You may know that I am a notebook geek. I use notebooks* to gather ideas, process feelings, make plans, and stay on track with my projects. I’ve tried digital systems for these things. But I already spend plenty of time looking at a screen, and I prefer to dream and plan offscreen.
Right now, I have six notebooks going:
- Garden sketchbook
- Garden progress log
- Business notebook
- Personal journal
- Art project notebook
This last one is important. You know how you only notice the value of something when it’s gone? I usually have a notebook for my art projects. Inside are ideas, plans, notes from meetings, to-do lists, and other jottings related to the process of making things.
But this summer, I wasn’t using a notebook for that. For some reason, I thought I could just roll my art planning into my personal journal. And guess what happened? Not much in my art projects. Once I finished the 100 Day Project, my focus on my art waned. It wasn’t until I got a notebook off my shelf, made a pretty cover with decorative paper, that my zest for art projects came back. This reminded me that what we focus on thrives.
Recently, I dove into the art journal for a brainstorming session. What had begun to feel like a dry field – no ideas, no enthusiasm – became fertile ground, rich with possibilities and plans. I returned a direction for my art that has been in my mind and notes for over three years. My artist, and what she wants for the world, is back.
All this joy came because I dedicated a specific space for her and her ideas. A simple notebook provides the container for my artist.
While this part of me is vital, my art can still get pushed aside. It’s easier to focus on work, where I am rewarded more quickly and visibly. I see the impact my coaching has on my clients. My bank account gets the reward of being paid for my work. I feel a kinship with my colleagues, who are also working hard. We get a lot of external validation from being a hard worker and getting things done.
My artist might not make me money now or ever. But making art feels good to me. It fills in the picture of me, giving me a sense of integrity and wholeness that we all seek. And yet, to the outer world, it might look like I am sitting in the garden painting pretty flowers. Frivolous. Not contributing. Not making a difference.
I believe that when we feel whole, when we feel our full vitality, we do contribute. We don’t waste time feeling envious because we are aligned. There is no part of us that’s banished or ignored. When we give attention to the things we love, we signal to ourselves and those around us that we matter.
Make space for yourself and what matters
Space isn’t just a physical spot like a studio or corner of the desk. Space for yourself and your dreams can look like:
- A dedicated notebook for your ideas and dreams.
- Time marked off – and kept – on your calendar.
- Regular meetings with an accountability partner – a peer, a coach, a group.
- A program or class that allows you to focus, learn, and grow.
This last one – signing up for something to force our focus on our passion projects – is pretty common. It’s not always the wrong way to make sure you get the space you need. Signing up for a class or program is a bad idea when you think that signing up means you’ve done the work. Sometimes we sign up and then go AWOL. We don’t show up. We don’t realize that there’s more to creating space than just getting the notebook, or the supplies, or registering for the class.
When we commit to space for our projects, we commit to ourselves. To facing the fears and insecurities that are our actual reasons for not showing up. To confronting the skills gap that has kept us on the sidelines. To reckoning with where we are and what we genuinely need to do our creative work.
It’s not the gear or the class. It’s self-respect that’s required to take a stand for ourselves and our ideas. To say, you know what, I don’t have any idea where this book or body of work or business idea is going, but my ideas and creativity are worth exploring.
What are you doing to make space for your passion project?
*I am considering doing a series to share in-depth how I use various notebooks to keep me on track personally, professionally, and creatively. If this is of interest to you, please let me know in a comment below.
Notebooks shown in this article include**:
**Affiliate links are used in this article. I only recommend products I use and believe in. I may receive a percentage of the sale price if you buy from one of these links.