One of the questions I wondered during design school is how important is sketching now that we live in a computerized age. Is it a defunct technique we no longer need, or do we need now more than ever?
When I was first starting back as a creative person, this question sort of answered itself. I remember the first time I sat in front of the computer and tried to write. Maybe it was because I was forcing it, but I don’t think so. It didn’t work out well for me, and I think that is because it put too much pressure on me.
I stepped away from the computer and didn’t touch it for days after that. It was strange. A year before, I couldn’t go without writing every day, and now, I was having trouble even sitting down at the computer to write. It was too much.
I did some other stuff instead of writing. I worked on handlettering. I worked on web design. I worked on logos for companies that didn’t even exist. And really, it was fun. That’s when I realized I was pigeon-holing myself. Because I’m not just a writer. It makes up a large majority of what I am, but it isn’t all that I am. I needed more.
So I stepped away from the computer. I played with hand lettering, some of which I have posted here. I pulled out an old notebook and started playing with it. Playing with the space on the page, figuring out how I could cover it, and how I should let the space show through. Positive and negative space.
This brings me to the question… Is sketching still needed? Is it important still? I hated it in school. It drove me up a wall to keep a sketch journal. But now I find that I carry one around with me everywhere I go. Even to work, even though I never ever touch it there because I just don’t have time while I’m running around.
So is it needed?
I think about all the times I’ve turned my laptop screen down and moved to the couch with a notebook and just wrote. Or all the times I was in class, bored, and started doodling or writing new chapters. There is something about turning off the technology, and going back to basics. Going back to pen and paper. Mindless doodling sometimes brings out the best in us, the most creative, think outside the box part of us.
Do I think it’s needed? Do I think it’s important?
Obviously, yes, I do. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t. It worked for me. It brought me back to writing when the computer scared me away. It let me play with the creative part of my mind without restrictions, without needing to know how to do something particular on the computer. I could just create, and not worry about how to do it, or if I could figure it out as a vector, or will it work with the story. It didn’t matter on paper.
Sometimes the old way works better than new ways.
Not saying I’d ever give up my computer, but sometimes it’s just right to sit back with a notebook and just let the creative flow come from my fingertips through a pencil. This week, I’m going to try it with writing. It works for design, so I think it’ll do well for writing as well. I’ll report in next week and let you know how it goes.