Here’s great new year’s resolution: start documenting your days in an illustrated journal — a sketchbook filled with words and drawings and watercolors that capture the world around you. There’re so many reasons why — here are the first ten we thought of:

  1. It’ll get you drawing. Illustrated journaling give you a daily drawing assignment to practice and hone your skills. The drawings needn’t be sophisticated to do the job. Even if your drawings skills are super-rusty, you’ll find that simple drawings capture aspects of your life that words alone can’t convey. And the best way to shake off the rust is to draw more. 365 drawings a year add up to a powerful, no-cost art education.
  2. It fits your life. No matter how busy you are or how constrained your budget, a sketchbook and a pen can fit it. Keep your book in your bag and carry it everywhere, ready for when the moment arises. On the bus or the treadmill, waiting for the spin cycle to end or the meeting to start, in an airport, a dentist’s waiting room, in line for gas. Five minutes of drawing with a pen here and there will build a powerful creative habit. And you’ll never be bored again. Carry a sketchbook around with you and turn your idle moments into an opportunity to draw. Instead of cursing the line at the bank, draw the people waiting ahead of you. Draw during that boring conference call. Draw your kids while they watch TV. Don’t waste time on Facebook — unless it’s to post a copy of your latest drawing and bask in the response.
  3. Count your blessings. Life is made up of lots of tiny moments, little joys that you could easily forget unless you capture them in a drawing and a few choice words. Your illustrated journal helps you see the value of each moment. When you look back through its pages, you’ll see how rich your life is, how lucky you’ve been.
  4. Meditate. For many of us, it’s just too hard to sit still and empty your mind. But drawing is a powerful tool for meditation. As you focus on a single subject and capture it with your pen, the world grows still, time slows down, your cares recede. You are here now. And you can fit this practice into your regular life. No need to sit on a mountain top in flowing robes. Just uncap your pen, take a deep breath, and let go.
  5. Cope better. Even tough times are made easier by making art. Drawing helps you express your emotions, to get perspective, to seek the beauty all around you — even when things seem bleakest. Sketchbook Skool students use their journals in the hospital, while grieving, to gain perspective on their challenges. They tell us that their journal gives them perspective and peace.
  6. Make beauty every day. Being an artist doesn’t have to mean quitting your job and living in a garret. It means looking for beauty, living in the moment, and sharing your perspective with the world. By filling the pages of your sketchbook, you will change your perspective and make the world a lovelier place.
  7. Never again wonder what to draw. Your sketchbook provides an endless list of subjects, the things around you that make up your life. Just a simple drawing of your commute, your lunch, your new pair of shoes, that captures the occasion. You don’t need a model or an exotic vista. Draw the Kmart parking lot, the back of your boss’s head, your cat sleeping on the window sill. It’s all beautiful.
  8. A safe place to play. A sketchbook is a place to experiment without fear. Try new media, new techniques, new inspiration. Practice your composition, page layout, lettering, writing, collage, watercoloring and more. Don’t worry if it’s good enough to frame. If the experiment fails, turn the page and start another.
  9. Join a creative community. When you start to draw everyday, you’ll soon meet other people who do too. Thousands of people around the world keep an illustrated journal and are happy to share them with you. You can meet online in places like the Sketchbook Skool Facebook group. You can get together in person to draw together and share your pages and experiences. And you can draw with your family and friends too, encouraging them to discover the great pleasures you’ve found between the pages of your sketchbook.
  10. Celebrate yourself. Long before you’ve filled a shelf full of illustrated journals, you’ll have changed your life. You’ll have made more powerful memories. You’ll have have unimaginable adventures, met new friends, seen the world. You’ll have seen how rich your hum-drum days really are. And you’ll have discover that you are in a fact an artist who can fill the world with beauty every day.

Looking for more help taking that first step to keeping an illustrated journal? Subscribe to our newsletter and visit our Skool for more inspiration.

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