Folk Tale Week

I’ve been wrapped up in a freelance event contract for the past two months which has made it difficult to find time to draw. When I finish a contract it takes me a couple of days to get back to my projects even though I find myself wanting to rush at it. To slow myself down, I absorb myself in drawing. Last week I spotted an illustration challenge that is perfect to transition from data (the events role I have been doing) back to creator. I’m not sure who runs it but the hashtag on Instagram is #folktaleweek. The ethereal prompts are just what I need to get back to creating.

Here’s my first illustration for the prompt, forest.

Five Ways To Keep Going

I've been thinking about tenacity a lot lately. I absolutely love being creative and I love dedicating myself to my projects and seeing them through. But sometimes, especially when I'm tired or when I'm faced with obstacles, it can be tough to keep going. And because I have a job as a freelance event manager to balance, like a lot of people, I only have limited time to create. So when I do have time, I find myself determined to fill every free moment with drawing and writing. I become obsessed with achieving something creative before I'm back doing my day job... and I completely forget to rest.

So I'm writing this list for me... and for you, as I realise that we all need to look after ourselves and to feel supported. And I also realise I would like to feel as tenacious as I do now in ten years time. And twenty years time. And when drinking gin for lunch when I'm 95, still drawing and still publishing books.

1. Take a break
First things first, you don't have to work all the time. Rest is so important. Those moments of quiet are the moments when your mind processes and restores. Therefore often the time when you come up with some of your best ideas. Also if you work continually, you can get so close to a project that you can't see it any more. Stepping away and taking a break allows you to see things with fresh eyes and this can make what you're creating even better.

2. Achieve small things often
Set small goals rather than just seeing the end goal and you'll feel you're achieving more. Think of all of those little achievements as treats just for you. Be kind to yourself. It takes many bricks to make a home.

3. Visualise
Close your eyes and think about how your book will feel in your hands. Turn the pages in your mind. Study the pictures. Imagine looking with wonder at what you have created. Think about how it will feel when people tell you they have read your story. What will your life be like if you follow your dreams? Visualising your goal will make it real to you and will make it feel more achievable.

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4. Focus
Like a lot of creatives, I often find myself with lots of different ideas at the same time and find it hard to choose between them. An old friend taught me the importance of focusing on one idea at a time and this has helped me to publish my two picture books. Write down all of your ideas and think about which one you are most drawn to. Which one speaks to you most? Which one are you most curious about? Most passionate about? Which one won't leave you alone? And then get started.

5. Make your environment lovely
It's lovely being able to draw or write all day but it also often involves sitting still in one spot for hours on end. So make sure you're comfortable and that you love the space you're in. If you can, create a space at home that is dedicated to creating. I have a desk and chair in the corner of my lounge with artwork that inspires me washi-taped to the walls. I also often have fresh flowers on my desk and drink tea out of a pretty cup that I bought specifically for when I'm working. My chair is comfortable with a pretty cushion and I often work with a hot water bottle on my back. Depending on what I'm doing, I might work in silence or I'll have my Roberts radio tuned to BBC 6 Music to keep me company. Or if I'm drawing I'll set my iPad up so I can listen to podcasts or have Netflix treats such as the Gilmore Girls or Friends on a loop. Make snacks to nibble on and pop out for some fresh air at least once a day. A comfortable environment will make working a treat and will encourage you to keep going.

I hope this list is helpful. Please get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let me know what helps you to keep going. Happy creating.