The Documented Life Project

My Thoughts on The Documented Life Project

Since joining the facebook group for The Documented Life Project I have been irked by what I have seen. I saw so many people posting pictures of their prepped planners and they all looked the same. I didn’t understand why they were all the same. I thought maybe I had misunderstood the project’s description and that this was a group to create the same thing. I decided that if that was the way it was I would leave because I don’t like doing the same thing everybody else does. I looked again at the description and I had read it right. You could do this in any way you wanted. Knowing this it irked me even more that people wanted to be the same. To me doing the same thing is very boring and not very creative. I decided to stay and do my own thing like I had planned since the beginning.

I also noticed that people were running off and buying all these things because others in the group had them and were using them or because they had seen so many people with these items that they believed it was required. Again with this more of the same. Due to what new people to this type of work were seeing many became overwhelmed and quit or wanted to quit because they didn’t have the money to spend on all the items that they thought were required and with everything the same they felt lost.  Like maybe they had missed something.  Many were set on getting a moleskin because everyone was doing it and if they couldn’t get it they would get upset and say they couldn’t do this project anymore since they couldn’t find one.  Thankfully there were some people that tried their best to let these people know that they didn’t really need any of those things and tried their best to convince them to stay.  I even private messaged some in the hopes of helping them understand that they didn’t need all these things.  That they could use whatever they had on hand.  Hopefully some of them listened.

I think many people in this project are really over thinking it.  Its a very simple project that really has no rules. You can do whatever you want, do it whenever you want and use whatever you want.  You can do all the prompts or some and you can interpret them however you like.  The whole point of this is to have fun and I think many people are forgetting that.

I am having fun and enjoying doing things my way.  You can see my completed planner pages which consist of my goals for the year here and below are some pictures I took earlier this week on my week one progress. My completed week one pages will be up sometime tomorrow or Monday.

The calendar I made for January using 1 inch squares.


On the pages of the planner I wrote down the things I wished to accomplish this week and glued down the upper part of the menu to the page. The rest of the planner pages I will fill in the rest of the week. I attached the menu from the new year’s eve event I attended and I wrote on the back of it about the event.


Here you can see the back of the menu as well as my interpretation of the prompt for this week.


I also attached a scratch off ticket I bought this week and wrote on the back of it.


The back of the scratch off ticket and the other planner page that is waiting to be filled.


Below are some tips that I hope can help those who are on a budget or feeling overwhelmed.

If you don’t have a moleskin journal that is ok.  You can use an old book, a cheap composition notebook, a magazine, an old planner, a three ring binder, loose paper, cereal boxes and just about anything you can write on.  If the paper is loose you can always bind it later or leave it as is or hole punch it and put in a 3 ring binder.  If you are using an already bound book and want to add more pages you can tape them to the end of the pages in the book like the picture below or you can add them in the middle like the pictures you saw above.


There is also absolutely no need to prep every page now.  You can do it as you go.  If you were to go and rush through prepping things you may decide down the road that you don’t like it and now you have to go through the process of covering it up and changing it.

Do you have a pen or a pencil?  You can do a lot with a regular pen and pencil.  You can sketch, doodle, write and even color and shade in. If you want a white pen you can use a corrective pen.  Just make sure to keep the tip clean as sometimes it can get clogged with the corrective fluid. If you have a little money to spend, sharpies are great.  They can usually be found cheap and come in many colors.

If you wish to have paint go for the cheap stuff.  There is really no need to go for expensive paint unless you plan to sell your work to galleries or collectors.  The cheap paint works fine.  I use Michael’s Artist Lofts paints, some cheap tempera paint and watercolors I bought on amazon.  I think my most expensive items are the gelatos and my Koi fluid watercolors.  I also tend to use cheap brushes because I can be hard on them.  One of my favorite brushes is a cheap one I got in a variety pack.  I do have some more expensive ones but I tend not to use them so much because I don’t want to be hard on them and ruin them.  A used gift card is great for spreading paint on a page.  So I recommend saving them.

If you don’t have washi tape you can use masking tape.  Its very cheap and you can get a big roll almost anywhere.  Home improvement stores may even have different colors.  I have the regular beige one which is the cheapest, a green one and a yellow one that are actually for painting automobiles. Masking tape can be painted on, drawn on and written on.  You could also use the corrective tape pens if you have one.  They can be written on and drawn on as well.  Though the strips will be thinner so you may have to do a few next to each other to make it wide enough for what you want to do with it.  You also need to make sure you place it where you want it as its almost impossible to remove.

If you don’t have any stencils just have a look around your home.  You should have tons of things to create shapes, lines and texture.  You can use tops of bottles and containers for various sized circle shapes.  They may also come in other shapes too. Like the oval rectangle lid of the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder. With lids, one side can be used to get a filled in shape when you use it with inks and paints and the other side will give you the outline of the shape. You can also get circles from cans of soda and even the stick from a foam brush.  You can pull off the foam part and the plastic its attached to.  That end will create an outline for a circle while the other end creates a filled in shape. Plastic forks can be used to create lines.  The eraser on a pencil can create circles. The plastic cover under the cap of new deodorants can be used to make the outline of oval shapes. I also save the card board that holds game pieces of a new game.  They usually have interesting shapes as well as regular shapes like triangles and circles. Skewers can be used to write and draw in paint. Bubble wrap and cardboard can be used to create patterns and texture. A paper towel with pressed in patterns can be placed and pressed into any wet paint, watercolors or inks and then removed and the pattern will be left behind.  Though some brands now do incorporate their name or logo with in the pattern so you may want to avoid using those areas.  I actually have a post going up at the end of next week about using items around the house.  I was emailed by a fellow artist  on how I got a certain shape and how I seemed to get perfect circles so after responding to her I decided to make it a post. The post will have some examples on what these items create.

Here are a few of the items I use from things I had on hand around the house.

I hope those few things help some of you. Remember don’t stress, be unique and have fun.


  • Ruth Hinman

    oh my, this is a brilliant, precise and very accurate post… and your tools are AMAZING!!!! what an incredible inspiration you can be to the folks who do not follow the pied piper and instead march to the beat of their own drums. what you have created so far is wonderful, tells a story in your own voice and tells it clearly and with bold colors and textures and details. I love your “not quite the same as all the others” approach to the DLP and am right there with ya, sister… I have no intention of making my book look or feel like anyone else’s. I love me enough to be respectful of my personality, and I don’t do ANYTHING the way anyone else does. LOL What a rock star! I’d love to link this from my own blog, if you don’t mind. Let me know! Keep up the incredibly gorgeous stuff, lady… we’ll make it through the DLP blues together!

    • Melissa

      Thank you Ruth!! Being unique is fun. Sure you can link this or any of my stuff when ever you like. I don’t mind. Hopefully the post will help or give some people ideas.

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