Inktober was quite the slog, a lot more intense than I initially imagined. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve become slower as an artist or that my drawings have become more complex compared to last year. But it was a very encouraging month as it really pushed me to my creative limits. It really helped me to learn how to focus and, more importantly, what I need to help myself stay on task.
Even though I didn’t complete a piece for every day, I made sure the pieces I did do were done in a day’s time. There were gaps in the month where my life schedule got in the way and I couldn’t find the time to complete a piece. But more critically, I found that earlier in the month I really wasn’t happy with how the art pieces I did do. The Layla piece was ok but the Cyno piece was awful. Rather then slog through and produce more pieces I wasn’t happy with, I took a small break to see how I could improve on the process. I ended up taking a 4 day break and on the 20th came back with a new process for drawing that I really liked. I ended up drawing some really good pieces and the artwork of my character Asandra was one of the best I had ever drawn.
This exercise, surprisingly, helped me identify issues in my current writing process as well. Aside from the hilarious realization that, for some of my characters, I never actually took the time to really cement their appearance leading to panicked days of drawing, the process was good to apply to anything creative. Essentially the process involves creating a very messy and not pretty draft and then creating another draft referencing the previous but cleaning up the mess. It’s a key problem I think most creatives face, that everything has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing. Perfectionism is such a curse and this process helped me to break free of it. I’ve noticed professionals do the same in their art timelapse videos, starting out very messy and then rendering until it looks good.
This can easily be applied to writing as well though not as obviously I found. Writing up the first draft, it’s hard not to want to cement the details of the chapter or even the scene in the first attempt. But I’ve come to realize how much of a trap that can be yet also a trap to ignore it and come back later. Getting stuck on a part of the book, encountering writer’s block, can be severely demotivating and makes even creativity a struggle. However there’s also the danger of skipping parts to come back later as then you have to go through the entire book for continuity issues. To combat this, I’ve started adopting a phrase that’s really helped me push forward.
“Fix it in post”
While it may not be the most accurate term to use for this, I found it quick, snappy and applicable. The core idea is to just write some messy and unpolished that, at it’s core, is what is supposed to be said or supposed to happen or even just a slim description of a character, place or thing. Once that’s in place, you can continue the story and keep the rhythm and motivation up while having something in place. This is the first draft so it’s ok that it’s barebones and messy. The next draft you can add on to what you’ve used as a pseudo placeholder. I’ve found this to be so much easier and it helps to maintain the flow of writing and avoid getting stuck as often as I did.
Hope this helps!