Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Importance of Process

Tomorrow I'll be teaching my little art class about process and it got me thinking how process is a part of all of our lives and creative endeavors. It's process that makes a writer a writer and an artist an artist, not the finished piece. Without process there would be no finished piece. Process is also what determines your skill level, what teaches you, what helps you improve as an artist and a writer.

A process is a journey, made up of steps. It always starts with an idea: a sketch, a handful of words on paper. You take the steps and sometimes you add new ones, you alter the steps depending on what you want the outcome to be. Eventually you reach the end of the process and you have a product that reflects all the work you did along the way.

In our instant gratification-oriented society, we're allergic to process. We don't want to revise a manuscript. We don't want to sketch out a drawing. We don't want to polish a query letter. We try to jump ahead and cheat the process, and it seldom ends well. It usually results in even more work or less recognition than if we'd followed the process the way it was laid out.

Your process can be whatever you make of it. It can be fun and slow and meandering, making stops along the way to go on a tangent. It can be slick and streamlined, methodical and orderly. It can be whatever you need. It just has to work, and by 'work' I mean it ultimately gets you to your goal. Your goal can be to publish a novel, to finish a painting, to make it to grad school. It all involves a process.

My process for writing/illustrating A Shadow Story was slow at some points, faster at others, and all the while meandering. I took time to research, revise, and get distracted by shiny things on youtube or pinterest. I had self-imposed deadlines and lots of time. Official deadlines from an agent or editor would've sped the process up and the timeframe would've been significantly different. Whether you have official deadlines or self-imposed, I believe they improve a process and help it to move along.

What's your process like?

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