Just What Am I Doing With All These Phonetic Marks, Anyway?
I’ve been deep in the documents lately (hence the break in blog update schedule two weeks ago). A few different projects are being juggled with not much, visually, to show for them. Each one feels endless and hopeless. So, I designed a short project — a one-page diary comic — to give me that dopamine burst of finishing something. I also wanted to try out a couple of new stylizations in my art and I think they are fine. This and the rest of my creative struggles are perfectly fine fodder for future blogs, but for now, I leave this one thought abstracting the whole process altogether. I know I need help, but it feels so egotistical to ask my loved ones to read my work.
This is a one-page digital comic with three panels. The first panel is of the author/illustrator in a gray hoodie covered with silver stars. They hold a pencil aloft. It sparks with colorful little stars.
Narration: Writing is like…
Panel 2: “Hello!” bursts out in 3D yellow letters. “Let me put vivid hallucinations directly into your brain!” These words meander through a psychedelic landscape of pink, blue, green, and yellow chaos, featuring an old-timey Saturn drawing; stars; a half-seal, half-pelican creature named Norman wearing a dapper hat and cane; a peeled banana; cheese; and a bucket full of pink slime. The panel ends with a very, very sharp pencil poised to poke into someone’s ear.
Panel 3: The author, in real life, demands that their partner, Devin, “Experience an emotion!” while threatening their ear with the pencil. Devin cowers over the manuscript. “I feel it! I feel it. wagh,” he says.
A Little Bit Every Day
Writing and drawing are habits. The act of writing and drawing is more important than the results of writing and drawing, what with revisions and edits. When I first started writing, I thought I had to write at the speed at which I would read a story, and in the order that the story happened as well. This would lead to getting down large blocks of writing in a single day. I had so many Chapter 1’s and Prologues on floppy disks.
These were immaculately edited, as well. What was happening was, I would write while an idea was fresh. Upon returning after a full day of school, I would read what I had written. As I read my own work, I would judge the word choice and cadence, tweaking and editing as I went. Before I knew it, my free time was used up, and I would blame my lack of personal time for lack of progress on the writing. Fast forward past school, and various graduations, and even a lucky life where I don’t have to log a big block of hours every day — Somehow, more available time, and a flexible schedule, wasn’t resulting in more writing being done.
Here’s what’s working for me: Even if all I write in one day is one sentence, that’s enough. If I’m in a bad mood before I start writing, or during writing, I must write until I feel good again. If this means skipping scenes or swapping projects, so be it. I write, I win. It took years of practice, but now, every day, I put at least one new sentence down. I use other techniques to keep projects fresh and on track, but this is the biggest tool in my arsenal so far.
So far this works for 90% of the project, and then the last 10% feels like another 90% on top of that. I suppose I fall in love with the project and want it to be ‘open’ because it feels good to work on. It has led me to investigate shorter finish lines when it comes to my aesthetics and what counts as ‘complete.’
For instance, I’m not sure how much ‘value’ shading is adding for the time I have to spend doing it. At least, not on every panel. Maybe for special panels. Flat, simple coloring and compositions reliant on that are what I’m going to experiment with.
It would be nice to find more simplifications like this for my writing. To do that, I must practice. To practice, I must return to writing every day…Even a little bit is better than nothing.
Care to read more?
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