Kamis, 19 Januari 2012

3 Lessons On Blogging from My Son… the Artist

Our kitchen table is in a perpetual state of creativity.  L1001438.jpg

Marker pens, sketch books, glue sticks, and paint sets are make their permanent home there because my five-year-old son (X) is a self-declared Artist.

While there are some challenges with living with an Artist… (last night I almost broke my ankle tripping on a glue stick) there are a lot of good things about it too. Not only is there a constant stream of art work to hang on the fridge, I’ve also seen a lot of parallels between the ways he’s developing artistically and how I think bloggers could develop their own craft.

Young X is prolific. There’s no other word to describe him.

When I get up at 7am he’s usually hard at work on a project he’s been dreaming up in bed the night before (he literally gets up and draws his dreams).

When I go down to the kitchen for a cup of tea mid morning, he’ll be there drawing or crafting up some new “sculpture” (out of an egg carton, some blue tack, a chocolate box, and his Mum’s earrings).

When I collect him from kindergarten in the afternoon, he’ll leave the room with any number of paintings, pastings, and works of art, while other kids walk out with one at most.

The fruit of his constant practice of his artistry is a remarkable improvement in what he’s producing. While it’s all still very childlike (he is five) we genuinely marvel at his creations—they’re really great! Last week I even found him sitting down with a book about Picasso and trying to emulate one of his famous paintings.

The same is true for blogging (or any form of writing)—the more you practice, the better your writing gets. In fact it’s pretty much the only way to learn. You can study writing techniques all you want, but unless you actually experiment with putting them into practice and work on developing your own style, you’ll never really improve.

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X is constantly trying new ways of constructing, drawing, painting, and creating. While drawing with pencils used to be his thing, he’s moved through a variety of “phases” in his artistic development as he’s explored different media.

I still remember the time earlier this year that I suggested he use his pencils only to be told that “I used pencils when I was 4 but I have been maturing. I prefer paint!”

He’s also gone through different phases when it comes to subject matter. Faces were and early phase. Then houses. Then robots. Then Toy Story characters. Then fire. Then rainbows….

Interestingly, his latest phase is something of a fusion (or mashup) of different media and subjects. It’s almost as if he’s tested and tried a variety of techniques and has now got his own little style, taking things he’s learned along the way and putting them together into his own little way.

The same is true for bloggers. I strongly advise bloggers to experiment:

Experiment with writing in different styles and voices.Experiment with writing posts of different lengths.Experiment with writing informal and formal posts.Experiment with writing in a more personal and engaging tone, and writing a more academic-style essay post.Experiment with different media—video, audio, written.Experiment with different formats—list posts, interviews, how-to posts, stories.Experiment with different topics.

The list could go on. As you experiment, you’ll find yourself drawn to repeat some and leave others. You’ll also find your readers resonating with some experiments and ignoring (or even reacting against) others. In time, your voice develops.

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When X is not making art, he’s thinking about his next creation. Quite often we’ll be driving in the car or out for a walk and he’ll have a contemplative look on his face, or he’ll be examining something with real intent. I’ll ask him what he’s thinking about. More often than not, he’ll say something like:

“I’m thinking about how to draw that traffic light.”“I’m imagining what that man riding the bike will look like being attacked by a dinosaur so I can paint it.”“I’m working out what color to draw our house in when I get home.”

X is always on the lookout for inspiration for his art work. He’s painting his next painting before he’s even sitting down to do it. He’s looking at life though the eyes of a five-year-old artist—working out how to translate what he sees and experiences into his creations.

Again, there is a lesson to be learned here for bloggers. While I don’t advise letting your whole life be taken over by thinking about blogging, over time you begin to see life through blog-colored glasses. As you experience life, there will be some things that jump out at you that could impact your blogging (or even be written about).

This post is an example of that. As I watched X draw today and began to ponder how he was developing, I began to see the parallels and analogies emerge—but they only came because I guess I’ve got into the habit of looking at life this way.


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