The Making of: The ABCs of Journaling

Alternative title: The Road to ABC 2016, or why I even bother to write a little back story every time I work on significant life-invested projects. (Life-invested…does this word exist? Lol)

Well, for the record, I do bother. I like looking back and seeing how a small idea out of my head can suddenly become tangible, refined, and expounded…into a book.

And because I’m quite OC with ~organizing~, here’s a little peek into how I divided my work days during the time I worked on this book (which took around 8 months total…or more). Also added a few notes from my logbook aka this laptop’s notepad. Harhar. 😛

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June 10, Friday, 10:44AM

♫ “Real Love”, Imaginary Future

→ I’m working on the introduction for Chapter 2 – which I’ve been chickening out on for weeks now. How hard is it to write an introduction??? Very hard.

→ I’m having coffee at Equatorial and finishing up the last few sentences for this part of the book. I’m literally navigating my brain for a possible miracle that I get to weave the words properly and at ease. #writerproblems #butiamnotawriter

“But I’m not a writer!” was my biggest excuse as I chickened out on the first few weeks on working on the pitch to present to my publisher. Looking back, I want to pat that doubtful old self of mine on the back. 😛

I initially thought that after writing my first book, my author stint would be over. (After all, I’m an artist by profession, what makes being an author a possible venture for someone who doesn’t write?) I was wrong. And I’m glad I was – because come to think of it, writing and illustrating a book hit two birds in one stone — I really love this aspect of my creative job description. (Thanks, Summit Books, for trusting me. Huhu) 😀

The most challenging & rewarding part of writing was setting a routine that was efficient for me to work. I spent mornings in a nearby cafe, churning out ideas, putting words together into sentences and paragraphs and eventually plotting them on each pages, and visualizing all the content that I wanted to be incorporated in the pages of this book.


July 13

→ Seeking help from the writing gods – need to weave these words properly like my life depends on it (well, it does, partly)

And that was just the beginning. I always felt like I wasn’t entitled to doing the things I like (probably because I was always an underdog as a young girl, but okay, time to move on) but while building the structure of the pages, I realized that I was entitled — all I needed was to make sure everything made sense. There had to be a connection. Why the text was written in a certain way. What artworks and photos were needed to encapsulate the idea of each chapter. What elements made everything seem to have a cohesive output.

I think I spent countless nights thinking and trying to articulate all the things that had to be put inside. Sometimes I wish I could remind my past self to take it one page at a time. (This feels like thesis tbh, when you’re all working on such a huge project that you gotta have phases to actually be sane and put things together)

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I can say I’m very lucky to be surrounded by a pool of creative, talented, and inspiring people. A few important people who were part of this craaaazy journey — Alysse, Macy, Jaykee, for alignment and coordination; our contributors Aleyn (stylist) & Pat (photographer) for their wonderful work (spot the pages with #flatlaygoals!); there’s my publisher Koko for motivation to finish the deadline (ha!) and for those days when I need to be sane/take days off from book work; there’s my manager Tricie, who can extract the little things I sometimes fail to write about (she writes, too!), there’s Jean, my assistant, who probably knows the most fragile part of myself as we spent weeks dissecting content and researching on facts & figures; aaaaand there’s my resident neighbor & officemate, Tippy, whom I think I spent most of my work days with refining the contents of this book. Everything felt so serious…ly scary. 😮 But being backed up with a strong support system has made all the difference. 😀

And of course, as much as work’s supposed to be serious…I think half of the time I was having too much fun 😛 We had a studio shoot and an outdoor shoot and you wouldn’t think our shoot location was…a playground. LOL. I’m still laughing. Turn to Chapter 5’s Finding Your Own Journaling Style and you’ll see why. 😛


(Tippy working her arm game + shooting some pages…on the kiddie slide. No kidding.)


May 30, Monday, 4:22PM

♫ “The Sunshine of Our Youth”, Cheerleader

→ On the way to turn over my illustrations! Huge sigh of relief I finished today.


♫ “Dark Blue”, Jack’s Mannequin

→ Knowing someone believes in you and pushes you to think of ways to be better is the best feeling ever.

Illustrating was a new thing to me — okay, so I draw letters, but that’s entirely different. I’d like to think I sorted out that early on. But diving into drawing and finding my “style” into illustration wasn’t super easy. I can only judge the way I draw with most of the travel journals I’ve managed to make in the past years…that was it.

But recalling how I spent my days drawing the hours away, everything was memorable. Watching indie films while painting (ahem, Juno, Nick & Norah’s, among others), going through several playlists while keeping my mood up; or even painting in the dark in Starbucks after dance class (come to think of it, why did I do this???)…and so much more. I found myself feeling determined to put my mind into something, finish it, and move on to the next task.


(Left: WIP of my Japan spread / Right: A selection of collected things from my travels)


(I wrote a little journal about my journey into writing this book. Here’s a peek!)

July 13, Wednesday, 6PM

♫ “Forever”, HAIM

→ Currently battling my inner demons as I try to rewrite the introduction, keep calm with traffic and knowing I have other deadlines due this week.

At the point where you’re almost at the end of making a book, everything suddenly comes clashing and you kind of want to pick up the pieces slowly and wish they’d all work out at some point.

News flash: they will. Also, a tip: reread the pitch. Take time to dissect why you wanted to write this book in the first place. It will all make sense.

One of the hardest obstacles this year was multi-tasking with another book which also required painting…letters, and shooting, and all that. I was also working on The ABC Daily Journal at this time now (which I produced on my own, creative direction-wise). I found that working on several projects has given me the tenacity to just work like crazy. Which is good, but remembering that crazy part of 2016 was…crazy. HAHA 😛


July 15, Friday, 10:51PM

♫ “Swing, Swing”, The All-American Rejects

→ It’s done, it’s done! Let the waiting game begin.

Funny though, the moment I turned over my last deadline to my art director (after 3-4 months of painting/writing/conceptualizing omg), I missed working on it. It’s the first time I actually felt that way on a project??? Maybe it’s love…Hahaha. I don’t know. I still miss some parts of it as of this typing, and it’s funny how you’re so immersed on the project that once it’s over, you just sit there and wonder what else you want to do…it me. Lol.


The last few months were…judgement day. Kidding. I think I spent a good few weeks “working” inside Summit Media, with my own cubicle and all. It was fun! I miss the office life sometimes…especially that one time I clocked in at 9AM and clocked out at 7PM. Waw. So much productivity. 😀



(Above: a set of notebooks I used in the creation of The ABCs of Journaling)

The biggest takeaway of this project was to trust the process. It was so crucial that I believed in myself in every step of the way — I kept asking myself so much questions, it was horrible. But I knew it was part of it. There was always a big question mark as to why I end up working on projects that involve me…writing, illustrating, basically putting all my skill sets to the test. Then again, maybe that’s just the universe telling me to use what I have, and make the most out of it. (or so I think, hahaha)


My book officially launched last September 10. It was surreal — I squealed upon receiving the first copy of my book a few days before. In fact, that whole week was so surreal, I almost forgot what happened. Haha. Did I want to cry? Feel relieved? Feel fulfilled? I didn’t know. But after the launch, I’d like to think that overall, I was proud of myself — on the rare times that I am. 🙂


I helped organized the launch with the Summit Books — from the nitty gritty things that came with the event logistics and such, to coordinating with collaborators, friends, and my team. I remembered my Type Lab MNL organizing stint last year and reminded myself that I can pretty much put things in order if I set my mind to it. The event itself was amazing — I was so happy to see everyone filled with joy as they made their way to the different stations, met different people, and had their books signed. 🙂

Anyway, this felt like a personal essay of sorts. Enough with the feelings and drama! Here’s a recap of the book launch last September 10 to cap off this post. 😀

Thanks so much to Gelo Yellow for covering my launch! 🙂

And if you’re asking where to get copies of The ABCs of Journaling


To purchase at: National Bookstore, Fully Booked, Powerbooks, and other bookstores nationwide

*if you can’t find a copy, usually it’s at the cashier or ask the customer service to reserve a copy for you.

To order online (Philippines only): Shop Abbey Sy
To pre-order online (International): Rainbowholic Shop

Thanks for reading this post! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed walking down memory lane to write about it. 🙂


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