Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ROW80 Update - Deadlines Are A Good Thing

The A Round of Words in 80 Days update is at the bottom of this post.

Deadlines Are A Good Thing

Here is the great thing about writing this serial: having to scramble to get something written, edited, illustrated and posted twice a week is doing WONDERS for my skills.  I don't know that it's showing in my writing yet -- but it is showing in my ability to do the work.

Oh, sure, it's playing havoc with everything else I'm trying to write.  But I think it's worth it, and in the long run, it's helping me there too.  Well, to give an example, I'll tell you what it's doing for my art:

I have wanted to do little dingbats -- icons, cartoony figures -- which represent characters.  But even when I lower my standards to stick figures, I just have not been able to do what I wanted.  Whatever I did, I did not like what I saw.

As a result, I never pushed past a certain point.  I would get stuck, and so I'd go around.  I'd do a non-illustration drawing.  Fine art learning stuff.  (Eyes, hands, sausage figures.)  Or I'd do an abstract, or an object, or something I was already good at drawing.

I had determined, when I began this Blogstory Project, that I would throw up any kind of art -- just do rough sketches, whatever.  And I fiddled and got stuck with a bunch of very ugly designs.  But I found the color palette I wanted to work with -- something period-appropriate -- and as the first deadline approached, I had to pick something.

So I did.

My brain, forced to come up with something now, suddenly prompted me: "Hey, the stylized figures of the period would suit a hand reaching up out of the water.  A hand with that unnatural Egyptian right angle to it."

And with the next one: The deadline loomed, and I had to come up with something.  Okay, it's about the ring, so draw that. Oh, crap, and the background!  Do I have to draw a new background?  No time, really.  Try using the same background but fiddle with the saturation and lightness to make the same colors look like night....

All in a rush for deadline.

And you know, I really liked that one better than the first.  I really liked using the same colors (hues, anyway) but a very different look, and I realized that keeping the exact same colors and playing with the lightness and saturation gave me a lot to work with.

See what was happening? Deadlines forced me to take shortcuts.... which in turn forced me to be creative and learn things.

To make a long story short, I've had an Oh, shit what am I going to do next? moment for every single one of those banners.  And all of a sudden I'm doing character icons and they're coming out exactly the way I want.

I'm gaining skills I would never have if I hadn't been forced to come up with things on deadline.

It's like fitness.  Ten years ago, I was overweight and out of shape, and I decided to dance to music every morning before my writing session.  I could do the twist and a few other 1960s steps, but one step I could not do is The Batman.  That's the one where you draw your hand across your eyes like a mask, and wiggle vigorously.  I couldn't wiggle.  Not vigorously, anyway.

I had no goal doing The Batman, so I didn't work at it. I didn't practice it or study it.  I just kept doing the twist and the Mashed Potato (or whatever that funny Nancy Sinatra hop thing is) and had a good time.

Until one day, I just found I could do The Batman.  I could do it well, without any effort at all.

I could do it because I was now in shape, and had sufficient control of my muscles and balance and all that to do what I wanted to do, regardless of whether I had worked at it or not.

And that's what's going on with my writing.  I'm gaining control.

A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

Sunday Day 63 - 445 words. Sundays and Wednesdays are Deadline Days -- meant for prepping and editing episodes of the serial.  I don't normally do new words on those days, because the deadline is a major job, especially with the artwork too.

However, before I settled down to get Episode 9 edited and ready (a tough episode, which required a lot of editing, and tricky artwork) I sat down to a writing session anyway, and did the bulk of Episode 10.

I also took my general outline of what is to happen next and broke it down into bite sized episodes.  I've got good stuff planned all the way to the end of June.

And then I proceeded to stay up until nearly 3:30 am getting the art and final version of Ep 9 done.  But I love the result. It is one of my favorite banners so far.

Monday Day 64 - Something. I did some writing, but I think I'm coming down with a cold, so I'm going to go to bed early and roll today's words into tomorrow's count.  (It feels like the kind of cold you get from not having enough sleep -- so I'm hoping that sleeping will fix it.)

Tuesday Day 65 - 720 words.  Sleeping did fix the cold, but it was the first day back at work.  A busy, though short, day.  Then I realized we have a pot luck tomorrow, so I grabbed some stuff and cooked.  And then I got distracted by the Wisconsin elections. 

But I did more artwork I really liked for tomorrow's episode.  And I rewrote some material for the upcoming sequence.  I'm getting into doing these cartoon silhouettes.  I didn't think I would be doing characters, but that is starting to go well too.

See you in the funny papers.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Forced creativity works for me, too! I have to have a deadline--either publisher-imposed or self-imposed.

The Daring Novelist said...

What I like is the twice a week deadline. The product is small, but twice a week I have to put up or shut up.

I suppose that's one of the advantages of a writing dare. You have to report your numbers. However, even there, you don't really have the pressure to produce -- it's just numbers. When you've got to produce actual copy and art, that really pushes deep.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I got good at extemporaneous opinionating due to having a blogging deadline. Well, teaching was a part of that too.