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by Dawn DeVries Sokol

I spent a few days in 2012 painting a utility box for the City of Tempe in Arizona, my hometown. Six artists were selected to paint utility boxes along the downtown corridor and I was one of them. My submission was the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (Ghandi).

I used my lettering skills to paint the quote as a wraparound of the box. I met people, homeless teens, those who worked in the downtown area, and those coming out of their condos and apartments in search of their morning coffee. I started at 9 a.m. each day and watched as the intersection came alive with pedestrians, supply trucks, and shops opening.

But now I think the quote should be reworded to: Be the change you wish to BE in your world.

We all have moments we think very little of ourselves, especially as creatives. I think we should all take a moment to SEIZE THE DAY.

Seize the Day and Be the Change…geez, I’m getting cliché. But think about it for a moment. Just when you’re feeling down about yourself and your own creativity is the moment you need to run with it—take the bull by the horns and just CREATE. It’s really that simple. Be George Constanza in “Seinfeld”: Do or say the opposite of what you would normally. You might find yourself in a much better situation. Instead of wallowing in it, suck it up and get out of the pool. Will yourself to create. Even if it’s just making a mark, gluing down random bits of papers, writing a phrase here and there, whatever.

So, the next time you find yourself unmotivated, less than confident, majorly uninspired, and feeling like the last thing you could be is prolific, FIGHT IT. Don’t surf the internet. Don’t ogle other artists’ or illustrators’ work and wish it were yours. Don’t mourn your creative spark. Simply grab a pen, just an ordinary black felt tip pen. And doodle. Doodle on white paper. Pick a shape, your favorite shape, and repeat it on the paper over and over. Big, small, abstract, uniform, etc. Now shade some of them in, outline others, go back over to make them more elaborate. Just DOODLE. Doodle words that pop into your head along with the shapes. If anything, you’re making your own mark, feeding your own spark. Even if it’s rudimentary. Even if it’s extremely uninspired. You’re doing it. And that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.

Always told she would be a writer, Dawn DeVries Sokol earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s renowned Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. But she yearned to create visually, and soon worked her way from editing newspapers to art directing magazines, such as America West Airlines Magazine—from which a feature she art directed landed in Print Magazine’s 2002 Regional Design Annual. For 10 years, she designed books for U.S. publishers such as Sterling Publishing, Gibbs Smith, North Light, Quarry, and The Countryman Press. Now a widely published author, artist, and illustrator, she lives and creates in her Tempe, AZ, studio with her dog, Lola. Dawn is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Her latest book is THE POSTCARD PROJECT. Follow Dawn on Twitter and Instagram @dawndsokol and visit her at

Dawn is giving away a copy of her latest book, THE POSTCARD PROJECT, to one random winner.

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Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

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