the zipwire to inspiration

Writer’s block is a right old bag of pants isn’t it? I’ve had it before and I dare say I’ll have it again. However, recently I have found a whole, new way to defeat it – through drawing.zipwire words big


Drawing is like a zipwire for my writing muse to swoop towards me on. When all other routes are blocked, she can leap onto the swingy-rope-thingy (technical name – who knows?) and crash straight into my brain from above.

Actually that sounds a bit grisly. I’ll leave your muse to write a more attractive metaphor…

But seriously, I’ve been doing a lot of drawing since the start of this year and what I’ve discovered is that while some drawings are complete as they are, others seem to have a story bursting out of them. Gerald the moustachioed octopus was one. Furious Bird was another (though I suspect a mere limerick does not contain his full story… ).

At the start of this year I set myself the goal of writing three more picture book texts. I wrote the first in January (I know, get me – achieving something in January besides shattered resolutions!) and have been working on a second one on and off since the start of the year too. I had no idea what the third might be at all though. Then along came Stanley:

Stanley's jumper
Stanley emerged from the shape of his (ridiculous) jumper and I had a hunch he came with a story too. I’ve started writing it now; it’s all about imagination and creativity. And  – of course – silly clothing.

There’s also Weird Bird:
weird bird
When I shared this drawing on Twitter I was pretty certain that Weird Bird would fall to her doom. But then a few people responded to say they were rooting for her and, well, being a total softy I decided they might be right. Perhaps the poor strangely-winged creature needs her own story too. A tale of triumph over adversity perhaps? I’ve yet to start writing it but it’s simmering in the background, as is a story about an astonished dinosaur, a haunted teapot and a crocodile hatching a dastardly plan… all inspired by drawings.

So, if you’re suffering writers’ block, I recommend having a doodle (and there are some great creative challenges on Twitter if you need inspiration for that!). You might not create a masterpiece but that doesn’t remotely matter – there are a whole host of other stories just waiting to leap out at you. Who knows where drawing might take you. Go on – pick up a pencil.

Writing Bubble

34 thoughts on “the zipwire to inspiration

  1. Mummy Tries

    What an awesome read Maddy! Firstly congrats on writing a whole book in January, and making a debt on #2, it’s hardly what I’d call the block! Love the sound of Stanley, and as my dear grandma was called Mavis I’m already looking forward to seeing where his journey takes him.

    I’m seriously useless in the drawing department, but found that getting good old pen and paper out with my index cards had a similar effect to what you’ve described here xx

  2. Antonia

    I love the images you’ve used. It’s interesting how drawing unblocks you. I haven’t tried that … I find movement works, like going for a walk. Love Stanley and hope to see more of him. #whatimwriting

  3. Kamsin

    Writer’s block seems to be rather productive for you! Great drawings.

    I find photography works better for me and messing about making memes. Drawing would leave me frustrated. Even my toddler in unimpressed by my attempts to draw. Lol. But I guess it’s the same principal, using a different part of the brain.
    Kamsin recently posted…5 fantastic books for your toddler boyMy Profile

  4. Emily Organ

    I think there’s a bit of weird bird in all of us. I love these pictures. I’m a big believer in creativity unlocking more creativity. When I write my first book I was spending every spare moment crocheting like mad. Large colourful blankets and bizarre looking cushion covers in every colour imaginable. Perhaps it was a bit crazed at the time but I look back and view it as a kind of transitioning stage from frustrated wannabe writer to someone who is actually quite serious about it now.
    Emily Organ recently posted…The secret of writing a book quicklyMy Profile

    1. Maddy Post author

      I love the image of your crocheting in a house covered with mad throws and cushion covers! A friend of mine has just got into crochet – it’s an impressive skill. You’ve made the transition from frustrated to serious very well. xx
      Maddy recently posted…furious birdMy Profile

  5. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    I really love how your writing is inspired by the drawing you are doing. Creativity flows for me too when I draw, but I haven’t been finding much time for it lately:-(. Need to get back to it but my time seems to disappear like sand through my fingers. xx
    Alice @ The Filling Glass recently posted…Love on Mother’s DayMy Profile

    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s so hard to find time for it all isn’t it? I’ve hardly read anything this year (normally I read constantly) and it’s because I’m drawing and going to bed later and there’s no time! I need to re-shuffle things. Thanks for commenting and I’m hoping to do bullet journalling like you suggested… if I find time to work out how to do it! xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m Writing – week sixty-sevenMy Profile

  6. Nicola Young

    Those are some great, inspirational drawings, Maddie. I can see there are so many stories waiting to burst out of them. I’m not great at drawing, but we have done illustrations in the past, when we’ve made up a character and a story to go with them. It was fun to see how the girls and I interpreted the character we imagined onto paper.
    Nicola Young recently posted…Why it’s important to spring clean your blogMy Profile

    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s lovely to draw with your kids isn’t it? And always interesting to see how different people interpret a character. Thanks for commenting, Nicola. x

  7. Angela Zemp

    This is fascinating! I have been drawing a lot more lately, & I have noticed my writing creativity going crazy. Hadn’t connected the two until reading this!

    Great post!

    Angela x

    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Angela! Before I started drawing more I thought it would take away from my writing – which it kind of has, time wise – I didn’t consider how much of a source of inspiration it could be. Good to know isn’t it? Thanks for commenting – nice to ‘meet’ you.
      Maddy recently posted…for the love of shoesMy Profile

  8. Dana

    I love this post, Maddy, and your charming drawings! I keep meaning to try that Twitter challenge with my daughter who loves drawing. Thanks for the reminder! Also, what you said in a comment about how picking up a pen activates a different part of the brain, I totally agree. Most of the time, 99% I’m a typer. My handwriting isn’t fast enough for my brain. But recently I decided to use a few bright pens and plain white paper to map out the grief course I’m creating and it was so fascinating! I definitely felt inspired in a different way.
    Dana recently posted…Making it CountMy Profile

    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s really interesting how the brain works isn’t it? You never know what might unleash creativity. You should definitely try out #shapeChallenge with your daughter – my boys love it and I’ve seen a huge increase in their artistic and creative abilities. Thanks for commenting, Dana xx
      Maddy recently posted…for the love of shoesMy Profile

  9. Chrissie

    *jealous of multi-talented talent*
    Well done with all the things in January and still managing life and kids and and and and and…
    I’ve started designating writing pads for the fiction when it stops and just doodling out some ideas (doodling for me means just writing random questions until something sticks).
    Chrissie recently posted…PreoccupationMy Profile


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