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    Your sketchbook is full of personality and a pleasure to browse through, keep it up

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    Aww, thanks for the feedback! Im glad ya like it.

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    Im still alive.

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    Wow I really like these last illustrations ..really cool

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    After a summer of focusing on reading and writing, I’m back in school for another semester. I feel much stronger and much more capable of expressing myself as a writer and as an artist.Over the past 5 Months I’ve made major lifestyle changes that i think have helped me improve my practice. I have a couple pieces of advice that i think will help others who want to strengthen their comic/writing/art skills.
    • Read as much as possible.
      • It doesn’t matter what you read, the very act alone will begin to fill your brain with content that you will be able to use to inform your story. For me the hardest part of storytelling was getting down to the details. Reading more books has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and themes i am more inclined to write about- because they are the same as what im usually interested in reading. Also, frequent use of dictionaries has proven to be a great source of knowledge, especially the etymological variety. The more you read and understand words, the more freedom you’ll have as a writer. Reading that is done mindfully and consciously is more valuable than any other type of reading. If you take notes, or even write about your reading experiences in a journal you’re much more likely to retain the value of your reading experiences in general. If you’re reading non-fiction it can be helpful to skim an entire book by reading the first and last paragraph of every chapter. This way you get an overview of what the book’s overarching concepts are, which makes the actual reading super fast. In reading narrative writing, it can be helpful to decide what you want to focus on within the story. If you go into a reading experience looking for something, you’ll tend to find it- being conscious and intentful with reading changes the experience and also puts you into a more analytical frame of mind. Regardless of what you read or how you read, the point should be to digest the text. Figure out whatever strategy makes the most sense for you, and if you have an aversion to reading that hinders you- spend time learning your unique strategy to overcome that. There is no one way to read, as long as you can find a way to effectively absorb the content you can do it whatever way you want.

    • Keep a Journal
      • The biggest way to improve storytelling is writing. I’ve adopted the habit of keeping several daily journals. The one that has helped the most is the dream journal. Ill spare you all the quasi-spiritual ranting. However, i will say that the practical benefit of keeping a dream journal is that it will strengthen two things: Recollection and Narrative flow. As a writer you’ll depend on your ability to draw details from your life and experiences to create your stories. The better you are at visualizing and recalling, the more interesting and believable you can be as a writer. If you keep a dream journal, you’ll be exercising your ability to recall memories and also learn a great deal about the way your own mind works. Also a huge part of writing well is knowing how to create a flow that directs your reader toward the “point” of your story in an interesting way. Dream are often amorphous and non sequential, so as you journal them out you can use them as a foundation for quick narratives- figuring out what the most important parts of your dream were and how to use the narrative to build up to the climax. Regardless of how much sense a dream makes, there is almost always an underlying feeling or tone. If you write your dreams in such a way to recreate the resonance you feel, you’ll begin to understand exactly what elements are useful in building tone and feeling in your own narrative writing.
      • Sometimes as writers we don’t practice writing because we don’t have anything to write about- dreams are a great arbitrary source of constant inspiration. Dreams offer infinite novelty and are often intimately tied to your creative practice in terms of theme and motifs. Dreams are also free.

    • Meditate
      • The biggest thing that stops artists and creatives from making progress is fear. Moebius taught, “When you draw, you must first cleanse yourself of deep feelings, like hate, happiness, ambition, etc.”. It doesn’t really matter what you do to get into that state of mind, find your own practice. For me it’s meditating, for you it may be watching Netflix and eating Cheetos. Whatever you choose, its good to acknowledge your preferred method of getting into the zone, and develop that method as a way to train your brain to be less attached to whether things come out good or bad. The goal is to focus on the process, to love the process, and to culture a profound appreciation for the very act of making art instead of the outcome.

    • Structure
      • While i don’t think its fair or necessary to say that a person has to have a life of rigid structure. I do think that it is really important for a working artist to have awareness of his/her lifestyle and patterns. The benefit of awareness is that you know how to better capitalize your time so you can set aside a period to work when you are most likely to be motivated. I think all artists know what its like to be inspired and not have the ability to work, or to have an irregular relationship with creativity. The mind, and subsequently it’s creative facilities, is like an animal. If you train yourself and have regularity, your mind will adapt and become in-sync with your schedule. The most important part is to just set aside a regular time to be present at with your medium regardless of inspiration. The first few days/weeks will be hit or miss, but eventually you’ll find that your creativity becomes like a horse drawn carriage instead of a wild ass. As long as you honor your time and space with regularity, you’ll see an increase in your effectiveness as an artist.

    • Non Attachment to Outcome/Acknowledgment
      • The biggest thing artists often struggle with is attachment towards the outcome of their efforts. Although some disagree with my perspective on this matter, I’ve always found myself much more successful at being consistent and taking projects to completion when i focus on the process instead of the outcome. You cant control how things will come out. Its a long journey from start to finish on a piece. This goes against the advice of what a lot of schools and teachers promote- and understandably. I believe my idea of non attachment is correct though, because as long as you are constantly working and practicing your outcome will always improve from piece to piece in some small way. You really dont have to worry so much about whether your art is “good” or “bad”. In fact doing so is wasted time, because being a slave to validation will only put you at enmity with your own efforts when you don’t get the validation you desire. What is most important is that you do the work, and that you don’t get discouraged because you fear a poor outcome. Just do the work, and allow it to be whatever it will be- you can always do another if you don’t like the way it comes out. The only real purpose of making art is to enjoy the “making”, not to lust over the acknowledgments or accolades- those will come with time and investment.

    http://mael-strm.com/
    Last edited by JakehC; September 14th, 2015 at 05:58 AM.

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    Thank you for looking.

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