Have You Made Art Today?

by Katie Axelson | 38 comments

Today's the last day to help The Write Practice be one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers for the 3rd year in a row. The more nominations we get, the higher our score, so after you finish your practice, hop over to Write to Done and share why you love The Write Practice.

Did you catch the interview with Joanna Penn that your Write Practice team did last week?

In it she talked about a sign she has hanging on her wall:

Have you made art today?

photo by martinak15

photo by martinak15

It's a powerful question we should probably all hang on our walls. Or at least ask ourselves every day.

Your definition of “art” will differ from mine, just as mine differs from Joanna's. Yet that doesn't negate the importance of making art every day.

Even in the busyness that is the holiday seasons.

1. Schedule Time

Pick a time every day and use it only to make art.

Don't let anything come between you and your art time. This means saying no to friends, work, blogging, the television, etc. during.

(Hypocrite alert: “blogging” doesn't count as art in my dictionary and I'm using designated writing time to write this post).

2. Turn off the Internet

I know, I know, it's really temping to keep checking Facebook or seeing if you have any new emails. Sometimes you can even use the internet to research the legitimacy of the scene you're building, market the piece you just published, or build connections with other writers.

Newsflash: while all of those are good things, they're also procrastination tools and don't belong in your art-making time.

3. Make a Goal

This is the biggest benefit I see for NaNoWriMo: it forces you to sit down every day and meet a word goal. Now maintaining 1,667 words a day for 30 days can be seen as insane. Give yourself an achievable daily goal and stick to it.

Be it 200 words or 20 minutes. The amount isn't as important as the routine.

4. Build a Deadline

It's the reason school essays have deadlines. It's the reason your boss expects something at a certain time: it's more likely to get done when there's a firm deadline looming.

Create a deadline for yourself, share it with a friend if that will help you stick to it, then get to work and make it happen.

5. Create Art

Just do it.

Duh.

What are your best tools for making sure you create art every day?

PRACTICE

Spend some time quality time with the characters of your current project. Let them create art. You just get to write it down.

When you're done, post it in the comments, comment on a few other practices, and nominate The Write Practice.

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Katie Axelson is a writer, editor, and blogger who's seeking to live a story worth telling. You can find her blogging, tweeting, and facebook-ing.

38 Comments

  1. Joy Collado

    “Just do it. Duh.” Love that!

    My favorite tools are 750words.com and Scrivener. 🙂

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      Thanks, Joy. That was my favorite one too. 😉

  2. James Hall

    No, not yet. But I did finally make some art yesterday:

    Dayotan awoke from a dream of another kingdom or another time. The fire still burned, and Baird aside it sit. Darkness still loomed outside the entrance. Dayotan stumbled out of the building. The darkness that hung over the Ruins of Demora lingered as a dense fog. The moon gleamed in the sky, showering the land with a dull light, leaving the rest of the world in the grey of night. The gloomy tree to which the horses were tied twisted in the chill of the night breeze. The smell of rotting onions lingered in the air, and the steps still shone purple in the moonlight.

    He shivered in the wind as he moved beneath a tree. Nigh asleep, he wetted the undergrowth. The hoot of an owl echoed twice from a distant place. As he turned about to return to the stone residence, he caught a glimpse of a figure, just beyond the edge of the building, but it was whisked away by the fog. He rubbed his eyes and looked once more. Surely, ’twas nothing more than my restless eyes trickin’ me, he told himself. But as he took one last look, he could see the figure of a woman, black against the dull grey of the night fog. A pair of green eyes faded away into the mists.

    “Who’s there?” he whispered into the night air. He stood and waited for a response, but none came.

    Perhaps the venom of the slime has affected my mind. He walked slowly along the wall of the building in which his companions slept. His leg ached and resisted the motion, but he felt more than merely curious, he felt drawn. The cold chill of the ground nipped at the bare soles of his feet with each step

    He crept through the ruins, noting the remains of buildings, many with only a few partial walls standing. He crept alongside of a pool of water that had collected in the midst of the ancient city. The round moon, in all of its swirling beauty of white and blue, hove in the sky as did the gentle grey fog. The black silhouette of trees and grass across the pool contrasted with the shimmering-silver reflection upon the misty blue waters. The weeds from out of the water held still, silent in reverence of sacred night.

    Leaving the water’s edge, he passed by a few more worn buildings. One of them held strange devices and an awkward table. The bloodstains upon the stone floor hinted at its purpose: torture. He scratched at the back of his neck nervously. I would do well to fetch the others…

    Yet, he pressed on and entered into a wide area that could only have been the town square. In the middle, a fountain, circled with intricate columns and topped with a dome, beckoned him. He passed in where the columns were spread the widest. The fountain and dome, unlike the rest of the city, seemed untouched by time. Its pristine beauty calmed him, yet it conflicted with the rest of the scenery. Where the rest of the ruins had emphasized the dark nature of the Swartans that once had dwelt there, the fountain held a hint of serenity and holiness. The designs upon the sides were intricate and detailed. As he ran his finger along the edge of the dried fountain, a foggy figure approached from behind him.

    Reply
    • Ron Estrada

      Nice description James. Looks like a fantasy. It’s tough to set the scene in a few short paragraphs, but I can see it (and feel it).

  3. joe velikovsky

    Hi Katie, Joe, etc

    I nommed you at Write To Done, this was my comment, just FYI

    I nominate The Write Practise.
    It’s just brilliant, that is all.
    https://thewritepractice.com/
    JT Velikovsky recently posted..StoryAlity #101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology

    I do reckon blogging can be art.
    I think the blogging you do (in helping writers) is art.

    And, like the sign (comment above) says, I just blogged these two posts

    100 – The Holonic Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/storyality-100-the-holonic-structure-of-the-meme-the-unit-of-culture/

    101 – A Science of Memetic Culturology
    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/storyality-101-a-science-of-memetic-culturology/

    Cheers guys,
    and – hope you win, you totes deserve it

    JT

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks so much, JT! But I think your blogging is much closer to art than ours. Impressive posts.

    • joe velikovsky

      hehe, thanks Joe. And Katie!

  4. Ron Estrada

    Okay, here’s mine (and I’ll go vote right now):

    TJ dropped into the ancient law chair that another camper had donated to him the previous night. The thing screamed in protest, causing Loner to twitch an ear in his direction. TJ stretched his broken leg toward the Airstream and rubbed some of the stiffness out of his thigh, like kneading bread. And getting about as soft, he thought.
    He watched the other campers–Camp Dogs as the townies labeled them–begin their nightly rituals. It was like something out of a Steinbeck novel. Women bent over campfires, kids playing in the dirt or chasing the real dogs in between a hodgepodge collection of tents, pop-up trailers, and covered pick-ups. But no one pulled out a bag of marshmallows and graham crackers. Those days were gone. If anyone still used the campgrounds for recreation, TJ hadn’t seen one here.

    He stared down at Loner. The dirty white mutt slept with one ear cocked, always at a safe distance.

    “You’re not much of a pet,” TJ said. The dog had probably never been anyone’s pet. If it had, those happy moments of regular meals and long walks on a leash were as distant a memory as the s’mores that were once passed around these fire pits.

    The sun filtered through the hardwoods behind him, casting wavering shadows far out into the camp road. How had they fallen so quickly? The shadows that tickled the chins of happy families on vacation only a few years ago now only gripped the minds of this loose gathering of nomads. The night that once represented peace now only brought fear. Fear that the dawn would never come. And right behind that, the fear that it would.

    Reply
    • Davide Aleo

      Waw really liked it! especially the last paragraph.. Loved the description of the situation and the way you used to close the write.

    • Adelaide Shaw

      I can feel the loneliness here and the leaness of the character’s situation.
      Adelaide

    • Susan Anderson

      You mentioned Steinbeck. You sound like him.

    • plumjoppa

      You lulled me in by painting a vivid scene of camping, which I love to do. And then you turned it into something else entirely with that one line about the marshmallows. Nice job.

  5. CrisMichaels

    For mine, I had one character literally create art – he’s drawing. I found that I wrote fewer words per minute with this exercise than with some of the others. Maybe because I feel more restricted because I’m writing within the framework of a plot, I’m not sure.

    *******************************

    Cassandra leaned in the bedroom doorway, crossing her arms tight against her chest. Tom sat up in bed, propped awkwardly on pillows. He leaned over a paper notepad supported by a coffee table book on his lap. His yellow pencil scratched across the paper. Bike pictures, no doubt. Now that he couldn’t ride or fix the bike, he’d taken to drawing it. Or drawing other bikes he wished he owned, or wanted to build. Was he thinking about anything? He still wasn’t talking.

    The phone in Cassandra’s pocket buzzed, the first ring an electric prick to her nerves. She dropped her hand and grasped the cold device until the rhythmic vibrations went still. Tom’s attention staid with his drawing. Maybe he wasn’t hearing, either. Or feeling. Maybe he wasn’t feeling the questions rolling into their life in smothering waves, from people in this world they didn’t know and didn’t want to know. More questions about the wreck. The cops, the out-of-town union rep, the twenty-year-old TV reporter with sprayed, feathered hair. Cassandra felt the hardness of the door frame push into her muscle, slowly splitting her shoulder from the outside in.

    Reply
    • Davide Aleo

      Fantastic! The simpleness of the situation make this description so real.. the reading is really sliding, like it!

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Good passage.. Makes me want to know about the accident, what’s happened before and what will happen next.
      Adelaide

    • CrisMichaels

      Thanks so much for the feedback! I’ll keep working on this story. 🙂

    • CrisMichaels

      Thanks so much!

    • Susan Anderson

      There is so much here. You gave it to us in a few sentences. Good job.

    • CrisMichaels

      Thank you, Susan! The positive feedback is helping keep me motivated with this story. 🙂

    • plumjoppa

      Once the bike was brought in, I was hooked, and it just got better from there!

    • CrisMichaels

      Awesome! Thanks so much for the feedback!

    • Duuna Desir

      I was confused by the two characters and the names….Cassandra the male or female….needs to be distinguished better…other than that I enjoyed it

    • CrisMichaels

      Thanks for pointing that out about the gender – I wouldn’t have though of it. 🙂

  6. Adelaide Shaw

    My creative space is anywhere I want it to be. With notebook handy I practice my “art.” Today, as usual at 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m in a crowded cafe. I’ve been musing about the holidays and wrote this tanka.

    the rush to Christmas
    running with open wallets
    and closed hearts
    there was a time when love
    was enough to bring joy

    Adelaide

    Reply
    • Susan Anderson

      It certainly isn’t about the money, is it? The gifts I’m most excited about giving this year are photos, which I took and framed. I can’t wait to see my son open his surfing photos for his apartment!

    • Adelaide Shaw

      I think family photos are a great idea for gifts, especially when the subject in the photo was unaware the photo was taken.
      P. S. I think, from what you describe in your post, you are practicing the art of living joyfully.
      Adelaide

    • Susan Anderson

      Thank you, Adelaide. The funny thing is, the frames are super cheap. ha, ha

    • Colby Davidson

      Excellent poem!

  7. Susan Anderson

    If facing a heap of clutter from our basement and displaying it to sell for a garage sale can be considered art, then yes, I did that today. I had scraps of toile fabric, which is my favorite. Some of it was cut up all zig zag and curves from a long ago pattern. I thought that my shoppers would see the potential, if they are Pinterest followers. I could see recovering a lamp shade, or making a stocking out of it. A yellow bow was thrown into the box, from I don’t know when. I rolled the black and white Victorian pattern into a roll and tied it up with the bow. Then I slapped a price sticker on it….$2.
    I also worked on our family Christmas newsletter. I do consider this art, because in writing it, I have to be ruthless in keeping it to a page. I’ve got to be un-cliché`, and not too boastful. At the same time, nobody wants bad news in a Christmas letter, so that is easy to skip. At this time of year, I think spreading good cheer in the traditional sense, that being addressing cards and sending them on their journey to friends far away is art. We approach the third Sunday of Advent which is the time to begin rejoicing. Gaudete Sunday is signified with a rose colored candle meaning, joy. In participating with this liturgical event, I feel we participate with art, because we worship our Creator, the source of our creativity. Blessed Advent, everyone.

    Reply
    • CrisMichaels

      I love thinking of Christmas as a time of participating in art, which meshes into the spirituality of the season perfectly. I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

      I’m glad to hear that you’re still taking the time to do a family newsletter, It seems like fewer of them are being done lately, and they’re such a great way to stay in touch (much more fun than Facebook, in my opinion!)

  8. Susan Anderson

    Darn, I just missed the deadline for nominating The Write Practice. But I will say that being here, when I can, makes me feel and believe I’m a writer. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. plumjoppa

    Annie scooped the grey clay out of the creek bed where the water ran shallow. The hem of her white nightgown bubbled in the current as she squatted. She
    squeezed the grey mass, and smiled at the brown streaks that oozed between her fingers. It was a good find. She dropped it into her red bucket and
    pushed a strand of blonde curls away from her face with the back of her hand, leaving a muddy streak across her cheek.

    As Annie walked across the pale green spring pasture, her wet nightgown stuck to her legs. The sun was already warming the slate rock pathway to the house, but she still pulled her father’s flannel shirt a little closer around her, dirtying the edges.

    When Annie was done molding the clay that morning, a small army of turtles, mice and snails dotted the warm rocks on the pathway. Annie went inside for her mother’s oatmeal, and knew that her creations would be ready to paint by noon. Her father’s old paint set was stored in the cedar chest under the weathervane, and she hoped that her mother would let her use it.

    Reply
    • CrisMichaels

      Beautiful imagery! The little details about Annie’s clothes especially help to set the scene.

    • Duuna Desir

      Well done…I love the flannel and use of clothing….you added just enough detail that I can see and would like to see even more.

  10. Giulia Esposito

    I haven’t really done much art creation in the last half of this year. I have tried. Just didn’t always work out like I wanted. The last art I created I felt so good about. But then I got sick, my mind got confused and I could barely form a sentence orally never mind in writing. Love the season!! I think my new year’s resolution will be to come to The Write Practice every day and stay updated with everything and thus, with my art. Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Geoff Hughes

    Loved this post! It’s so important that as writers we DO create art every single day. I try to block out the first 2 hours of every morning for a fiction project that I’m hoping to serialise soon. My ‘toolbox’ is simple but works so well. I wake at 6, go for a walk on the beach and let my mind wander over the story so far. I then come back and before I do anything else devote 2 hours to just progressing the story creatively. No editing or revision, just the art of it. I’m always astounded what happens. Often a single word or setting will take me somewhere I hadn’t considered. Then it’s back to the business of blogging and juggling other writing projects. I’ve made those 2 hours an indispensable part of my morning ritual.

    Reply
  12. Colby Davidson

    A/N: Do Lego’s count as art? This story is from May’s perspective. She’s just gotten to the hospital and is waiting in the waiting room with Andy, who’s just arrived as well. As always, feedback is manna from the Lord to me, and please enjoy!
    -C. Davidson
    ====================================================================
    And so I begin to wait. God, I hate waiting. No, not waiting exactly, but waiting to see if my best friend will live or die is an enterprise of which I am not overly fond.

    I look around me, all across the room. The waiting room. Oil paintings of giraffes and monkeys and monkeys riding giraffes cover the African Savannah on the wall.

    “Why did they bring him to the children’s hospital?” I ask Andrew impatiently, who is sitting next to me in a blue plastic chair. My chair is yellow, maybe beige. “He’s seventeen! Shouldn’t they have, like, adult doctors working on him?”

    “You go to the pediatrician until you’re 21, May,” he says calmly. Andrew Maplewood and I have differing ways of handling immense stress. I become a sarcastic five-year-old with a sighing disorder. He just becomes a stone, blocking out the negative emotions, and the positive ones with them. It is as though he has some sort of emotional antibiotic that his brain can consciously release, killing all of the bacterial properties of existence we call sorrow and gladness, anger and hurt. “You do in this town, at least.”

    I begin fidgeting. I know he’s right, but it’s trivial, I calculate. I know that Colby and I decided not to fight it, that I’d see him on the other side and we’d get coffee and see Son of God together as soon as I got there, that death is not as big a deal as they all play it up to be, but when the doctor said that he had gone into a coma due to blood loss and that they’d “do their best” to save him, something kind of broke inside of me. I realized that the odds were incomprehensibly stacked against me. I realized I would never be held by him again. I remembered reading somewhere that, even if there were Starbuck’ses and cinemas in heaven, angels can’t have relationships. Even if I somehow made it up there, even if I purged in Purgatory for a thousand years, I would never be kissed by him again. I was in the back of the ambulance right next to him. His eyes were closed. I closed mine too. But the tears still found their way out. I’ve never been a person to hope beyond hope, but I became one tonight.

    I get up from my chair and walk around the waiting room, looking for a distraction from the world. I want him to hold me, to shield me from everything, for him to be the bigger person. Sometimes I hate being the bigger person. This is one of those times.

    I see a Lego table in a corner of the room. Miraculously, there are big-kid Lego’s in the bin. I think someone dumped an Avengers set into there. I scoop some up and start building something. I build a spaceship and then I build a car, remembering how he always used to build spaceships and I always used to build cars when we’d build Lego’s together as kids. I take a little minigirl and give her the hair-brick from Black Widow, black jeans, and a denim jacket torso. I put her in the car. Then I put together a little miniman with sand-colored hair, a blue torso, and brown cargo pants, and I carefully lower him into the seat of the rocket, placing his cup-hands onto the “steering wheel” of the ship. He looks scared to fly into the unknown. Then I start talking to plastic.

    “Don’t be afraid,” I tell the figure. “Don’t be afraid to fly away. It’s alright. You can do it. Go! Fly away!”

    In my mind, the sculpture flies off out the window and up into the night. The girl in the car had gotten some mechanics to try and tear up the ship, but it didn’t stop him. She was sad, and happy, at the same time, to see her companion go. She waves goodbye, swiveling her molded wrist up next to her head, and she sees him look back through the window of the ship and wave back, smiling. She tries to smile too.

    That’s basically exactly what happens.

    Reply

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  1. Are You Counting Stars? - […] recently wrote a post about making art. In it she talks about creating art daily and making it part…
  2. Monday Must-Reads [12/16/13] - […] Have you Made Art Today? […]

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