Mini Art Month was my attempt to regain some artistic control of my life. I lost the month of April due to Life Happening*, and I needed something to bolster my artistic spirit. I tend to get caught up in the myth** that I have to have huge chunks of time to do my “art,” and I’ve discovered time and again that’s just a way to procrastinate. Why am I procrastinating, especially when art is something I want to do?
The Critic*** warns me away or offers helpful suggestions like “you should research that some more.” Occasionally I call it “Perfectionism”**** if I want to make myself feel better.
So let’s just call it what it is: Fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of succeeding. Fear of wasting time. Fear of what others might think. Fear of discomfort. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change.
Fear. It sucks.
With Mini Art Month, my goal was to make the making of art as easy and consistent as possible: something small, every day. Did I achieve that? Nope, not every day, but over the course of the month, I did more art (esp. writing) than I did in previous months.
Days of Art:
24 out of 30 (started on May 2)
Types of Art:
7 different kinds (poetry, photography, baking, planting, coloring, display making, and writing)
- I need to set priorities and create limits. If something is important to me, then I need to make it a priority. One way to make it a priority is to do it early in the day before the chaos ensues. As difficult as it is for me, I’ve found that I feel better (and actually write better/more) if I do my writing first thing in the morning. That gets the bare minimum done for the day, and anything else is tasty gravy. I also work better if I have tiny limits, like “Write for 15 minutes.” For some reason, using time as the work metric frees me; I don’t have to worry about having enough words or if they’re any good. I just have to sit my ass down for fifteen minutes and write. Simple and effective.
- Writing is my path/practice. Writing is what I need to stay sane, and doing it every day, even in small bits, is good. While it often feels like I’m not getting anywhere, let alone fast, it all adds up. Until I reviewed my MAM posts, I thought I had only been working on one story (my current one). I didn’t realize that I finished two stories in May, and then started the current one, for a total of over 6000 words (20-ish pages). Huh.
- But I need to lighten up and have fun. For some reason, I get very serious about writing. Combine that with an innate need to create schedules/plans, and I set myself up for failure (oops! missed a self-imposed deadline. i am such a loser. i should quit), which is Not Fun. Since writing is something that I choose to do, maybe it should be fun. After all, should I really be taking the writing of fantasy/sci-fi short stories and novels seriously? Come on — werewolves, robots, zombies, talking dogs, time agents . . . is this really serious content? Here’s a strange thought: PLAY.
- Mini Art Month is a great way to get back into making art. Looking back at it, I can’t honestly call the baking, planting, coloring, or display making, “art” (and even the photography and poetry is a bit dodgy). However, they were helpful for jumpstarting my creativity and for getting me to try some new/different things. I’d like to keep trying my hand at photography because it’s good to actually see the world (and not just get caught up in my head), and I’m seriously considering a daily haiku exercise to get my brain thinking more lyrically and succinctly.
Was Mini Art Month worth it?
YES, because it gave me a structure to fall back on with tiny, easily achievable goals (make something small! every day!).
And most importantly, YES, because it got me back in the habit of writing every day. It feels good and I’m making regular writing progress, which feels even better.*****
*Note the use of quasi-passive tense. It certainly didn’t feel like I had an active role in the chaos that was April.
**Which of course I wrote about earlier. Yes, it’s a lesson I keep needing to relearn.
***Call it the “Critic,” “Inner Editor,” or one I heard recently “Obnoxious Roommate” (one that lives in your head). It’s that internal voice that tells you to not bother, it’s not worth it, there’s no point to it, you’re going to fail, you’re not smart/talented enough, etc. Yeah, that voice.
****Elizabeth Gilbert’s description in Big Magic has stuck with me: “Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.”
*****I want to give a huge thanks to David Seah for inspiring me to try new ways of creating and then analyzing them publicly. It’s nice to know there are other folks out there struggling with similar creative/productive issues.