I've never been the sort of writer (or artist, for that matter) who likes to stick with one genre, style, or way of doing anything. It's why I can never follow a recipe--I prefer to explore, experiment, and run with my latest concoction to make it my own. Admittedly, the running sometimes takes a wrong turn and I can fall flat on my face, but believe me, I've learned how to turn that into a creative project, too!
And therein lies what I feel is the real secret to creative success: use everything you can to enrich and enliven your world--everything. Avoid the trap of thinking you don't have enough time, talent, or energy to try more than one discipline. Here's why:
- Variety is the spice of life, and "art" covers a vast range of flavors: photography, textiles, collage, jewelry, ceramics, painting, and, of course, writing. Each one feeds the other, making for a delicious meal.
- It's good to take a vacation away from "words only." A change is a good as a rest, an excellent cure for any kind of perceived creative blockage.
- Trying out new creative avenues forces you to go outside your comfort zone--the place where some of your best and most interesting ideas and instincts reside. Go get 'em!
- Working with your hands is meditative, a relaxing way to turn off what the Buddhists call "monkey mind," that incessant chatter inside our heads distracting us from what really matters. That said, however, you might also find that working without words clears the way for new ideas to appear just when you least expected them. Be sure to keep a notebook beside your easel or work table to jot down sudden inspirations.
- Sketching and painting are great ways to create your own story and plot prompts. The acrylic and oil pastel piece I posted above always makes me wonder about the people who aren't in the picture--a world of possibilities!
- Illustrating one of your existing stories or WIP's is a way to go more deeply into your work--what will you discover that you can add to the text?
- Playing with color can set the tone and mood for your writing, helping you to learn more about yourself as well as your manuscript.
- Although many publishing houses prefer to work with their own illustrators, there's nothing wrong with making some of your own suggestions for cover or interior art once a manuscript has been accepted. If you already have a selection of artwork for referral, you can offer your ideas with more confidence and knowledge.
- And who knows? You might get good at this! Editors are always breaking "the rules." Your artwork may be the very thing they're looking for. Practice makes perfect, so don't use the excuse of "nobody buys unknown artwork" as a reason to not go after a dream.
- There's always self-publishing, too! Be bold, take a risk. Thanks to technology, it's never been easier or cheaper.
- Even if your artwork doesn't make it into the pages of your published book, there's always room for promotional tie-in's to your story; for instance: tote bags, jewelry, and T-shirts each featuring your characters, settings, unique vision and style.
Tip of the Day: For me, art and writing go together for me like tea and cake, or movies and popcorn--the combination is irresistible. If you're a writer, make a list of art projects you'd like to try, regardless of your skill level or experience. Choose one, and make a start. It might be just a visit to an art supply store, or signing up for a continuing ed. class. If you're already a visual artist but never tried writing, take out a few of your drawings and paintings. Can you see any story ideas? Make a list, choose your favorite, and start small with a poem, short essay, or a one-page piece of "flash fiction."