Battling with Blank Paper: Productivity Starts Small

Quite often I’ll be ready and up for creating something but I will find myself sitting in front of a blank page thinking what do I do?

I’m also someone who does tend to have spaces in between creating artwork. I will go a while without putting pen to paper and I don’t feel great about it. It’s really bad. Idea’s are fuelled from working.  Productivity breeds productivity. I know these things and so I find myself ready to work but I just… won’t.

Beginnings can be daunting when you’re at the start of it all with all the time and mistakes ahead of you. You’re hoping what you create will be worth it in the end, even more so when you’re not even entirely sure what that is yet.

I’ve always felt that if I started something it had to be something final. Something I can upload and post about. I think that is also because of the space between my work; I had to create something to update. That’s been counter productive as I’ve then stressed about it not being great even more. 

I was going to make this post about the ways you could try tackling the reasons you’ve had trouble starting. But I actually just want to talk about something I’ve done recently that I think feeds into all the reasons I had noted.

I’ve been doodling and sketching small things and images that I tell myself don’t need to serve a purpose beyond just getting me to draw. I’m trying to train my brain out of thinking everything has to go up online to be showcased.

I also think I get this total mind block when I’m ready to make something because the list of things I want to do is so extensive. I get this deer in headlights stand still.  I’ve found that I can work through ideas and bulid on bigger goals if I’m giving myself a small creative outlet on a regular basis. Ideas are fueled by working right. 

If you also find yourself with gaps in creating for any of the reasons above, I really recommend keeping a sketchbook for throwaway little sketches. Allow yourself to make something kinda bad. Don’t worry about the finished product. It’s been extremely freeing and I’ve actually made more work because of it.

You’re also doing some ground work for when a dip in ideas comes again. After you’ve ticked off your list of projects to do you have something to flip through with new eyes. Some pages might join together and spark a new idea, or you might want to do a final version of a doodle which could become a print or a shirt design.

I know a lot of artists create regularly in sketchbooks and maybe this is something everyone does. I think, though, artists tend to hide the fact they don’t create for an extensive period of time. For me it was like I couldn’t say I was an artist if I hadn’t even drawn anything in a while.  So here is my recommendation. If you’re drawing blanks, worried about what to start on next or think you’ve got to make something of worth: start small in a sketchbook. Do it little and often. It’s like a snowball effect of productivity.

Let me know if this was helpful to you, leave a comment below or tweet me @alittlevoice