042. First Page Phobia

If you're like me, you have a stack of beautiful notebooks and sketchbooks, piled up and ready to be filled with magical creations. Their pages are crisp, clean, bright oceans waiting to be sailed.

Maybe they've been piling up for a while now.

I have First Page Phobia.
It's the fear of "ruining" a sketchbook, therefore I don't make any marks. I open to the first page, my pencil hovering just above the paper, my mind whirling between ideas and "don't do that.. that's a waste of paper."

Why would I let a blank page have so much power over me? I KNOW the importance of practice, and sketching/drawing is a hugely important step in developing my skills (even for painting). 
I've had lots of time to think about it, and only recently came to this conclusion.


I'm not talking about the popular manifestation of ego - "I'm the best!"
I'm talking about the textbook definition: "the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity"
In other words, it's our sense of self-esteem. Our idea of ourselves.

When you sit down to a blank page, and you have the thought "I don't want to mess up," - this is our ego stepping in. We must learn how to surrender to the fact that everything we create is not a masterpiece. Our egos say, "No! We only create beautiful things that people will like!"
This is false. We cannot ever expect to draw anything beautiful without practicing, messing up, experimenting, and trying.

Rather than let the fear of failure stop us, we need to remember the importance of mistakes.

Making mistakes leads to improvement. 
Children are not born with the ability to walk. They crawl before they stand up. They wobble before they walk. They walk before they run.
They fall. They get up again. And eventually, falling becomes rare.

Sketchbooks are our personal spaces. They are not meant to be shared, unless we invite the world to see (in this day that means posting photos online). 
YOU choose what the world sees. I personally wish more artists shared their messy sketchbooks, mistakes and all.
It would remove the veil of perfection and instant mastery that admirable artists tend to carry.

Ways to get over First Page Phobia

  1. Skip the first page. 
    I do this almost every time I start a sketchbook. The first page always seems to be the scariest, most sacred page. It is the gateway to the sketchbook. But rather than let that fear of failure stop me from making any marks - I simply skip the first page! This gets me started, and whenever I'm ready (if ever) I can go back and fill that first page.
  2. Have a private sketchbook, and a public sketchbook.
    If you are concerned with what people will think about your sketchbook, once again that's the ego stepping in. Rather than fight those feelings - embrace them. Have a completely private sketchbook where you can fuck up as much as you want, write notes, and make random marks. No one will ever see it. At the same time have a "public" sketchbook - one you don't mind sharing.
  3. Make your first drawing something you love - something you're good at. Rather than get stuck on what to draw, stick with what you know! If you're skilled at portraits, or creatures, or landscapes, or architecture, start with that! 

The key is to just get started. Once you get something down on that first page, the rest is so much easier!

Do you have any suggestions to help get over First Page Phobia? If so, feel free to message me or leave a comment below!