Posted in Art, Heart, Milestone, Singing

Drawing, singing, and battling creative anxiety

I do the mlem :9 for day one of Inktober

This year in creativity started with my Voltron: Legendary Defender sketchathons. I wanted to follow it up with doing the couples meme from tumblr, except that this one required the input from friends and fellow fans. I also wanted to do fourteen drawings to countdown to Valentine’s Day; but after five drawings, I stopped.

Not “good enough”

I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why I stopped, but it started with a strong feeling of discontentment. I looked at my finished drawing and found it ugly, that it wasn’t “good enough”, that the people I was drawing for weren’t going to like it. I just fell quiet and decided not to pursue the meme anymore. I let my anxieties become louder and take over — as it had been doing in the past decade.

I also stopped writing. March, April, and May went by — I had a month-long staycation and started on a new job. June and July saw me transition to a home-based work arrangement. But the ideas didn’t stop coming, and I didn’t stop taking notes of things I wanted to write about for this blog.

Then singing came along in August. I had become more active in my church community, and I now find myself singing (if not leading worship) two to three times a week. Our music director remarked that I am now putting in my “ten thousand hours” — then something clicked.


The Ten Thousand Hour Rule is popular enough (to the point of it being debunked), and I’ve talked bout the 95% of work that artists have to put behind 5% of output. I don’t think ides and inspiration is a problem that I truly struggle with, but I realized that what I didn’t have was joy.

Singing and leading worship saw me in unfamiliar territory. I don’t have experience “fronting” a band in any shape or form. I’m used to disappearing in a chorale setup and finding comfort in blending in with my fellow choir members. I’m not used to hearing my own singing voice through loudspeakers. In my prayers, I told God that He’s got the wrong person, and I prayed that a more experienced worship leader’s gonna come back from leave so I can go back to being a background singer.

His answer was, “No.”

It was time to apply the lesson that God equips the called, not the other way ’round.  I had to learn how to trust Him while I’m navigating unknown waters because leading worship isn’t just singing. The anxieties came at me like a barrage of 18-wheelers to the point where I was convinced that I would pass out or throw up in front of the congregation, that I would just freeze up and no sound would come out of my mouth. But God is merciful, kind, and strong; and none of my anxieties came to pass. What came to pass was a  great time of worship in singing and music.

Soon enough, I learned how to be joyful in the season I’m in and in the duty that has been put in my hands. It helped a lot more that the community’s very supportive and that I have mentors who don’t quit.

Now, I couldn’t deny that drawing is my first love. Singing may have been the first thing I’ve done in terms of artistic expression, but drawing — pencil and ink, and maybe even painting — is the one that I pursued since I learned how to put pencil to paper. I believe that in addition to singing, drawing is a talent placed in my hands for a reason. So I prayed that if He wouldn’t have use for my drawing, to please, just take it away. I didn’t want the burden of anxiety or the frustration of not having a career in drawing.

My prayer was answered with, “No.”


September came, and my Mom celebrated her birthday. I wanted to do something for her and I jut remembered that she wanted “Voltron babies” ever since I drew baby Hunk. I wanted to paint calla lilies or turtles, but heck, if Mommy wanted chibis, she’s going to get chibis. I drew her five Paladins enjoying sweets — and she loved them. It was, to borrow an internet adage, a balm to my soul.

It was through these simple chibis that I got my first two commissions in over a decade. I also got reacquainted with my coloring materials (ink and pencil with Persona 5‘s Morgana, and Fullmetal Alchemist’s Riza Hawkeye; pastel pencils with some night skies, and Conté crayons with some skyscapes). I decided to ride out this momentum and do Inktober this yer.

See, I had been feeding my creative anxiety and insecurities by comparing myself to the artists I admire. I was envious over the fact that they have done more work than I have, that they might have had access to artistic training and education, and that they might have more time than I do to dedicate to their craft. My anxiety had me focus on what I didn’t have and what I couldn’t do as opposed to what I actually have and what I can actually do. What I have, in my eyes, may be little — they started off with little, too. The difference? They worked hard. They didn’t let their anxieties get to them. They were faithful — while I let nearly a decade to pass me by.

I’m not here to cry over spilled milk. I am able to tell this story now in the hopes of encouraging hopeful (not ‘frustrated”) artists like myself and to say: it’s never too late.

I celebrated my 34th birthday over a week ago, and I couldn’t be happier to have this rekindled love for drawing and singing. When singing, it feels like those nights when I was toddler: I would ask my Dad to put on a record and I’d ask my grandma to dress me up so I can sing and dance until I was tired. Drawing feels like being hunched over my study desk in grade school, drawing princess after princess, mermaid after mermaid, just because I wanted to. For Inktober, I drew all of the fanart and self-deprecating self-portraits I wanted and I went to bed satisfied. I’m looking forward to more nights like that with Sketchavember.

Anxiety can go throw itself in a fire. I won’t let it rob me more of my life, my time, and my joy. By the grace of God, I will exercise my creative authority, by singing until my voice is gone, and by drawing and writing until my hands and limbs won’t let me.



Redeemed. French language specialist by trade. Writer, visual artist, and singer by design.

2 thoughts on “Drawing, singing, and battling creative anxiety

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s