Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Illustration and Writing

Inspired by the header illustrations haikujaguar did for Some Things Transcend, I decided to try doing headers for A Rational Arrangement.

The headers are simple digital images. I made a standard 5" x 1" template, with a parchment-style background and a frame. The illustrations are stylized: brown silhouettes with white "ink" where figures overlap and to suggest some details.

So far, I've made 12. I am not sure how long I've spent on each one thus far, but my estimate would be somewhere over an hour each. I divided up the story into pieces for the serial, and it has 134 posts. So if I do a unique header for each post, I need 122 more headers.

... that's a lot of headers. And a lot of time. Micah helpfully suggests "do not do a unique header for each one", which is good advice and I should take it and I don't know what I'm going to do. Most of the headers I've done so far are scene-specific. Three or four might be easily re-useable. I don't know. I do know that I'm not going to wait until I'm done making headers before I start serializing it. (Serial starts in May! Probably May 4th.)

For me, the difference between writing and illustrating is weird. It is both easier and harder to create an illustration than it is to write a scene. If I make myself sit down to write for a set block of time, I'll average about 500-1000 words per hour: faster if I'm inspired, slower if I'm slogging. Usually not slower than 500 words an hour.

But that requires making myself write. I always want to have written but I very often do not want to write. Not even blog posts like this one.

On the other hand, once I have an idea for an illustration, it requires very little effort to motivate myself to draw it. Or to continue drawing until it's done. In general, I will contentedly work on the same picture for a couple of hours without looking at the clock or wishing I could take a break or thinking "why won't this picture draw itself?" I only get impatient with illustrating if either the picture is turning out badly and I've been unable to fix it, or it's a very complicated piece that'll take 20+ hours to finish. The headers are simple things, and they haven't hit either of those problems. If I looked at the entire group as one project, they ought to hit the time one, but my brain considers each one discrete and so doesn't care that I've got 122 more to go. I did 12! LOOK HOW ACCOMPLISHED I AM.

So illustration takes more time-spent-actually-drawing, but much less time spent thinking-about-drawing, planning-to-draw, whinging-about-drawing, and wishing-I-would-shut-up-and-get-on-with-drawing-already. It'd take me six months or more to do 134 hours of writing, but I bet I can do that much illustrating in two or three.

Which still doesn't mean it's the highest and best use of my time. I haven't written anything new since January, and I don't feel like I've been "working on fiction" since I finished the first draft of A Rational Arrangement at the end of 2013. (The 20,000 words or so I've written since then apparently Do Not Count. And is not much compared to the 240,000 I wrote in in 2013.) I can easily motivate myself to make illustrated headers for RA, and motivating myself to write is hard -- but doing the first means I literally do not have time for the second.

On the other hand, I don't want to fall into the trap of "do nothing but your top priority", because for me that too-often works out to "do nothing". If my mind settles on "I Must Do X First", then I will decide "but I don't waaaannnnna" and I will procrastinate on it by playing games or web-browsing. And I won't do anything else productive, because I need to Do X First. It's lose-lose.


I don't know. I'll make some more headers for a while, anyway.

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