Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour

How to get creatively unstuck in 10 minutes

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Get creatively unstuck with a ten minute journal

Get creatively unstuck with a ten minute journal

The creative voice is a quiet one. Sometimes, barely a whisper.

I think I'd like to draw. (Or paint, or write, or sing.)

She is earnest, hopeful and painfully shy. So easily shouted down by her noisy big brother's torrent of  'buts'.

But you are rubbish at drawing...

But what would you draw...

But you will make a mess...

But you don't even know where to start or what supplies to use...

But you should be doing something more useful...

Steven Pressfield calls this Resistance. The opposing force that fights our creative tendencies. To me it is the bullying brother of the little creative spirit. Cruel, perhaps, but protective. There to keep the fragile creative soul safe by preventing it from stepping out of its comfort zone or trying anything new.

Being safe is all very well, but it leaves you with a creative block. Recently, I have found out how to get creatively unstuck in 10 minutes.

Watercolour page from my 'Ten Minute Journal'

Watercolour page from my 'Ten Minute Journal'

Rather than bullying that creative spirit into inaction, all it needs are some boundaries. Just like a small child.

I am taking Juliette Crane's online class called 'Bliss', in which Juliette talks about regaining the fun and freedom of creating by doing little 5 or 10 minute paintings. Well, she is quite right.

I had managed to make drawing and painting feel like an overwhelming task that I could not fit into my day for so very many reasons. But adopting this technique of a ten minute journal has really helped. Often it spurs you on to do a bigger project, but even if it doesn't, you have had the delicious little pick-me-up of a quick play with colour and line.

So the rules of my ten minute journal are designed to create a happy, safe and fun place where I can just enjoy the process of drawing and painting, liberated from those 'buts'. They go something like this:

  • the journal is small (and square which I love, but I don't think it matters!)

  • the paper is nice enough to take watercolour but not so expensive that I will feel bad about 'messing it up' (life is too short for bad paper, as Jane Davenport would say)

  • each painting takes 10 minutes

  • I can only use watercolours and black pens and white pens

  • colours are limited to a palette of three (yes, I break this rule often... and usually regret it)

  • each picture includes a character (e.g. a face, a figure, maybe an animal or bird)

The good thing is that these limits are totally liberating. I am using my travel watercolours and a waterbrush so I can do this anywhere - usually on the couch in front of the TV. I don't have to make decisions about what to draw and what materials to use. Each picture is going to be done in 10 minutes so it's never going to be perfect. Some times I love them, sometimes I really don't. Either way it doesn't matter. In ten minutes I will turn the page and forget about it.

Try it and see.

Abandon perfection and just enjoy being creative.