Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Finding a Way Forward

If you’re anything like me, you may have been struggling a bit with being creative as of late. Many days I find myself feeling uninspired. I start to ask myself if what I am doing is worthwhile when much bigger struggles are happening in the world. Here are some thoughts to keep you (and me) going.

1. Don’t read the news and don’t check social media, at least, not yet!

By all means, stay informed, but carve out some time for creativity first, before you hop online. (This also ties into Shahrzad’s previous post about staying focused.) I’m finding that social media is bogging me down with the larger issues of the world, and by the time I finish reading the news, I’m no longer interested in creating anything. Make a rule that you have to draw something first before you read the news.

2. Take a break.

Honestly, it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes I feel we have a constant pressure to keep producing, but I’ve noticed that my creativity ebbs and flows. Give yourself a break, but when your break is stretching on for months, even years, well, you need a little kick in the pants.

3. Deadlines are amazing motivators.

I don’t know about you guys, but what works to jump start my creativity is deadlines. If you don’t have any paying jobs at the moment, never fear, there are all sorts of ways to create deadlines. I’m in a hotel room in New York at the moment, a few days in advance of the SCBWI conference, and there’s nothing like a portfolio show to make me churn out new work. Critique groups can also be great (until you get too comfortable with your crit group and then just start showing up for the snacks - how about a crit group where you only get to have the snacks if you bring work to show?). And of course, there are always challenges like Inktober, Illustration Friday, Colour Collective, and the SCBWI art prompt to get you going.

4.  What we are doing is important.

It feels silly to be making children’s books right now, but aren’t we engaged in a pursuit that is more important than ever before? Kids will always need stories, and they will need great books that will delight, entertain, educate and inspire them. They need silly, funny books as much as they need serious, weighty books. They need books that engage them, make them feel, that help them understand the world and turn them into passionate readers. And guess what? We are the people who have a hand in making those books. The world won’t benefit from any of us giving up illustration. But out there is a child who will pick up your book and that book will make a difference for them. And that, my friends, is important.


  1. "Make a rule that you have to draw something first before you read the news." Love this idea, and your illustration!

  2. Great post! I've only just started reading The War of Art/Pressfield, but it is the kick I needed. Thanks!