July’s MANW Theme and New Creative Prompt

Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge July

As announced on Twitter and Facebook, July’s Make Art Not War theme is MOVEMENT. The idea behind this month’s theme is moving forward at your own pace. I’ve had this on my mind, because I’ve had some personal goals in addition to the professional milestones I want to achieve. Sometimes, we want to get to that finish line and forget that going a million miles an hour is not “the” way to achieve success. Speed, or producing art quickly, can be “a” method, but it’s not the only one. Your path, your rules! But… Sometimes you need a gentle nudge in the right direction. That’s what this month is all about!

Creative Prompt: Mapping Your Artistic Journey

If you’ve been following my Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge from the beginning, you know that I’m a big fan of visualizations. I think they can be a very powerful tool to help you see, in your mind’s eye, where you are headed. To figure out your next destination, sometimes it’s helpful to know where you’ve been. This creative prompt is designed to illustrate your artistic path in a fun and tangible way, by making a map.

Here’s an example of how this prompt works, if you decide to create an aerial (or bird’s eye) view. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

1.) Grab a large sheet of paper. Then, create a grid of squares; you should be able to draw in each one. Each square represents an increment of time (six months, a year, etc.).

2.) Mark your starting point by drawing something memorable; it could be a statue, dragon, rainbow, etc. This point is the date, year, or phase in your life when you began to make art. If you desire, you might further customize your illustration by focusing on when you began to submit your art for consideration or when you started to sell it.

3.) Using the units of time you’ve assigned, mark your milestones and achievements. These are the memorable moments, good and bad, that you’ve experienced as an artist. You could apply a fantastical bestiary motif to your memories, or illustrate characters.

4.) Then, from there, start drawing the path and filling in details. Flat ground, bright green foliage, and flowers are great for productive periods and easy paths, while thorns, rocks, and mud illustrate darker moments along the way.

When you’re done mapping the route, you can add finishing touches like the addition of punny country and landmark names. Rivers, streams, and mountains can also be used to reflect changes that happened outside of your control. Trolls might literally be trolls, while bridges could reflect those times when you had a helping hand.


If drawing doesn’t work for you, here are some variations on this theme:

  • Write a story about your path in the genre of your choice.
  • Make your path with Legos or building blocks.
  • Record your memoirs, in the guise of a fictional narrator.

The point of this exercise is not necessarily reflection; that trip down memory lane will happen naturally as you draw. By creating a map of your artistic path, you possess those memories and take control of all that’s happened. This becomes a picture of what you’ve been through, versus what you’ve accomplished.

Your path is something to be proud of, and this exercise also shows how unique your journey is as well. By getting increasingly personal, your visualized path may provide a new sense of direction so you can move forward (or backwards, if needed) at your own pace.

P.S. Some check-ins this month and personal accounts will be delayed due to travel. I’ve got quite a few trips this summer, so bear with me!

Mood: air conditioned brains
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I CONFESS NOTHING!
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Hunting Pokemon
In My Ears: coffee shop white noise
Game Last Played: Pokémon Go
Book Last Read: Epic Fantasy anthology
Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: The Originals Season 4
Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Unknown Armies Books 1-3, and Kobold Guide to Gamemastering.
Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming when I get time.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

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