Wednesday, June 11, 2014

3 tips for busting the dreaded blank sketchbook page paralysis

 Do you ever just stare at a blank page in your sketch book, feeling crippled by the fear that you’ll ruin it? Because I definitely do. Sometimes I get into this ridiculous mindset that everything I create has to be perfect. That anything less was a waste. I give myself no grace. More times than I care to admit I have walked away from my sketch pad leaving just the way I found it. Kinda pathetic, yeah?
As I’ve been working to change my mindset here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:

1)    Embrace the word “practice.”
Chant it. Over and over again. If it’s “practice” then mistakes are allowed. It’s kinda stupid but it's freeing. Frees me to try new things, to grow, to soil a blank page.

2)    Experiment!
Mix it up! Take the focus off the blank page and put it on the pen. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a pen per se but try goofing around with a color you rarely use. Buy cheap products you aren’t afraid to use AND USE THEM until you are feeling inspired and are so bursting with ideas you can’t wait to fill the empty expanse. Work with a different medium. What happens when you layer things? You could also try a different paper. Have you ever played with acrylic on kraft paper? Those colors pop like wow.
Anyways, what I’m saying is that when you start experimenting, you will whip through blank pages faster than you ever thought possible. Seriously. Start having fun and forget to be intimidated.

You might have seen on instagram that these cheap-o pens are for stashing in my purse, on the ready for casual practice. I don't like carrying Microns in my purse because they are expensive and I lose them but then I waste opportunities, which brings me to...

3)    Give yourself a mini deadline.
Race yourself. For once, take the focus off the quality of your creation and put it on quantity. Instead of pulling out your phone and scrolling through instagram to kill time, see if you can fill a page with doodles. In your next spare moments, pick one of those doodles to refine on the next page. How much can you get done in 15 minutes?

Obviously, there are a bazillion ways to help squash pristine-page fear and kick-start your sketchpad creativity. Currently this is what works for me. Have any recommendations?


  1. I love your designs, I would love a beautiful set of notebooks covered in your doodles and patterns! xxx
    La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy

  2. Nice inspiration post! I think a lot of people are like that, myself included. With me, though, it's more or less with words. "How do I get started?" "Is this the right lede?" "Does this make sense?" "Do I have an angle?" I'm always so concerned about it being "perfect" the first time through when, let's face it, that's what editing is for. :) I can definitely take your tips and apply them to myself--a five-minute free write would definitely be beneficial.

    1. It's seems crazy to me that you would ever struggle with writing something beautiful, Dawn. Words just flow out of you.