Make Art Not War Challenge 2019: Warm Up with Febrrrary!

Make Art Not War Challenge eBook

Hi friends! If you remember my Make Art Not War Challenge, you’ll recall I included fun exercises in the eBook and here on the blog. In the spirit of creativity, comic book professional Mark Stegbauer and I cooked up something hawt for February–a fire-themed creative challenge!

Are you sick of winter? Yeah, me too. Warm yourself up by thinking about fire! Grab a daily prompt and use it as a prompt for your creative warm-ups. There’s no rules, no restrictions, no level required. You can sketch, write a 250-word story, or stat up an antagonist for your favorite game! Then share your art and help us melt Jack Frost! Join us on the hashtag #febrrrary.

I’m planning on using the prompts as my creative warm-ups before diving into the pile. I have a lot of fun doing it, and I miss drawing. I hope you’ll consider participating! I would LOVE to see what you come up with. Yay! And, as always, I’d appreciate a boost by sharing the prompts. Let’s encourage each other to keep making art.

MANW Check-In Week 4: Celebrating One Month, January’s Accountability, and Turning No into Yes

Congratulations! We’re now in Week 4 of the Make Art Not War Challenge 2017. How are you doing? This month’s theme was PLAY, and I hope you’ve embraced that with vigor. The theme was designed for you to plant the seeds for discipline; I will help you grow as the year continues, by building off of this initial theme every month.

Okay, now that we’re in week four this is a good time for me to check in with all of you and see how committed I’ve been to my pledge.

My Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge pledge:

  • I pledge to devote one hour a day to my original art.
  • If I don’t feel motivated, I pledge to write down the reasons why I wanted to take this challenge for fifteen minutes or one-to-three pages whichever comes first.
  • I pledge to mark down on the calendar whenever I complete a day’s efforts.
  • As the challenge creator, I pledge to create a weekly accountability post every Wednesday beginning on January 9th. Comments will be open. Hashtag #makeartnotwar2017 #manw2017
  • I pledge to check into social media twice a week for personal use, and once a month with my local community of artists and writers.

January 2017 Accountability

  • I made original art for one hour every day when I could. I had a convention, and I figured out that making art while at conventions is more involved than I imagined it would be.
  • I did not have a problem with motivation.
  • I used gold star stickers to mark down on the calendar when I made art.
  • I have posted the accountability posts and did use the hashtags #makeartnotwar2017 #manw2017.
  • I did fall down on social media usage, because I wanted to keep abreast of political changes and right now I’m regretting that. More on this below.

Okay, so where I fell down was on social media. It’s hard to extricate myself from it, because I do log in for work. The problem isn’t doing that “one quick thing”, it’s the fact that I have had 24-7 access to it on my phone, my dual monitors, etc. So, yesterday I made the decision to remove access on my phone; I’ll put it back when I’m traveling, but for now this is the safest and best approach going forward.

How I’ve Been Using Social Media

In talking to other friends so many of us rely on social media for making plans and remaining in touch as well. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had that begin with “Well, didn’t you see what happened on Facebook?” Even when I do use it, I’m not on it enough to know or read what everyone is up to. I’ve been engaging with Facebook Groups more, though, and I also use Messenger. The nice thing about Messenger, is that it’s a separate app so I don’t need Facebook on my phone. That’s definitely staying.

With respect to Twitter, I was using the service as a news aggregator and… Well, I just cannot have access to the news 24-7, either. The only solution is to disconnect and stick to my original pledge. It didn’t affect my productivity this month, but that’s never the problem. The issue is that it impacts my mood, and that’s when my focus and enthusiasm for my original art tends to go by the wayside.

I’m seeing quite a few of you checking in on the Twitter hashtag–and that’s great! Don’t be afraid to revisit your personal promises, too, because next week’s check-in kicks off a brand new month. Exciting!

Creative Challenge: Turning “No’s” Into “Yes’s”

Some of you may have stopped and started on this challenge. You had every intention of making art every day, of setting aside your frustration, and focusing on yourself. You might feel guilty for taking that time, or might be comparing yourself to other, more established artists wondering if you’ll ever get “there.” Or, you might feel a ton of pressure to be perfect or make a gorgeous, saleable piece of art every time you sit down to create.

Negativity is a Creative Challenge that you’ll have to overcome if you want to establish a routine and sharpen your focus. Right now, what you’re telling yourself is “No, I can’t do this.” The reasons why you’re saying “No.” will vary widely, but that negativity is exacerbated by everyone around you and our current political climate. It does have an impact, even if you can’t see it now; artists are keen observers, because it’s up to

The question you need to ask yourself is: “How do I turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’?” If you cannot say “Yes, I will devote my time to making art and focusing on my craft.” then how can you expect anyone else to publish, buy, or support your finished works?

Your reasons for saying “Yes!” to yourself will also vary; the first step, however, is to recognize that you are saying “No.” Then, it’s up to you to figure out why that is to overcome your personal, often very emotional, challenge. I believe you can do it, and I wish you the best of luck.

Now that we’re a month in–tell me how you’re doing! Comments are open, and I’d love to hear how this challenge is impacting your life as an artist.

MANW Week 2: Check-In and Making Art at Conventions

darkwing duck avatar

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the second week of Make Art Not War 2017, but here we are. So far, I’ve been focusing on jewelry design, in part because there is a mathematical component to this art form. Math, which is also present in art forms such as music, graphic design, kirigami/origami, and gaming, is an amazing discipline that is often overlooked in artistic endeavors, and I enjoy this component. When I’m stressed out, it also helps to ground me since I deal with words all day. Yesterday, for example, I was stressed out–especially with a convention on my horizon this weekend–so I made time and opted out of reading or watching TV to design something small but original.

This MANW challenge may inspire me to make art, but it’s up to me to ensure that it remains a priority. In Week 2, it feels as if my creations are a security blanket I’m slowly wrapping around myself. Every stitch is weaving part of that fabric, and as the year continues that feeling of being surrounded by art will only grow stronger. The biggest impact it’s having, is that I do feel there’s an emotional and mental buffer between politics and my identity as an artist. Instead of feeling hopeless or pushed upon, I’m using my art to reaffirm that “Yes, I am here and making art is what I do.” From there, once that foundation is in place (Ergo, why January’s MANW 2017 theme is PLAY!), then I’ll build off of that to funnel and channel my efforts into something more specific.

Of note, if you’re still on the fence or aren’t fully grasping how politics and a tense atmosphere impacts artists, John Scalzi wrote an article for the LA Times sharing a 10-Point Artist’s Plan for Getting Things Done. It’s a different perspective related to what I’m talking about, and I think it’s valuable to read if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Links and Reminders

For those of you who are following my work, I have a smattering of news and reminders for you today.

  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in StorytellingUpside Down is now available on NetGalley through January 31st. It is available to purchase in digital and print formats wherever books are sold, and it does qualify for 2016 award nominations if you’re so inclined. Our authors would love reviews, so if you have a copy please consider leaving one on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble,, etc. Thank you!
  • My 2016 Releases – My 2016 releases in non-fiction and fiction are also eligible for award nominations; the cut off for gaming awards tends to vary, so you’ll have to check the publications date if you’re including games designed/written/edited by me or other designers. In most cases, games are submitted for consideration by the publisher, so our involvement tends to be hands off and less PR-related than it is in SF&F and other publishing channels. Thanks for your consideration.
  • Writing the Other: Sans Fail – Registration is now available! You can read the class description, and find out more information to register at this link. As part of the class, I will discuss some process-related techniques, Tempest will be lending her talents in a lecture, and you get to create characters and have them critiqued. It’ll be fun and informative!

Creative Challenge: Making Art While at Conventions

One of the aspects of my job is traveling to conventions, speaking on panels, and interacting with fans. I do well knowing there’s a larger audience of people to see me; performances are my jam, and I treat them as such. When there’s fewer people, or if it’s super chill, I tend to get distracted and not have as much fun. I’ve learned the hard way that when it’s busy, it’s important to book down time for myself and ensure I’m not spending too much time with one person even if that’s my SO.

It’s easier to make art when it’s not busy. I often wander, recharge my batteries, and write or make art when I can. This time, I find myself wondering what type of art can I make that will serve me during both busy and quiet moments?

I have written before at conventions, and I used to take pictures. Writing at conventions is hit-or-miss, and it really depends upon the con. With social media being what it is, it was easy to take pictures and post them. To me, though, staging photos or drinking in the scenery is not my preferred form of making art on the road. To resolve this, I asked about this on social media to drum up some ideas. Thanks to the feedback of many congoers like Emily Care Boss, the solution I’ve come up with is to assign a notebook for my travels this year and dive into sketches, doodles, and bad poetry(1).

One nice thing about a notebook and some funky pens is that I can carry that with me wherever I go, so it’s not size-prohibitive. The other thing, is that as I travel this year I’m essentially creating a fun journal of my trips. It’s an elegant solution, and I’m looking forward to filling its pages and keeping my creative mind active on the road.

Another option, is to set aside a time and invite other people to join me for writing, drawing, etc. This feels like a good mix of social-and-creative time, though mileages will vary since everyone’s process is so different. Some people can only write in isolation. I’m sensitive to sound, so I can write if there’s a lot of white noise or instrumental music, but not if there’s performers present. As this is a huge topic and a major creative challenge for a lot of folks, I’m going to follow up with some tips as I experiment this weekend and explore some possibilities.

That’s enough about me. How are y’all doing this week? Time to check in!

(1) I haven’t studied poetry very much, and I view different forms of writing to require specialization. So, I consider my poems to be bad, bad, b-b-b-b-b-b-bad.

    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Had to back off yesterday, and went for the herbal tea. Oh, my head!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Does typing my ass off count?
    In My Ears: Boromir
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Book Last Read: Research materials for work.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016. Check out Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling and, if you like it, consider leaving a review.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update.

Monica Valentinelli >

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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