System Overload

I did a lot today… probably too much.

I went to work, I sketched, I drew, I read, I had dinner with a friend, I had second dinner with family, and I dealt with car troubles. I did not get to write however. And that’s a result of poor planning.

I was so eager to do so many other things today that I stacked my tasks in the wrong order. By the time I got to writing, I was exhausted. And worse yet, by the time I got home close to midnight, I had nothing left in me to give to those I care for the most.

In he pursuit of my dreams I need to remember that marathons are completed by knowing yourself, including your stengths and weaknesses. You must compensate for the areas your are lacking in, and create opportunities to shine in areas you excel.

I think going forward I will start my day off with writing, even if I don’t feel totally energized to do so. Then I will shift to something that eases my brain like drawing or exercising, and then go back to writing or one of my other projects. This may keep me from burning out, since it forces my brain to shift gears when before it starts to become fatigued. But only practice will tell.

Daily Breakdown

  • Sketchbook — Time: ???  Note to self: remember to keep feature three dimensional, especially in the face
  • Drawing — Time: ?? WIP portrait study. Current plan: ink and add value with Copic markers Original photo 

—Johnny Eoin

I Think I Can I Think I Can

In an effort to make good on my goals, I’m working really hard to discipline myself to put in the work each and every day. One of my biggest struggles, however, is how to carve out that free time so that I hit all the areas I want to work on. 

Today, even with my limited time, I managed to fit in some sketching, writing, research, and reading. Yet, there are still many areas of my day where I find myself wasting time and procrastinating. 

Knowing what you want to accomplish and setting goals seems to really help with the day to day decision making of what to focus on and how much time to invest in it. Take for example, my sketchbook. I’ve been pretty haphazard with my daily sketchs. And I feel my growth as an artist has suffered for that. So I thought about what it is I want out of my drawing and he kind of projects I want to work on. I don’t want to be a photorealistic portrait artist. I don’t want to draw architectural diagrams. I want to tell stories, in the vein of the comics and movies I grew up loving. For that, I need to understand action, gesture, expression, mood, lighting, perspective and point of view. When I shift my attention to these elements, the need to render every single strand of hair or perfectly sculp a figure’s body goes out the window. It is instead replaced with a series of choices, each aimed at answering one question: how do I convey a particular idea and feeling in this drawing? With these lines? With these shapes? In this space? That’s when I get really creative and discover which elements of a subject are important to me, and not ones I was told to venerate because they are the markings of a master artist.

Art truly is all about confidence. The moment you learn to decide and declare who you are and what you like is when the real fun begins.

Daily Breakdown

  1. Cis CinderTime: 1 hr / Word Count: 2,678. Still re-hashing the first chapter. I’ve gone back and add more to scenes I’ve already written, in an attempt to create a central “spine” for the whole chapter.  We’ll see how it works.
  2. Sketchbook45 min. Focused on gestures and the basic shapes of the human form in motion. I’m also obsessed with finding the right way to draw mouth expressions. 
  3. Graven Idols 30 min. A few more research sketches but mostly lists of product designs.
  4. ReadingEarthman Jack vs. He Ghost Planet by Matthew Kaddish (40%). Still entertaining but getting a bit drawn out. I’m staring to understand the importance of editors.
  5. WatchingScandal. Papa Pope oh no you betta don’t!! 😵

—Johnny Eoin

Paradigm Shift

Okay, so it’s clear by now that writing everyday is a tough commitment for me. I am by no means giving up, but I fear my blog will become repetitive if I continue to eek out a mere flurry of words each day. So therefore I will be shifting the focus of my daily posts to include all my current projects.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, by in addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an artist. I’ve studied animation, film and sound design. I love hobbies and crafts. I (occasionally) practice keyboard and guitar. There are a whole slew of ways in which I explore my creativity, and while I initially started this site to focus on my writing, it’s time to open it up a bit. After all, it’s not a fair represention of my progress if I only post that I didn’t write today but leave out that I did a page of gesture sketches. I want this site to chronicle all of my journey as an artist, so that means widening my pallet to include more.

—Johnny Eoin

Today’s Rundown:

  1. Cis Cinder — Daily words: 0 / Time: 0 / Total Words: 2,336.
  2. Sketchbook — I only had time for a few gestures and facial expressions. I’m still struggling with streamlining my drawing process to balance getting the maximum detail with the most efficient use of line and value.
  3. Graven Idols — I recently watched Moana and it inspired me to take my wood burning project in a new direction. At this stage I’m researching tiki designs.

Cinder Day Fifteen — The First Two Weeks

Words: 0 / Time: 0 / Total Count: 2,336

It’s funny how we make the same assumptions over and over again, despite seemingly learning our lessons. This time I though I would be able to knock out the first draft of my first novel in one month. After all, I already completed the hard work of plotting and planning. But telling a story isn’t as simple as plugging fluffy descriptions into pla pre-framed outline. There’s so much more to it.

There are an endless number of choices and decisions that get made every step of the way. What color is this barn? What magazines are strewn about on the bedroom floor? How to convey the history of character’s relationship using action verbs and not by simply telling? 

And biggest of all, how to swallow all my fears and buckle down to put in the necessary time?

I’m still learning. Rather than being frustrated, maybe I should take pride in that growth and just enjoy the journey. 

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Fourteen — BGM

Word Count: 2,336

Time: 1 hr 15 min

Do any of you write with background noise?  I’m a fan of instrumental music, especially film scores. They are filled with energy and emotion that often helps get me in the zone. I also write to music with lyrics, depending on my mood. However, at times I find it distracting. When I was younger, I had the bad habit of keeping the television on while working. But there came a time when I felt I was doing myself a disservice by splitting my attention. Writing is hard enough without having to simultaneously pay attention to two plots. 

As I’ve come to discover during this process, not every plan works every time. Some days, I need silence. Others, I’m so overwhelmed with extra thoughts and emotions that I need a little more than music to drown it out. Today was one of those days. At first I hesitated to turn on the television. I felt it was a bad habit that I had finally nicked. But something called me to make the decision. And logically, what’s the worst that could happen? I lose productivity for one day, but then, how would that be any different from many of my other sessions? At best, I could just learn more about how to mange my down days.

I know myself well enough which shows I can and cannot work to. It’s best for me to stick to ones I’ve already seen, those I have little investment in, or shows that create a soothing and enveloping atmosphere. So I threw on a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and got to work. It’s too early to tell whether this technique will become my norm, but today I managed to increase my word count, and push through my insecurity. It gave me the comfort I needed to keep going. 

One day down. God only knows how many more to go. But today, I am thankful I listened to my gut and didn’t tether myself to rules that don’t always apply.

Cinder Day Thirteen — Chit Chat

Word Count: 1775

Time: 45 min

Dialogue is a beast. It is a true test trying to get characters to sound natural while giving exposition and moving the story along. 

Today I deleted much of the dialogue I wrote yesterday, putting a damper on my word count. But it was necessary, because even though what I wrote sounded cool, it wasn’t genuine to the character at this stage of his or her development. That’s another hurtle. You have to juggle who a character is versus what they will be, and sometimes that knowledge colors what you choose to write. Other times it serves as a good reminder as to what a character can and cannot do at a given point in the story.

I’m just happy I managed to get through my first scene of dialogue unscathed and with better knowledge of the people whose lives I will be playing god with for the foreseeable future.

— Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Twelve — Come Rain or Shine

Word Count: 1523

Time: 1 hr 30 min

I wish I could start everyday with a full tank and my eyes on the prize. Alas, not all days are created equal. But lately I’ve been reminding myself of something a character from one of my favorite shows said. She was talking about being an aspiring writer, and that she writes everyday, come rain or shine. 

I may not always feel like writing, but each time I let fear, pain, discomfort, sadness, or insecurity stop me, I make it stronger. I make the mountain bigger so the next time I go to climb it, I have to go harder and longer to achieve my goals.

I felt pretty shitty today. But still I managed to push myself through the pain. I’d like to say some magical moment happened where I realized it was all worth it and that made me feel revitalized and better about myself. But it didn’t. And I’m not sure it ever will. I don’t write to make myself feel good. I write because it’s a calling deep inside of me that draws me to it. I feel good when writing sometimes because in that moment I am living as my true self, doing my best and brining new creativity into this world. Those times are a luxury and a blessing. 

The chance to write is a gift, and to squander it because I don’t feel like facing the discomfort and frustration of it, isn’t who I want to be. It’s time I stopped putting myself down and act on my love.
—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Ten — Distractions

Word Count: 747

Time: 0 min

Distractions are a part of life. And that’s okay. Some days we just have to play with the deck we’re given. That being said, I think it’s important to be cautious of two of the biggest distractions: regret and fear.

Today, both of those stopped me in my tracks. I compensated by obsessing over minor details that I could control. On the plus side, it made me aggressively productive at work, which allowed me to resolve problems quicker and more effectively.

But when we trap ourselves in the regrets of the past, or lose our minds over fear of the future, we rob ourselves of the strength to do what we need to do in the present.

—Johnny Eoin

Cinder Day Nine — I v. He

Word Count: 747

Time: 45 min

Okay, so, I’m finally off to a good start. I still need to carve out more time to write, but I seem to have overcome the problems that plagued me a few days ago.

I’m finally focused on telling the story through my character’s eyes; no longer worried about fancy sentence structure or creative descriptions. One of the biggest improvements happened when I switched from third to first person. 

I’m fond of both, but somehow I got it in my head that writing in first person would be “too easy” and it would tempt me into using exposition rather than description. 

First off, good writing is good writing, no matter the narrative style. I can just as easily overuse exposition in either voice. Second, so what if it’s easier to write in first person? Shouldn’t I be looking towards any and every thing that will make this undertaking easier? It’s like the time in college when I decided I wanted to do my animations using 24 drawings a second, instead of the equally acceptable (and easier) 12 drawings a second. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my project on time— at least not the way I intended— and my career has suffered for that. What was I trying to prove by making my work harder for me? No one cares that you lowered yourself on your sword and scribbled the pages in your own blood. All they want is a good story.

Another point I failed to realize is that you can’t force your writing into a format that doesn’t work, just like you can’t force a character to speak in a voice that isn’t their own. It just doesn’t work, and your work suffers for it. My story is an intimate dramedy about identity and self discovery— why wouldn’t I use first person to put the reader as deep as possible into the protagonist’s head?

Lesson of the day:

Let your creations speak for themselves and they will tell you all you need to know.

—Johnny Eoin

P.S. Remind me to talk about overworked outlines and committing to writing processes before trying them out.