My drawing and painting life
Blogging, blogging… blogging along with Effy.
I’m taking part in the “Blogalong with Effy”, or: The ARTFULLY WILD BLOGALONG WITH EFFY. Effy Wild, a journal artist and online teacher, is hosting this challenge. The idea is we blog daily in September. I want to get back into a blogging rhythm and I will join for the sake of doing it together, in community. I may not keep up daily blogging all month, but I don’t think that’s a problem. I need a rhythm and this will help me find it.
Today I’ll write about what might keep me from succeeding in writing more frequently, the inner critic. And I’ll illustrate it by showing some of my drawings.
So: daily blogging, how to make it work in a way that it doesn’t take that much time? Or that it doesn’t mess up my day? Well, there’s one piece of advice I’ve heard more often: I could get up half an hour earlier each day and do it then. Get up at 6.30 AM, write a piece and then have breakfast. One possible thing that could mess this plan up is that I share a house with Hubby and Son. If I get up, will they be bothered by it? Will they start to rebel against it? Don’t know. We’ll see.
An alternative is that I wait until after breakfast and tidying the kitchen for the day and do it by the start of my work day. It could be an alternative for what I often do: write morning pages (write for the sake of clearing my head from clutter, sort the important to do’s from the not so important, make a little drawing, and then get going). I hear you say: Oh girl, that’s not the same thing! Yes, I know! I may need to do both.
Anyway. That’s not the only problem I see for this plan. I know from experience that a morning practice may show more and more time-consuming as I go ahead. Writing blogposts in say half an hour, how do I make it work? It will probably lead to an hour, hour and a half and so on. One reason for that is that I have the tendency to be perfectionist. Also, I run the risk that I lose focus, start wandering in all kinds of directions as it were, it I just write, write, write. I will start with one question and add another and another. I will write about all sorts of things, end up with a piece that is not particularly clear. Not the best kind of piece for the blog. Not right away at least. Some people call this process: writing the ‘shitty first draft’. You just have to accept that that’s what happens when you start writing a piece, be it a short story, an article, a full-blown book: you write the shitty first draft and don’t fuss over it being shitty – at first. You need to produce raw material first, work on it to improve it. You’ll have success in the end.
It goes like this: we accept the shitty first draft as a fact and try not to be judgmental about it. Keep the inner critic at bay, that little voice inside us that tells us ‘see, you can’t do this!’, you are not a writer, don’t pretend!’ and nasty downers like that. Don’t be bothered by it being shitty. It should be shitty. It’s OK. You write, you put it away, do something else, you read it and start editing. What should be there, what shouldn’t? If it’s really shitty, you just mine it for gold (I just made that up). A text is really shitty for example when there’s no structure, no clear point, it drags along and you never even finish one point. In Dutch we say ‘look for the little pearls’ (pareltjes). I thought mining for gold would be a good way to express that: you go back to the text and try to pull good ideas from it. Every good idea is a bit of gold, or a little pearl (pareltje). You can start a new text from each one of those points. That’s fine. That’s progress, even though there is no masterpiece at that time (yet). All part of the game.
The question is: Do I want to bother you with the shitty first draft? No. I do not. So if that happens, I will have to have a plan B.
Now for the other bad habit that might pull the rug from under me: I’m perfectionist. That doesn’t help if you want to write a shitty draft. How to take care of that? Many artists talk about their inner critic, that idea seems to fit here too. Talking about the inner critic, one of my art teachers, Tamara Laporte from Willowing, often tells us that we should see the inner critic as a person who wants to help us, but is rather protective of us, maybe overprotective. She is afraid for us that we might be hurt. She is not our enemy even though we sometimes perceive her like that. Tamara will say: You can just tell her to try and trust you that you’ll be fine. Ask her to be silent for now. This is a subject that artists often speak of among themselves in the online classes I’ve taken. I remember other people saying it in a slightly different way: we could send the perfectionist critic to sit in a corner – perhaps with a lovely cup of coffee or tea? – and leave us to it. So that’s what I should do: send the perfectionist me – one version of the ever present inner critic – into her corner. Sit there and be quiet for today. If only because I need to work fast, I must make it to the end of my blogpost in time. J
So, that’s my strategy. I tell my perfectionist ‘mini-me’ that today it’s fine to be messy, to write shitty pieces. No one will be hurt by that. Today, for the first draft, it’s fine if I don’t spell well, it’s fine if the sentences go all wrong, it’s fine if I make style mistakes and so on. It’s all fine. (Do you hear me talking to the inner critic? I’m soothing her, making her sleep by the repetitive lines.)
Then when I go work on a second version, I will need the perfectionist me for a little while. She will help me make the piece better. But still, in a one a day challenge, I can’t afford to be too perfectionist. So there!
And there it is. One piece written, about writing drafts and the inner critic. It’s not original. But it’s there.
Drawback: writing this – plus editing – took quite long. And you might say it is way too long for a blog. Ha! OK, I will be looking for ways to produce a daily blogpost and make the time it takes about half an hour on average. One way to do it would be to write shorter pieces most of the time, and longer ones only one or two times a week. And I may have try the wake up half an hour early strategy. 🙂
A community of bloggers that share their blogging, started by Effy Wild. Effy Wild is a teacher of art journaling, but is also a writer. She created the blogalong: we make an effort to blog daily. We share links to our blogposts on her blog. We support each other. Find the full explanation on her blog. Writing in community has a wonderful side to it. We read each other’s posts. That takes time, but it also helps. We all feel support, we all get better. I will go to three other bloggers today and comment on their blogposts.
Question for other bloggers, especially the other participants of the blogalong: how do you make it work, so that the project of writing regularly (or even: daily) doesn’t take up too much time? Or is this the wrong question? Please share your thoughts below.
PPS I’ll talk about the one-liner drawing some other day.
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