It’s been over a week since I posted here, which is probably the longest I’ve gone since I started blogging. To be honest, I’ve been in a creative rut for a while now, so it’s been hard to stay positive. When the way you’ve been doing things isn’t working, you can’t keep doing them and hope things will change anyway.
I hate feeling like this, but on the whole it’s proving to be a good thing. Sometimes you have to reach the bottom of the trough before you can become more buoyant and start making sense of it all.
In What It Is, cartoonist Lynda Barry writes about pursuing good drawing for 30 years and how all the joy went out of it for her. She finally realized that when she drew she was being held hostage by two questions: Is this good? And ... Does this suck?
A light bulb went off in my head when I read her words because I could see I’ve been doing the same thing myself and it’s been holding me back. (Does anyone ever get a positive answer to either of those questions, I wonder?)
Barry believes that focusing on images is an ideal way to break the mesmerism. Or as she describes it: “We’re not having the experience in order to make an image; we’re making an image in order to have an experience.” She doesn’t present you with recipes for making finished stuff though. Through provocative collages, illustrations, insights and exercises, What It Is encourages you to liberate your creativity by making it your own.
In my opinion, this is a must-have book for any artist or writer, whether you’re feeling blocked or need a push to go more deeply into your craft.