For as long as I can remember I've had a sketchbook on the go. I think I established the habit when I started senior school, but I remember having them back in junior school as well. They’ve been a companion beside me all that time, whether I’ve been drawing, writing, brainstorming, planning, or something else, they’ve helped me to be creative in some form or another.
When a new sketchbook arrives, it always brings a moment of joy. The moment the wrappings come off is one of the two moments that a sketchbook is perfect. There are no creases on the spine, no scuffs on the cover, no page corners curling up or folded in, everything sits square and compact, full of potential. I always enjoy that moment. When a sketchbook is first opened it’s exciting, there’s potential on those pages, but with it comes a hesitancy, it’s something that I don’t want to ruin.
It’s the fear of the blank page.
Over the last few years when I’ve started a new sketchbook I’ve developed a habit. I open it to the first page, grab a pen and I write the same sentence.
I give myself permission to mess this sketchbook up.
From then on I use it how I want and it doesn’t matter what goes in it.
It might seem a bit silly to write that sentence on the first page, but without it it would take a lot longer for my sketchbooks to get to their second point of perfection. The moment they are finished, either because they are completely full, or the year has ended. At that point it’s done it’s job and deserves it’s spot on my shelf alongside all it’s older siblings, it’s perfect because it’s been used and not wasted. It’s helped me think, helped me create, helped me process events that have passed, it’s potential has been met.
Without that first page sentence and my natural state of being a perfectionist, there’s a chance those sketchbooks would remain on the shelf in their first state of perfection. And in that state they would be a waste. What would be the point in owning them, if they remained forever in their first state of perfection and never made the journey to the second state of perfection?
It’s not just a sketchbook that has these two states of perfection. A blog has them, a canvas has them, a book has them, a roll of film or an SD card in a camera has them. The unused perfection, and the finished, full, complete perfection of a job well done.