Creative Challenges Can Reduce the Fear of the Blank Page

Nikki Kann
Nikki Kann

When you hear the word challenge, how do you react? Are you filled with delight, eagerness and intrigue? Or are you overcome with dread or panic and prefer the known with tried and true ways? Does your inner critic raise its ugly head or have you tamed that beast? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between and feel a little of both sides of the coin. During the month of August, the ScrapHappy creative team will discuss and engage with a variety of creative challenges. 

When we participate in challenges, or prompts, they can improve our processes and help us grow as creatives.


Blank Page by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

Years ago, I became very aware that I was intimidated by the blank or empty space… this could mean blank paper, canvas, wall, room, etc. This goes all the way back to elementary school when I was put into advanced art. It was required of us to maintain a daily sketchbook. We could sketch just about anything we wanted from real life or our imaginations (nothing vulgar of course). Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to improve my skills and grow, my perfectionistic little soul became fearful and intimidated. I was afraid of making mistakes and not being good enough. It was the artist’s version of stage fright. 

Learning that creativity could be a practice.

My teacher could see I was struggling and gave me a gentle pep talk. She managed to convince me that there was no right or wrong way to sketch; a sketchbook wasn’t a competition, it was a practice. It was probably one of my earliest lessons in cultivating a habit for both self-expression and creativity. I wish I could say that this was the magical moment that it all changed for me, but it was a baby step in the process of becoming comfortable with expressing my ideas.

Before LOAD, the struggle was real.

Even many years into my scrapbooking life as an adult, it could sometimes take me days or weeks (or more) to finish a single page. Trusting my own judgement was an issue. I managed to second guess many of the choices I made. This could mean which paper or embellishment, how many photos or which ones, how to crop them or most of all: where to put it all in relation to each other (and surprise! I even have a graphic design background). It is shocking that I didn’t give up because of the way I let my inner critic rule me. My creative spirit was fighting to get outside my self imposed box.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

LOAD challenges helped me learn to trust my choices.

This brings me to the first scrapbooking challenge I ever engaged with in May 2014. Thankfully, the LOAD (Layout-A-Day) challenge still exists. I imagine that those of you who read this blog are already very familiar with ScrapHappy’s (inspired) monthly LOAD challenges which happen every October, February, and May consistently. Some years there are also fun bonus mini (weekly) LOADs in July or August. LOAD challenges are the main reason that I have as many completed pages as I do. Also, because of the incentive of a finisher’s prize, I was encouraged to finish daily layouts in 24 hours or less. What a process improvement from days or weeks!

Permission to use tools, like sketches, to get more done.

I’m quite sure it was during my first LOAD challenge in 2014 when I was first “given permission” to use tools, like sketches. These were meant to help aid in the faster completion of layouts and to release perfectionism. I even tried the idea of using a timer, but that stressed me out too much. Another new technique I tried during early years of LOAD was to roll dice and pre-assign the numbers 1-6 (for one die) or 1-12 (for 2 dice) to various common scrapbooking tasks and let the dice make decisions for me. The habit of using this didn’t stick with me, though. It may have been because I couldn’t embrace too many recipes or rules being placed upon me at once. (Am I actually part rebel?) 

Thankfully, LOAD taught me to tell special memories and stories even when there are no photos.

Prior to this, my photography or old family photos were the main focus. This layout (from my first LOAD in May 2014) was about all the games I played with the adults in my family during the 70s and 80s.

LOAD is an example of a daily practice (1-4x a year) that improves my skills. I needed to find the right balance of inspiration to encourage a confident vision to take shape. LOAD story challenges really clicked for me and still excite me. My ability to tell better stories on my layouts has grown and my layouts feel more fulfilling to me. What start out as simple stories now take on interesting perspectives depending on the unique themes of that month’s LOAD. Click here to find the most recent LOAD challenge

Trying something new: Mood Board.

I have yet to find other challenges that match the depth and impact of what LOAD offers, but I do attempt others occasionally. For this month’s topic, I decided to give a new one a try and did a Google search for scrapbooking challenges. What instantly pulled me in were mood board challenges.

I selected this August mood board challenge from Maja Designs based in Sweden. The summer palette of ocean blues and sandy browns suited my vacation mood and my photos.

 I love playing with color and the idea of using a pre-set palette for inspiration and direction really excited me. I was hoping the challenges would be current, but I realized (as I was writing this blog) that most were dated between 2018-2019. It must have been a trend during those years that I didn’t know about. Despite being late to the color party, I was still feeling connected to it for the photos I had in mind. I used this one from Maja Designs as a starting point for my recent (incredible) visit to Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain.

I used SimpleScrapper Sketch #634 for inspiration, which is available as part of the Simple Scrapper membership.

For the journaling, I turned my handwriting into a font for free, using this website called Calligraphr

Various embellishments are from Ali Edwards and ocean elements are from Christine Adolph for Creative Imaginations. Border doodle is by Nikki Kann.

Try these Color Challenges.

If you are inspired by a pre-determined color palette, here are some other challenges that I found in my research:

All this color lead me to remember the Pantone color of this year: Very Peri 17-3938. I found this page of current Pantone color palette trends of 2022. I can foresee myself using the Wellspring palette for future layouts of my visit to the Sagrada Familia, also in Barcelona. The varied colors would highlight the photos of the stained glass interior beautifully.


Share your color inspired pages with us.

If you know of other color or mood board challenges, or have pages you created using mood boards or palettes, please share below with our ScrapHappy family. We’d love to be inspired by you!

Check back later this month on the blog for more ways to use creative challenges.

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