Monday, July 11, 2016

Keeping My Sanity Creatively

It all started about twenty years ago when I bought a new Bible...

New, pristine, and made to write in!

For years this was my #1 Bible. I still use it every other year for my Bible reading.

I took notes during sermons, during Bible classes, during my daily reading...but I started running out of room.

At the same time, my creative urges were being spurred by all the writing I've been doing over the past few years.

You did know that creativity creates more creativity, right? So while one part of my brain is spinning stories, another part of my brain relaxes with needlework. But then another piece was awakened by all this creative energy.

That's when I discovered Bible journaling.

Believe me, I am not an artist. But I had some of these around...

And I found one of these...

You can buy one of these here. There are a
lot of styles to choose from.
And started having fun.

I copy some ideas from Pinterest (just search for "Bible journaling"),

And some I make myself.

I'm not an artist, but I like to draw. And practice helps.

Sometimes I use Picmonkey (the photo editing program on my computer) to create something. I can print it out on vellum (from Amazon - go here) and insert it in my Bible with washi tape.

But then last April I was introduced to Bullet Journaling. This concept uses the drawing and lettering skills I had learned while Bible Journaling, but it's a planner.

This has saved me. With my BuJo (Bullet Journal), I am sane. I meet deadlines. I remember birthdays!

AND I get to use stickers! :)

Okay, you don't have to use stickers.

Now you're asking, "What in the world is Bullet Journaling?"

Here's the basic explanation from the guy who came up with the concept:

But you don't have to stop with the basic journal. There are as many ways to BuJo as there are people who use the system.

Here's a peek into mine.

I use a Leuchtturm 1917 dotted A5. You can look at it more closely here. Other people use a Moleskine, or their favorite blank book, or a composition book from the dollar store.

I love my Leuchtturm because the pages are dotted (rather than a grid, lined, or blank), and the paper is heavy enough to stand up to the fountain pen I use. The pages are already numbered (a plus!), and it has the table of contents pages in the front.

Another plus - it's archival quality, and I plan to keep my journal for a long time.

Here are some of the ways I use my journal:

Future log: Writers are always working ahead. I just signed a contract that will keep me busy writing until 2018. I hope to sign another one this fall that will take me into 2020. That's a long time...but those deadlines will get here sooner than I think. So I devoted a few pages to a calendar that takes me into the future.

Four months fit on each page, and I've divided each month into four weeks. When I schedule something that will happen beyond the month we're currently in, I write it in here. Things like my dentist appointment in December, and the release of "Mattie's Pledge" in September. This calendar covers six or seven pages...all the way through 2019.

Monthly pages: Each month I create a monthly calendar and a page to celebrate the month.

I like to add poetry and pictures wherever I can!

And stickers! I love stickers. :)

This is where I write appointments or things I need to remember for the current month.

Daily pages: These are the heart of my journal. I write a list of things to do each day, with a dot or circle in a box. The boxes are color coded: blue for writing, green for home and family, red for church, and purple for personal.

I also put a habit I'm trying to develop in my to-do list. In May, it was walking. So "Move in May." The dogs and I are all in better shape!

I've tried a couple different daily spreads. I like this banner one right now...

This was a super-busy day working on revisions for "Naomi's Hope," so my to-do list wasn't very long! I didn't get the laundry done, or the soap made, so instead of an X in those boxes showing that I finished them, there is an arrow. The arrow means that I re-scheduled it for the next day.

And in case you can't tell, I also like to keep track of the weather and the moon phases. Just because.

Project Pages: I keep everything humming with project pages.

Here are my daily and weekly cleaning routines (listed as "dailies" on my daily page list).

This was the project page for Carrie's bridal shower in May. With this I was able to keep track of all of my responsibilities and when I had promised to do what. It was also my "to-do" list. And now it's a keepsake of that day.

And here's the project page to keep track of lawn care this summer...

Do you have trouble getting up on time? I do...but this helps!

A page for weather icons to use on my daily pages...

And a page to help me remember to keep in my planner routine. The whole routine takes about fifteen minutes a day...unless I add a picture. :)

And of course I make mistakes. Roses don't grow on vines like the one on my June page above. They look more like this one...

Where do I get my ideas? From Pinterest, of course, and a Facebook group I joined to get ideas. There are also TONS of videos on YouTube.

The hardest part about journaling, either in my Bible or my BuJo, is knowing when to stop.

But the best part is that my life feels like it's under control. Not an easy thing with multiple deadlines and...(big announcement coming!)...another wedding in the future!

Our oldest son popped the question, she said yes, and we're planning a February wedding.

Sigh. Such fun. And I'm soooo glad I have my BuJo handy!

How about you? Do you find that creativity begets more creativity? What is your favorite creative activity?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:


  1. This is so timely and fantastic. Yay!!!!!!! I may stay sane this fall. But mainly I am thinking I need a new Bible for journaling. It helps to continue to revisit scripture in a new way.

    And blessed birthday to you!!!!! May the coming year be full of even more wonderful things.

    1. You're getting down to the wire in your wedding planning, aren't you? But you'll get through it JOYFULLY! Even when things go "not according to plan," you'll still love it. :)

      And thank you for the birthday wishes!

  2. You're scary organized, Jan! (Says the woman who sorted through upteen post-it notes yesterday and tossed most of them in the recycle bin not because the tasks were done, but because it was too late to do them! LOL

    And thanks for showing your bible journaling. I couldn't figure out how it was done but now that I know it takes a special bible with room along the edges I'm highly tempted to buy one!

    The bullet journaling looks...terrifyingly organized. I think I need to build up to that. Though making up a page for medical stuff would certainly be beneficial and I do love buying new pretty journals!!!!!!!

    So -- my creative outlets -- gardening. Yes, I consider it a creative activity since my entire front yard is perennial beds. And painting furniture -- especially chairs though I haven't done that in a while because of my health. Just don't have the umph. The activity I do the most though is drawing/colouring in my own little journal of memes. Every time I spy an inspiring quote or scripture I write it down in the journal and illustrate it.

    1. A lot of people use their BuJo's for tracking medical stuff, either for themselves or if they're a caregiver for someone. If you try bullet journaling, keep in mind that there's a learning curve. It may take a couple months to make it fit into your life. :)

      And yes! Gardening is super creative! And your journal sounds wonderful - definitely a keepsake.

  3. I'm with Kav. You are scary organized! I say that as an awe-filled compliment. My brain just does not work that way. I wish it did. I try to plan. But *shudder*.

    I was going to say that my fear is I would get so caught up in this that I would use up what little writing time I have left after work. But, since my favorite decompression method (CandyCrush) is just as addicting and is definitely a time suck, this does look like a much more wholesome and productive activity.


    That's all the commitment I can make. *g*

    Although I would probably enjoy a dream journal - hopes and dreams as inspiration.

    Thanks for sharing this, Jan. and again, super congrats on another engagement.

    1. Cate, that's the big danger. The first few weeks of my BuJo really took some time - setting it up, writing out the planning pages, deciding how I wanted MY journal to look...but now it's a breeze, and definitely worth the time I put into it!

      But if planning isn't your thing, then it isn't! Just keep writing. :)

  4. I started a journal in the 1970s as a form of therapy during a bit of a breakdown, and since then I've filled more than I can count! Their styles evolved and these days my journal is my writing record, diary, to-do list, joy-counter and planner. It include sketches and mini-photos, graphs and just about anything else I need to record. I'm not as organized as you when it comes to having specific pages for months -- it's not calendar-oriented -- but since it's chronological I can usually find whatever I need to refer to. I'm in awe of your organizational skill! :)

    1. There are as many types of journals as there are people, aren't there? It sounds like what you're doing works for you, and what a beautiful record you're creating!

      Me? If I don't write down a task or commitment, it drops off the radar. :)

  5. You amaze me, Jan!! I would go crazy trying to keep up the journal!! LOL But I sure love yours and admire how organized you are. It'll be such a great keepsake, too!

  6. Also meant to say congratulations on the engagement!

    1. Thanks, Missy! You'll have to give me tips on being the mother of the groom!


    I love, love to doodle and draw. But I am afraid I would get lost in it and never come up for air. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Doodle to your heart's content, Tina! I come up with some great stories that way.... :)

  8. This is Jan UNLEASHED!!! I love that. I can't even imagine doing it, but I love it so much. The whole thing is beautiful... and thought provoking and so you!!!!

    What a marvelous idea.

    And the planner.....

    Oh my stars, I looked at that and just saw your spirit shining through those pages.

    How blessed your family is to have you, Drex.