind
  • paint or fabric swatches
  • goals and aspirations
  • experiments with new materials such as paint, charcoal or even glitter!
  • the envelope from a handwritten letter
  • a pattern created of shapes and colors
  • Instagram photos ( they’re cheap and easy to print at your local drug store )
  • contact info - such as emails and phone numbers
  • and of course ideas :)

Remember you’re allowed to “fail” and make messes in your sketchbook! Resist the temptation to tear pages out. It’s important to have a record of your process and improvements.

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