My sketchbook saved my life

Adam Westbrook
5 min readMar 11, 2024

At the beginning of 2020, I had just one creative goal: fill sketchbooks. Instead of setting a big one-off ambition, I wanted to try setting a habitual goal instead: a small daily action that, perhaps, might compound.

Twelve months later, this was the result!

A photograph of five Moleskine sketchbooks filled with sketches.

Visual artists working in all mediums ought to keep a sketchbook, I think.

Drawing is the fastest and cheapest way to pictorially express and record ideas; it encourages observation and gets you out of the rut of thinking verbally.

Having kept this sketchbook habit going for several years now, I want to share some deeper advice.

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Some advice on building a sketchbook habit

Your sketchbook is yours. It’s not Austin Kleon’s, or Tillie Walden’s or Loish’s, or mine. It might be, depending on the obligations you have in your life, the only place where you are completely free, so don’t waste that trying to imitate other people.

For the same reason, don’t hold back from writing or drawing things which you feel embarrassed to share. Draw them, explore them and then don’t share them. Your sketchbook is your own private kingdom if you choose…



Adam Westbrook

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity.