Lately, I’ve had trouble getting the ideas that are in my head to make their way to paper. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely noticed that my #sketchaday posts have been few and far between these days. It would be easy for me to blame my lack of sketches on a busy schedule. Or maybe the recent stomach bug that swept through our house would be a convenient alibi. I could even go as far as blaming a sudden creative block and lack of inspiration. Alas, the opposite is actually true.
I have so many ideas swimming around in my head that I have trouble staying asleep at night. Usually, tons of ideas are a good thing – but I’ve managed to let them completely paralyze me. It used to be that getting out the sketchbook and my markers allowed me some time to wind down at the end of the day. After putting in my 8-5 and then coming home to take care of evening family duties (5th grade word problems are hard, yo!), drawing was my respite before drifting off to dreamland.
When I started browsing Instagram to see what other people are using the #sketchaday tag for, I realized something. These people are really effing good. When I started following a few more hand letterers and illustrators on social media, guess what I discovered? These guys are pretty damn brilliant. I’ve been falling into the comparison trap for months now without even knowing it. Week after week, I’ve been self sabotaging my own confidence – feeling like a fraud every time I pick up a pencil. Half-heartedly putting something onto paper, often giving up before the page is finished.
Yesterday morning during my early a.m. Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter trolling session, I stumbled upon a quote that I’ve seen a million times and disregarded 999,999 times:
This never made sense to me while I was in the midst of my own middle. I’ve been working as a Graphic Designer for almost 15 years. Things that take me seconds to do now would have taken me hours to do when I was 18. The muscle memory I have in my fingers when it comes to Illustrator and Photoshop keyboard shortcuts could be considered impressive (or really, really dorky).
But when it comes to my super-shakey calligraphy attempts, or my hand lettered song lyrics that always look a little weak on the upstroke, I am most definitely in my beginning. The people whose work I admire have been at their craft for countless hours, perfecting their own kind of muscle memory. They can draw a serif alphabet without hesitation and know just where to place that drop shadow without the help of software. And don’t even get me started on those color palettes – genius.
This afternoon, I gathered my sketchbooks, pencils, markers and gel pens, and put them within arm’s reach of my favorite chair. So tonight, with a nightcap and an NPR podcast in the background, I will get these ideas out of my head that have been haunting me. And when my hand hurts from shading, I will go to sleep and dream good dreams for the first time in forever.