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Make Your Mark, Fill the Page

I have been reading How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz. It is one of my two bathroom readers. The other is How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore. Both consist of relatively short chapters well suited to a constitutional period. In fact, most in the first book are not even a page long.

While the second is for writers, the first is much more aimed at visual artists. That has not stopped me from learning from it or trying to apply it to my writing.

One of the first things I tried was from section 14, “Make Your Mark”. The section begins “If you’re worried about drawing, start by making simple marks.” A page later this longer suggestion, separate from the exercises at the end of the section, is made:

When your thoughts start racing, don’t be passive — get them down on paper. Cover a one foot square sheet with marks. Instead of filling the whole page edge to edge, think about how to use the space. Can you make two similar marks look different, exist on different planes, do different things? Think about what shapes , forms, constructions, configurations, details, sweeps, buildups, dispersals, and compositions appeal to you.

How to Be an Artist by Jerry Saltz, pg. 28

This idea fascinated me. As someone who has failed to learn to draw a few times, including a drawing 101 class in college I wanted to try it. I even bought a pad of large, 12″ x 18″ newsprint to cut down to have the one foot square sheet.

Still haven’t drawn anything.

But I also wanted to find a way to do this as a writer. The feature image is part of the result. The full output is directly below.

A page full of marks.

What I found interesting is how I’d wander in one direction then another. More than once I experimented with visual marks. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trading a few times on something Zak Sabbath said on Playing D&D with Porn Stars.” Sadly the image is not working, but it had multiple place names using different fonts to convey the nature of the area.

I see I playing with assonance and rhyme. I tried to get the rhythm of my phrase in different forms. I think doing something similar with a work in progress might be one way to work on voice.

Have you tried this or interested in trying it? Let me know how it went or goes.


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