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February Creative Recap - A Grateful Nod to Communities

As the last fireworks of the solar and lunar new years fade into the distance along with the pleasant, nostalgic smells of the holidays and the brilliant logos of red, green, and gold decorating the streets, so too does my initial jumpstart of inspiration. They say that New Year's resolutions shouldn't be too lofty and unattainable, and they are absolutely right.

While I didn't make any concrete resolutions or goals this year, I did promise myself that I'd live my life more sustainably to whatever degree I could. In the case of my creative endeavors, instead of doing projects in large, infrequent bursts of energy, I would try to work on something a little bit at a time and more frequently. This is easier said than done, and I'm sure many creative types can also attest. It is by no means an easy New Year's goal when inspiration naturally just comes in big bursts with a longer cooldown period.

Character expression practice (ft. Zeijien)

Even though I still can't work on a project just a little bit every day, I am far better at consistency than since the pandemic lockdowns or even before that. I attribute this improvement to the communities, both online and offline, who have given me the extrinsic motivation I need to boost my intrinsic motivation so that there is a nice balance between the two.

"Zeijien attempts to balance on a tightrope"

Back in 2022, I joined an art club on a whim. Since then, I've been meeting them in person every other week. It's not a formal event, in which you draw and then share your work and give or receive feedback during some allotted time at the end. It's a chill time, primarily to hang out with a group of people of different backgrounds with a vast array of styles. It's a time to encourage each other and just draw without the pretext one has to be "talented" or "good at art." It is also a time just to enjoy the company of others and socialize. It has been an incredible experience for me to be able to make friends in this group, share our art, and give each other advice when we need it.

"Bitterest of loves (AKA senergian soldier vs archendis soldier)." Drawn at an art club session.

As for an online community, a recent one in particular stands out to me as a source of motivation. While I have my criticisms of all social media sites that I won't talk about here, I think there are corners of the internet that can be wholesome and encouraging, and one of these corners is a subreddit called r/OriginalCharacter. For those who aren't familiar with internet lingo, a "subreddit" is a community of people on the internet who share an interest in a certain topic (in other words, a forum). In my case, this topic is about "Original Characters"—ones people use for their novels, comics, movies, video games, and any media you could think of under the sun. I joined this subreddit in October of last year, so relatively recently. Many of the folks in this subreddit post their original characters. We ask each other questions, give critiques, or come up with fun scenarios that make us think about what our characters would do in a given situation. While it seems like all fun and games, it has made me think deeply about and draw the characters in my novel far more in four months than any given year in my life! I'd call that progress.

More character expression practice (ft. Eberkerson) done in my time with r/OriginalCharacter

Worldbuilding infographics about senergians vs archendis in "Sooted Star," used as an r/OriginalCharacter community prompt.

Last but certainly not least, I haven't put my writing to the wayside when it comes to improving my consistency. About a year after joining the art club, I joined an in-person writing club called "Shut Up & Write." While the punch in this name goes hard, the group lives up to the name. We meet at a cafe every week, spend 10 minutes saying what we plan to do, then sit down and write intensely for an hour and a half, and finally, we reconvene at the end for a final 10 minutes to say how it all went. It's a short but invigorating time. To be in the presence of other writers while writing is a sure way to keep the motivation and consistency up. I used to go for weeks without writing, then spend a day or two powering through thousands of words until I'd burn out again for another few weeks. With this group, I finally feel like I can sustain a good, relatively frequent pace.

“Papers are like windows to the next dimension where I can still see you clearly no matter how much time passes.” A redraw of a painting from 2017. (2017 L, 2024 R)

To top it all off, I'm glad these groups exist. Without them, who knows where I'd be as an artist—or even as a person. Not only have I improved my skills, but I've also made friendships that I imagine will last. It is one thing I have missed since graduating from high school and university that I used to take for granted, and now that I have it back, I appreciate the social interaction and inspiration much more.

If you got this far in the post, glad you made it! I appreciate you reading my thoughts and I wish you all the best.


A. "Jaecadin" V.B.

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