Week 6 Activity – The Cartoon

Something more irreverent for you this week in “Slouch to 5k” – the invitation is to draw a cartoon or a stick-figure illustration relating to your writing / your project.

Wait – you “can’t draw”, you say? That’s exactly the point here – we need to get over our creative inhibitions and be willing to do something badly in order to make progress. (Similarly with writing – if we tell ourselves our first drafts need to be masterpieces, we quickly get blocked. We have to give ourselves permission to write badly and get the “shitty first draft” (Anne Lamott) down on the page.) So, use this cartoon/illustration exercise to practise getting over your creative inhibitions. Make the drawing laughably amateurish, if need be. Who cares?

I’m going to suggest two options:


(1) draw a cartoon of yourself confronted by your most frequently occuring creative block – e.g. perfectionism, fear of failure, procrastination, workaholism/”lack of time”, feeling like “it’s too late”, not liking your environment, setting yourself unachievable goals, having bad routines (e.g. watching “too much” TV, not spending enough time alone), etc, etc.

When you draw the cartoon, exaggerate the situation with the block almost to absurdity – make it ridiculous and/or comical.

This option is a bit like the tactic of giving your negative/self-critical “voice” a silly name (“Ah there goes Ermintrude Fartwhistle again, telling me I’m no good”) or repeating the negative self-talk in a silly-sounding speaking voice in your head, thereby reducing it to ridiculousness and deflating the problem.


(2) draw a stick-figure illustration based on the themes and subject matter of your writing project. (Some of you will be accomplished artists and will want to be more ambitious, but I say stick-figure in order to make the activity approachable for the rest of us.) Explore what it is you are writing about and try to create a visual representation of the material. Be open to the unexpected as you draw – maybe you will find out something new about your project. Be playful and think laterally. The drawing does not need to be “realistic” or “logical” – in fact the more you use a dream-like “free association”, the better. Follow your instincts and allow your subconscious to come to the surface.

Remember, the point with either of these options is not the quality of the drawing itself. You’re a writer, after all, not an illustrator. The point is the content – the ideas that you explore. This exercise is just a sleight-of-hand way of picking your own creative pocket.

Have fun!