When You Have To Have A Day Job

Every now and then I have to remind myself of all the ways that I can be creatively productive throughout the day, even when I have to have a day job.

Now I don’t mind my day job at all. It’s just… when I have several manuscripts, book dummies, illustration prompts, commissions, and blog posts to make, spending 40 + hours a week at a job that has nothing to do with any of this can seem like a complete waste of time.

IT’S NOT A WASTE OF TIME. I NEED MONEY ;_;

But there are also small ways to be creative with a piece of paper (or paper towel or tissue or cardboard piece or…) and a writing utensil.

Things I can do:

  • Write random ideas down on anything. Good sentences, concepts, character ideas. I got most of my PiBoIdMo and STORYSTORM ideas at my various day jobs.
  • Write whole first draft manuscripts. I wrote two manuscripts this year during lunch and one during a slow day. They were horrible but most first drafts are.
  • Draw quick thumbnail compositions without much thought. Actually I do better with first drafts and ideas when I work on something else. That’s why illustrating and writing go hand in hand for me. 
  • List blog ideas/begin writing blog posts. This is actually harder to do than manuscripts. 
  • Play out stories in my head while walking around. I do a lot of moving at work. They say that creativity works when you aren’t actively trying to be creative or something like thatthis article says so.

Things I shouldn’t do at the day job:

  • Edit manuscript. Writing firsts drafts is fine, editing them is not. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have to read my manuscripts out loud and that can get awkward.
  • Act out manuscript. I mean anyone could do this but…
  • Don’t get too invested. The whole point of creative thinking while doing other things is to not concentrate so hard. Hard concentration most likely leads to doubt and frustration and it’s incredibly difficult to get ideas with these two demons showing their ugly faces. This is why day jobs can be useful. 

Some days I just do my job because it gets pretty busy being Quality Control. This is why I need this reminder of the little things I can do to continue this journey to one day illustrating and writing children’s books.

Image below, always accurate!

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Passion Projects

As I continue to look through my notes from the conference I realize that… sheesh I have alotta notes.

That’s a good thing though!

These next set of notes are from a presentation titled “Passion Project”that was given by Alyssa Nassner, one of the people who critiqued my portfolio. Mostly for illustrators, but I think you can apply this to writing as well.

To start out, a passion project is a series of works that focus on a specific skill or topic, whatever the illustrator (or maybe writer!) is passionate about.

What makes a passion project? She listed:

  1.  Motivation (The will!)
  2. Inspiration (Idea)
  3. Creative Freedom (No one tells me what to do!)
  4. Time (Carve out time in you schedule!!!)

What does a passion project do?

  1. Improves work through practice.
  2. Increases online visibility.
  3. Demonstrates a consistent art style.
  4. Show cases interests (what inspires creativity?)
  5. Inspires others.

What should YOU do?

  1. Ask yourself what interests you?
  2. What skills would you like to improve?
  3. What type of industries interests you?
  4. Is there a grab in the market?
  5. What is fun and makes you happy?
  6. SET A REALISTIC GOAL!!! (This one is in all caps for me haha)

Nassner also goes into a bit about social media (side note, she pretty much scolded me for not having a URL or domain name, whoopsies, need to do that.) Pinterest and Instagram seem to be the big ones. Twitter, Facebook, and tumblr are others.

Basically, if you’re making a passion project share it! Everywhere! 

To end, my personal passion projects will be to work my on my line work with a weekly illustration, and to work on figure drawing/painting.

The line work will be a weekly project where the figure drawing/paintings will be a daily thing, starting next month when I clear my shed of the winterly spiders.

And this is where I begin my passion project.

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Hope you guys have fun with yours!

I Had to Pick from a Hat

Does anyone ever have that problem where you have a lot of ideas but don’t know which ones are good or worthwhile?

I’ve been having that problem for about five months now…and it’s really slowed down my work! What to do?

So I wrote the ideas down on little pieces of paper, threw em in a hat, and picked. Yup, let fate decide!

Fate decided that The Hungry Witch Mabel was the one to work on. I already had character designs, a manuscript, and colored pieces as a separate portfolio builder project…I just need the dummy.

I probably should’ve been editing this one all along.

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ReFoReMo!

ReFoReMo  or Reading for Research Month, is a challenge that I’ve been wanting to do for about a year now so it is my first crack at it!

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Luckily I have some of the line up already, but most of these are from the library and others I’ll have to just plop my butt in a book store (yippee! don’t mind the adult sitting for hours in the children’s section reading picture books lol!)

I still want to continue my line up that I had before as well as covering the last of my big three, which is concept.

I’ll just say this next month is gonna be a doozy, and to add the MD/DE/WV conference  with portfolio prep to it…oh boy. It’s gonna be great.

 

The Sound of a Picture Book

The noise, the sound. What do I mean by the sound of a picture book?

I think I’m more questioning myself.

But really, what do I mean? Is it the noise, the volume, tone, rhythm, or dialogue when reading a picture book?

Is the sound of a picture book the interaction between the reader, the listener, and the story? There seem to be many different ways to have some kind of lively interaction.

The first obvious sound of a picture would be rhyme. A good rhyming picture book has a way of guiding the reader through the tale with it’s rhythm.

The book that immediately pops up in my mind when I think of great rhyming is There Once Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann, illustrated by Ben Mantle. Through rhyme, Klostermann tells a story about a dragon who, yes, swallows a knight, and a steed, and a squire, and a few other things too. Try reading that picture book without a rhythm and a bob to your head! If you’re like me, it’s hard to do.

Hey prose can have a rhythm too! Just look at Pete the Cat; I Love My White Shoes, it has only one repeating sentence that rhymes throughout the entire book, but the rest of the story doesn’t rhyme at all. The big rhythm making sentence here is singing the song, “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes” or whatever color shoes he happens to have at the time.

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While I’m thinking about non-ryhming rhythm, I can’t help but point out one page in particular of The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Nathaniel Stookey.

 

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There is this lovely back and forth action between the names listed of the deceased composers and the word “dead,” and if you can pronounce all those names correctly, good for you because I can’t! I can still feel a rhythm here that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, and this particular page really brings out the peak of the story, the reveal of who killed the composer. Was it the strings, the brass, the woodwinds, or the percussion? You won’t know until you read!

Another sound of a picture book can be dialogue, or I’ve referred picture books written only in dialogue secretly as scripts.

Books like I Don’t Want To Be A Frog, written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt, or Thank You, Octopus , by Darren Farrell need some kind of acting involved because the reader is not just the narrator speaking for the character in the story. The reading IS the character speaking as the character. There is no narrator here that separates character and reader anymore. Now I’m not saying there is no “acting” involved in a normal picture reading during story time, it’s just when I read dialogue I think more in mind of the character.

Could just be me!

Perhaps I could go a little bit further and say that the sound of a picture book is a type of reader manipulation. A good picture book, or story in general,  seems to manipulate the reader into doing what the story wants them to do, either by feeling what the story wants the reader to feel, or make the reader read the story a certain way.

Manipulation from a picture book? Sounds kind of obscure.

It’s like when I’m reading Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Every page shows the bull getting bigger and BIGGER and every page I’m reading louder and LOUDER until everything deflates and you return to normal speech, maybe even quieter as the bull main character is feeling the ashamed by how much of a bully he has been towards his friends.

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I wanted to focus of these stories because they made me realize what I enjoy about the interaction of reading a story aloud.

So, what is the sound of a picture book?

Eh I still don’t really know, but I think it’s the auditory interaction between story, reader, and listener.

And it was phrase I thought just sounded good at the time.