A Journal Prompt That Lets You Let Go

Those who know me, know that I’m a list maker. From spreadsheets to notebooks, lists keep me organized, focused, and help me attain any goal I set out for, whether it’s as trivial as buying groceries or as important as fulfilling dreams of a lifetime. I’ve made lists in my journals. For a while I was writing daily about things for which I was grateful, for example. Just a few days ago I began making a list of vineyard rules for my children (long story short: when my husband and I moved recently, the home we fell in love with happened to have grapevines). Rule #1 is that pants must be worn in the vineyard. Rule #2 involves not using a butcher knife. Rules are written for reasons, of course, so my plan is to write the story behind each rule and then give the list to my children when they’re older.

Art journal page by Nicole Rae

I’m keeping a separate journal for them, as well, that includes more general stories about their adolescent experiences, mostly little things that I think they may otherwise forget over time. But sitting down to work on this journal happens less frequently than I care to admit, mostly because I tend to be meticulous with what I’m writing and how I’m writing it.

In Art Journal Art Journey, Nicole Rae encourages readers to let go of the burden of thinking about the details too much, and to simply write lists as a way to get our juices flowing. After that, you can transfer the words to your art journal page and then the sky’s the limit.

I wanted to thank Rae from the bottom of my heart when I read about this journaling technique. I felt a weight lift with the thought of not having to worry about editing my work. With a list there are no grammatical errors, just words that express a wide range of human emotions and experiences. She even suggests using a computer to type your list, so there’s no pressure to use pretty or stylized handwriting at this early stage.

One of the prompts in Art Journal Art Journey is to write “I need” and then continue with a list. The idea of admitting what I “need” made me feel a little vulnerable, and so I decided to go with it. I’m only comfortable when I’m not in my comfort zone, after all. Here’s what I came up with (below). I hope that maybe it’ll inspire you to make your own list. It’s liberating and there are no rules. You’ll see that my list ended with an A/B rhyme scheme. Try it for yourself, and let me know in the comments section where it takes you!


This is my WIP response to the “I need” prompt in Art Journal Art Journey. I typed the words in a stream of consciousness first, then wrote them in my sketchbook. I used a thick marker so that I wouldn’t get too caught up in the details that a fine-tipped pen entices. Next time I’ll make the background first, and use more colors and a bigger page (or fewer words) so that I have room to include embellishments.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog


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