A lot of artists use sketchbooks for their field drawings, watercolors, gesture studies and impressions. But not every artist keeps a journal to write in and they should. Writing regularly is an excellent way to make sense of your thoughts, uncover new ideas and directions and record your artistic journey.
You could certainly do this on your iPad or laptop but you'd be missing out on the unique tactile experience that handwriting in a journal offers. Isn't it fascinating that despite the growth of the internet and our digital age, Moleskine journals still sell like hot cakes. The reason is that there is no substitute for the physical act of writing in a journal and the result is uniquely personal.
Over time, your journals become old friends to visit and reminisce with. They share your thoughts, your dreams, your heartaches and your memories. George Will once wrote that "memories are like roses in our winter."
Some school districts are abandoning cursive altogether. Keyboarding has become the du jour form of writing. It's a pity, in that future generations will not know the pleasure of physical handwriting. We will lose a unique part of ourselves. No more scented letters from your girlfriend.
Interesting that despite most of us being taught similar systems of cursive, we eventually "find our own voice." Much like artists develop their own style. Somehow the Gettysburg address is more alive when viewed in Lincoln's beautiful own hand than read in typed form. Handwriting is expessive, freeing us in ways that keyboarding does not.
So, do yourself a favor and pick up a nice journal to write in. You don't need a fancy pen although I personally find the smooth glide of a quality fountain pen to be irresistible. I remember reading somewhere how the painter Daniel Pinkham writes notes about each of his paintings. What a great idea, to capture your thoughts and feelings about each piece.
Whatever the motivation, keeping a journal and allowing yourself to capture those discursive thoughts, dreams and inspirations, will do you good. You'll settle into yourself more, order some of your perspectives, and grow. And that, dear reader, is why you need a journal!