Nibbles to Bites, Scribbles to Sketch by Nevada McPherson
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “Nibbles to Bites, Scribbles to Sketch.” Enjoy!
So, it’s getting to be time for that age-old question: How did you spend your summer? As the long, hot days begin to wind down, have you been working hard on a writing project, meaning to work hard on a writing project, or just enjoying some fun summer reading?
Maybe it’s a mix of all three, which is probably best, since you do need some time to unwind before fall begins, usually bringing with it a more hectic pace.
I’ve been reading, writing and drawing, and now as my schedule shifts into high gear at the end of the month, I’ll need to structure my time more carefully, but aside from that I’ll just keep going forward. Maybe that’s the key to keeping things moving along, is going forward, even if that means working in small nibbles instead of large bites.
Yes, it is great if writers and artists can manage large blocks of time to create uninterrupted, but if you have many activities to juggle, not to mention additional career and family responsibilities, perhaps waiting for that elusive perfect time when you have plenty of time to spend working on something is futile.
Maybe the best (and even most practical!) thing to do is to watch for mini-blocks throughout the day or night. Ever have to wait in line for any reason? There’s a mini-block. Ever have to wait to pick up someone from school/ night class/ the doctor? Another mini-block. Ever have to sit in a waiting room yourself? Mini-block!
If you get used to working in mini-blocks as a way to maintain your summer momentum (or if you were mostly relaxing during the summer, to get some fall momentum going), the frustration of never having enough time will recede and life’s little waits can become life’s little opportunities for epiphany, for the perfect sentence, the perfect word, even.
I always keep a little notebook to hand but since I’m working on my next graphic novel, Queensgate, that I’ve discussed here in previous posts, I also plan on keeping paper or a sketchbook with me all the time now so that I can sketch out a frame, characters in conversation, an imagined street scene in London, or in a house in Hampstead.
I used to shy away from drawing in coffee shops in favor of libraries because I had so much stuff with me when I wanted to spend a block of time drawing: rulers, pens, pencils, erasers, white-out, lots of previous pages, on and on.
Much as I still love to spend blocks of time in libraries, I’ve changed up my drawing process now so that I’m drawing what I see in my mind’s eye, and know that I can plan out the meticulous details of spacing the pages, measuring borders, etc. later.
Now that I’ve freed myself from trying to do too many things at once I’m enjoying my work more, it’s moving along faster, and it’s evolving to look much closer to how I want it to look!
Keeping a sketch book and some pencils in my tote bag will help me be able to use mini-blocks to keep moving forward, one frame, one page at a time. I tend to always like to have a “think and do” bag with me any time I anticipate having to wait someplace, so why not make sure I have a way to work on a current project, even it’s just for a few minutes?
I can always catch up on my favorite magazine after I’m a few scribbles into the next scene.
I believe learning how to work under all kinds of circumstances will make us better writers and artists. I sometimes think of a question PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer was asked in an interview that I read some time ago.
He’d published a novel and the interviewer asked him how and when he liked to write fiction. Mr. Lehrer answered that he’d gotten so good at writing anywhere at any time that he could write hanging upside down in the middle of a busy airport if he had to. We have stories to be told, and art to be seen, so let’s find a way to do it, no matter what! 🙂
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nevada McPherson lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, GA, where she is an associate professor of humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, has written over a dozen feature-length screenplays (several award-winning), one short screenplay, short stories and two graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. She’s currently at work on her new graphic novel, Queensgate, a sequel to Uptowners. For more information about Nevada and her projects visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.