Thursday, November 02, 2017

What I learned from Inktober 2017

Some of my comics geek friends are artists and participated in Inktober, where the original idea of the drawing challenge was to do one ink drawing a day in the entire month of October. 31 days ... 31 drawings.

I've learned something from participating in the Inktober event and wanted to share with you on what I learned. Perhaps my lessons learned may help you in your sojourn of septillion steps.

As with anything you learn in Life, try to expand on it. Look for the broader lesson to be learned. One narrow lesson when broaden will help in all aspects of life. My deepest gratitude to my friend Badger Johnson for expanding my thinking on this.

OK, without further ado, here we go, below are the 7 lessons I've learned from participating in Inktober 2017 ...

1. Just let it go.

My first few pictures were drawn like what artists are taught:  compose/block out the picture, draw basic shapes, tighten up the lines, and clean it up. As time went on, I dropped the preliminary basic shapes and just drew the outlines as I was into 'gesture drawing' and not an accurate nor stylized or even lifelike depiction. My intent was to capture the action of the scene. My goal is to be semi-proficient with gesture drawing so if I had to take notes after a martial arts class or seminar, I could do something decent enough to jog my memory upon review later.

Broader Life Lesson

Sometimes to start something, instead of meticulous planning to the point of taking forever to start, jump right into the pool, so to speak!

"Just do it!"
~Nike motto

2. Find a focus.

Generally I'm a martial arts geek, and I can chat on various aspects of it. Just love the martial arts. However, when it came down to drawing a picture a day, as well as adding some notes for my research/studies, I was all over initially for Inktober. Witness the first 3 days:  Taiji, Knifefighting, and Yoga. I was stressing myself out on what to draw! With a then-upcoming knifefighting seminar I was to attend, a lightbulb lit up. I narrowed my focus to just knifefighting instead of the broad subject of martial arts. Lo and behold, I had focus. It immediatedly helped me on what to draw. Instead of being too broad, with the narrow focus on knifefighting, it was easier to draw pictures for Inktober.

Broader Life Lesson

Sometimes we wander aimless in Life. Find a focus. Work towards that focus, that goal. Although it's said that it's the sojourn and not the stop (my version of :  "It's the journey not the destination." :) but the sojourn is made easier if you have a general idea of where you want to end up or of what you want to do.

3. Journalling.

I've been meaning to journal. There are days when I had an interesting thought and I didn't jot it down. Despite the sophistication of mobile technology, I didn't log the thought on my smartphone during that 'Eureka!' moment. Later when I did have a chance to capture my thought, I've lost that fleeting thought ... gone back into the deep recesses of my pea brain.

I've found with a hardcopy journal, that writing thoughts down helped me tremendously with recall as well reinforcing the thought. Also, I felt a sense of satisfaction of seeing each blank page fill with my thoughts and a log of my learning. With each page or a few pages capturing that day, it was fun flipping the pages and recalling each precious thought and moment as if it just happened. As I have old man memory, the journalling is super-helpful!

The journalling system I'm using is called 'bullet journalling'. This system has helped me organize my journal better and especially at finding notes and information faster.

Broader Life Lesson

Capture your thoughts. They are pieces of a big jigsaw puzzle. The current thought you have may need one or more other jigsaw puzzle pieces to bring clarity to the current thought. Journal those thoughts and moments of Life. Everything is connected!

4. Extract the essence.

Some of my notes on my Inktober pictures as well as in my journal was too wordy. I had to learn to extract the essence of the teaching. By extracting the essence in a few words vs whole paragraphs, it made me look what I thought was the key concept(s) ... the main idea(s) ... there is extraneous filler that helps to reinforce or get the main concept across, but search out the essence.

Broader Life Lesson

Usefull Life skill ... instead of plowing through extraneous filler, by distilling the key concept, it helps you as well as others to get the main idea right off the bat. By developing this skill, it will help one to have a critical eye and laser-focus.

5. Deadlines are delightful.

"The ultimate inspiration is the deadline."
~Nolan Bushnell

Outside of 2 days in October/Inktober, I was able to stick to a schedule of posting 1 picture a day surprisingly. Some nights, I had extra time, and I 'cheated' by drawing 2 or more pictures to prepare as a buffer so I didn't feel the dreaded deadline. The delay of those 2 days was because I attended a knifefighting seminar and didn't prepare a buffer prior to attending the seminar. Got home late that night and well, slipped to 2 days behind. I, of course, caught up, but it was a bad feeling of being behind on a project. Needed catching up and luckily I did.

Deadlines helped me with time management. Although I confess, there were some nights I felt the burden of the deadline and I had no good ideas for a picture. Many people who deal with deadlines may freak out and come to hate deadlines, but that just means they didn't prepare properly and establish the pace needed to complete the project by the deadline, if not earlier.

Broader Life Lesson

Give your projects or your goals a deadline. Deadlines are your friends and not your enemy. Don't dread the deadline. Frame it positive! Deadlines are delightful! With a deadline in place, you won't meander all over. There will be a clear path to follow ... like going through a tunnel and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

6. Knifefighting.

I have a few books on knifefighting which I've read ages ago. My focus generally has been on stickfighting. It was a good opportunity to reread my knifefighting books as I was going to attend a knifefighting seminar. As it turns out, I learned/re-learned some things I didn't recall from my previous readings/research.

Broader Life Lesson

Even if you think you know something, revisit it. Get a refresher. There are some courses where it's a prerequisite that you retake the course 1 or 2 years later to be up-to-date on the current understanding/knowledge of the course.

7. Blogging is fun.

I was burnt out from blogging daily.

I was lackadaisical in blogging this year, although I surpassed last year's total output of 31 with 38 just in the month of October alone LOL.  The Inktober concept sounds simple enough:  31 pictures in 31 days. But the reality of the situation is that it is not. Steven Pressfield, noted author of the historical fiction novel, "Gates of Fire", wrote in his first non-fiction book called "The War of Art" about this. It is his manifesto of sorts to deal with what all creative people deal with be it 'writer's block' with writers, and whatever painters/artists/etc call 'writer's block' in their creative endeavors. Pressfield has named this writer's block of sorts to apply to all creative people's efforts as "Resistance". Resistance was kicking my butt big-time. I was down on all judges' cards going into the 5th round, 40-36, and I needed to get back into the swing of things with respect to blogging.

I'm not an artist. Out of solidarity I joined my artist friends with an eye towards killing 4 birds with 1 stone! I used the essence of Inktober to practice "gesture drawing", reread/research knife fighting books, blog daily in October as well as start journalling. Gesture drawing are simple drawings capturing the essence of the situation. My goal was to develop a modicum of skill in gesture drawing so that I can enhance my notes if I attended a martial arts class and/or seminar. As I was going to a knifefighting seminar, I used knifefighting as a focus for my pictures for Inktober. I drew in pencil onto the lined pages of a notebook which I used as my journal. I added those pictures along with any notes I thought was useful and posted to this blog. Ultimately, I used Inktober as a kick in my butt to start blogging regularly again.

A digression:  now that October/Inktober is over, there is a writing challenge in the month of November called the National Novel Writing Month, for short ... "NaNoWriMo". NaNoWriMo is committing to writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. That's it! Sounds simple enough? LOL Yesterday's post totaled a little over 1,900 words fitting 5 pages in MS Word. That's a lot of writing for me! I will use the overall framework of NaNoWriMo to blog regularly again.

One project on the backburner is my "Lessons Learned" series. I will start with the movies I like and found useful as viewed though a 'self-defense' lens. I have the lessons learned from 10 to 15 movies in various stages of being finalized and ready to publish. As I feel ambitious with this project, I may not be able to post daily ... seeking near perfection in each entry ... we'll see ... need to let go of the perfection and seek progress and post if good enough.

Broader Life Lesson

Find something you are passionate about. Find something that is fun to do. Make the most of your time. Instead of focusing on negativity and stressing out, focus on fun and passion. You will live a healthier and happier life!

There you have it, the 7 lessons I've learned from participating in Inktober 2017 as well as the broader life lessons derived from them. As always, I truly hope this helps you in your Sojourn of Septillion Steps!!

What was your favorite picture(s)/subject(s) I drew for Inktober 2017? Please leave me a comment and let me know!


(This section I will not add towards November's tally as well as the header picture I used above... I will only use hand-drawn pictures or animated GIFs I've created towards Nov's totals):

This post: 2,022 words
November running tally: 3,958 words
Words left:  46,042



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps