June Make Art Not War

Apologize for missing… Well, June’s updates! I have spent most of the month playing catch up on projects, Pokémon Go, and planning for conventions. Say what you will about Pokémon Go; it has been a lot of fun and we’ve been very motivated to go out, get active, and catch ’em all. That said, I have been shipping projects off to the next stage like crazy, which means more time for my own stuff and a slew of releases that’ll come out this year yet.

For today’s post, I want to talk about tips and tricks to help you persist and continue making art by tossing in some examples of what I did this month. Before I get started, I do want to highlight there’s a huge difference between making, promoting, and selling both your art and yourself as an artist. No two business practices are alike, and this is especially true if your primary income does not come from your creations. That’s okay, and that’s incredibly normal. There are dozens of business models to choose from, and what works for you may not work for someone else.

I understand the tendency or urge to compare yourself to other artists, but I often find that can be very damaging to all involved. Interacting with folks online can produce a slightly skewed view, because often artists present the best sides to themselves in order to avoid upsetting or steering fans away. I have mixed feelings about that, because while making art produces a lot of joy we are still human beings who have thoughts and opinions, good days and bad. I feel the only way to get past envy and jealousy, in particular, is to possess the confidence to be yourself and make more art.

After a while, you will find your own voice and way of doing things that won’t be reliant on anyone else’s approval — within reason. Art often has a lot of collaborative components to it, and knowing how to work and interact with other people is just as important as having the raw skill and talent. Learning how to deal with people is definitely its own job, especially in an era where the barrier between fans and creators is non-existent. Regardless, focusing on your art and establishing boundaries between you, other people, and the work is crucial to being persistent, because many pros produce art on a consistent basis in order to remain financially viable. To do that, you have to find the means to light a fire under your own butt. It’s hard, yes, but not impossible.

Okay, I want to walk you through some additional tips to help you persist!

1. Ask Yourself Why You Make Art. Whether you freewrite for half an hour or meditate on this thought for a while, knowing why you make art (outside of any financial obligations) can be a helpful reminder and gentle nudge to keep at it. I would even go so far as to make a series of definitive statements, and then edit them down to one mantra that you’ll make an art project for. I’m going to put this on my list, too! I often come up with a mantra for certain projects I work on, but beyond “bringing people joy” I haven’t thought about the whys and therefores and hows because being an artist is both something I do and who I am.

2. Identify What’s Bothering You and Get Help if Needed. Oh dear, this is a big ’un and a hard tip to personalize for you. So, I’m going to use myself as an example. I had spent quite a bit of time planning my project load for 2017, to make room for Make Art Not War but also my own projects and initiatives. As much as I did not want to admit it, I was overwhelmed and daunted to push forward on organizing. My beads were organized three or four different ways, and before I could inventory everything I needed to finish sorting through what I had. Ugh! Inspired by a dear friend, I decided to get help and invited someone close to me to tackle sorting with me. What would have taken me six months, due to the emotional baggage that comes from cleaning old messes, we did in two days. Now that I have a good headstart, I’ve been moving forward really quickly and even managed to start a bin for Etsy inventory! Huzzah!

3. Embrace a Mindful Quiet. We are bombarded with news, opinions, brand names, and information every day and, after a while, you hit information overload and you need a break. It’s okay to sit and be quiet for a little while, or meditate with an app like Headspace or Insight Timer. You’d be surprised how a little peace and quiet can work wonders for you. I am a musician by nature, and sensitive to sound. But, I’m also a writer and sensitive to words, too, which often translate as music in my head.

4. Be Gentle With Yourself. Say it with me: “It is okay to make a mistake.” You will screw up, and mistakes are normal! Only you can decide how grevious your error was, what steps you might take to rectify it, and who you need to make peace with or apologize to. It sucks, but you can’t affect anyone else’s actions or responses, unless they want to change. Certainly, fixing other people’s mistakes will add more to your plate that you probably don’t need. Being gentle with yourself, though, also relates to doing anything new. When you’re new, give yourself the opportunity to learn, to fail, and to learn from those mistakes. You got this!

5. Do Three Things That Make You Happy. If you’re already being too hard on yourself, analyzing how to move forward can be really taxing. I cannot stress the importance of doing things that make you happy, because you are a complex being with loads of thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears. It’s okay to be sad, to be frustrated with yourself, and take a break for a little while to get relief to move past it. You know yourself the best, but sometimes you need an excuse to be kind to your inner artist.

I’m sure you have other tips and tricks to help yourself keep at it. Good luck! And, more importantly, make some art!

Mood: Caffeinated.
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: SO MANY
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Hunting Pokemon
In My Ears: my Classical Aetherium playlist
Game Last Played: Pokémon Go
Book Last Read: Epic Fantasy anthology
Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Harry Potter marathon
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 an author, artist, and narrative designer who writes about magic, mystery, and mayhem. 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 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 near you.

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