Journaling guides

 
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Below are nine journaling guides to help you create meaningful work in a short space of time. Each guide is made by a different artist and designed by illustrator Merlin Strangeway.

You don't need any special skills or experience to get started. The guides are simple and easy-to-use and introduce you to new creative journaling techniques. All the exercises take around an hour to complete - 30 minutes working and if you are part of a group, 30 minutes sharing.

We suggest you try out the guides in the order as they appear below, but you can do them any way you wish.

Download all journaling guides

 
 
 

1 - Your list poem

by Hollie McNish

A list poem is just that, a list! List poems are a relatable, simple way to start structuring a piece of writing. This exercise uses poetry to help you reflect on motherhood.

Hollie McNish is a poet who likes reading, writing and lots of other things too. She has one child.

 
 
 
 

2 - Mark making

by helen sargeant

This exercise uses mark making to think about the emotional and physical connection between the pregnant body and the baby. By using different lines of varying weight, intensity and depth - dashes, dots, splashes, scumblings, scribbles, scratches, patterns, grids, text, numbers, signs, symbols and motifs - you can build up towards creating a drawing.

Helen Sargeant is a visual artist.

 
 
 
 

3 - Cut and paste poetry

by Fran Burden

This exercise uses collage through found words and phrases cut from magazines and newspapers that when rearranged and reassembled, create new text pieces. It is a liberating and playful way for you to explore creative writing and expressive language.

Fran Burden is a visual artist/maker and educator.

 
 
 

4 - Being a mother is revolutionary

By Barby Asante

Becoming a mother and bringing a child into this world can be daunting, but each new life on this planet is the potential for transformation and revolution.

This writing exercise supports you to think through what it means to be a mother.

Barby Asante is an artist, researcher, collator of stories, DJ Black Womxn and single mother.

 
 
Being able to capture some of the strong thoughts and feelings I’ve been having while in a state of such physical and emotional change [has been very positive]
 
 

5 - Automatic Drawing

by laura godfrey-isaacs

Automatic drawing introduces you to intuitive mark making with a variety of materials. Initially used by the Surrealists artists, it helps guide you in expressing hidden thoughts and feelings.

Laura Godfrey Isaacs is an artist, midwife and birth activist.

 
 
 


6 - Who I was/who I am/who I want to be

By Bridget Minamore

This exercise uses poetry and prose writing and creates the opportunity to reflect on your hopes, fears and aspirations from the past, present and future, as an individual, mother or parent.

Bridget Minamore is a writer, poet and critic.

 
 
 

7 - Writing into the gap

By Tolu Agbelusi

This exercise provides a series of prompts for writing tasks that help you to deconstruct and understand the changes you experience throughout pregnancy and parenthood.

Tolu Agbelusi is a poet, playwright, educator and lawyer.

 
 
 

8 - Comics

by Kate Evans

This exercise introduces you to cartooning. A cartoon is any drawing combined with text. A comic is a sequence of these pictures. It’s a simple, accessible way to create art with meaning.

Kate Evans is a cartoonist, author, activist and mother.

 
 
 

9 - Autofiction

By Sharon Boothroyd and Rebecca fortnum

Autofiction is a blend of autobiographical writing and fiction and anything in between. It has been often been used by women in history to ‘regain power over their lives’ through text.

Sharon Boothroyd and Rebecca Fortnum are visual artists and academics.

 
 
 
 

Quick toolkit

We’ve created a simple toolkit to guide you through every step of the process for setting up a Maternal Journal group - from running the group to choosing the best space and where to find support.

Download the toolkit and resources

 
 

Setting up a group

Thinking of setting up your own Maternal Journal group?

Find out more

Inspiring reads

Browse the best maternal resources to support your journaling.

Find out more