So, both OctPoWriMo and Inktober were a bust, but for once, I’m not beating myself up about it. Why? Because for once in my life, I felt like the challenges were holding me down more than they were lifting me up.
I started doing art and writing challenges because I felt like I never had enough ideas, or because I couldn’t motivate myself to get started on a personal project, and events like OctPo, NaPoWriMo, NaNoWriMo, and Inktober gave me a structure and a deadline and generally held me accountable in very regimented ways.
But lately, I’ve noticed that while I’m still not the most consistent artist or writer (um, month long hiatus on this blog, hello? This is not a surprise to anyone), I have nonetheless become a persistent artist and writer. When I’m not faced with the frenetic pace of a work-a-day challenge, I’ve still, nonetheless, seen more follow-through in my efforts recently than I ever have before.
I am, currently, for example, working on two sketches (near completion) that I intend to watercolor (with two more still being conceptualized), and a piece of upcycled art from pieces of a broken, vintage ashtray stand, and I’m readying myself to power through three incomplete pieces of fanfic for NaNoWriMo this year (yeah, three different pieces, what can I say? I’m a Rebel at heart).
And the best part? I’m excited about these projects. I get psyched up to work on them. During the week and a half I tried to power through my two challenges, not only did I feel stressed about the pressure of completing a work-a-day, but I felt like it was infringing on time that could be spent doing creative work I was actually invested in. I was starting to resent the challenges; they weren’t giving me motivation, or inspiration, or structure; they weren’t giving me anything. In fact it felt like they were actively taking pleasure and enjoyment away from me. Enthusiasm for art drained from me entirely the minute it became an obligation imposed on my by some external force.
How wild is that? How eagerly my brain will latch onto a challenge when it’s not actively invested in anything else, and how vehemently it will reject it the moment that challenge conflicts with it’s own desires and ambitions.
Man, my brain is a fickle bitch. God bless, eh?
Does this mean I’m giving up on challenges. Oh, hell no. I love the idea of having timed, themed challenges; but I think I need to become more attuned to what I really want to accomplish creatively and how any given challenge might help with that. For instance, I already said I plan on doing NaNoWriMo — because I’m gung-ho to finish up several fanfics, and the atmosphere and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo might actually help with that. I wouldn’t, for instance, try to do NaBloPoMo next month, because every night, when I sat down and spent my scant free time being forced to pen a blog entry, I’d be thinking of the fanfic I was not currently writing. The fanfic is the project that is currently fueling an internal creative fire, and rather than risk extinguishing it in order to say Hey, I Did a Thing (I already know I can Do the Thing. I’ve done it the last two years), I’m going to fan that flame for as long as I can conceivable keep it alive.
I hope to have a few (painted) works completed prior to November first to share with you all. Hope you’re all finding as much joy in creating (be it within the confines of a challenge or not) as I am at the moment.