Art Journaling or Are you stuck?

Dear Fellow Journaler,

If you want to start an art journal, you normally want to be free flowing with ideas, right? Being stuck at the beginning is no fun. How to combat these feelings? Read on.


Find Your Way Around a Block
with Art Prompts & Diversions

by Cate Prato

When a block like this occurs, the first person to notice it is my inner critic.

“See? I knew weren’t creative enough.”

“You always go too far/don’t go far enough/use too much green/(fill in another criticism).”

“This is so bad. And now you’ve wasted more time. You’ll never fix it.”

Like that.

I used to listen to my inner critic and keep banging away at the problem thinking I should be able to solve it through sheer force of will or intellect. Neither helped my creative blockage.

Now, I just give up. Temporarily.

Instead I do one of the following:

Walk away and do something else for anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of days, depending on the situation. (If my inner critic protests, I send her on vacation.) When I come back with fresh eyes, a solution often presents itself.

Go to project B. Many artists I know have several projects going on at once. Messing about with another ongoing project not only gives my mind a rest from the problems with the first one, but makes me feel like I am still making forward progress-because I am.

Attack the creative block in another way. Let’s say I am having trouble with color combinations. I know I need to add a third color to my composition, but if I keep adding paint or ink to my project, I’ll just muddy it up.

Instead, I can paint swatches on a piece of watercolor paper, let them dry, and then cut them up to arrange and rearrange them, mosaic-style, until the light bulb goes on.

Another idea is to make a color photocopy of the work so far, cut it up, and rearrange it to get a different perspective on the piece.

You could even pull out fabrics, paint chips, or objects around your house in the colors you’re considering and play until you see what works.

If you find a combination you like but isn’t necessarily useful for the project at hand, you can either snap a picture of it or make a duplicate (with fabrics, paint, or paper) that you can save in your art journal to use as an art prompt another time.

These are my ways of getting past a creative block (and bypass your inner critic) using art prompts and art journal techniques. ~Cate Add These Incredible Techniques to Your Art Jounaling Repertoire 

The Dreaded Task -Editing

Dear Fellow Writers,

Yeah, I know, this is not a pleasant topic. It’s like watching paint dry or something akin to nails on a chalkboard.. Ugh! Anyway, we all gotta do it at some point. Here’s some ideas to help from a gifted author.


For some people, a first draft is a slog through molasses going uphill in January. For others, it is an easy brain dump that gets you to the shaping part of your novel.Everyone has a different first draft experience, so have your own. But always remember two truths. First, no matter how wonderful a writer you are, editing is part of the process. Give yourself time to do it, and don’t shortchange that part of the process. Second, someone said you can’t edit a blank page, and they were correct. I am a firm believer in moving forward while writing. A reminder, I am a plotter, so my first draft has some surprises (you can’t anticipate everything the muses offer), but I have a roadmap moving forward. I have learned to trust that, and keep moving.

Editing is an art. As a writer, you can do a lot yourself. Here are some of the layers of editing I’ve discovered.

Developmental. This layer of editing is big picture, first reader editing. Does the story make sense? Are there plot holes? Are the characters consistent? Does the scene order make sense? Do things need to be shifted around? I have a trusted first reader who is a friend, knows the genre I write in, and gives me some tough love. I find this to be a vulnerable time in my process, so I have chosen this first reader carefully.

Structural. I had a tendency to make leaps of logic that make sense to me while I am writing, but I don’t always connect the dots for my readers. Or I make a change in my story (he becomes a she, he goes from married to single, her cat becomes a dog) and the change isn’t consistent throughout the novel. Maybe a subplot needs to be fleshed out, and interwoven with more elegance. This phase of the editing makes sure the frame of the story is strong.

Enriching. He said. She said. He said. They did. All great for scenes. But add some physicality to the scene. She’s making dinner. He’s folding laundry.  That grounds the scene. Add descriptions. Help the reader understand your intention not by telling them, but by showing them. This layer is where the art comes in. For my most recent manuscript, I was thinking about the theme of the novel, and how each scene supported it. Then I realized that one of the subplots could be tweaked and would better serve the overall theme. It was fun adding that layer to the work.

Polishing. Final layer of editing is cleaning things up. Spell check. Reading not for content, but for words. Checking grammar. Triple checking punctuation. Doing a “find” for words that you overuse, and getting rid of them.

Final step? Letting it go. There comes a point where you need someone else to look over your work. You can get an editor at any one of the above stages. But you will need to know when to let your work go, either for querying to an agent or submitting it to your editor. I try to stop working on my manuscript before I screw it up. Sounds like I am being funny, but I’m not. Tweaking and adjusting becomes addictive, but at some point practically perfect becomes a hot mess. Let it go before it gets to the hot mess stage.

Spend time on editing–all phases of editing. It is where the fun of writing lives.


The First Page of a Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Starting A new journal? Don’t know what to write on the first page? Here are some ideas:



  1. Copy in a headline from today’s news (get it from a newspaper or website)
  2. Write a list of wishes
  3. Leave it blank (I often do this as the first page of a journal is often bound differently so is less comfortable to write on)
  4. Write a list of things you are grateful for
  5. Stick in a photograph or picture of yourself
  6. Explain the notebook theme and why you chose it
  7. Complete a questionnaire about yourself e.g. weight, height, where you live
  8. Explain the people who you may mention in the book family tree, groups by association like work,  list any abbreviations you use to refer to people such as initials
  9. Add your contact details (just in case you leave it somewhere)
  10. Write a prayer, mediation or affirmation, something that describes your current spiritual outlook
  11. Leave it blank so you can add a review or synopsis of the notebook once you’ve filled it
  12. Stick in a year summary calendar (potentially useful if you use a blank notebook instead of a dated one)
  13. Stick in a favourite picturefamily tree, groups by association like work,  list any abbreviations you use to refer to people such as initials
  14. Add your contact details (just in case you leave it somewhere)
  15. Write a prayer, mediation or affirmation, something that describes your current spiritual outlook
  16. Leave it blank so you can add a review or synopsis of the notebook once you’ve filled it
  17. Stick in a year summary calendar (potentially useful if you use a blank notebook instead of a dated one)
  18. Stick in a favourite picture.

Thank you for your time

Hello all,

While cleaning up my inbox I found this email and knew I needed to send it out. It was sent to me a long time ago but its relevance is still true today.



A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door. 

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way.. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams.

There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him. 

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. 

“Jack, did you hear me?” 

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said. 

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him. 

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said. 

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said 

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said. 

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away. 

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. 

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.. 

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked. 

“The box is gone,” he said 

“What box?” Mom asked. 

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said. 

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. 

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.” 

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside. 

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. 

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: 

“Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.” 

The thing he valued most was…my time” 

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked. 

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. 

“Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!” 

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away,” 

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it’s 100% true. 

1. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way. 

2. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you. 

3. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep. 

4. You mean the world to someone. 

When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won’t get it, but if you trust God to do what’s best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better. 

6. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world. 

7. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you’ll both be happy . 

8. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.