the power of newsprint.

I don’t draw as much as I would like. I wish I was one of those people who just sits around filling up notebooks all day, but I’m not.

The other day I stopped to ask myself, “why don’t I draw more often?” and I thought the answer would be that I’m lazy or that I have some big creative block. Instead, the answer was: I don’t have any paper

That’s not true. I have too much paper. I have Strathmore 400 Series white, gray, and tan paper. I have Bristol paper. I have watercolor blocks. I have giant archival cotton paper. I have black paper. I have beautiful bound notebooks in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

And you know what? They are all mostly empty.

Why? Because anytime I wanted to draw, this thought was stopping me:

“I don’t want to waste my good paper on cheap drawings” 

I always felt like I wasn’t “ready” to make a finished drawing, and since I didn’t want to waste nice paper on warmups or practice, I was stuck. I couldn’t draw. 

Once I identified that insanity, I immediately went out and bought reams of newsprint, which is the cheapest, most “throwaway” paper you can buy. Literally, you can buy 500 sheets at Blick for $5.

Guess what? Since I started using newsprint, I’ve never drawn so much in my life.

Some pages are just scribbles – line and oval practice, hatch marks, and other junk. Other pages are fully-rendered drawings of palm trees, shells, and more.

As stupid as this is, it’s a common issue for creatives across fields – we put so much weight onto using the best tools to create our best work that we end up getting crushed under that weight. 

No matter what your creative domain, there is a “newsprint” equivalent you can use to free yourself from this weight… Digital artists could create a document with the expectation that it will be deleted once finished. Music producers could create a folder  called “throwaway” and start all their projects in there. Writers could write on paper and expect to shred the pages once finished. 

The irony is that once you’re free from the need to create your best work, you often do. 

📰 subscribe.

join the 2+ readers who get my label. newsletter featuring the latest in art / music / tech / design delivered to their inboxes every weekend: