I have a hard time with the starting sometimes. Okay, all the times. Even if I already know what the first step should be. Even if I’ve already started it the day before – next day, same thing. Walk into my studio, and the fear bugs descend and try and keep me from moving. Ever been there? Yes of course you have.
But! We still get shit done, because there are tools to get past this! Starting rituals are great. Little steps you take daily so that starting is just another step, like putting on your running shoes the second you get out of bed (don’t worry, I’m not that disciplined.) My ritual just underwent a fall shift and I’ve added a really brilliant little exercise I recently stumbled into. In my head I call it double-blind contour drawing.
BLIND contour drawing has been one of my favourite exercises since forever. With that one, you draw the contours of your subject, without looking at your paper – not once! The trick is pretending your pencil is actually touching the thing in front of you as you move your eyes around it. This is great for loosening up and subjugating your doubt monster, since there’s no option to draw the object the “right”. It’s also a really beautiful way to observe and quiet.
But what’s double-blind contour drawing? The next logical step, of course – close your eyes entirely! Every morning, and sometimes before every new task, I do double-blind contour therapy. I start by choosing the first task to work on for that day, item 1 on my intention list. Then, I locate paper and close my eyes. Instead of following the contours of an object out in the real world, I visualize the project I am starting, just that first little minute part of it, and I draw that. Sometimes I just draw myself making a phone call, or looking pensively at a piece of wood, or whatever the first order of business may be.
So, duh, it just ends up being a bunch of squiggledy lines. But, by the time I open my eyes, something miraculous has happened. I have a clearer view of what I’m about to start. I know a little more about where it’s headed. I have already taken the first step, completely risk free. And you know what? The fear is gone, because I tricked some little part of me into believing that this thing I have to do is safe and known – because I’ve already drawn it and absolutely nobody died.
So I offer to you, next time you’re in doubt, put your pencil on your page, close your eyes and imagine what you need to do. Picture the completed task or yourself in the middle of it. Draw that. Be as loose or as detailed as you wish. After a couple minutes open your eyes and laugh at your drawing, then leap into action.
Like me, you will probably end up with a handsome little pile of nonsense drawings, but you might also end up with enough peace to start your day.