Break the silence of the blank page

An early start this morning for this month's Creative Mornings (Auckland) talk in Ponsonby. 

These monthly, theme-based talks are a fantastic way to start the day. I regret that I don't attend as many as I'd like to because of my snooze button addiction, but when I do manage to haul my not-insubstantial-arse out of bed in time to attend these fabulous events I am rewarded with layers of inspiration and insights.

This month the theme is INK and this morning Dylan Horrocks talked about the fear of the blank page and the fear of the moral compass - or more to the point - the fear that there is no ONE fixed compass by which to judge the world; that our compasses are always changing and adjusting, and different depending on circumstances and culture and a multitude of other variables. To judge another man by our own moral compass doesn't seem fair, and to declare war and death and censorship upon others because compasses differ well, that's a situation that no one has the ability to determine.

Drawing of Dylan Horrocks traced from his own gorgeous work - see more at

The core of Dylan's talk was about fear. Big fears like Ju Suis Charlie and lives being in very real danger because of artistic expression, and the every day fears we have when trying to put our expressions on paper. 

You don't have to declare yourself "creative" to understand the feelings of inadequacy and fear. We must all feel it by sounds of agreement and nodding heads this morning each time Horrocks brought an example of "fear of the blank page". He talked about having to break through "the crust of ice" that forms "every time you stop drawing for five minutes". He spoke of the constant battle of self doubt and imposter syndrome he feels every day.

He didn't leave us hanging though. He suggested scribbling in a new scetchbook to help ease oneself into the task; to make a mess so that you've "already ruined that sketchbook"; spend some time doing "warm up" drawings that don't have to be good and never need to be seen by anyone. 

Kate Kiefer Lee said something similar at Webstock back in February. She said get those words down on paper - write a "shitty first draft" - and then deal with what you've written by editing. Same with drawing and everything else that is being held up by these fears of inadequacy.

It's always easier to deal with something, even if it's bad, than with nothing on a blank page.

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