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Lately I was stuck in a rut.

I found myself looking at the blank sketchbook page or white text file thinking, “Really, what’s the point? I don’t have any new stories.”

All my art looked dull, and nothing sparked me to write new material.

UNTIL…

First, a little context.

Right now I’m taking an online class called Oatley Academy Live. The most basic way to describe it is “it’s a creative writing and sustainability class for visual storytellers.”

In a recent exercise we were asked to write a Sketchbook Story – a short story in our sketchbooks, made with crap materials (so we wouldn’t try to make something perfect) forcing us to write a beginning, middle, and end.

Now I’ve done short comics before (Mini-Comic Theater and Prologues collect some of them).

But this exercise was to create a NEW story in one go. And we were encouraged to be as sloppy as possible.

Sticky notes everywhere! Dialogue and names scratched out! Using blunt pencils and markers that were half-dry!

The aim was to not be perfect – just write the story and be done.

And…It worked.

I let go of perfection and ideas came to me even faster, because I wasn’t stopping to polish a sentence or doodle that had already happened.

It’s very Zen, but it works.

When I create in the moment, I’m not hung up on making the previous sentence or next sentence perfect. That can all be done later. In creation, I can let my inner editor step out of the way and I can create, and build on top of the ideas, and create even more.

In short, I do not get attached to ideas. I go.

If you ever want to try this, give this exercise a go:

  1. Take some blank pages from wherever you can grab them.
  2. Grab a pen/pencil/Sharpie/other tool lying around. The crappier, the better.
  3. Start with one sentence/doodle. ANY sentence/doodle.
  4. Make the sentence and/or doodle after that.
  5. Repeat step 4 without looking back or thinking of what the next sentence or doodle will be.
  6. Keep going.
  7. Who told you to stop? KEEP GOING!
  8. Once you reach the end, you’re done.

 

Try to do this in one sitting so the creative flow can compound on itself. I often find that stopping even for a second can slow down the momentum and choke progress.

Let me know what happens in the comments below!

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.