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Making time for personal projects

Creating The Barrier Scroll comic is a huge undertaking for me, and something that I was, quite frankly, intimidated to commit my time to. I am by no means an ‘illustrator’ or a ‘writer’…but I want to be. So I try to take what time I have in each day, and dedicate it to something that gives me joy and passion. I’ve given passion projects and personal development a lot of thought and it really comes down to one thing: making time. This little cutlet of insight can be applicable to countless parts of our life. We as human beings can be extremely busy, overwhelmed even. However, it’s important to identify what really matters.

Stop with the glorification of ‘busy’. The fundamental core of being ‘too busy’ stems from the lack of priorities or the inability to prioritize. Directed at the wrong pursuits, it can pose as a limiting factor to our full creative potential. Half of all parents (47%) said they were ‘too busy’ to read a bedtime story to children. “Despite the fact that 97% agreed that reading before bedtime was beneficial to a child’s development, only a third of parents felt guilty that they didn’t spare the time.”

Carve out time in your daily routine. Block time for lunch. Cultivate regular time for physical activity in your day to service health benefits and thought clarity. Some studies suggest that physical activity can even help boost creativity. Consider opportunities for meditation, yoga, or any other moments for yourself to help improve mental health. Set aside manageable chunks of time to focus on the creative pursuits that are important to you. Tutorials, writing, painting, learning a new skill.

The only way to get good at something is to do it, a lot. The only way to do something a lot, is to make time for it. For example: 1 hour a day ~ 30 hours a month, 365 hours a year = 9+ full time working weeks of personal project time. That’s over 2 months of time you can use for personal projects with simply 1 hour a day, and many creatives say the weekends are when they dedicate the most time to passion projects and personal development.

When creativity strikes, listen. One skillset that I’ve learned to cultivate is writing down your ideas when you’re unable to execute on them. I’m currently knee deep in the episodic writing of Book 2 for The Barrier Scroll. I’m not convinced I would be this productive and excited about getting all my ideas down on paper if I hadn’t written a smattering of random creative lightning bolts down when creativity struck. Some people keep actual written journals (this is wonderful), I use the notes app on my phone–and translate them to an appropriately named file later in Google Docs. I jot down as much as I can to give me context for when next I peek at it. You do your future self a disservice when you write down notes that don’t make much sense later, so be concise as possible and add as much context as it takes for it to make sense to a stranger who has never seen that note before.

You’re not busy, you just suck at time management. Prioritize your passion projects and personal development, and every moment is an opportunity for creative inspiration. Now get out there and be productive and intentional with your time and creativity.

Thank you for the support. ♡

Writing tips: Outlining your narrative

The story of The Barrier Scroll is something that has been with me for a long time, but I’ve never truly fleshed out the details. When you start to think about story structure and character motivations, it can be daunting, intimidating even to outline your narrative.

There are countless resources to plot your story but the one that resonated with me the most was a rendition of Blake Snyder‘s storytelling structure, Save the Cat!, called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. This story structure, used on countless popular movies and novels, outlines essential plot points, or beats. When you struggle with structure like I do, this is immensely helpful. To visualize this, here’s Savannah Gilbo’s graphic to get us oriented:

It can be helpful to think about a comic thematically.

I wont go in depth as to what exactly Save the Cat! story structure is, but I do want to stress the importance of structure overall. Structure helps you space out the major events of your story in a way that keeps your reader engaged, without overwhelming them. How do the character’s goals, motivations, and internal conflicts propel the story forward? And why should the audience care?

John Truby, screenwriter, director, and author of The Anatomy of Story says: “Without good structure a story will not work, no matter how good the writing.” I don’t recommend sitting down to write a story from beginning to end and expect it to all make sense when you come out the other end. For most people, to get the best result, you need to apply the craft of story telling and think about what you are doing before you dive in and start writing. Truby says, “Every hour you put into prep work on your story, you save ten when it comes to writing, and rewriting, it…writer’s block is almost always caused by not knowing where the story is going.”

Write down all your ideas, no matter what, and no matter where you are.

Stories, at their deepest level, explore the human spirit and communicate that truth. Find a structure that works for you, so that your narrative has meaning, and connects with readers.

Recommended Resources:

Thank you for the support. ♡

Character Spotlight: A’zahl Hyra

A’zahl Hyra character design

Next up on our Character Spotlight series is one of our Onyx Guardsmin, A’zahl Hyra. Really one of my favorite characters with how much depth he has and how vital to the narrative he is.

Name: A’zahl HyraCharacter: Support Character
Hair: blackAge: 108 (ehh don’t quote me on this)
Eyes: redJob: Onyx Guard
Height: 6’1”Race: Volga
From: VaalGoal: retrieve barrier scroll 
Orientation: bi-sexualWant: rescue sister
Nicknames: The Magus of VaalWeapon: dark magic
Enneagram: The Enchanter

A charming and quick witted Volga, A’zahl is a member of the Onyx Guard representing the state of Vaal. An extremely powerful magic user he prefers to wear a mask in combat to obscure his spell casting to enemies. He’s secretly in love with Imaris the Cunning.

The Volga have a pretty complicated history with the Federation, especially after a conflict called The Upheaval changes the way Elves view the Federation. However, as centuries pass, stories from generation to generation begin to fade. A new generation of Federation leadership accepts the wrongdoings of their predecessors and condemns the dark history. Opening the door for the remaining Volga to assimilate into society. Some go by way of the Empire, where as others like A’zahl join the Federation.

Check out that eye glowy thing.

A’zahl has his own desires and motivations as well, and one of those is finding his little sister Saphielle.

Thank you for the support. ♡

Drawing Process: Phylos Crowmin

Ok story time: A few years ago I befriended a Crow family that lived in my neighborhood. It was a big crow family that was really vocal and loved to play. Hearing all kinds of exceptional stories online about people making crow-bro friends and getting neat little gifts in return I gave it my best effort and started feeding the family. Ok spoiler alert, THEY DID NOT BRING ME ANY GIFTS, but they did demand that I feed them, and were very vocal if I did not. This included banging on my window with such severity that I thought they would break it, as well as ripping up the patio furniture cushions until I came outside with a handful of dog food. Some crows are assholes. I named the momma Crow “Ukiyo-e” because she used to squat down and make this adorable noise that sounded like two wood blocks banging against one another. I was sad when I moved, and hope they’re still doing well.

Just to give you some context on this little guy, his name is Phylos Crowmin. Phylos took Oriole, our protagonist, in when she was tiny. Over the years he has become a father-like figure towards her, and has done his best to shield Oriole from the realities of life, maybe too much. He’s the owner of Caladrius Tavern and Inn, which he inherited after the previous owner passed away.

I wanted to share a progress video on how I drew this character. Enjoy.

Thinking up Beastmin characters is always fun because I can choose animals that I absolutely adore, and Crows are definitely on that list.

Thank you for the support. ♡

Character Spotlight: Oriole

Our main protagonist, Oriole.

In order to introduce you to the characters of The Barrier Scroll narrative in more depth, I’ve decided to start doing a Character Spotlight series here on the blog. 🙂 Who better to introduce you to first, than our reluctant hero, Oriole.

Name: OrioleCharacter: protagonist
Hair: blackAge: 28
Eyes: amberJob: Custodian of Magic
Height: 5’4”Race: Human
From: Neutral UnitaryGoal: confront her past  
Orientation: heterosexualWant: to find her parents
Nicknames: OriWeapon: defense magic
Enneagram: The Caregiver

Oriole is the main protagonist of our story. The child of a Su’nethian aristocrat and a Federation soldier, naturally she’s an outsider from birth. Growing up, Oriole has a strong natural affinity towards magic but was always prohibited from learning spells and never had any formal training. She grows up in the Neutral Unitary and is raised by Phylos Crowmin, a Beastmin who runs the Caladrius Tavern and Inn, with a mysterious past himself (I’ll intro him in a future character spotlight!).

When we first meet our hero, she’s working as a Custodian of Magic in the Library of Phusos (though she’s not very good at it.) Transcribing magic scrolls for really important casters in the region, not exactly the most stimulating of careers. Except for her pal Neeja Uro, Oriole is unliked and even bullied at her job. But with it being the only way for her to save up money in order to dig into her past, Oriole perseveres despite the negativity.

Oriole with a wacky beauty pageant blowout.

And just like any good protagonist, Oriole dreams of a world beyond the Caladrius Inn, and seeks to find the answers to questions she’s had all her life. What happened to her parents? Who are they? And why did they give her up?

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about our main protagonist. 🙂

Thank you for the support. ♡