One of the reasons bullet journaling is such a great system, is it gives you the ability to customize and change your journaling style at any time to fit your current needs. While this is a huge plus if your schedule is always changing or you get bored easily, trying new things can lead to mistakes. For us perfectionists, it can be a bit nerve racking, at times even paralyzing, to do something untested with no assurance the outcome will be as expected. This is where my practice journal comes in.
Whether you call it a practice journal, a test journal, or anything else, having a place to try out and develop ideas can take the fear out of the unknown. Instead of sticking to one thing because it works, having a place where mistakes are allowed, encouraged even, is freeing.
The video below shows a walk-through of my practice journal in all it’s unrefined glory.
I started my practice journal with one purpose in mind. To try out spreads/layouts before using them in my actual day-to-day bullet journal. It certainly started out for that purpose, but I quickly started to notice all the other uses for it.
Pen and marker swatches quickly found a home in my practice journal. I chose to use the same type of journal to practice in as I journal with every day (a Leuchtturm1917 A5 dotted hardcover notebook), because it would let me know how the paper would react to my tools along with having the same layout. This choice made pen tests work really well, especially when I started looking to add color with markers. How much ghosting or bleeding a marker caused was easy to identify when doing swatches, and it let me find my favorites (Tombow ABT dual brush pens) without worry of ruining my bullet journal.
Aside from testing pens for ghosting and bleeding, I’ve also used my journal for color matching. When I find a sticker or washi that I want to use, being able to match a marker color to it makes for a much more coordinated spread. I could just compare the decorations to the swatches I’d already done, but sometimes I want to see the affects of layering the color or testing similar colors side by side. It doesn’t make for the most beautiful pages, but that is the benefit of having a journal to play in.
As my collection of washi tapes started to grow, it became more difficult to remember which roll I could find a certain design on. I didn’t want to waste the tape at first, but adding washi swatches to my practice journal was a fabulous idea. Just like pens and markers didn’t look exactly like the packaging when used in my journal, washi colors also changed from roll to paper. Flipping through all the tapes I have and knowing how they’ll look on the page has been a big plus.
While my practice journal has branched out into more than a testing ground for layouts, the main focus is still trying new styles and getting my ideas on paper so I can make them better. Using a second journal, whether the same material as you usually use or something just to get ideas out, is a great way to explore and develop as a journaler.
If you journal, do you have a secondary journal to try new things in? Is starting a practice journal something you'd want to try out? Let me know! And as always, if you have any questions or want some help getting started on your own journaling journey, I'm here to help.