The 25 Minute Rule: How I Stop Procrastinating

Sometimes the challenge of keeping up a long term art project like PTP is not coming up with ideas or worrying about how poorly I draw men, but rather simply the act of working on it every few days. The 25 Minute Rule: How I stop Procrastinating & Get Started

At while I enjoy drawing paper dolls and drawing paper dolls is my hobby, it is not my only hobby nor is it always what I want to do. Times like this, like these last few weeks, I begin to dread working on paper dolls.

Not because I don’t want to do it, but it because it just feels like “too much.”

I open my in-progress folder on my laptop and everything feels like so much work. There’s a dozen paper doll sets sitting there. None of them are finished. Some are months old and the idea of working on any of them is entirely overwhelming.

On some days when I feel this way, I ignore the problem.

I ink or I sketch. I come up with things to post on Twitter or I work on simple coding projects like re-sizing most of the blogs older images to a larger format.

But I can’t keep that up for long. Not when I have a little backlog as I currently do.

So, I would like to introduce my readers to what I call the “25 Minute Rule.”

The 25 Minute Rule: Once 25 minutes are spent on a task, you can stop.

The 25 Minute Rule is simple. It is how I get started when I don’t want to get started on something. I just promise myself that after 25 minutes working on a task, I can stop working on the task. It gives me permission to leave in the middle, but also the knowledge that 25 minutes isn’t that long of a period of time.

Like right now… Right now, I have dozens of mostly, partly, sorta finished stuff that I could work on and nothing I want to work on. I look at my in-process folder and all I see is problems… This one needs tabs. This one needs to be resized. These need to be colored. This needs to be…

My In-Progress Paper Dolls Folder

The scary state of my in-progress paper doll sets. Some of these have been sitting in here for nearly a year.

Intellectually, I know that all I really need to do is, as my father is fond of saying, “apply the seat of my pants to the seat of a chair.”

I really don’t want to. Fighting my procrastinating ways can be so hard.

So, here’s what I have been doing in the evening for the last few days. I get home from work. I make dinner. I eat and then I set up my laptop on the dining room table and write down on a piece of paper what I am going to do. My having my task in writing, I hold myself to it.

Last night, my piece of paper read, “Clean up line work on Mini-Maiden Sets”

The paper doll set before I spent 25 minutes working on it.

My Amelia Bloomer inspired Mini-Maiden steampunk set when I opened it last night.

Then I set a timer and I did it for 25 minutes.

When my timer went off, I stopped. Sometimes, I don’t stop. Starting is the hard part, so sometimes I keep going and then I look up and an hour has passed. Last night though, I had a list of other things to do- mostly involving cleaning my house.

Here are the results of my 25 minutes of labors.

The paper doll set after I spent 25 minutes working on it.

My Amelia Bloomer steampunk set after 25 minutes of cleaning up line work. This is one layer. The paper doll and her shoes are on another layer.

So, I hope my 25 Minute Rule works for other people. It has helped me draw, clean and exercise. I find no matter how little I want to do something, I can almost always force myself to do it for 25 minutes or, if it is something I am really dreading, fifteen minutes. I struggle to start projects when they feel overwhelming and this helps me. Maybe it will help you too.

Ragamuffin Girl: Steampunk Paper Doll

Ragamuffin Girl. I previewed this paper doll back in April, but even when I previewed it, the paper doll set had been sitting in my sketchbook for a month or more. I was dreading work on it, not because I didn’t like the paper doll, but because the idea of coloring all the detail was terrifying.

So, last week, when I was finally out of everything else I had drawn for Marisole Monday & Friends that I could feed the blog, I found myself finally tackling this paper doll set. Sometimes I have to be forced into these things.

All right, so inspirations for today’s paper doll set include the film Newsies and that’s really about it. Though I confess I do rather see today’s version of Mia hanging out with my airship mechanic Marcus. I mean they both have tools and newsboy caps.

Ragamuffin Girl
{Click Here for a PDF to Print} {Click Here for a PNG to Print} {Click Here for More Marisole Monday & Friends Printable Paper Dolls}

I try to create for all my Marisole Monday & Friend’s paper dolls somewhat evenly. Currently though, this is only Mia’s second set this year. That puts her behind well… everyone else. So, she’ll get some more love soon though since I’ve got a ballerina set in the works for her and Monica. (Yes, I tackled my fear of tutus.)

Today’s paper doll set will, of course, be up in color next week and then… I have no idea what’s next, actually. Probably ballerinas.

Alien Fashions for the Ms. Mannequin Paper Dolls

Link to sci-fi inspired fashions from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashions Yesterday, I posted Xylra my new alien paper doll and I wanted to get her fashions up today. Not just because I think they are neat, but because I have been rather neglectful of the blog this July and if I post these this week then I won’t feel so guilty.

Blog guilt is a powerful motivating factor in my life.

Xylra is a fashionable intergalatic astrophysist and I confess I have no idea how practical any of these pieces would be for someone studying astrophysics. Truth be told, I have no idea what an astrophysicist does all day, but then I suppose most astrophysicists probably don’t know what Special Collection librarians do all day which makes us even. (For those of you who haven’t read my about page, I am a Special Collection librarian when I’m not drawing paper dolls.)

Anyway, one of my rules with paper dolls is to avoid being bogged down by practicality or common sense when designing fantasy or sci-fi clothing. A rule I haven’t violated here.

Sci-fi inspired paper doll clothes from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series in black and white for coloring. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashionsSci-fi inspired paper doll clothes from the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, any of those paper dolls can wear these intergalactic fashions
{Click Here for a PDF in Color} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Color}{Click Here for a PDF of Black and White} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Black and White}{Click Here for More Clothes}{Click Here for Paper Dolls to Wear These Clothes}
I did want to take a moment and talk about the colors in today’s set of paper doll clothes. Originally, I was planning on a more traditional cyberpunk color scheme, but I wanted to see if I would work with colors that I actually didn’t like. Perhaps an odd mental exercise, but important, I think, to growing as an artist. I considered doing two coloring jobs, one with colors I liked and one with colors I didn’t, but once I’d colored the paper doll clothes with my “ugly color scheme”, I found that I actually rather liked them. Perhaps spending time with the colors softened me up towards them or perhaps I just didn’t want to recolor the whole thing. Either way, enjoy my foray into an “ugly color scheme” and if you don’t like it, well… there’s a black and white version for a reason. Enjoy!

Xylra: A New Ms. Mannequin Paper Doll from Space!

Link to Xylar an alien paper doll with two pairs of shoes in black and white and color. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, she can wear any of the Ms. Mannequin clothing or her own intergalactic fashion set Back in March I mentioned that I was working on an alien/sci-fi Ms. Mannequinn paper doll set and this is the first part of that paper doll creation. After all, you can’t do alien fashions without having an alien to show them off. So, today I present Xylra, a leading intergalactic astrophysicist who happens to be fashionably dressed, though you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see her outfits. I was going to say she was an intergalatic fashion model and spy, which of course she still could be, but I was reminded of something I read years ago on the Toy Box Philosopher when she reviewed the Nova Stars dolls by MGA.

Novi Stars were aliens who had come to earth to to “try new things, update the fashion trends, and make new friends.” The dolls were cute enough I suppose, but as it was pointed out by Toy Box Philosopher at the time, “Why, oh why, does fashion have to be such a huge part of every doll’s personality? I mean, I love a fashionable doll, but can’t they be, say, rocket scientists who happen to have a good sense of style?”

So, I decided that Xylra would not be an intergalactic fashion model. Of course, if you personally want her to be, than I say go for it! That’s part of the fun of paper dolls.

Xylar an alien paper doll with two pairs of shoes in black and white and color. Part of the Ms. Mannequin series, she can wear any of the Ms. Mannequin clothing or her own intergalactic fashion set

{Click Here for a PDF in Color} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Color}{Click Here for a PDF of Black and White} {Click Here for a 150 dpi PNG in Black and White}{Click Here for More Clothes}{Click Here for Friends for Her}

Xylra’s skin patterning was inspired by the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine race called the Dosi who show up in only one episode. Frankly, I think their makeup is a bit over the top for a Star Trek species, but I liked the patterns on their faces enough to adapt them. Besides, I see Xylra as being much more of a retro-space fantasy than anything even vaguely realistic. After all, how realistic can a paper doll with teal skin and pink eyes really be?

Xylra’s outfits will be up on Friday. :)

Miss Missy’s Fresh Fruit Fashion Contest

So, Miss Missy who runs a wonderful paper doll blog of her own over at Miss Missy Paper Dolls is currently hosting a contest where you design an outfit set on something like Polyvore or Pinterest and then she will let people vote on the winner and draw the fashions for this cute little paper doll.

While I am not the most Polyvore savy person, I did two designs. I submitted my favorite, but thought I would share my other one as a way to encourage people to participate.

Fresh Fruit Fashion: Lemon/Lime


And no… I am not being asked to do this. I just think it’s such a cool idea that I wanted to mention it. The deadline is July 30 though, so create fast!

You can read all about it on Miss Missy’s Fresh Fruit Fashion Contest post.

Edit 7/30/2015: Missy has extended the deadline to August 7th and updated the rules and prizes. You can read all about it here.

Prince and Gentleman: A Prince Paper Doll in Greens

A printable prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century in shades of green. At the moment, I am trying to get inspired to give the male paper dolls some love. I am trying to convince myself that male clothing is as interesting as female clothing. I am trying to develop the same interest drawing for guys as I do for girls.

It is not easy.

I realize that a lot of it is in my head. I don’t think I’m good at drawing males and my insecurity makes it hard to want to try. Usually, I think of drawing male paper dolls as something I do “for my readers” and not something I do for myself.

This is a line of reasoning that I am trying to stop using. Drawing things for other people is, for me, a fast road to burn out. No one keeps up a blog like this for as long as I have by doing it “for other people”. Trust me. You have to do it for yourself.

But I also want to challenge myself. I also want to try things that I have never tried. I want to create things that I have never created. I want to stretch and do things that scare me a little. So, male paper dolls it is.

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century
{Click Here for a PDF to Print} {Click Here for a PNG to Print} {Click Here for More Marisole Monday & Friends Printable Paper Dolls}

I usually steer clear of monochromatic color schemes. Nothing against them, I just think that they can be boring. Still, green is a nice color and when I asked a friend of mine what color I should go with for male clothing, he said, “Green.”

So, green it is.

One of the nice things about green is that I don’t find any of the shades really horrid. I mean, there are shades of yellow I think are awful and shades of orange that I don’t like either, but green and blue are pretty much all okay with me. So, a green prince to match, I suppose, my yellow and my pink princesses.

Paper Doll Dresses Become Real Doll Clothes

Over the years, I’ve seen my paper dolls transformed into a lot of things, but rarely have I been so pleased as I was when I was emailed by Stephanie Tremel. A skilled seamtress, Stephanie has, with guidance from her daughter Kayley, transformed my Fairytale Maiden paper doll set and my Yellow Princess paper doll set into some beautiful doll clothes for 11 inch fashion dolls, like Barbie.

Stephanie Tremel transformed my Yellow Princess paper doll gown into a real Barbie dress using satin, ribbon and her own drafted pattern.

As a child, I love playing with dolls and I still do love dolls- real dolls as well as my paper dolls. I remember my own mother and grandmother sewing dresses for my American Girl dolls and my Ginny dolls. While I am not by nature a keeper of momentos, I can not imagine ever getting rid of the handmade doll clothes I have from the women in my family. It is exciting for me to think that my designs could inspire a mother to sew such wonderful garments for her daughter’s dolls.

Stephanie Tremel transformed my Yellow Princess paper doll gown into a real Barbie dress using satin, ribbon and her own drafted pattern.

Of all the things I have ever drawn, I couldn’t imagine trying to turn the Yellow Princess’ ruffled confection of a dress into a real piece of doll clothing. This pink and red version, colors selected by Stephanie’s daughter Kayley, is a beautiful interpretation of the dress.

Thank you Stephanie and Kayley Tremel for sharing your creativity with me and letting me share it with my readers.

By the way, if you want to color your own versions of Yellow Princess and Fairytale Maiden are both avaialbe in black and white or you can get my versions with Yellow Princess in mostly yellows and Fairytale Maiden in reds, blues and greens.

Prince and Gentleman: A Prince Paper Doll

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century. Well, all I have to say about today’s paper doll set is this- Thank goodness for random old files that are discovered, half-finished, while confirming everything transferred properly after serious hard drive problems.

Seriously, there wouldn’t be a post today if I hadn’t found this Marcus 2.0 paper doll, mostly done, on Friday evening. So, I finished him up and here he is prepared to be gentleman or prince, depending on the need. He does not have a crown, but I’m sure you can draw your own.

I am working on both a dancer and a Space Princess! (yes, the exclamation point is required) for another time, but until then- here is Marcus 2.0 with fancy suits to wear while accompanying one of the many fantasy ladies of the Marisole Monday & Friend’s crew.

A printable coloring page of a prince paper doll inspired by the 18th century
{Click Here for a PDF to Print} {Click Here for a PNG to Print} {Click Here for More Marisole Monday & Friends Printable Paper Dolls}

This fantasy prince set is the fourth Marcus 2.0 paper doll on the blog. While I don’t have big plans in the future for Marcus 2.0, I expect he’ll be getting a male friend fairly soon. What will come after that, I can’t say. I do want to do some more contemporary sets for him and I haven’t completely given up hope of dong a historical set, but I’m still undecided on what era. Most of my reference books focus on female fashions.

To be entirely honest, I have no recollection of drawing this set, though clearly I did, nor could I tell you what I was thinking when I drew it. Since I forgot about it for so long, I really feel rather at a loss. Never the less, I hope everyone enjoys this foray into fantasy clothes for Marcus 2.0.

Showcase Update!

Wow, it has been forever since I have updated the Showcase. Sorry about that, but it just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the ever growing To Do list. I feel bad about that, because I know people taking the time to send me their creations are being so kind and I love seeing them.

Anyway, let me show a few things which were sent to me recently. There’s a few more on the Showcase page from my more prolific readers.

Florence, aged nine, colored one of my paper doll dresses

Florence, aged 9, from Bristol sent me this wonderful photo of her paper doll wearing a dress she colored.

Jill C colors the Majorette Paper Doll

Jill C’s husband is a band director, so she colored the majorette set in the colors of his school for her daughter. What an inspiring idea, I think.

Marisole Monday Paper Dolls Colored by Melinda Marisole Monday Paper Dolls Colored by Melinda

Melinda has sent me so many wonderful versions of the paper dolls, I couldn’t put them all up here, but I wanted to share two of my favorites. These are Marisole paper dolls with outfits Melinda designed herself based on people she knew and activities she enjoys like Zumba.

This is really wonderful for me to see.

Why?

Because when I was kid, this is what I would do with my favorite store bought paper dolls. I would design them dresses and add them to the set. This is one of the magic things about paper dolls.

They can literally be anything you want, because all you need is a pencil and paper.

I am sure there are Showcase pieces that I missed in my first search through my email. I’ll do another one soon to try to catch anything I missed. Plus there will be another post this week about a really cool project one reader has been doing with the paper doll designs.

Greta Goes out Hunting: A Fantasy Printable Paper Doll Coloring Page

A black and white printable fantasy warrior or huntress paper doll entitled, As I mentioned a while ago, my computer died while I was traveling to visit family in Alaska. I’m pleased to report it is working fine now and it just cost money. Also, I should really back up my data more often, because hard drive problems suck.

Anyway, let’s talk about nicer things like paper dolls.

One of the reasons I keep a backlog of paper dolls is that should disaster strike, I have some things to post. I confess that my backlog has gotten lower these last few weeks and this has been a rough week for finding time to do blog work. Five hour power outage, jet lag, computer problems… Yeesh.

So, here is Greta and she is going out hunting. I didn’t give her any arrows, but…. err…. No excuse for that one, actually. I just kinda forgot. Maybe she can garrote things with her bow string or something. The image of paper dolls garroting small fuzzy woodland creatures in order to make them into stew is now going to haunt me.


A black and white printable fantasy warrior or huntress paper doll entitled,
{Download a PDF to Print} {View a 150 dpi PNG}{Check out some More Mini-Maiden Printable Paper Dolls}

Other news… Assuming I get my act together, there should be a Marcus paper doll on Monday and then some other stuff in the coming weeks. I am trying to get excited, but I am struggling to feel inspired at the moment. I’m sure it’ll come back. It always does eventually.

How do other people deal with lulls in inspiration?

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