In the art and writing community and beyond, October heralds the beginning of a lot of fun challenges.
There’s Inktober, where you make an ink drawing every day of October. There’s Goretober, where you write or draw something that follows the daily gory themes. Then there’s 31 for 31, where you commit to watching a horror movie every day of October. And finally, there’s National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, when insane writers challenge themselves to write a 150 page story in 30 days.
I used to try NaNo every year, but once I started working full time, it became an impossible dream. No more of these kinds of challenges for me. I just didn’t have the time anymore.
But now, I realize that everyone is busy–like all the time–and if I want to do things outside of work, I have to force them into existence by sheer Elric willpower. I have to storm the gates of art and enjoyment and force myself to do my drawing of the day, bloody and crying.
To be fair, that’s not actually what the creation process looks like for me. Some creators are definitely the “Ride or Die” type, but I’m more the “keep walking forward, stay focused and hydrated with frequent short breaks, and eventually you’ll reach your goal” type.
“Forcing myself to make those drawings” means that sometime in the evening after work, between the time I eat dinner, chip away at my second job, and go to bed, I put something small down on paper for myself. That’s how I work best.
In the immortal words of Charlie Kelmeckis, “I’m trying to participate.” I’m trying to go after things I’m excited about and take challenges, even when I’m almost certain I’ll fail at them. Because even though I don’t have time to do these challenges, I want to do them anyway.
This year, I’m doing Inktober, 31 for 31, and NaNoWriMo. I’m failing miserably at the first two, and the only reason I’m not failing NaNo is because it hasn’t started yet.
But even though I’m failing, I’ve done more ink drawings and watched more horror than I would have if I had let my schedule keep me from trying, so it’s been worth it.
I’m learning not to be scared of trying new things and participating, even when I don’t have the time, when I’m sure I’ll fail, when I know I’ll make a fool of myself in the process. Because if you get past all that and you’re listening to your body, it’s always worth it in the end.
P.S. I’ll post my shamefully small Inktober 2017 portfolio soon, so look forward to that. Drawing has really humbled me; I’m not very good, but I’m getting better, and it has been good for me to let go of perfection and enjoy the journey. But that’s a topic for another time.