In the last month I’ve written 1,102 words. Not my usual 3-5k a week. Like many others, I’m finding it hard to write. Except in my journal. I write long entries each night where I complain. Share my anxiety. And then I list the things I’m thankful for.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I suffer from panic anxiety—worried about things that might never happen. Been at it for over 40 years and I’m good with coming up with worse case scenarios.

Now, it’s different. There’s a feeling where all the stuff I’d been worried about might just not be so far off. So, each day I must fight the fear and find another way to be creative.

Since writing has been hard, I’ve gone back to an old passion—drawing. My mother was an artist—oil and watercolor, mostly. I remember pinching my nose shut to avoid smelling turpentine from the little jars on her desk. I loved watching her paint long and short strokes on the canvas. “Don’t touch,” she say. “It won’t be dry for several days.” Charcoals were less smelly but messier. Black dust would get everywhere, especially on my little elbows as I watched her make a pair of old boots come to life on thick paper.

My own love of painting and drawing goes way back to when I’d paint on wood. I took part in many a craft fairs back in the 90s. I even rented a booth in Morro Bay and filled it with all of my painted creations. I still have my collection of Decorative Woodcrafts magazines. Years of them. I just couldn’t throw them out. Plus, my brushes and acrylic paints.

But now, I’m going digital. Using an iPad and Apple Pencil, along with Procreate, I’m absorbing as many Skillshare and YouTube tutorials as I can, painting along with the instructors trying to find my style. I used to prefer pen and ink and watercolor. Now, I’m finding that style is still familiar and soothing as I watch and learn and try to replicate each step. The images below are some of my creations. The bear and the fox on the ends were from tutorials. The Scotty dog in the middle was my own.

As I create, I think of characters for new children’s stories. My mind focuses on the task at hand. And, I’m happy. I’m in my own little creative space and it feels good to be there.