Following my post on Seasonal Writing, there was a bit of discussion prompted by the fantastic Madicienne on Twitter on things that could be done in this time that aren’t as taxing as actual writing but still help with the creativity and the ideas. And that gave me the idea for a short blog series about how to work on your stories when you’re not feeling like actually writing anything, inspired by the fun things I do to play around with story ideas when I’m either not in the right head space to write, or just straight up procrastinating.
This week I’m going to start with sketching! I’m not talking about working hard at producing concept art for your stories. I’m talking about rough and scrappy doodles. It’s a great way to think about characters, plan how things should look, or even just a way to keep your attention on an element in your story while doing something else. Headshots help give a feel for a character’s look or personality. Another type of sketch page I like to play around with is a character page, with expressions or items that are relevant to them. I find that doodling these things out can help me round out a character or even work out ways to incorporate additional character aspects into the plot.
I’ve had a lot of good story ideas while sitting with my sketchbook. So, while I haven’t actually gotten any words on the page, I have given myself a bigger arsenal to fire at said page when I sit down again next. Plus, it’s just good fun, isn’t it?
Given the current circumstances, I’m actually impressed that it took me this long through the year to hit my wobble (though it was just terribly timed right after my “look at how well I’m doing! post. Talk about a jinx). With COVID, a huge amount of work stress, and the death of a very old and beloved pet as just a selection of the things going through my head for the past few weeks, my creative ventures and presence online disappeared for a bit. I’ve had a bit of a recharge though and gotten through it, and hopefully I’m back on track for the rest of the year.
Creatively, I’ve had a lot going on in my head but a complete inability to put it down on paper. This has been for both writing and art. There were a lot of things I wanted to do, new shiny ideas I wanted to explore as a way to deal with the current state of life. All these attempts have failed though, and I had a reminder over the weekend to keep things simple. Often, simple is the best way.
I had been struggling with the thought of drawing anything, and when I tried it just wouldn’t work. Eventually, after a month of failing and being frustrated, I decided to go back to my very first passion as an artist. Wildlife.
Drawing characters and concepts is 99% of what I want to do as an artist. I want to get all these fantastical creatures and people out of my head and into the world in a viewable way. For some reason though, the thing that comes most naturally to me is drawing animals. So I finally threw my hands up in the air and decided to do a quick sketch of an otter. It was the best decision I could have made, and I felt the walls of art block come tumbling down.
For writing as well, I was convinced that I needed to pour out some personal passion piece to get myself through this time, but it simply wasn’t working. It would have been nice, sure, but the idea that this would help me was actually holding me back. I know now that what I should have done was simply look back and a tried and tested story I still need to work on and keep chugging away at that.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
You know, along with trying not to disappear for a month and a half for at least another year.