What to do when you’ve got nothing

As any creative person knows, there are times when you know you really should be practicing or coming up with new projects, but all your brain really wants to do is shut down, play Skyrim, and watch old TV. You search through your mind for something creative and new and original, and all you find is a gray haze where ideas used to be. You’ve got nothing.


And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Everybody goes through a slump from time to time, or hits a plateau where progress used to be. As long as you’re not doing Your Creative Thing professionally and paying the bills with it, it’s okay to let things get a little slack when the idea well is running a little low. As a hobbyist, there’s no one sitting in judgement over you – no boss, no client, no one. So it’s fine to take a little time off to recharge.

But – and this is important – don’t completely quit. Assign yourself one small creative task to do every day, and make sure you do it. It doesn’t have to challenge you as a Creator, but it should at least keep your skills active and allow you to produce something. For me, it’s the Word of the Day over on Reddit’s calligraphy sub. As long as I’ve done that, then I’ve done my work for the day. That box is ticked. Anything after that is bonus.

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It’s not always beautiful, folks.

You can do the same thing – Google “word of the day” and take what comes up. Here:

There – that ought to keep us occupied.

So, if you’re like me, and the creative juices aren’t very juicy right now, it’s okay – the muse will return, and hopefully with some good souvenirs from its vacation. Until then, keep your habits good, your instruments clean, and your hopes up.

Do you have any sure-fire techniques for beating the doldrums? Let us know in the comments!

Bring the Funny

There are a variety of places I like to go when I need practice material, as I mentioned a while back, but one that I really need to do more of is jokes.


They’re easy to find and fun to do.

Woof! #calligraphy #joke #magic #dogs #humor #labrador #abracadabra

A post shared by Chris Gladis (@mshades01) on


And some of them make you look smart.

One for the math folks. #calligraphy #joke #humor #fractals #math #mandelbrot

A post shared by Chris Gladis (@mshades01) on


Or ones that show off your international nature.

Har! #calligraphy #jokes #French #cooking #humor #language

A post shared by Chris Gladis (@mshades01) on


But be careful of using a joke that is too dangerous…


In the end, jokes are fun, short things to write out, and if you’re a fan of puns and groaners – like I am – you can enjoy the cognitive dissonance that comes with seeing a really bad joke written in pretty words.

For the comments, finish this joke:

How many calligraphers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Project: Mitchweek

Some Instagram calligraphers and I – @theulzo, @openinkstand, @gourmetcetera, and @dearondine – decided to do a week-long tribute the the late, great Mitch Hedberg. If you’re not familiar with his comedy, go over to YouTube and check him out.

In celebration of his work, I present my choices from this week:

Instagram - Mitch Hedberg 01

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It was a fun theme week, and nice to collaborate with other calligraphers on Instagram. Thanks, all!