creativity and inspiration

You know that feeling when you start a new relationship and everything is exciting and fizzes and crackles and you can’t wait to spend time with that other person and you think about them all the time and keep smiling to yourself and feeling a little giddy? That’s how I’ve felt this past week. Only it’s not a new man (phew!) it’s a new creative avenue. I’m mad for drawing.

It all began with Twitter. Well, Twitter, and a chat with a really good friend.  You see, I was nervous about this illustration course I’d signed up to do and I thought I might procrastinate my way out of beginning it even before the course materials had arrived so, with the encouragement of this kick-ass friend of mine, I decided to throw myself in at the deep end and join in with an artistic project on Twitter.

A bit like how I felt about doing an illustration course!

A bit like how I felt about doing an illustration course!

It’s called #ShapeChallenge and is run by author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre (I love her books!). Every week day she tweets a shape and encourages anyone – people of all ages and abilities – to draw/paint/create something based on it. Everyone then tweets their creations and ‘likes’ and comments on each others pictures. It’s FAB.

I’ve joined in every day for the past week and, even better, my sons have joined in too! My older two love doing it and even their little brother sits beside them and earnestly scribbles on a piece of paper. I’ve loved watching how their brains interpret the shape and the different things they’ve come up with. It’s felt like such a positive thing to do together.


Owl – by my six-year-old. The original shape was one of the wings.


‘The diver’ by my eight-year-old. The original shape made me think of a hat but this is much better!

The other people who’ve been taking part in Shape Challenge have all been so lovely and welcoming too. There are lots of ‘proper’ illustrators who do it but also plenty of children and people who just enjoy drawing. After I post our pictures for the day I always go through the feed and look at what everyone else has created – it’s hugely inspiring! Honestly, I’ve been feeling a bit high on it all!

I’ve also found the idea of drawing something and tweeting it immediately, really liberating. I think I could spend ages on a drawing and decide it’s no good but somehow, the process of this challenge – having the shape to work with and then the community to tweet it to – has allowed me to overcome the fear and doubt and just go for it. It’s also inspired me – just looking at a blank piece of paper can be intimidating, but put a little white shape (with a red dot in it) there instead and it’s amazing what your brain comes up with. I’m pretty sure that even in the space of a week, my ability has improved. I mean, ok, I’m not producing great works of art but I’ve surprised myself with how not-totally-shit it is.

howard the monster

The original shape is in the bottom corner. It took my boys a while to spot the shape in the drawing!

Even better, it’s filling me with more ideas for writing too, and making me think about ways of overcoming procrastination and blocks there. I set myself a writing challenge last week where I hoped to harness this same idea of doing something quickly and throwing it out there. Just like with drawing, it took away the stress and was really fun. I’m going to do more.

I know this is a very image-heavy post but I just want to add one final picture – in celebration of unusual plumage everywhere and because all stories need to be told. :)

Maud's unsual plumage

Be like Maud.

Writing Bubble

25 thoughts on “creativity and inspiration

  1. Dana

    I love this post! Especially that first paragraph which I can totally relate to :) That’s exactly how I felt writing my short story last month. I think the drawing Twitter challenge sounds fab and I’m glad it’s sparking your creativity and bravery. How awesome that your boys are doing it too! I bet my daughter would love that… We may join in :)
    Dana recently posted…When The Story Finds YouMy Profile

  2. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Definitely be like Maud! I love how you have been doing this with your boys, I am often amazed by how creative an inspiring children can be, and its got to be good for their brains. I’m going to look into doing something similar (although maybe more privately as my drawing skills are rubbish!). xx
    Alice @ The Filling Glass recently posted…Gratitude Journal JanuaryMy Profile

  3. Emily Organ

    Brilliant, now I am trying really really hard not to get involved with this because I know I would work on this instead of writing. Your excuse is that you combine writing and illustration anyway! Great pictures, it’s amazing what a prompt can do. Are you scanning in your pictures or taking a photo of them on your phone and tweeting? I’m sure this will lead to lots of creative new ideas for you and I’m also wondering if your future picture book projects will start with the pictures first or the words first.
    Emily Organ recently posted…The sequel and a new approachMy Profile

    1. Maddy Post author

      Interesting thought, Emily (about whether I’d start with words or pictures) – I’ve wondered about writing more about Maud. I mostly scan the pictures in as they look better that way, although some are taken on my phone. The ones in this post are scanned though. Thanks for commenting xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m Writing – week sixty-twoMy Profile

  4. Rhyming with Wine

    This is brilliant! I have absolutely zero artistic talent but I love the idea of it. Your “Howard” sketch is genius from that original shape. I heart Maud too!

    Dawn x

  5. Sophie Lovett

    I love seeing your drawings pop up on my instagram feed – you definitely have a talent there! The shape challenge is a great idea for inspiration and breaking through the fear of sharing things. It’d be fun to do something similar with words to get the creative juices flowing… But that might just be the ‘I’ve got a novel to write’ procrastination machine talking! xx
    Sophie Lovett recently posted…Rejigging my routineMy Profile

  6. Verily Victoria Vocalises

    I used to draw years ago and I truly believed that I was pretty rubbish but seeing this challenge – and your response to it is wonderful! What a brilliant idea! I love what you and your kids have done too, they are brilliant. I particularly love Maud as well. I think I might have to give this a go at some point. Thank you for hosting #WhatIAmWriting


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