How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook - Tips and creative ideas to personalize your new Creative Retreat workbook @

How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook

Please note, I wrote this post for the first version of my Creative Retreat workbook because it was a PDF printable. The new paperback version makes this post obsolete but it’s still a fun idea to make your own notebook, so I’m leaving it up for now! 🙂

When we were taking pictures for The Creative Retreat workbook last month, I thought it would be fun to add some extra pages to my printed copy and bind it with a fancy o-wire (not really fancy, but to me it was.) For one, it’s kind of sad to make a product and only show digital pictures, and for another, I really wanted my own copy after working on it for so long.

I happen to have a lot of random pieces of paper that range from tracing paper to watercolor paper that I thought would be fun to add to the workbook. On a side note, have you ever made your own book, whether it’s with o-wire or bound by stitching? I don’t know what it is, but seeing a book come together, even if it’s a mini book, is such a simple pleasure. 🙂

If you’ve purchased a copy of The Creative Retreat, you could easily do the same thing (with the materials you have on hand, of course.) Here are some ideas to get you started.

Tips on How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook

The Creative Retreat Workbook looks best if you print it double-sided so it reads like a book. You probably already know that, but just in case . . .

Assemble some or all of the following papers and cut to 8.5×11 inches. They can also be smaller, just make sure you align the smaller pages for printing.

  • Watercolor paper
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Coloring book pages (Either printed from free designs from online or carefully removed from an adult coloring book—I took pages out of my Secret Garden coloring book.)
  • Pretty stationary sheets
  • Construction paper
  • Black paper (Use white pens on it for a fun chalkboard effect.)

I also recommend printing extras of the journal sheets so you can have more space to write or if you’d prefer no lines, just add blank copy paper for more space. We originally were going to add many more pages to the journal section when I realized that a.) not everyone is into journaling and b.) for those who are, they can simply print more of those sheets. Here’s what some additional scrapbook paper looked like in the workbook. I might tape an envelope on the orange page with washi tape as an additional pocket to store things.

How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook - Tips and creative ideas to personalize your new Creative Retreat workbook @

As you can see below, I printed the encouragement quotes on card stock and bound them. One of these days, I’ll get inspired and cut them out to post around the house, I’m sure. For the “focus” page, I added a bunch of post-its that I’ll later transfer to my planner. I don’t know about you, but usually the second I sit down to do a retreat (i.e., take time for myself), my mind instantly fills up with 8 million ideas of what I need to do when I’m finished. So I use these notes to brain dump before I get started.

Doing this is so important because you and I really need to take this time for ourselves. This isn’t a selfish, all-about-me thing. It’s a self-care, I need this so I can help others and personally grow practice. A few months ago, a guest speaker at our church said something right before he started talking that really hit me. He said that for many of us, the hardest place to be at any given time is in that particular moment.

Maybe he could see some of us pulling out our grocery lists or others swiping through some email messages on their smart phones. Whatever the case, I had to admit that he was right. Half of the time when I’m doing a task, I’m thinking of the next thing I need to do and so on. It’s truly a discipline to learn how to quiet and still one’s soul and mind (probably a whole different post there!)

How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook - Tips and creative ideas to personalize your new Creative Retreat workbook @

For the giveaway, we made a pocket for the workbook. “We” being my husband since he is way more precise than I am. I sketched out the design and made a miniature sample from copy paper, and he cut it out of a very large piece of card stock. I’m not sure if you would happen to have a piece of paper that you could cut to 17×22 (inches) for this project, but you could definitely DIY your own by doing one of these ideas:

  • Cut a two pocket folder in half and bind it into the book (check the school supply section for colorful folders)
  • As mentioned above, use washi tape to tape one or two envelopes onto a piece of paper (preferably card stock/heavy scrapbook paper)

How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook - Tips and creative ideas to personalize your new Creative Retreat workbook @

By the way, you don’t have to bind this workbook with o-wire or at a copy center. In fact, the next time I print mine out, I think I’ll add it to a one-inch 3 ring binder so I can add and subtract pages as needed. Then I could also add a cute pencil pouch in the back to hold my favorite pens and other items. I haven’t bought one of those since the olden days when I was in school. (Does anyone else love school and office supplies as much as I do?)

What else would you add to your workbook?


Have a lovely {and creative} day!

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12 responses to “How to DIY Your Own Creative Retreat Workbook”

  1. Maggie Avatar

    I love the way you did this! I did buy the workbook, but I have yet to print it out. In answer to your question, yes, I have made mini books before! I have a book that has instructions for how to Japanese-bind books.

    1. Jennie Avatar

      What a great idea to do different binding techniques with mini books. My mini books are just folded, usually in an accordion style. 🙂 We have a bunch of binding supplies so I need to pull them out and make some mini books! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂 p.s. Hope you have fun using the workbook!

  2. Nina Lewis Avatar
    Nina Lewis

    I absolutely love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing at my Grandma Ideas Sharing Time link party. And, this came at just the right time. I’ve been thinking I needed some quiet time to sit, think, ponder, organize, rejuvenate. This will really help me!

    1. Jennie Avatar

      Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂 We all need that time to think and ponder, don’t we? I hope you have a wonderful time on your mini retreat. 🙂

  3. Emma Avatar

    Hi from Pin Worthy Wednesday!

    I love this idea! We could all use mini-retreats to tap into our creative side.

    How did you get your workbook bound? Do you do it yourself?

    1. Jennie Avatar

      Hi Emma, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I was given a bind-it-all machine for my birthday this year so I’ve been binding everything in sight. 😉 I’ve heard from other readers who have taken their retreat workbook to a copy center for binding or who have three-hole punched it and put it in a cute three-ring binder. (There are so many fun options now with the new school year starting.) Hope you have a great day! 🙂

  4. o.j. Avatar

    I love your ideas!!! They all would coordinate with my reading on Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” — it’s about recovering your creativity.

    1. Jennie Avatar

      Thank you so much! Goodness, I read “The Artist’s Way” years ago and it was so meaningful to me. I need to pull it out again–thanks for the reminder! Have a lovely day! 🙂

  5. Nora Trienes Avatar
    Nora Trienes

    Yes, I’m horribly late to the Party (let’s just call it fashionably late), but I’d looove the official pocket instructions, please. I’m making a Creative Retreat binder for me and for my best friend, now that the book is coming out. He and I are very excited.

    1. Jennie Avatar

      And I’m so excited for you! 🙂 I love that you’re making a binder for you and your best friend—that is so awesome! I made that folder a year ago, so I’m going to need to remind myself how I made it, haha. But I will update this post and let you know when I do with the new info. (Can I email you at the gmail address you put in this comment?)

      A much easier way to make these pockets that we discovered after a bunch of careful measuring and cutting to make ours is to take a paper pocket folder (like this one), cut it in half so you have two pages with a pocket each and bind that into your notebook. Since school is starting up soon, you can find these in the school supply section everywhere. I’d love to see your finished binder when you finish it. 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

      1. Nora Avatar

        Yes, please do, that is my most active email address. 🙂

        Sadly, those sorts of folders are hard to come by in GER, so I’ll stick to your original instructions! Will be delighted to send photos when I’m finally done. Doing one version in binder form and one in hand-bound form.

        Wishing you a wonderful day from boiling hot Munich!

        1. Jennie Avatar

          Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit Munich . . . I sketched out a template last night and will work on it more for you this week. I do know it requires a rather large piece of paper as it will have to be doubly as tall as the workbook itself before you fold it. My husband went to graphic design/art school so we have lots of paper for these random projects! I will email it to you as soon as I finish. Thanks! 🙂

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