Saturday, July 26, 2008

Virtual Sketching and Butt Kicking

"fruit thingies" - in my sketchbook (which is close to getting full -- remember I will hold a drawing of my blog subscribers to give it away once its full)
copyright 2008 Maggie Stiefvater.

First of all, I wanted to post my sketch for the July Virtual Sketching project. The reference photo -- fruity things of some variety (oranges? mangoes? alien seed pods?) -- really wasn't the sort of thing I'd normally tackle, but hey, it was entertaining and yellow-orange-thingies are always challenging for me because of the nature of yellows in colored pencils. The sketches are supposed to be posted any time today so you still have time!

Okay, and now onto the butt-kicking. I do these periodically for those who need/ slash want them. I was already brainstorming about doing one yesterday after two writers in two different online venues asked me how I got so much done, and then the always wonderful Jo Castillo left a comment on my last entry asking for a butt-kicking . . . so I knew it was a sign from the heavens.

So here it goes. You all know what I do -- I have two toddlers, three editors working with me on four novels, a part-time art career, musical instruments I practice, meals to cook (I'm allergic to preservatives so everything has to be from scratch), blogs to write, etc. etc. I think I have a full, life, but I don't feel like I have an impossible life. It's a happy life doing what I love.

And here are the secrets to my success in this month's butt-kicking. Remember, butt-kickings are like hydrogen pyroxide -- if it stings it means it's working.

1. Know What You Want
This is the biggest thing. I know exactly what I want. I knew I wanted to be a published novelist. I knew I wanted to make my living as a self-employed creative type. I knew I wanted to play the piano, etc. You can't make something happen unless you know what it is you want to happen.

2. When You Say You Want it You Better Mean It
The fact of the matter is that when most people tell me they want to be a published novelist or a career artist, they mean want with a small w. A small w want means that you aren't absolutely committed to hunting down that goal with an elephant gun. A small w want means that you can get discouraged. It means that you can be pulled from your motivation by the latest episode of America's Got Talent. No one can make you want something more. It's got to come from inside you.

3. When You Really Want Something, You'll Get It
This is not psycho babble. It's really true. If the goal is specific enough and you are committed enough to achieving it, you will get it. I used to qualify this by saying that physical constraints applied -- you know, if you were five foot tall, you couldn't end up playing professional basketball. But now, I don't think I believe that anymore. I've seen the stories about people taking on overwhelming odds and I now think that however crazy your goal is -- first five foot tall basketball pro, leader of the free world, bestselling author, etc - if you really want it, capital W Want, then you will make it happen.

4. Know the Difference Between Can't and Won't
This is one of the classics. People in my colored pencil workshops tell me all the time, "I can't draw anything better than a stick figure." But what they really mean is won't. Anyone can draw with perfect photorealism. But only some people really want to. Capital W Want that means they put in the hours to achieve it. The rest of the world won't draw anything better than a stick figure. I caught myself the other day telling my husband that I didn't have the patience to knit. That's a lie, did you notice? All it means is that I'm not willing to have the patience to knit. If I wanted to knit, I'd make it happen. Don't lie to yourself and say that you "can't" do something or that you don't have the skills necessary to make it happen. That's self-defeatism at its finest and most insidious.

5. You are Your Own Best Friend
We all have friends that motivate us, right? That get us back on track and pick us up when we're down? These best friends tell us that not getting into a particular juried show isn't crushing or that that deadline pressing down on you is doable. Well, guess what. You had better be your own best friend. Because you have to have a little internal voice motivating you all the time. Nobody will believe in your dreams as much as you and no one can be as hard on you to achieve them as you. Except maybe Jiminy Cricket.

6. Who Are You?
What do you tell people? What do you want to be able to tell people? "I'm an artist." "I'm a writer." "I'm a five foot tall basketball player." Now let's pretend that these people can drop into your life randomly seven different times over seven different days. What will they find you doing? Will they find you, the artist, creating art or developing marketing plans for it? The writer writing? The basketball player shooting hoops? Or will they find you procrastinating . . . watching TV, folding laundry that could wait until after your dreams get tended to, reading my blog, running unnecessary errands. The fact of the matter is that you need to make your dreams your identity. Long before I was a published author, I told people I was a writer and an artist, and if you dropped in at my house randomly at any given time, that's what you'd find me doing.

It's a question of wanting it, people. It's why I like writing for teens. Do you remember being a teen? When you had dreams so big they actually hurt to think you wouldn't get them? You need to sweep away the years of cynicism and putting your dreams aside and really harness that wanting again. In the end, watching So You Think You Can Dance won't change your life. But finishing that drawing, writing that paragraph, planting that garden -- whatever your dream is -- that will.

End butt kicking.


Stacy said...

Nice sketch Maggie! I could pick it out of a line-up as yours by the way you "whaled" those colors down.

But even better than the sketch was the butt kicking. Number 6 especially!! Love that #6. But don't come on a Wed. night because you will find me watching So You Think You Can Dance. It's okay though, I'm an artist and a dancer and it's the only show I want to watch. :)

leslie said...

Soooo...does this mean I can't come read your blog anymore? :)

Oh, wait...I really Want to read your blog. That settles it.

Nice VSD drawing. I was hoping to see a blast of color, and I do.
Bravo Miss Maggie.

kay susan said...

Wow! Fast and loose! Nice job.

"JeanneG" said...

Nice and bold colors. Love the colors in the fruit. I am a tv watcher (er listener) but I do art while I listen. I also spend way too much time on the computer. So you'll just have to kick me. lol

Paulette said...

Hi Maggie,
Great sketch!
Great butt kicking!

Rose Welty said...

Nice sunquats Maggie...Jeanette actually researched it...the offspring of lemons and kumquats.

Nice sketch, good to have you along this time.

Jeanette said...

Great sketch. Great butt kicking exercise. And everything you've said in it is true.

Anonymous said...
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Sharon said...

Wonderful, vibrant colors in this sketch. It's so energetic!

Anonymous said...

WOW, this sketch is great. It's telling me to loosen up mt art and turn off ESPN.

Melissa Muirhead said...

Great Sketch, I've really enjoyed seeing the different interpretations.

I really enjoyed the butt-kicking too and totally agree. The only limits in life are those you put on yourself. You're an inspiration.

tlc illustration said...

Very well said. Good and timely reminders all. (running away and NOT reading blogs until this cover is painted and done!)

Question though - how do you juggle your art/music/writing/family Wants with computer time? You seem to get a fair amount of that in as well...?

Jennifer Rose said...

Very nice sketch. Full of lots of energy and colour :)

All those points are very true. I know that they are, just hard sometimes to follow them when I get discouraged :/ So many things I want to learn to do but only so much time in the day to do them. But I learned to knit finally so I can cross that off of my list :D (even if all I can do is make a really large scarf. hmm wont be cold in the winter :P )

Alexander said...

interesting how this topic of avoidence, procrastination and Wwants (ButtKicking) has been the center of conversations for the past 48 hours.... mmmm.... is someone trying to tell me something??!!??

Anonymous said...

Great vivid loose sketch; it is good to stretch the boundaries to things you don't normally do.

And thank you for the butt-kicking. Considering I spent yesterday afternoon NOT doing the art I need to be doing. I have more trouble when there's no external deadlines. Thank you for being blunt. No punches pulled.

BTW, I need to chrck on-line who got bnooted off of SYTYCD! Was out on Thursday and didn't see!

Amy Sullivan said...

Thanks, for the butt kicking. Your timing is perfect. I was feeling over whelmed of late. Having trouble seeing threw everything.
Yes , I can do this!

MaryAnn Cleary said...

Great drawing! I love the colors and the spontaneity of it.

This is my first time doing a VSD and what fun. I am finding great blogs along the way as well as a variety of great artists. Thanks for the butt kicking, too. My entire life I have always wanted to just be an artist, but always put it off for other things. I have finally made the plunge doing it full time....a bit frightening to say the least, but it really is what I want to do.

vivien said...

now that was seriously good and well put!

considering myself kicked!

I'm printing that out to pin up :>)

Jo Castillo said...

Ahhhh, Maggie. Just what I needed! I have never been a "list maker" on paper. A mental list, maybe. Your energy and "not so gentle" reminders really spur me on. I think maybe the age thing is a slight deterrent, but here I go to pick up a pastel and put down a stroke or two. With your advice I have cut down on computer time ... really I have.

Thanks again... hugs.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I'm doing more than that - I'm giving it a whole blog post tomorrow!

I have a home which regular testifies to the fact that I enjoy too many things and writing about them and drawing them - but in terms of directed action, achievement and belief in herself Maggie has me beat!

All Hail The Queen of America.
(Do those politicians know about you yet?)

Michele said...

Well done. Sketching AND butt-kicking. Thank you.

Michael said...

Looking at your sketch makes me think of the tropics for some reason. I feel like the ocean is close by. I want to pick the fruit, and have a snack while wading in the water.

Quilt Knit said...

Lovely sketch Maggie! Very Vibrant. I liked the butt kicking too. I am now a "Work from Home Person", with my company. I now have additional time FOR ME. I am relaxed and enjoying the start of my new adventure, walking and sketching and photographing the beach, every morning before work.
TV? Only, watch the Bull Riders and LA Ink, Miami Ink- no idea why the Inks. Ink Wars were best.
((( Circle of Hugs )))
Sherrie Roberts

shicat said...

I love the colors in the quats sketch. The text is very inspirational. YOU do have a busy life. Bless you. I think the quote of the day at the bottom of the blog is well suited for your situation, mine as well.

shicat said...

OOps quote was at the bottom of the redhead art blog. It went like this "A schedule defends aginst chaos and whim" Annie Dillard from motivational quote of the day. ( I would miss whim!:))

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thankyou again Maggie, your butt whoping again has come in a very timely manner!

Anonymous said...

Hi,Maggie ! I just want to THANK YOU from all my heart for writing all that!Couldn`t be the best time for me to read it. Would you mind,if I print it out and hang it all over the house to constantly remind me what is really important to me? I mean it. :-)Thank you again very,very much !

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Stacy - I will grant you your So You Think You Can Dance if I can have my weekly House. :) We all have our rewards, right!?

Leslie - excellent deductive reasoning. *grin*

Kay, Paulette, Rose, Sharon - thanks!

Jeanneg - computer is my weakness too. So many friends to keep up with -- I usually relegate my blog reading to one day a week.

Mike - Haha! Yeah, it's the process red in there that's saying "no espn for you!"

Melissa -- absolutely!

Tara -- I compartmentalize. Some days are drawing days, some are writing days, some are music days. If I try and do a little bit of everything on one day, I end up doing a lot of NOTHING. Personally, I need to be a one-trick-a-day pony for best efficacy.

Jennifer Rose -- same thing as what I just told Tara. I really have to set aside and schedule days and times of day for everything. Not down to the hour, but definitely "first half of day is for x and second half of day is for y."

Alexander -- yes, the universe phoned. They want you to get motivated and they want their shirts back. ;)

Tracy -- me too. I absolutely need to give myself deadlines if I don't have external ones applied.

Amy - yes, you can!

MaryAnn- thanks and good luck!

Vivien - I'm charmed to be printed out!

Jo - you're welcome. :)

Katherine - I think you are much more directed than you give yourself credit for.

Michele - you're welcome!

Michael - *grin* thanks.

Sherrie - good for you!

Shicat -- I would miss whim too.

Belinda -- you're always welcome!

Elina -- I would be very happy to know that I inspired you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that timely, concise, and powerful butt-kicking. Though I'm widely renowned as someone who Doesn't Print Things Out, I have printed two copies--one to hang where I can see it every day, and one to carry with me. (Properly cited, so I can find the post again.)

Thank you!

Simon said...

Can't and want. I loved this. U know I've only subscribed to your blog for the chance to win some free stuff!! I love your work. Cheers, Simon.

Linda Blondheim said...

You "Can't or Won't" are the key issues here. Great advice.

adebanji said...

YOU'VE GOT ME! PURE, SOLID STUFF! You've created a mini- revival in my soul. May The GOOD LORD BLESS you for this TRUE TO LIFE AND HEART PIECE!

Mary Beth said...

Hallelujah sister!

Karen Winters said...

Yep, it's all true. And well said!

freebird said...

I came here because another blog suggested all us lazy folk who want to get moving need to come see what you have to say about things. Whew! Thank goodness I got some art done today (even a bit of cooking) so I don't feel totally kicked about!

I love that sketch of yours. I love the colors and the looseness! I've got to tag your blog so I can come back for more - yeah, the butt kicking too! Thanks.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Sheila -- you're welcome.

Simon -- I know you love me. ;)

Linda -- that's exactly right!

Adebanji, Mary Beth, Karen, and freebird, thanks so much for your kind words!

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thanks Again for the butt kicking Maggie, soo needed it!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I'm glad it could be helpful, Belinda!