Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Inktober’s challenge is simple: during the month of October, make a drawing every day. The original challenge (2009) stipulated that the drawing should be created with black ink on paper. Since then, the “rules” have become more flexible and artists have interpreted Inktober with all kinds of media. I rarely finish all thirty-one drawings, but the spirit of it is what I love. Every year, Inktober reminds me that it’s important to draw for fun, daily if possible. I used to do that a lot — now I have to make a conscious effort to take out my sketchbook and doodle. It’s a habit that I want to cultivate and protect.
One of the things I love about this exercise is that it reminds me that doing warm-up drawings significantly improves my mind-hand connection, and I surprise myself with how much easier it is to draw throughout the day during Inktober. I find drawing to be like working out, and I feel quite out of shape if I haven’t drawn in a few days.
Last year, I had significant arm/shoulder/wrist pain and could hardly draw at all for the whole month, and into November. It was a wake-up call and proof that I needed to take better care of my systems in general: get more sleep, eat nutritious foods, hydrate, stretch. I’m not shooting for perfection with all that stuff, but I realized that have to prioritize self-care, otherwise I can’t draw! It was worrisome at the time, but now I know what the problem was. Inktober helped me see that there was something wrong — simply because I noticed I couldn’t draw every day.
Lots of people post their Inktober drawings on social media, which is super fun to sift through and see how everyone is interpreting the daily prompt. This can be dangerously distracting though, and I have to be very conscious of falling down the rabbit hole of scrolling through other people’s fascinating artwork and news. I get angry about the way social media sites have designed the apps to be deliberately addictive — I am so susceptible to it. I will mindlessly return to the app again and again and again, even if I haven’t made the conscious decision to do so. Even if I decided I wouldn’t open my app again for the next few hours, there I am, scrolling. I can lose hours this way, precious creativity hours that I need to protect for my own sanity and well being. Having said that though, there are so many things to learn and absorb from social media that are worthwhile. It’s just really hard for me to be moderate about it. Usually I delete all my apps all day, and block the websites on my phone so I can focus on my studio work. But I make an excuse for Inktober and do a bit of a social media splurge!
I have heard that people get stressed out about Inktober, which seems like the antithesis of what it’s about. I can see why it would feel stressful, if you felt pressured to post everything every day, but I guess that’s why I try to shield myself from social media and not let it become too intertwined with my sense of creativity and self. It’s difficult. But that feeling of just drawing, just for fun, just for me, is a facet of my creative life that I will try to nurture forever. And I think that’s at the heart of the spirit of Inktober. Ok, time to draw!