Sketch-writing, a new discovery of mine

Do any of you like to draw or write? I’m sure a few who visit my comic do, so I’m going to share with you a little tip. It is a simple one, for sure, one that I’m sure you already know. I–being the blunderhead that I am–only recently really figured this one out and it has helped me immensely (or I should say, will help me immensely, once I start using it regularly).

When you sit down to draw a picture, if that is in fact something you do, spend the first 5-10 minutes sketching something else. If you don’t know what you want to draw, find a picture online and try to draw it. Find several. Sketch until you fill a few pages in your sketchbook. They don’t have to look nice, they’ll probably be very rough (they’re sketches, of course). Once your hands and brains are warmed up, move onto the picture or project your initially had in mind to draw. You’ll discover it will come together much more easily, and you’ll be happier with the final product.

I don’t know why this is the case. As humans we can grow incredibly rusty, even over night, and need those creative wheels re-lubricated regularly. Also, as simple-minded humans, we need certain things–important things–reiterated to us over and over again, so we don’t forget them. This also includes skills we wish to master. Doing them over and over again makes us better at it. This you already know, but the secret is to do this repetitive trick before you actually do the work you want to do. That is commonly called sketching or warming up. Musicians are particularly good at it (or have been trained to do it whether they like it or not).

This can also be applied to writing, or better put: this happens to writers whether they realize it or not. It took me many years to discover I was sketching in my writing. I would often have an idea, or an itching to write, and would jot down a few words. It may have been merely a paragraph, or a few sentences. I would get excited about what I was writing, but had no clue what to do with it. Could I turn this into a story? A book? The answer usually was no. But that didn’t make the writing any less valuable, just because I couldn’t slap a title to it and show it to the world. That small act of writing was helping me improve my writer’s muscles. The more I did it, the better I could write. Finally I discovered, much like when I prepared to draw, writing a few lines of simple nonsense would help me prepare for whatever larger work I wanted to do.

Of course I’m sure you all already know about this trick. Maybe me laying these words down are just a sketch for myself. This blog needs a few more word in it anyway. In any event, here is my sketch-writing from this morning. It is singular in that, I might actually work on it some more in the future. Who know? It might be a little book. What you need to know before you read it is that it is written by Algerbane, the wonderful Wizard of Quippley. Maybe it is the start of his memoirs.

I don’t really know what to write about.  Everybody keeps asking.  They insist.  “Al, you really should write down your story,” is usually what they say.   They assume that because I’ve been on so many adventures, appear well-educated, and am fairly competitant in magic, I am also good at writing.  Or, at least, I should have a desire to tell about all my adventures.  Yes, they think I should.  I should want to tell my stories, as much as they do.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during all those adventures, is what goes on in one person’s mind is not necessarily the same as what’s going on in another’s.  What most of these people do not realize is that what appear to be “stories” to them are, in fact, the irrevocable events of my life.  Most of which I am not too keen on sharing.

There is also the matter of the actual craft of writing.  It may come as a bit of a surprise to these “people,” but I’ve never been quite good at it.  Why do they think I went on so many adventures?  If I could actually be content with sitting in a chair, staying in one place, and writing all day–I would have!  Then all those wonderful adventures–those terrifying events of my life–would never have happened, and I wouldn’t have anything to write about.  A bit ironic, if you ask me.

But I’ve always been a “man of action.”  Oh, saying it that way makes it sound terribly exciting, but I just mean I was too stupid to keep my nose out of trouble.  There are many different kinds of people in the world.  Some work with their hands, some write, some devote their lives to knowledge, some only wish to make money.  I am one of the unfortunite lot who only seem to happy moving about, getting involved in other people’s business, and generally making a mess of things.  I’m sure that makes for a wonderful story, but it makes for a miserable life.  You go ask all my loved-ones (the ones you can find who are still alive) how much they’ve benefited from my erratic lifestyle.  I’m sure you wouldn’t be pleased by their answer.