Tag: comicdiaries

Filling the Well

In her book, “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron talks about how to overcome writer’s block and burn out. She says that when we are creative, we draw on our life experiences. When we draw from the well too often without replenishing it, we eventually come up empty. We are left relying on the same old stories, or cliches and tropes, or worse, we can’t come up with anything at all.

Creativity is important. It’s not just used for creative endeavors like painting a picture or writing poetry. Creativity helps us solve problems in our daily lives. It assists whenever we communicate or create something new. It is essential. If you are feeling burnt out and stuck, and you aren’t sure why, it might be time to refill your well.

Julia recommends regular walks, keeping a journal, and regularly scheduling time for activities that bring you joy.

The journal is three pages of whatever you are thinking about. It’s meant to be a way to unload your worries and concerns. The activities can be small, like coloring in a coloring book or visiting a furniture store or going to a museum. It can be anything that you can look forward to and that takes you out of your normal routine.

Some of my comic diaries about various activities I do to refill my well. Inspired by Brittany Olsen’s “Comic Diaries.”

Another idea for filling your well is mindfulness. When you get too caught up in your thoughts or a screen that filters the world through other people’s thoughts, then you aren’t really experiencing the world around you. Taking time present in the moment makes food taste better, and it makes the colors around you seem brighter. You notice details that you overlooked before. You feel more free, and the experiences you fill your well with are richer.

Service is a great way to fill your well. It connects you with other people and the outside world. For a moment, you are taken out of your problems and focus on someone else’s. Being an outside observer helps you enter problem-solving mode more easily, and it can jump start your creativity. Service can have the added bonus of building relationships, making your problems seem a little smaller, and bringing you happiness.

If everything seems dark and pointless, and you can’t make yourself do anything, reach out. Tell a trusted friend. Talk to a counselor. Pray. Heavenly Father loves you, and He listens. There have been times where I hid in my closet and cried and prayed until I felt like I could face the world again. I have cried and prayed as I picked tiny game pieces off the floor for what felt like the thousandth time. I’ve prayed for help when I felt like everything is hopeless. The problems didn’t all go away, but they seemed manageable. I had hope and peace once more.

These are all suggestions I’ve tried. They worked for me. They may not all work for you. I hope they do. The world has an unending store of problems to solve. There are things waiting to be created that are beyond our current dreams. Fill your well and you can draw from it whenever you’re in need.

Have you ever felt blocked or burnt out? What did you do? How do you fill your well?

How I Keep a Comic Diary

Last year, through a link on Arie Van De Graaff’s web page, I found Brittany Olsen’s Comic Diaries
page. I was delighted. I had just bought a brush pen and wanted more practice with it. I decided to draw a journal entry once a week in addition to my more traditional daily journaling.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. With the new pen, it was hard not to draw thick, heavy lines. It didn’t look much like a comic, either. I ended up with big, blocky pictures accompanied by words that looked like they were in bold-face type. It was discouraging.

My very first attempt at a comic diary

And then one day, I suddenly received an answer to my problem. In my mind, I saw templates that I could put on the page to make blocks for my comics. They would be the size of the sketchbook pages, while the overall size of the inside comic would remain the same, despite the number or size of boxes.

I realized that I could use the brush pen to trace the boxes and get practice, while using a smaller pen for the words and drawings so that I created a better comic. It all seemed so simple. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t thought of it before. Inspiration is like that.

I went home and dug through the recycling for the family size Lucky Charms boxes. They’d been on sale, and I’d bought several. There was just enough cardboard to make a good variety of stencils. Any other arrangement of boxes I can adapt from the existing stencils.

I use these stencils to draw the borders on my comic diaries. What a huge difference!

After a few hours of measuring, marking, and careful cutting, I had my stencils. I drew a comic diary entry using my stencils and new ideas, and I was thrilled with the results. It looked a hundred times better. It’s what I’ve done ever since.

My comic diary celebration of two years posting my stories, art and cartoons. Here was my post that day: https://summerbirdstories.com/happy-second-anniversary/

Occasionally, I accidentally skip a page. When that happens, I just add a family recipe on the blank page, comic diary style.

Seriously, try this recipe! We stole it from someone else on the internet (hence the name of the recipe)

Sometimes the weeks are extra full, and it’s hard to not cram everything that happened into the page. I think the best entries are when I share how I’m thinking or feeling, or when I celebrate one big event.

Life is full of highs and lows. Keeping a diary helps capture the emotion and the feelings in life.

I have been keeping a regular journal since high school. I have boxes and boxes of them. I can’t imagine wanting to reread them at all. I know writing in them helps me sort through events and how I feel, but I think they’re probably pretty boring.

My comic diary is interesting. It is more compact time-wise, and less text-dense. When people flip through it, it seems like they start reading without intending to, stopping themselves several pages in and apologizing. I don’t really mind, though. I hope that someday my children will find it equally interesting. It may be a good way to pass down family history. That way, they won’t have to read through boxes of journals to find out what I was thinking or feeling.

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