The Creativity Journal or Project Notebook


The creativity journal or project book

How do you keep track of your craft or art projects? If you are anything like me, there are probably a handful of unfinished projects swirling around in your home somewhere. I know from other people (a lot of knitters are notoriously known for this…) that it’s not a straight-forward rule that you start a project only once you’ve finished the old one.

My mom for example, is a Ravelry fan, and has lots of sock and other knitting projects lying around. Some, which she can knit from memory; easy projects, for when concentration is not at its best. Others, which come with a guide of several pages; the more difficult ones. 

 

I personally have several stories I’m working on, both in writing as well as in ‘comic’ form. I draw characters from these stories, or make up scenes.
But how do you save your inspirations and make sure you don’t mix up the abundance of projects? How do you store your idea snippets?
(Idea snippets are rough ideas for part of projects. Say, an interesting pocket for a bag, without the rest of the bag design. You can use these later, for when you need inspiration.)

I for one, keep project notebooks. I highly recommend using at least one project book, or creativity journal. So what are they, and how do you use one?

 

A Creativity journal is similar to an art journal; it is used to journal, to draw in, do paper crafts etc. Basically all creative expressions that fit in a paper book. Contrary, a Project notebook is not used for craft projects in themselves, nor journaling. They are identical however, in that you can use them for tracking your projects. So basically, a creativity journal is a project notebook, plus journaling and crafts.
Since this post is about project management, I’ll limit the explanations to the functions of the project notebook. So without further ado:

 

My Craft Project Notebook
My Craft Project Notebook

What is it, and why use it?

A Project notebook is a simple notebook, used to keep track of your projects, and other craft related inspirations and ideas. In short, it is used for:

ð  Storing idea snippets, and annotations/files from projects.

ð  Great for sparking ideas and inspiration when you are in ‘art-block mode’

ð  Accumulation of tips/tricks that you’ve experienced first hand

ð  Easy guide to start unfinished projects again, where you left off last time

ð  A tool to reflect on projects, so you can prevent mistakes and not-so-fun projects in the future


Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? So how do you keep track of your projects? What is important?
That pretty much depends on the art, craft or DIY project you’re working on. But in general the following are worthy of scribbling down:

ð  Which material/stitch/guide did you use? (include copies if possible)

ð  What difficulties were you having last time? What should you pay attention to when starting again?

ð  Is the project finished? Did you enjoy this/would you do it again? What was the difficulty level?

ð  Did you lack a certain material/tool or option?

ð  Would you do it again? (any ideas for a different variety? Mention it, and maybe come back to it later!)

 

ð  Loose idea snippets

An example would be a granny square blanket; do you have the color combination planned out beforehand? Then draw out a simple block and color in the squares and note which pattern you planned to use for which square. If you restart it after a few months of downtime, you know exactly what you had in mind when you started the project.

You could also write down the brand and weight of the yarn you used, or paste in the wool label for easy reference, as well as the number of needles you used.
Saving a copy of the guides is also a good idea, since you might forget it. Simply print it and paste it in the book. You can also write a link to the computer location, if you want to store it digitally.

 

Since you want to be able to start quickly, I would keep descriptions and annotations as simple as possible. How elaborate do you need your descriptions will differ from everyone, so you will have to figure this out for yourself. Just remember that on occasion a bad drawing is still a lot better than a full page of text. ;)  
A simple example below: I'm currently working on a very simple blanket using a knitting loom.

A page in the craft notebook...
A page in the craft notebook...
... and the project in progress.
... and the project in progress.

I keep mentioning ‘notebook’, but it’s also a good idea to use a binder instead. It’s easy to relocate pages, and thus easier to keep several crafts or projects organized.
Notebooks have the benefit of being more compact and thus easier to carry around, but they can be harder to organize internally. I advise to use a (bullet) journal index!


 

You can easily organize a notebook by numbering all the pages in the book, and adding an index. I started this craft project notebook only recently, so the index is fairly empty.

I usually only number the right pages (so 3, 5, 7 etc, yes I'm lazy efficient..)

Whenever you add a project to the notebook, you title the page, and put the description or title in the index at the front.

I suggest having space for roughly 3/4th of the amount of pages as entries in the index. So if you have a 100 pages, I would leave space for roughly 75 boxes. It's also an idea to leave a page or two blank (and two corresponding index boxes/lines). If you need to expand your index, you have some space left. If not, you can fill in the empty spaces at the end.

When working on more than one project at once, and taking notes for all of them, you can either decide to leave a page blank after a project, so you'll have some space left for annotations, or, you can resume annotations on the next free page, and make a note in the index and first project page as to where you continued.



For different crafts, you could add a color to the title page block to sort them.
Or you could create a color index like shown to the right. By marking pages along the edge in the same color (and height) you can easily see which project belong into which category.

(you may need to create two indexes, one in the beginning on a right page, and one in the back on a left page)

A set of project pages
A set of project pages

Very large projects (books, comics, where you have to create a ‘whole world’) might warrant a notebook per project. These can contain character data, descriptions and sketches/maps of locations, scenes and rough story- and timelines. I have a set of small A6-sized notebooks for my story projects. I call them my 'writing journals', but they're basically also project notebooks, for a single project each.

My 'single-project' notebooks ...
My 'single-project' notebooks ...
The Index from one notebook...
The Index from one notebook...
... And a page!
... And a page!

I hope you now have a clear understanding of the purpose and how to use a Project notebook!
Please let me know in the comment section if you plan to use one! Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask those too! :)

 

J.