Inktober, NaNoWriMo and Getting Caught Up

There is not a day in my life that I have ever been bored. Not to say that I haven’t engaged in activities that are tedious, monotonous or mind-numbing but rather that every day I have more things I am eager to think about and do than I will ever have time for! This post is a bit of a general update with some rambling and I hope you’ll enjoy the journey.

First off, Inktober was an absolute delight. Last year when I saw the challenge I thought I would never find a place to participate among the sheer volume of talented, working artists who are drawing elaborate characters and scenes. But over the course of 2018 I took on a lot of smaller challenges and really honed in on what motivates me when I make art.

At almost thirty-five I’m still figuring it out. In my early teens my dad gifted me Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and I have worked with that book four times over the years to try to rediscover balance. But I also think that it is not unlike a diet or fitness plan, everyone has individual needs when it comes to nutrition, exercise, sleep and self-care. The same is true with caring for your creative balance. Some people thrive off assignments, others love that feeling of last minute seat of your pants due dates and some people need time to allow ideas to grow and evolve.

As an artist and a writer I enjoy feeling connected to a community of creative people who are supportive and diverse. On Instagram I follow challenge hashtags and make an effort to discover other artists (especially ones who have lower follower counts) so that I can offer supportive comments and critiques. This isn’t a strategy for upping follower counts for myself–legit it seems to be finding the right hashtags more than anything else–but rather a way to strip away that internet barrier that makes us feel like we’re all in an echo chamber. I also comment on work by people with more followers when I have comments to make but I find that it is possible to create dialogues on Instagram by connecting with other people who aren’t overwhelmed by the number of followers and comments.

Getting through challenges on Instagram has been so much easier as a result of engaging with others who are participating. There was only one day of Inktober that I missed and completed the day after. This was due to things happening offline in my life and I don’t feel at all bad about missing that day. Over the course of the month my skill improved most as a result of getting past my nervous perfectionism. I have 20+ years of knowledge on how to create but have struggled the most with silencing that nagging critic that is never happy. I wasn’t creating in order to impress anyone in the #inktober challenge, instead I felt like I was part of a community and I wanted to keep pace with everyone else who was pushing themselves to grow and create at their limits. This was my secret to finishing the month. It was very much like running a marathon. The energy of the community took away that sense of loneliness that usually lets my sense of perfectionism fester and I just had fun.

I created a Pinterest board with some of my top favorites for Inktober 2018. By no means is it exhaustive, I was struggling to find a couple links of people who hadn’t posted toward the end of the month so I might update the board if I find any of them later. I also didn’t include anyone who strictly forbids reposting their content.

Toward the last week of Inktober I had a vague idea for NaNoWriMo and decided to participate this year. I’ve had a recent losing streak with the challenge for a variety of reasons but I think that the month provides a great resource for getting to know other writers regardless of if you want to follow the challenge guidelines or not. I am still in the thick of editing my novels from the years I’ve won NaNoWriMo and so I was initially hesitant to participate. However, Inktober amped me up creatively (I legit feel like I could do anything now) and I realized that I don’t have to be crippled by the rules–especially because creativity is about learning the guidelines and then breaking them in ways that remake other people’s perception of the world.

So, my goal for NaNoWriMo 2018 is simply to participate. I would love to “win” by getting to 50k but what is more important to me is creating the consistency with my writing that I’ve achieved with my art. This brings me back to the idea that creativity has a self-care component. I feed my visual artistry with browsing photos, art and going out into the world with my camera. The routine I’ve established is daily sketching/drawing/creating but I have found that my output is such that every other day my work is pretty uninspired so now I’m using the off days as a chance to work on the less creative and more technical sides of creating visual art.

For writing I have not yet found the balance between input/output but I’m using NaNoWriMo as a way to find that balance. Additionally, I received this fantastic guide that I will be applying to my editing process. Specifically the idea of writing an hour every day and then doing an editing binge once a week. One of the big issues I have been facing in my edits is that my world is so detailed with many characters and interwoven storylines that it is laborious to edit. This is the result of having written it over two years of NaNoWriMo and then continuing to develop the world in a fragmented fashion over the years. There is coherence, depth and it still excites me but the memes are true, editing does take more time than writing.

And finally (I know this is pretty long), I’ve been reading some great books through NetGalley as well as listening to audiobooks while I was participating in Inktober. I’m hoping to get caught up on my book review schedule soon (December is my goal). At the moment I’m reading Orchid Girls which I’m loving and recommend highly even though I haven’t finished it yet! During December I’m planning to streamline my reading plans the way I’ve been working on art and writing because I love reviewing books but somehow I’ve found myself having read nearly 100 books this year which is crazy! I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I work on art projects so that has been wonderful and I’ve been getting access to some really great books on NetGalley but I need to find a good balance for posting reviews.

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