The last couple of columns I’ve written have been more like pep talks then How-To material. I must be working through some inner demons of my own or something while I write these, trying to type out things I do or want to do as some sort of record of what I’m thinking. In turn, that got me thinking…
Having a record of your accomplishments can be a powerful thing. When I started doing Makeshift Miracle I did up a series of tutorials that outlined some of the Photoshop or drawing ideas I was toying with as I created the web comic. It gave me a concrete way of nailing down what I was thinking as I worked. It was not only beneficial to the people that read it, but inadvertently benefited me as well.
It may sound obvious to say that time is always moving forward, but having a record of what you’re doing and thinking right NOW can be invaluable. It’s hard to see progress you’ve made on something when you’re in the moment. A journal of self-critique or self-praise is a fundamental way of nailing that instant down and having something to refer back to later.
When I started moving across the country for job opportunities in 1999, I started sending out a little e-mail Newsletter. Originally a weekly thing, it fluctuated between a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly kind of schedule based on what was happening in my life. At the time, I thought it would be a good way to stay in touch with friends and keep everyone simultaneously up to date with the comings and goings in my life. I wouldn’t have to wonder who knew what, it was all there. I wrote the e-mails for them, but in turn I’ve gotten so much more out of it.
Moving those archived e-mails over to a Livejournal format, I was amazed as I read my thoughts and feelings over these past 5 years. The changes I’ve gone through, mentally and physically, the ups and downs, accomplishments and failures. It’s an amazing personal journey and rereading it made me appreciate where I’m at even more. Anyone else reading it would probably skim over more than 70% of it, but for me it’s invaluable. I’ve got a time capsule of thoughts and feelings there to refer to, a real wellspring of inspiration. It started out as information for everyone else, but it actually unlocked things inside me instead.
My advice this month is quite simple: record the creative process. Do it even if it’s just a brief little diary that no one can see but yourself. Tell yourself what you’ve done well, and where you feel weak as you go through each creative doorway. When you look back on your entries, you’ll start to see patterns and can work to smooth out the rough edges in your work. Years later, you’ll probably be amazed at where you were at in the past.
Creators, feel free to link your Livejournal or blog below this column. I’m curious to read what you’re up to.
Nothing is as damaging to the human ego as running a search on yourself in Google and discovering that webpage of poetry that you posted back in high school.
Interesting…tho I tend to cringe whenever I view older work. I don’t have much of a diary or such, just something over at LiveJournal that I tend to post now and then into. When I looked it over after reading this article, I realized I tend to go thru cycles of ups and downs, usually due to lack of or very little reader feedback. Ah well.
creator/artist, Twilight Agency
Great column Jim! I for one completely concur. I first started keeping a sort of “creative journal” in college about eight years ago as part of a year-long assignment in my broadcast writing class and I got in to the habit of carrying a sketchbook with me and scribbling down whatever images, ideas or stories popped in to my head at any given time. It’s great to go back every once and awhile and see what was in my head eons ago.
When I started my current project “Bear Town” (originally planned as a web comic, now a video series) I spent most of the first year preparing to do the project and to keep myself motivated I started a blog which has become a lot of fun and connected me to lots of people I would not have otherwise known. I hope to get a flash-based version of pen and paper journal online soon.
A little shameless self-promotion:
My blog – http://blog.bear-town.com
My site – http://www.bear-town.com
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