Certain creative rules that make sense

–or Twitter wisdom

Are you ever worried that there is nothing left to create? That you are NOT creative? That though it’s inevitable for creators to follow trends and get inspired by other people’s work, it seems they blatantly copy each other and you feel like you are starting to do the same?

I do. It kills me.

It’s basically psychological torture I submit myself to. Every day I tell myself I will step away from the computer, I will go outside, I will try not to create anything.

I say to myself: I will just admire.

But as soon as I’m out the door and the first wall art crosses my path, I’m back into the buzzing of my brain: wow, what a color palette, how did the artist come up with it?, How was the idea born? which inevitably turns into How come I can’t have ideas like that? What is wrong with me? 

Last night I stayed up late trying to write in my paper journal. It’s been a long time since I did any brain dumps on paper. It was nearly midnight and I just let the automatic writing get hold. I realized that my brain is severely polluted and unfocused.

How can it not be. Since I started drawing I have been constantly on the lookout for inspiration and ideas and sadly, I also found  the world of the commerce of said ideas. The moment commerce clashed with my drawing I got into the worse state a person can be in:

The state of striving.

Yes, I do want to create and sustain my creations, yes I want to be able to enjoy creating, yes I want to be able to afford a new set of watercolors or pay for the newest class on Design Garden, but wanting these things while reading about how to market, how to sell, how to get on social media, how to pitch, how to blog, how to build your list… etc, would put anyone in a state of striving.

gerund or present participle: striving
  1. make great efforts to achieve or obtain something.
    • struggle or fight vigorously.

Plus, when you are at the stage of personal exploration, it hinders your writing voice and how you connect with other people. You try too hard.

I’ve seen it happen to other artists. Two whom I follow closely, you can see them dabble in this and that, they try to sell all kinds of products, from “programs” to Society6 prints, they try all the formulas,  they pay the coaches, they take the classes, they try all the hashtags until they get discouraged and then they re-brand and try a series of new products. That, to me is striving and it’s painful.

I’m not a fan of gurus or coaches in general, however, in 2013 I found the ebook where I learned about “striving” and it helped me snap out of it back then. I’d spent that year updating my web development skills and at one point I burned out because I felt “I would never get to finish line”. This ebook is full of wisdom and I recently re-read it because I let my drawing become entangled with the idea of commerce too early in the process and I found myself again, in striving mode.

I’m about to embark on a project. Not a huge one by any standards, but huge to me, because this means I have to seek out inspiration outside my comfort zone and control my little striving brain, shut it up and avoid the waterfall of beautiful images that I expose myself to on a daily basis.


Yesterday I went to La Gare Centrale, and I sat down in the only food court I’m capable of enduring. I grabbed a coffee and I sketched a bit. I don’t like to draw in public but I found a really nice spot. It was during employee lunch hour and many fast-food employees in their uniforms and head-nets were quietly eating their food, having a moment to themselves, reading the newspaper or talking.

I then went to the library and since some of my upcoming cliparts have to do with the outdoors I went to see some books of great wide plains, civilizations from ancient times, animals and such.

I enjoy using Dragdis very much, it keeps my images uncontaminated by arbitary algorithm suggestions, which can be good for discovery but also, how many visuals can you take in a day before becoming numb?

I want slow. I want contemplative (without the meditation), I want to enjoy what other people make without the little striver in the background saying: draw more, ship more, learn more…

The tweets I embeded here, are the creative rules that make sense to me and that I want to keep present while I embark on a more ambitious project.

What do you do to get out of striving mode?