Overthinking It

It was this week one year ago I made it a goal to create a children’s book, words, pictures and all. I didn’t create this blog until about 5 weeks later, but the process had already begun. I wanted to give myself some time to see if this was going to be an honest effort or not before posting my progress online, but eventually I got my blog up and going. Trust me; I have seen a few ambitious blogs created that didn’t get more than a half dozen posts and then nothing. I didn’t want to be that kind of person.

The first few weeks were terrific. I took numerous baby steps every day. I began writing, only a few lines. The next day I wrote a few more lines. The day after that, I wrote several stanzas. I began to build brick by brick a story that had legs, and with enough time I had something substantial.

I also went to the book store and found several lesson books on how to draw. At first it was remedial stuff, like how to draw a proper sphere and square. I had to learn the basics of perspective (which I still am terribly at) among other things I take for granted on a daily basis. Eventually I was character building. I was created faces and bodies with expressions and feelings.

After a couple of months I still had no children’s book and I had no characters. However, inching along the way I was making credible progress. That was in the winter, and winter is approaching again. So why have I put in nearly 12 months of work and still no children’s book as I stated I would do? I don’t feel like a failure. In fact, I am very proud of how far I’ve come. I grew. I learned something. I learned a new novice skill (drawing), I’ve created a rough draft story (and I’m sticking to it!), and the goal of creating a children’s book has still not escaped me.

I can tell you now with 12 months experience my biggest hurdle was not learning, not resources, not time, not my friends distracting the heck out of me (Never!), it was my over thinking mind. Every time I picked up something, a magazine, a book, an article, saw some genius breakthrough in literature, I over thought. Every time I learned a new small illustration line… I over-thought. Every time I realized I had to tweak something in my project… I over-thought. My story was a great idea. It was a terrible idea. It was a perfect idea. The drawing was bad, the characters were not up to snuff, the color was poor…

Let me do a whole panel from sketch to finish and see how it looks!

I thought of everything and that’s been my biggest hurdle. In retrospect, my best days are the ones where I sit down to scribble something up and work with it. Start with nothing and finish with something. The feelings of progress in these little crumbs have always been the best. Baby steps! Instead of slaving over how to get things right (which is perhaps the most exhausting aspect of creativity), I’ve got to become better at how to make lots of little some things out of lots of big nothings.

The other day I started drawing my character, Silly, sleeping in bed. The first sketch was dreadful. The next was better. I went to bed. I woke up. I put it on the tablet. I scribbled more. I doodled him a couple times in layers. I pieced him together. I didn’t illustrate this beauty that was flawless stroke by stroke. It was clay. It’s not perfect. It’s still not perfect. But it’s not supposed to be. It can be played with. That’s what creativity is: Play.

I’ll continue my work on this children’s story. I will finish it. It will never be complete. I’ll call it done, but I will always go back and do more, even after it’s shared or published or who knows. Published for me has become hard concrete word for “what I‘ve got so far”. And that makes me comfortable.

I can’t even remember the last version of what Silly sleeping in bed looks like. It’s fuzzy. It’s kind of nice recalling it that way. I’ll try not to over think it.

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