Writing starts with drawing

I'm not a writer. I'm an artist. I draw, paint, glue, sew and duct tape my characters. Yes, duct tape, because that stuff can really do everything!

So how is being an artist that sometimes scribbles down some words different from being a true writer? I'm not sure if I can answer that, since I don't know what true writers do, but I can give the other half of the answer. Beware: this applies to me. I can't guarantee that these tips will work for you. Uncertainties can be so terrible eh?

Drawing/crafting creates characters.

When I draw something, it takes ages before it's finished. Stories about what I want to draw pop up automatically. Same goes for costumes. In case you don't know: I go to fantasy fairs and walk around in clothes that are fit for fairy tales. Things are even worse here: I have to wear it, wouldn't it be nice if I could actually be someone else? Just for the record: I don't LARP, or do some proper roleplaying because I don't know how to act, but the idea I'm representing something more than just a pretty bird-lady is just wonderful.

- photo made by Wendy Appelman -

This costume is based on a costume I made 9 year ago who later turned into an aSoE character, to make it a bit more complicated. Though I have to admit that this costume looks far too extravagant to be used in my story. Boring: that's how my characters should look like! Though photographers will disagree I guess. But it is nice to know this costume has something to do with aSoE.

- Good grief, this pic is so old. Ugh... In case you are wondering what I'm doing: that flying thing is called a devilstick, a juggling prop. -

The one above is actually quite a fun one: for the people who have read chapters 2 and 3 of my story: remember the costumes the girls are wearing? This is Morgan's. Though at the time I made this, Morgan was not a juggler yet (she wasn't much, actually. I don't think she had a profession yet). This costume belonged to a character called 'Cascade'. Much later, 'Cascade' and 'Morgan' got combined. So I've cosplayed as Morgan, but I didn't realise it at the moment! Pretty weird eh?

Drawing/crafting allows you to learn things about your character you didn't know.

Or at least, that's what it does for me. Drawing shows little details about characters I haven't thought about before. For example: the POV character in chapter 1 wears armour. Let me refresh your memory a bit:

"He stood up. He had ended up in the middle of a sea of grass, surrounded by blades that formed ripples in the wind. The pieces of his plate armour clattered softly against each other. Dark blood stained the otherwise shining metal, but it wasn't his. He wondered why he always wore it; he didn't need protection. Getting wounded was something he didn't care about. Why shouldn't he leave it behind? That would make things easier for him. He started fumbling with the clasps while he looked at his surroundings."

That wasn't there in the original draft. I just drew him with armour and added this text. I don't control what I draw that well, so armour that pops up in a drawing for no good reason is not that weird. Guys in armour make me drool though, maybe that has something to do with it...

Armour/no armour doesn't sound like a big change, but it has affected the character more than it might look like. I started thinking about what kind of armour would fit him while I drew it. Is it ornamented? A full plate? What's the colour? Then I realised the guy does not need it because... Well, for the sake of spoilers, let's just say getting hurt is less of a problem for him. That changed other aspects of him as well, like fighting style and general recklessness. Things I hadn't thought about before, but turned out to be quite crucial.

Drawing/crafting destroys writer's block!

I find it easier to write about something I just drew. I participated in camp NaNoWriMo in April, but couldn't find the motivation to write. In case you do not know it: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is actually an international thing now. You need to write 50k words in November, but they organise a 'camp' version during other parts of the year. The thing I suffered from during that time was not a pure writer's block: I knew what I needed to write, I just couldn't find the words to describe it. So I started to draw instead...


Sentences formed in my head while I was drawing along! It was amazing! So next time I struggle with words, I'll draw instead!

Look at meeeeh!

This is the biggest advantage of all and it's terribly selfish: publicity. It's much easier for me to draw attention of people with some drawings than with a piece of text. Or that just means I write crap.

Some downsides:

- Readers might get 'lazy'. They don't have to imagine the characters by themselves. Some of them don't mind that, others do. You can always keep your own drawings to yourself though, but wasn't art made to be looked at by more than one person?

- Working on writing, drawing and crafting does have an effect on productivity, obviously. It might take ages before something is finished! And someone who focuses purely on writing will master that skill quicker than someone who juggles with all kinds of hobbies.

- This doesn't have to be a problem, but for me it is: many of my drawing/costume-based characters are female, because I happen to be one. I like drawing women, because I can use their designs for a costume project. I mainly make costumes for myself, you see.

So should you draw your own story? I think so. Well, once in a while; it's not supposed to be too time consuming. Don't look at me to figure out how much 'once in a while' should be. I don't know how to divide my free time either, which is why it takes months for me to finish a chapter.

And don't start whining that you can't draw - everyone can draw! It might look terribly crappy, but even crappy drawings can give you great ideas about your characters or plot. And when you are done, you can burn those crappy drawings in a great, happy bonfire - together with some first drafts of your story you don't like. Invite me please, I like burning things. And marshmallows. And burning marshmallows. I'll bring some.

#drawing #painting #crafting #costumes #inspiration #characters #writing #creation #writersblock

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