The Creative Diary in Quarantine 24 – circling


Circling is a technique described in a book on Zen drawing. “The exercise is quite well known because many people do this automatically or intuitively to organize their thoughts. By drawing circles and spirals in a smooth movement, without stopping and without directing yourself, you automatically come into a slightly meditative state.” – Michelle Dujardin



  1. Take a page in your journal and some colored pencils or markers.
  2. Start drawing all kinds of freehand circles, no matter how big and how, blend them together. Do this without stopping. Your pencil is constantly on the paper and moving. Relax while doing this. Keep your eyes on the paper. For example, follow the line you draw. Do not consciously send your pencil, but let it go by itself. Allow relaxation. Do this for about ten minutes in a row so that rhythms and patterns can develop. When you get the feeling that you are getting dreamy and less aware of the environment, the exercise starts to work.
  3. Write a conclusion if necessary.


“The only Zen you’ll find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you brought with you.” – Zen proverb


What if … you can’t relax? Then leave the exercise for a while and try again later. Sometimes it takes some practice or you just have to get used to it.


Exercise from Michelle Dujardin’s Zen drawing book.


TIP: Michelle Dujardin writes that when she starts circling, it takes a while for her thoughts to drain. Sometimes ‘parked’ thoughts or emotions are released before she can let them go. Just observe yourself.

Would you like to get in touch with others? In Facebook you find a page where participants connect.


Important to know:

Working in a Creative Diary is NOT about results, it’s about expressing you inner self. It is NOT about techniques, techniques only help you to express yourself in more different ways. The exercises I give are an INVITATION, not an obligation. You can do the exercise, or not, you can do it differently, it’s at your choosing. The most important thing to remember is that you’re putting yourself and your (inner) world on paper, you are NOT making art. So feel inspired by images, but don’t compare yourself ! Fun and self-expression come first.

What do you need?

  • markers
  • coloured pencils
  • writing materials
  • scissors
  • glue
  • watercolour
  • soft pastels
  • oil pastels
  • some magazines

And of course: a journal/diary. I recommend an 8,3 inches x 11,7 inches notebook (A4 format) with blank paper, but take whatever you find in your house. Blank papier is good too.

More information:

The exercises used in this Creative Diary are based on a method described by Lucia Capacchione, American art-therapist and author of the book The Creative Journal, by Anne-Marie Jobin, Canadian art-therapist and author of the soon to be coming book The New Creative Journal, and myself, Sarah Timmermans, Belgian art-therapist and psychologist (Dutch book: Het Creatieve Dagboek). The method blends knowledge from writing therapy, art-therapy, psychology and basic creativity. It’s a simple method that doesn’t requires any artistic skills and has been used with many ages, many individuals and many groups of people. More questions? Please write me.

Who am I?

I’m Sarah Timmermans, Belgian art-therapist, naturopath and psychologist. I’m trained by Jungian art-therapist/psychologist Csilla Kemenzcei. I work with individuals and with groups. I’m specialised in using diaries, tarot (archetypes) and dreams.