Making art is hard

Making art can be hard. You have to show up and do it, no matter how you feel. And sometimes you don’t feel like making art. Luckily on most of the days I don’t even have a choice, because I made art my profession, but I know enough of those back doors in my head that can keep me from sitting down at my desk with a pencil. Even though I thoroughly enjoy drawing, and lettering, and painting..there are enough reasons that can keep me (and you) from sitting down and create something. In most cases it’s overthinking.

Why it’s helpful to have a routine

In this case it’s helpful to have a routine in place. There’s this quote tumbling around the literary world and the internet, it has been attributed to many different writers in past years, I will go with William Faulkner here. It goes: „I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.“

Somehow writers seem to have the hardest job of the creative bunch when it comes to actually sitting down to do their work.

But no matter which writer said this, what’s behind that quote is true for all forms of art, and for many other things in life too. We are creatures of habit. By establishing a routine you don’t allow yourself to question what you’re doing. A routine can be a relaxing thing you come back to every day.

Keeping a daily sketchbook

I have established a daily sketchbook routine in recent months, after not having a sketchbook at all for years. I felt pressured by having imperfect practice pieces in a bound book, so I preferred loose paper to develop ideas on. It didn’t even make a lot of sense to me, because most of what I did were pages of calligraphy practice and sketching differently sized letters.

Since I’ve taken up drawing again in a more concentrated manner I felt the need to have a sketchbook again, to go back and forth, compare and see what I did, a sort of documentation of my journey. For me, the sketchbook is also a place for experiments and new techniques. I try out all kinds of stuff in my sketchbook, and I don’t worry if it goes wrong. No one has to see it. I allow myself to make imperfect, unfinished doodles, or plain ugly drawings just to keep my development as an artist going. It’s not about the result, it’s about the process.

Keeping a sketchbook private

I keep this sketchbook for everyday doodles and new directions to explore, often centered around a certain topic for a few months that I can come back to and study every day. I also like the thought of this not being a part of my work that I need to share – sharing work online, while being fun and interesting, can often also feel inhibiting and produce pressure. So the liberty of having a non-public sketchbook keeps the creative flow more alive for me. Ideas have room to form and develop, independent from likes and comments.

I also feel that often my work will be more concentrated when I don’t pause and change the process by asking for likes (meaning: confirmation & validation, but also the risk of not being „liked enough“, whatever that may mean). It’s always a difficult journey, making something and not knowing if it will resonate with others. I’m all for sharing and letting others in on my creative process, but for my daily routine I cherish the freedom of not having to share everything I create and keeping some room to explore on my own.

What are your experiences with routine? Do you maintain a daily practice? Do you keep your experiments safe in a private sketchbook or do you like to share? How do you feel about likes and comments, or the lack of comments if you share your work?



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