At Some Point You Just Have to Start

About what do you say, 'I'd really like to do that one day'—and yet never do?

Start a blog ... sketchbook ... travel ... go?

Some projects are not immediately possible; some are easier than others. Trips require funds, planning, passports. (Even there I've had enough last minute adventures to know the biggest factor is saying the internal 'Yes!') But drawing is not distant, not expensive, is not time-off-work and is not 'do it later' impossible.

At some point you have to stop saying, I'd like to and pronounce the line in the sand, 'I will' and 'wait while I ...' and finally you'll get to the exclamation: 'I did!'

As Simple As 1, 2, 3

  1. You buy the supplies. Just enough. Sketchbook, pen, pencil, eraser.
  2. You open to the first page ... and leave it blank. It can serve as a title page. (And turn over a few more, for good measure. They can be an intro or an index.)
  3. And then you begin. to. draw. Something that you see. Something about your day.

And you begin each picture with the same internal 'yes!'—screwing up of courage, slapdown of fear, 'no, you fool, just do it' and begin.

Always, you begin.

And something catches in the doing, in the movement, in the moment of courageous going: you see, you know, you move through the fog of fear and something emerges on the page.

Imperfectly, always imperfectly. But you did it and survived.

And soon you can make a statement of 'I am.'

Derek Sivers made me conjure up an 'I am' statement and I concluded, 'I am a writer who sees, who draws with an ink pen.' How about you?

Say it out loud. Put it online. Then do it. You can.

Drawing Takes Courage

If you have to, write how you feel about drawing, right there on your first sketch.

"It takes so much courage to draw ...!" I penned next to a first page sketch, done in public at a Harvard's Natural History Museum.

"It takes all my courage to start again. And on the taxi ride [to the airport] I text friends instead" ... tucked away at the start of a travel sketchbook to England.

Ironically, both sketchbooks, opened at later pages, ended up in an exhibition. I'm glad I started.

My Current Internal 'Yes!'

I saw a great sale the other day on a tiny Strathmore sketchbook from the humble 300 series with minimal 50lb weight paper. It is a mere 3.5 x 5 inches and there's no excuse not to carry it with me. At the same time, I picked up a Japanese-made 'Le Pen' for a new effort in bullet journaling.


Then I stopped for a few groceries, forgetting that a major snowstorm was forecast for three days later. The store was mobbed by hysterical shoppers and as I stood in line, instead of regretting the wait, I impulsively reached for the sketchbook. (Sideways looks from other long-suffering shoppers seemed to ask, 'Is she going to play the game, keep up, pay attention?') Not the greatest drawing but that was a new idea to me and better than grumbling.

Since then I've sketched a tiny drawing in that book on many—but not every—day. No pressure, no hard and fast burdensome rule. Just momentum.

I've noticed that I am 'seeing' a picture more frequently in my everyday life and more often than not, stop to capture it.

Like a bowl of popcorn on a torrential rainy afternoon: suddenly, I wanted to capture those absurd shapes more than I wanted to eat them. A purple Sharpie with an index card behind the page to catch the bleedthrough did the trick. It took a few minutes and cheered up the day.

The next day I noticed the only-in-April sky of brilliant blue with quick, white clouds racing behind the mulberry tree. I had somewhere to go at that moment but had been reading Bruno Munari's 'Drawing a Tree' and suddenly I saw how to draw what I saw. And did. It was encouraging.

The tiny sized sketchbook helped quell resistance.

Strathmore Tiny Book

(Click on any image for a 'lightbox' version.)

Strathmore Tiny Book: Day One. Scruffy, fun start while in line at the grocery store. Color added later. Totally overdone ... but a start!

Strathmore Tiny Book: Day Two. Notes listening to a sermon. Lots and lots of little lines. Lots of time.

Strathmore Tiny Book: 2 minutes! Purple Sharpie and dark lilac Lamy ink in a Pilot Metropolitan pen

Strathmore Tiny Book. View from the window. Black Le Pen and Polychromos Color Pencils.

Thanks to Bruno Munari and Drawing a Tree

Next Up

So what is it you want to start? And what could you do about it this week?

Next week I'll tell you about an art tool that will help bolster your courage!