Journaling Ideas – 5 Ways to Fill Your Handmade Journals in April

This is month two of my new blog feature giving you journaling ideas. I want to inspire you to create written or visual journal entries in the handmade books you create. They are jumping off points – feel free to go in whichever direction your creativity takes you. Don’t think too hard – just start to fill up the pages.


April is Garden Month and offers us many possibilities for creating! If you’re a gardener, think about how working in the garden makes you feel, what you plan to plant this year or the lessons your garden has taught you. If you’re like me and are merely an admirer of gardens rather than someone who gets their hands dirty, reach for themes of color, growth and change. As Julia Cameron tells us in her classic book, The Artist’s Way:

“The natural world teaches us the power of change.”

For the art journal keeper, this theme has enough ideas to keep you going for a year. Check out my Garden Book that I made celebrating trips that my daughter and I took to English gardens.

Garden Book | Ali Manning | Vintage Page Designs

Your Favorite Furry Friend

In the US we celebrate National Pet Day on April 11th, so why not celebrate a current or past pet in your journal this month? You could write about or illustrate the role your pet plays in your life – companionship, emotional support, fun etc. Perhaps you don’t have a pet, I bet there’s a story behind that too! And why should we stick to domesticated pets – what about those visitors to your back yard every morning?

Photo by Gary Sandoz

Rebirth and Renewal

Easter is on April 21 in 2019 and even if you don’t celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, it holds a lot of symbolism that we could use a jumping off point for journal content this month. Consider themes of rebirth, renewal and regeneration of a specific part of your life or a relationship.

Photo by Roman Kraft


I took this photograph while visiting Stockholm in 2012 and it inspires me because doorways are laden with symbolism. Does this door signify a new beginning to you or something in your life that is closed off? Doorways are a passageway from one place to another, so you might think about a spiritual or emotional journey you’ve taken recently that led you from one state to another, or one place to another. Feel free to print this photo and stick it in your journal.

Stockholm Doorway 3

Broken Vessel

Poems are a common starting point for my journal entries, so I thought I’d share one of my favorites by poet and artist, Jan Richardson. It’s called Like a Broken Vessel and I take it to mean rebuilding a broken part of your life in a new form. I believe it was inspired by the Japanese art of Kintsugi that repairs broken pottery with powdered precious metals. The first lines of Richardson’s poem are:

Do not despair.
You hold the memory
of what it was
to be whole.

Please let me know in the comments or on Facebook how you are filling up your handmade books.

2 Thoughts on “Journaling Ideas – 5 Ways to Fill Your Handmade Journals in April

  1. Andrea Lee on April 19, 2019 at 11:51 am said:

    Great ideas – my last topic for the C & G Sketchbook Class is Stirling Castle.

  2. Liberty on April 29, 2019 at 8:28 pm said:

    I have art journals on women, horses, my broken arm, heart diagnosis, my childhood, my paintings, nature, angels, etc. No cutesy little phrases in mine 😀 Limitless ideas & subjects.

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