For the last couple of months, I've been feeling restless and irritable and creatively unsettled.
I've had a hard time imagining scenes for my work-in-progress. And man, when your imagination bogs down, that draftwork feels pretty steep.
And in spite of summertime's supposed reputation for laziness and rest, these weeks have been flyin' past.
Anyone else been feeling like this? Anyone else with mid-summer blahs?
I know it's technically too soon to tell, but--I'm pretty sure it just changed my life.
The book is about taking just a few minutes every day to make a teeny bit of art. Just doing a little bit of sketching. Maybe just drawing your breakfast.
No pressure. No trying to be a Picasso, a Da Vinci.
Just getting something down, one little line or squiggle at a time.
Danny Gregory makes a really, really good case for starting this habit. This little drawing habit.
I haven't been doing it for very long, but I can already feel a difference: in my brain, in my eyes, in the way I see things, in the way I think.
Crazy, right? I mean--just from doing a bit of drawing? Even though I'm not some kind of massively talented Artist?
YES! Here's what I've figured out: I'm always wanting to be better at observation, but I can't just think myself into being a better observer.
It's hard to just say, I'm going to see the world more clearly now!, and then try and do it.
I mean . . . what do you even do with that.
I've finally found a better way: Drawing is observation put to paper. Ta da! Which means it's a whole lot easier to practice than just randomly staring at the world.
If you need a bit more selling, here's what's happening as I draw:
- I'm suddenly surrounded by muses. Everywhere I look, I think: hey, I could draw that! I could draw that. I wonder how I might draw this? Which means that everything around me feels new and full of possibilities. And I feel more alert and live. (Goodbye, blahs!!)
- The act of drawing forces me to confront my own assumptions. My brain has a shorthand answer for what I'm seeing: It's a round red tomato! But when I sit down to draw it, I notice all its bumps and flattened sides, the range of gold and brown freckles across the top, the long scar down its side.
- I'm finally in the moment. When I pause to draw something, I can feel myself slowing down in the best of ways. I feel myself breathing. My mind stops spinning and focuses in. I feel extremely present, extremely aware.
- It's one more kick in the pants for perfectionism. I'm embracing the beginner state: making messes, enjoying my mistakes, and trying ANYTHING!
- I'm stocking my writing-brain with TONS of visual details. I've said before that I can feel blind when I sit down to write. Well, I'm slowly filling up those reservoirs of imagery, texture, shading, and color.
Can I be honest with you? I'm SHOCKED at how much I am loving this new habit. Really shocked.
I used to doodle off and on, for fun, occasionally. But drawing as a regular habit--well, that was something that Other People did, and I was fine without it.
I had no idea that a bit of sketching would unlock so much for me.
And I've only just started! There's still so much more to do, so many more things to try!
So--this is my Monday challenge to you, Lionhearted Writer! Try it. Just try it. Try drawing something every day this week.
Even if it feels a little silly. Even if you only have five minutes to spend on it. Even if the drawing is lopsided, or childish, or one-dimensional.
... Because it isn't about the final drawing at all, it's about the act of drawing, and what happens inside your wonderful writer-brain, your newly sharpened writer-gaze, your ultra-aware writer-heart.
This is especially especially for you:
- If you feel like you've been scooting over the surface of your life, and maybe not actually living it.
- If you feel like your ability to observe has grown dull.
- If your writing life just feels less exciting than you'd really like it to be.
- If your imagination is a bit tired, and keeps handing you the same old answers.
- Orrrr, if you get an enormous case of the munchies when you're writing. (Tell me it's not just me.) Try this: draw instead. I don't know why it works, but it does for me!
Try it. TRY it. A teeny-tiny little sketch doesn't take long at all. Two minutes. You might change your whole life in two minutes! You have nothing to lose!
One last thing: a bit of visual inspiration:
Creative juices stirring yet??
If you already do this--if you use drawing as a companion to your writing life--or if you're going to take me up on this and try a sketch or two this week, please encourage other writers (and me!) by leaving a shout out in the comments. Or, share it with someone who might need to hear it. The more sketching enthusiasts, the merrier!
Cool. Happy drawing!!