Where to Start?

Where to start a story may seem a stupid question to ask. Of course you need to start at the beginning when telling or writing a story. It’s important because this is when you hook your audience. The problem is, the beginning may not always be clear, or there could be multiple places where a story can start.

Writing isn’t like drawing or painting, where you can start at the top, middle or bottom of the canvas. On a canvas, you can see where you are going, and the space to be creatively filled is clearly defined. It doesn’t work like that with writing. With a story, there’s the start, middle and end, and you can begin at any of these points and write out of order. Sure, writers usually start writing at the top left hand side of a page, moving across to the right (when writing in English) then down to the next line and so on. But this top of the page could be in the middle of a story, or a new scene, or the start of a chapter. There are so many more choices when constructing a story, many which are hidden. The writer is working with the unknown, and may have an idea where to go, but there could be multiple ways to get there.

At some point, the only decision that can be made is to choose a point in the story and write. The structure will become clear the more that is written. Like all good travellers, the writer might get lost, have to back track and take another path. I’ve thrown away 30-40,000 words before in a story and re-written those words, and now I’m planning on doing a complete re-write of these 70,000 words. What a waste?! Not really. I needed to write in order to find the start and I was learning about my writing style that was best suited for this particular story (I have a different one for each story). It had to be done. This is going with the flow, my inner creative flow, and writing to see what takes shape. If the story ends up not going in a direction I feel is suitable for the story or characters, then I change. I may even abandon the story for a while to retrieve later, or use some parts in a different story.

That’s writing, a lot of hard work, persistence, trying new approaches, changing direction and not giving up. There can be times to persevere, but if it begins to feel like a block then I might jump ahead to another scene, or write another story, or take time to journal, or have a break. I never know what creative paths I’ll end up going down if I let go (just a little) and relax, trust myself that I’ll find a creative solution.

The more I write, the more I become aware of my journey, what is working, what isn’t and then I can adjust accordingly. Some loose suggestion of where to start will involve emotion, action, and a hook to draw in the reader. Once I’m writing, then I’ll begin to connect to the setting, characters, and emotion, then I will have a better idea of the direction the story is going in. At this point, I can reflect if this is the best place for the start, or if there’s somewhere else. The story can be re-structured when editing, but first there needs to be words on the page.

Finding the best start to a new story becomes a matter of jumping in, get writing, stop thinking of the outcome, and don’t question yourself. And that in itself is a very good place to begin a story.

The Perspective of Art

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

We’ve all heard this saying and something similar can be said about art and the creation of art. During the first lesson of my intermediate art class, the teacher took us through mixing colours to create tones, tints, and shades. The mixed colours were used to create a colour palette on canvas and then to paint a small image, the purpose to attempt to create the colours seen.

I’m very nervous in art classes. For me, I’m not so good, I’m learning and trying to develop my own skill in its intuitive uniqueness. I’m more of a free-from artist, even when I write, so it was natural for me to add my own approach to what I was painting. When the teacher came by and asked me what I was doing, I answered I was making it up. She re-illiterate the task, and left me to it. Re-create the colours you see in the still life. At one point I had to add more blue to the purple and something about high or low tones. But why, if what I was doing was painting what I was seeing?

I was painting the colours in my own perspective, which was unique to me – just as I do when writing. If describing a scene or an object, I use my perspective and so my words would be different to someone else who saw the same scene or object. The point here for me, is that I gained an insight to my creative expression which is similar in both writing and painting. I create what I see, but I don’t always see what everyone else sees.

This makes it tricky to teach art. How can art be taught when it’s down to the personal perspective and expression of the creator? There needs to be a basic understanding, which of course that’s what the teacher was trying to teach me. I don’t want to mix colours and always get brown, but it’s in the creativity where the perspective changes right from the first brush stroke. Once the basics are learnt, then it’s about bringing alive my own perspective, whether hidden or intuitive. It’s about valuing the perspective of art, the creating, applying intuition, adding a little logical thought, and then simply letting it be to shine out in the world.

The Benefits of Art

I’ve been doing art classes as a way to help me develop my drawing and painting skills. Going through this process has been beneficial for me on many levels. I’m getting out of the house, doing something for me, meeting new people, learning new skills, and expressing myself.

blank canvasI’ve been reflecting on how I feel during this process and trying to capture the new thoughts that come to me as a means of becoming more self-aware.

I noticed recently how I felt at the start of the art class, after a full days work, tired and not wanting to do much except lay on the couch all night. I became aware of the resistance and negative thoughts going through my entire body at the thought of having to stand at the easel for two and half hours, trying something new which would require me to concentrate, think, and feel. Not as appealing as I’d hoped for. It was a little more than just me having trouble getting started. I was like a car that wouldn’t start because it had been flooded with too much fuel. I already had an active mind from work and I was resisting taking on anything that would add to my brain activity. It was a resistance of sorts, which I worked through, and in doing so I gained insights to the process of creative expression.

I was resisting because I have to give up a part of myself, and to let go of control in order to create. I didn’t want to do that when I was tired, as I was already feeling vulnerable. While it’s not a big part of myself to give up, it felt like it, and of course my ego was in on it.

To create you’ve got to surrender part of yourself, give up control and just write uninhibited, or paint without a care. Giving up this control is only temporary at the time. Thanks to my ego, it feels like it will be forever, and a tug of war can begin. When I let go of the rope and wanting to be in control, I draw, paint, feel inspired and become energised. My tiredness is reduced and I find a little confidence within myself at being vulnerable while not being in control. I also have a sense of accomplishment at creating something uniquely mine.

During the class, I’ve connected with people on the same path as me and I’ve spent time in a new environment. It’s not just the benefits of creating art, there’s an entirely bigger package that is part of this process, either way there are many benefits of art and creative expression.

The Art Within

I’m about to discover my artistic style when drawing and painting. blank canvas

Driving home from art class I had an insight to my art journey. I’m learning about drawing and painting, and while I’ve attempted to do this over the years, very much amateur-like, I’ve not established or discovered my style.

I realised it’s a little like unwrapping a gift when you have no idea what’s inside. So far there are hints my art will be bold and colourful (which would match my personality), but maybe other aspects will shine through. A softer side? A darker side? A funny side? It’s certainly an exciting position to be in.

What makes this even more exciting is that I never thought I had any real artistic talent in terms of painting, and definitely not with drawing. This is because of a few reasons. Mainly from the wrong comments, and a little too much criticism, by well meaning people when I was young. I then continued to keep these comments alive in my mind by saying them to myself every time I drew or painted.

Also it’s easy to compare yourself with others starting at a young age. This self-perception is within naturally. There’s always someone better than you, especially if you look negatively at your own work. It can be a block. Once I realised this, I address these feelings so they wouldn’t stop me from expressing myself artistically. A big part of this process is not looking at other people’s work, if I do it is only with admiration.

I’ve gone through this process with writing. I’m more practised at observing how I feel and I notice the resistance coming up. I know I’d rather go stand in the corner and cry than do the art classes. But this is me. No one else is causing this and I can face my fear, which leads me out of my comfort zone so I’m growing and discovering new things about myself. The difference is also now I’m ready to discover my style and I’m willing to explore an undiscovered part of myself. cube sphere painted

To find the new artistic skill within me and coax it out into life is fun. Instead of being fearful, or anxious, I am excited to discover what might develop and allow my style to be released. It’s exhilarating. A mix of excitement, nerves, anticipation, expectation, and wonder. All from simply drawing and painting in class.

The result is I’m on the edge of discovering my style of expression, and to allow the art that has been locked inside of me for so long out.