keep the channel open

pretty quote design of Martha Graham - "there is a life force"

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

And the world will not have it.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.

Martha Graham

martha graham quote keep the channel open

I’ve used this quote by Martha Graham (American dancer) in my workshops forever and ever. A long time.

To me, she encapsulates what it means to have a creative practice.

The creative practice that I do and teach takes the form of inquiry-with-art-supplies inside of our journals /sketchbooks / art journals.

Today’s post is a toast to you and everyone here who is taking the leap (or maybe just a baby step) and cultivating a creative practice.

The following images come from participants in the FLOW: 30 Day Journal Project – and are just a few that I’ve seen fly by in my Instagram feed. I’ll be sharing more. (How to share is at the end of this post).

The idea for creative practice came to me through the doorway of music and dance. My undergraduate degree is in music, and all during college, I went to as many dance classes (ballet) as I could. The ballet conditioning classes were something I loved from childhood. Being a part of a group of girls, all dressed the same in our leotards, going through the same routines week after week. There was something so certain and comforting about that—qualities that didn’t exist at home, in my family.

What I learned as a kid, was if you miss a week of dance class, you loose some of your flexibility and tone. It was dance class that helped me create a discipline around piano practice during music conservatory.

For some reason, the idea of having a creative practice is foreign to visual artists, and for a lot of writers, too.

But dancers have to warm up their muscles before they dance. Dancers, actors, musicians, all rehearse. They have a way to practice. And they have to do it daily.

When I shifted from music into visual art and writing, it seemed natural to treat writing and art like I did dancing or playing the piano. Show up, work out, practice. Do it again the next day.

It’s worth mentioning that I practiced writing and doing my visual art inside of my journaling sketchbooks long before it became my new profession. In case you’re wondering about your progress, or what could possibly come out of keeping a journal.

Having a creative practice isn’t just for professional artists. No way!

My higher purpose with creativity (as a practice and in the art I make) is to heal, grow, and make beauty and meaning out of the dross of life.

Creative expression belongs to everyone, and we all need a place (the journal) and some methods (spontaneous writing and playing with art supplies) to confront the blank page of our lives. This is the cure for everything.

If you want to read more about my story, I invite you to check out my memoir, Sketchbooks.

The ultimate work of art is you.

The life you are living and creating is the ultimate expression.

Having a practice that honors your creativity and helps you know yourself is what I wish most for you.

Enjoy. And Go Gently.

Today’s Journal Prompts:

Today, I dare to express…

I feel energized when…

I’m aware that I tend to  hold back, or hesitate when…

If I weren’t stopping myself, I would…

Make your journaling even easier:


Last year when I offered the first 30 Day Journal Project, I found that having the prompts printed out in advance helped me get right into my journaling for the day.

So I made you nice versions of the very same layouts I’m using for my own journaling.

After I made these for myself, I prettied up the design so you could use them, too.


Add to Cart

Instant download

You can read more about the printables and how they work here >

Pretty Graphic: FLOW: 30 Day Journal Project at lisasonora.comThis post is part of the 30 Day Journal Project.

Our theme for this year is: FLOW.

Just discovered this project? Great! You can begin right now.

Pop your email into the box below, and you’ll each day’s prompts delivered to you:

[wysija_form id=”12″]

You’ll get Day 1 immediately when you sign up, and a new prompt each day after for 30 days.

Don’t want to receive prompts by email – or did your daily email go missing?

No worries, we’ve got options:

1. Every day for 30 days, a brand new set of  journaling prompts is posted right here on my blog. Creative journaling is my number one tool as an artist and creative entrepreneur.

2. I also made printables of ALL 30 days of prompts… (this is how I’m making my journal this year)

You can read more about the printables and how they work here >

Beauty & Connection

You may join our closed FB Group for this project here:

Each inspirational quote for the 30 Day Journal Project has a pretty visual graphic for you to print out and paste your journal, add to your Pinterest gallery, or share as you wish.

You are invited to share your experience in the comments—the dream is to collect your stories for an upcoming book about this project.

Use the hashtag #30DAYJOURNAL in your blog and social media posts so we can find each other and build our creative community.

*Upcoming Workshops Registering Now*

A quick heads up that this is the last chance to join an online workshop with me until October, 2015. 

Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook is the foundational course that shows you how to effortlessly combine word, image, collage and photography to create richly layered visual journals.

This course is required for more in-depth study and the facilitator training. Four weeks, starts in August, 2015.

The 7 Creative Powers is all about breaking through resistance and understanding the places we get stuck. For those who have already taken Dreaming on Paper or Creative + Practice. This course is required for the Facilitator Training. Seven weeks, starts July 8th, 2015! You may register through July.

Find out more about workshops & trainings >

5 Responses to keep the channel open

  1. Seth January 30, 2015 at 2:37 am #

    I find it so funny that I’ve found this creative journaling with you because this is actually a creative practice that I had almost 15 years ago but had stopped doing in the last few years. I was constantly working in my sketchbooks, paper flying and glue flowing, but I never had a name for what I was doing. I was just putting things together as a form of self expression. I investigated scrapbooking and altered books looking for something similar so I could maybe expand what I was already doing, but I never could find anything that fit. Somewhere around 4 or 5 years ago, I sort of just lost interest in it creatively and moved on to other forms of expression. Now here I am, taking your journaling course, and in trying to embrace your prompts and your images I realize that I’ve come back around to creative journaling, but finally it has a name! (My ex-fiancé used to call it my “Evelyn Scissorhands” mode lol)

    Thank you for re-introducing me to an old friend.

  2. Lynn Fisher January 14, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    Lisa, I have to thank you so much…not just because you added an image of one of my journal pages (I did all of the watercolor backgrounds 2 weeks before we started to save time…I have 2 jobs : ) ), but also because this year’s prompts are particularly cathartic. I just started right in on making some personal changes, signed up for two classes, and even told my boss that I deserved a raise. (I’ll let you know what happens on all fronts)
    -Lynn (mnwritergirrl)

    • Lisa Sonora January 14, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      Lynn – good for you! at we’re just at day 14…. woot!

  3. m January 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    This was the first time that I used all of your prompts in one long writing session. (but different order) It yielded a lot of wisdom and insight for me.

    • Lisa Sonora January 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      m- good to hear. All of the prompts work differently on us, at different times. Yes to wisdom & insight!

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