The Sticky Note Project, and "Just Start, God Damn It!"

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I’ve been struggling to start this blog for so long.

About six months ago I got the urge to start writing again. Writing’s always been a big part of my life- mostly prose- but since starting comics, my urge to write literary fiction has been overtaken by this new form of telling my stories. But writing is such a huge part of me that I felt bad for not writing something. I’ve always strived to find balance between writing and drawing, and whenever I’m doing one of more than the other, I start to yearn for whatever I’m not doing.

So I started thinking of ways I could begin writing again. I dabbled with a couple of short stories but quickly figured out that now narrative was such a huge part of my art I didn’t really want to write the kind of stories I was also drawing. Then, the idea of a blog came up.

Over the past year or so I’ve been watching a lot- a lot- of vlogs. Casey Neistat’s daily vlogs and Tomska’s Last Week have been totally fascinating to me, because they’re a completely unique depiction of one person’s life and passions. I really wanted a slice of that for myself, a way to talk about the things I loved, my hopes, my fears, my journey through what is going to be one hell of a year. Unfortunately, I’m camera shy and a terrible overthinker, so vlogs were never going to really be something I could do. Writing, however, has always been my outlet for my thoughts and feelings, because I’m confident with words in a way I’ve never been with anything else. Words are all at once a way of protecting myself by hiding what I don’t want to be seen and a way of being vulnerable- and it wasn’t so long ago that blogs were to the internet what vlogs are now.

But then I did what I always do when I get a big idea- I overthought myself out of it. “Nobody reads blogs any more,” I thought. And it’s true- you never really here about people sharing blogs any more. Youtube’s taken that space of easy accessibility into people’s minds. “You have nothing to talk about,” was another worry. That wasn’t really true- I had lots I wanted to talk about- my thoughts about art, the things I liked, my plans and worries and hopes for graduation and beyond.

“It’s all been done before, and nobody will care what you have to say about it,” went the voice in my head. “You’re probably right,” I agreed, and so I continued on in a limbo state of both wanting to express myself somehow and being terrified that it was a lost cause anyway.

This is something I do very regularly. I’m an awful overthinker, and it leads to me backing out of things that I really want to do because I’ve come up with every single excuse as to why it could fail spectacularly and therefore why it’s a terrible idea. But this year, I’m trying not to be scared of failure. I’m trying to embrace it as part of life and process and something that will help me grow. “I will start a blog,” I decided. “About something. About art. There are lots of art things I can talk about!” So I sat down at my computer and wrote maybe a paragraph in an hour and then deleted it all and went to bed, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that better people than me had done that schtick before and I’d be one tiny voice in a sea of self-important opinions.

The next day, I was sat back at my computer and I happened to glance at the sticky notes that had fallen off the side of my computer tower. I wrote them out a week ago when I was in an art slump and was feeling very depressed about how slowly things seem to be going for me lately. They’re from a talk by Lucy Bellwood and they say “The internet will not give you what you want”. It’s my favourite quote right now, and having it up on sticky notes on the side of my computer keeps me grounded when social media anxiety threats to swallow me whole.

The sticky notes, and the small words of personal reassurance I’d put on them, sparked an idea. There is so much I could write about “The internet will not give you what you want”, both from a personal standpoint and a creative standpoint. And I thought about all the other little reassurances I’m working so hard to give myself that could be put onto sticky notes. And I thought about the small notes I make about things I need to do for projects, the scribbled personal notes for things I’d forget otherwise, the lists and sums and ideas, and I realised how much these tiny little notes can convey about our lives and our work and our hopes and fears. And I wondered what people would find out about me if they saw me just through those tiny notes, and all the things I could say about them.

So I sat down and I write some rules for myself.

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My note for today, “Just START god damn it,” was more than just a reminder to start this blog. It was a reminder to be imperfect, to think less and do more. It was a reminder to not be too harsh on myself. It was a reminder that failure and success are totally subjective and it doesn’t even matter if nobody reads this blog. Success is not the point- at least not today. Today, the point is to start, and that is the only first step anyone can ever take towards the myriad of other goals this year might bring. You don’t get anything if you don’t start and that’s something I need to remember more. Perhaps that stupid voice in my head is right, and nothing will happen with this blog, nobody will read it, and it’ll just exist on the internet in its own vacuum, as many things do.

But I don’t get to find out for sure unless I just start, god damn it.

Lauren BaileyComment