Neil Gaiman has it right – when things are tough, one of the best things you can do is make good art. If you can get yourself into the head space to create, you’re on your way to enjoying art’s many benefits.
On the other hand, when things are tough, it may be particularly difficult to reach a point where you feel capable of creating something. For those times, Tonci Zonjic’s NOT/BUT comics can be downright inspirational.
Zonjic’s comics focus on the idea that showing up and putting pen to paper is more important than what happens next — that you’ll have more success making art, period, if you’re not so hung up on the “good” part that you get in the way of your own efforts.
Artist Austin Kleon added an addendum to Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech that gets to much the same point:
‘Good’ can be a stifling word, a word that makes you hesitate and stare at a blank page and second-guess yourself and throw stuff in the trash. What’s important is to get your hands moving and let the images come. Whether it’s good or bad is beside the point. Make art.
So if you feel like you have a garbage brain that’s holding you back, or making good art sounds like more than you’re up for — why not try to do what you can? Write a few lines of absolute dreck. Doodle on a napkin and throw it in the garbage. Grab a simple app like Twine and make a two-minute game about how silly you feel making a two-minute twine game.
And check out the rest of Zonjic’s NOT/BUT comics for further motivation when you need it.