We've all been there: Sketchbook open... Blank page laughing in your face. A wave of anxiety hits and your body is momentarily paralyzed. The page is literally saying "You're not creative! That idea is stupid! Why don't you just go watch Netflix instead!" Whether it's an entirely new sketchbook or simply a fresh page, there's no doubt that it can be very intimidating. The good news is that the lack of creativity you feel is not unique to you. It happens to the best of us and it can be conquered! Here are six easy ways that you can silence the chatter, overcome the blank page anxiety, and really break in that sketchbook!
1. Silence Your Inner Critic. I think this is something that all of us struggle with to some extent (at least I do). There will never be anyone harder on you than yourself. Have you ever had someone pick up your sketchbook and your heart just drops and you just think “Oh, crap.” But then they’re so amazed, even by the page that you hate, or that isn’t quite finished yet! Once you let go of that insecurity and stop thinking “this sucks”, you open a door to a new type of creative flow. Let mistakes happen! Welcome them with open arms, because without them you wouldn’t improve or discover new things. After all, the beauty of art is that there isn’t any right or wrong.
2. Jump Around. This one will drive most of us crazy, including myself, but let it go. Take off the pressure of starting on the first page of a fresh sketchbook and open up somewhere in the middle. Trust me. The first page will always be there, might as well save it for a day that you’re feeling on top of your creativity game rather than let it bring you anxiety. Everyone knows that breaking your typical routine is a good thing even if it’s something as simple as this.
left: Ashley Robin Franklin | middle: Kid Golden Arm | right: lara nelson
3. Build Good Habits. It’s important to set aside some time each day to work in your sketchbook. If that sounds too daunting, think about it like this: All of those random moments throughout the day that you spend messing around on your phone, you could be doing a quick doodle instead. That's something that Ashley Robin Franklin told me when we featured her daily art journal and it really resonated with me. It doesn’t make a difference whether it’s 5 minutes here and there, or 2 hours at the end of your day, you just need to get that creative momentum going: the more you do it, the harder it is to stop!
I used to think that I was way too busy to work in my sketchbook every day until I started sneaking it in every moment I could. Wake up 10 minutes early to doodle over coffee; doodle while you wait for your lunch order; while waiting in the doctor’s office; waiting for dinner to cook in the oven; or while you’re sitting in front of the TV. Also, if you struggle with waiting for the perfect moment to bust out an epic drawing, don’t be afraid to use your sketchbook as a place where you can jot down to-do-lists, ideas, notes, etc., because it will make you more inclined to use it, therefore the birth of more collective doodling!
4. Use What You’ve Got. Be resourceful. This goes hand in hand with being ready to get creative wherever you are. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a plethora of tools that you need to choose from or you might just end up saying "forget it." Only carry the basics - you can always go back and spruce up the art later on. It’s important to remember you don’t need to finish everything all at once. Forgot your sketchbook? Draw on a napkin, on a coffee cup, on an old receipt, your train ticket, whatever and paste it in there later. It takes off the pressure of having one chance to create “the perfect spread”. You can also get creative experimenting with different mediums that can create unexpected results like coffee or juice! Don’t get too hung up on what you’re used to using, because when you let go, it can make for some pretty cool results.
5. Challenge Yo'self! Every so often we hold drawing challenges at DA (with prizes!), but there are tons of ideas and challenges all over the internet to keep you busy on the daily. I’m constantly seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed, and if all else fails you can just google it and browse until you find one that tickles your fancy. Drawing challenges help to immensely rejuvenate your creativity and establish your personal style by pushing you outside of your comfort zone. This will force you to solve a problem, discover something new, and (most importantly) keep you coming back to your sketchbook every single day.
left: Ania Pawlik | middle: Jenny Kroik | right: Marika Mihalache
6. Draw What You See. We’ve all been there: sketchbook open, pencil in hand, blank page laughing in your face. The classic “creativity block”. If you can’t quite commit to a drawing challenge and would prefer an alternate method, just start drawing whatever is in front of you. It could be the most mundane object, like your phone, the TV remote, your wallet, your dinner, or even your own hand. I personally love doing this because let’s face it: everything looks way more epic when it’s drawn, and drawing that object could be the creative spark you need to get in the zone and keep going with the flow.