How to Overcome the Fear of Starting a Brand New Art Journal

art journal spread with a quote

Do you have a beautiful journal or a notebook that’s just collecting dust on your shelf?

Maybe you got it as a gift or bought it for yourself because it was so astonishingly beautiful and cute that you just couldn’t resist?

Days go by, and every time you look at it or open it, you think to yourself:

No, I’m not going to use it, I’ll just ruin it. It’s just too perfect for me to write in it or God forbid put some paint on those pages.

You have the fear of starting a brand new art journal because you feel the journal deserves way better things than your scribbles, trials, and errors.

Am I right?

gorgeous, leather art journal with engravings
I was afraid to use this one because it looked perfect, and it was a gift.

Oh, well, it happened to me a gazillion times. Still does sometimes. But, now I’m more aware of this fear of ruining it and I challenge myself to finally use that beautiful journal.

I’ve heard many artists, whether beginners or advanced, have the same problems.

It’s just the artist’s curse, I guess.

Let’s try and break it, shall we?

Why does this art journal keep you from creating?

First, let’s see why this journal is so scary and why you constantly leave it alone on the shelf.

I bet it’s feeling neglected, so it’s not fair to the journal either.

Are the covers so pretty that you think it deserves to be in a hall of fame rather than filled with your art?

If this is the case, well, why not think of it this way. The covers can be inspirational and reveal the mood of the journal.

Maybe if you use the cover to inspire the look of your pages, you’ll come up with interesting ideas.

Are the inside pages also just beautiful on their own?

And you’re afraid that you’ll ruin those lovely pages?

Why not use those pages as wonderful backgrounds? Think of them as premade journal pages that can help you get inspired and lead you in an artistic direction.

Are you afraid that once you use it, it’ll no longer serve any purpose?

This has been one of my biggest fears when I have a lovely, empty journal.

So, I sometimes wonder that once I fill in all the pages, what good it’ll serve? I don’t want it to stop serving a purpose. I don’t want it to be finished and discarded.

(But resting empty on a shelf is actually having no purpose at all.)

If I leave it empty, I’ll always have a chance to use it for something perfect – is what I’ve thought.

Oh, I kept empty journals for years because of this reason. And this is so silly. I definitely feel silly. What did I even worry about?

Without meaning to make you feel bad, but do you feel silly as well?

How to overcome the fear of starting a new art journal?

I’ve got a few ideas that might help you overcome this fear and finally enjoy any art journal that’s been waiting for you.

Consider it a challenge, a chance to change something for the better, and to continue having fun with your art.

No excuses, just go for it, epic style!

three art journals on a desk

Find a meaningful purpose for the new art journal

I’ve found that the best way to overcome the fear of starting a new art journal is to set a meaningful and deep purpose for it.

What makes you the most fulfilled when you create in your art journal?

Is it writing about your feelings? Do you enjoy doodling and writing lyrics?

Maybe the most important question here is:

What kind of an art journal would you use over and over again, even when it’s completely finished?

For me, it’s using quotes from books, or lyrics, or any quote I find that triggers an emotion within, the one I instantly feel a connection with.

Why?

Because while I write down this quote and make art around it, the level of happiness and enjoyment is beyond measurable.

Also, I can always go through these quotes and sayings and get inspired over and over again.

an art journal page with quotes
I use this vintage notebook for the quotes I love

So, you see, that art journal is actually never finished, and never without a purpose.

This pretty, dusty art journal can serve for something deep and meaningful for you. It should hold words and art that you’ll want to revisit often and find inspiration.

Some of the great examples of these kinds of journals could be:

a vision board art journal

an inspiration (board) art journal

a journal with quotes

a gratitude art journal

Use the supplies/techniques you enjoy the most

If you’re terrified of ruining an art journal with paint strokes gone wrong, or you worry that the pages might bleed through, just decide on a technique or supplies you can use in this evergreen art journal.

What art supplies will not bleed through? Markers usually bleed, as well as wet media like paint.

However, if this really troubles you, you can glue two pages together if you want to use these supplies.

I’ve found that the safest technique for these journals is collaging.

a page from a vision board art journal
A detail from my vision board art journal

You can glue down anything from magazine images, paper scraps, washi tape, stamped images, photos, etc.

Additionally, you can use stamps while collaging, and of course, journaling, as I did in the photo above.

Decide not to use this art journal for mixed media because there are many mixed media techniques and you can easily get overwhelmed and stuck again with the fear of ruining pages.

Just start small.

Choose a technique that you’ll enjoy but not be afraid to use it in your new art journal.

Accordingly, choose the art supplies that you use with confidence and know what you can get with them.

How to start the first page in your new art journal?

Nobody says that you must start with the very first page, you can just skip it. No big deal.

However, if you want to start there, here are some ideas for those first blank pages.

Doodle your name

You can just doodle your name with nice handwriting or try out a new font.

Then, doodle something around it, to make it pop. If you have no ideas what to doodle or draw, I’ve got a collection of easy drawings you can do in your art journal here.

Write an inspirational word/quote

If you’re going to use this journal, again and again, you could use the first page for something meaningful, so every time you open it, this page just screams at you with inspiration.

It can be a word or a whole quote. The word may represent a feeling that you want for yourself or something that reminds you of all of the positivity in your life.

As for the quote, you can also choose sayings that e=really resonate with you. Let it be something you’d like to read that puts a smile on your face.

art journal page with inspirational word

Make swatches

You can use anything for this, any supply you’re going to use in the journal and want to have some reference.

Besides this, swatches look great on paper, like a little piece of art.

If the paper lets you, you can swatch watercolor or just colored pencils.

This will get you going, you’ll start doing something in the journal, but there’s no pressure of overwhelming yourself.

Paint it with acrylic paint

I don’t know why but I love the look of a spread painted only in 1 or 2 colors of acrylic paint. Especially if you paint the opposite pages with complementary colors.

Just plain acrylic paint. And that’s it.

Later, when you feel inspired, you can add words or stickers to it.

How to fill the rest of the journal?

Remember how I told you to use this journal for something really meaningful and to decide on the supplies and techniques?

Well, you use this now to fill the rest of your pages.

What worked for me was deciding to use each spread for one meaningful thing.

So, in my lovely quotes art journal, I write a quote on one side and do some art on the opposite page.

art journal spread with a quote

Do you know what really makes this art journal special?

I don’t just scribble anything, or experiment in it. I keep it as a true gem, a precious diamond among other journals.

That’s why when I use it, it’s a special time. I really get into the moment and am mindful of what I’m doing.

It becomes some kind of a ritual. Doesn’t this make this journal so special that you don’t want it to collect dust anymore?

Overcoming the fear of starting a new art journal – final thoughts

I read a wonderful article where artists share how it’s like to have the fear of creating but still make beauty.

In the article, the author states:

“Fear is simply a cost that all artists have to pay on the way to doing meaningful work.”

There’s nothing wrong about having this silly fear we’ve been talking about. If you do nothing about it, then it stays silly and there’s no purpose in it.

However, if you decide you’re actually going to do something about it, then all things change.

This article quotes Steven Pressfield saying:

“…the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.

How amazing is this?

So, you lovely artistic creature, here’s what I’d do:

set a deep, meaningful purpose for that special art journal

make a ritual when journaling in it

create something you’ll want to revisit over and over again

Give the journal a special purpose, and it’ll no longer be stuck on that shelf, eating dust and missing all the fun the other kids are having.

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Breaking the Blank Page: 13 Inspirational Art Journal Ideas

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fear of starting a new art journal

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