Attacking the Canvas

We’ve all been there. That is, when you find yourself sitting in front of the blank document, piece of paper, or canvas trying to come up with anything to write, to draw, or to paint, but only coming upon a mental block. In fact, it was what I was going through for this post. It can be annoying when trying to brainstorm and have nothing come to mind. However, I have a trick I use when I get into this particular state.

When I was in high school, I took a college writing course and the teacher gave some really good advice that I still use today. He explained that when looking at a blank document, we accomplish nothing except becoming more frustrated. An idea won’t just pop into our minds out of nowhere by staring this document down. Rather, we have to coax it out by other means.

He advised we start writing nonsense or anything that comes to mind if we are blanking on what to write. I call this ‘attacking the document.’ By writing something down, the document doesn’t become as intimidating. For instance, if all I can think is “I don’t know what to write,” then that’s what I write. Sometimes I write that over and over again until I have the length of a paragraph. Eventually it ends up leading to an idea and gives me the boost I need to begin writing on a real topic.

While this technique is meant for writing, it can also be applied for drawing, painting, or other art forms. By ‘attacking the canvas,’ you’re forcing yourself to create. The digital canvas’ I work on in Illustrator or Photoshop have a mess load of pictures, type, and other elements scattered across the screen. It’s how I try to process a project and work out a creative solution.

While my way is one of many, I’d be interested to hear how others solve their own creative issues and the process they have for doing so… Share what you do by replying below.

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One thought on “Attacking the Canvas

  1. Yerp, I especially suffer at the beginning of a new sketchbook; all crisp, clean paper. I find the best way to get over the fear of starting is to scribble all over the first page!

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