Internet Challenges and Self-Care

I really get a lot out of internet challenges like Inktober and NaNoWriMo. They give me specific structure, a timeline, and a community of people to interact with and to be inspired by! I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I post something new each day, and I love how energetic and creative I feel.

That energy and burst of creativity is often just that, though – a burst. It’s often over quicker than I would like. At one point or another, I start to feel tired. Strained. Stressed. And then I start to feel guilty. Aren’t I supposed to be having fun? Where did that feeling go?

The reality of my situation is that I work a full-time job, and I travel quite a ways to get to said job, so I have less time than I would like to dedicate to month-long daily internet challenges. I’m only three days into Vlogmas over on my new YouTube channel, and I’ve quickly realized I don’t have enough time and energy to research, shoot, edit, render, and upload a video every single day.

(My channel is “RAWR! It’s Katie! if you’re interested!)

This is the fastest that I’ve ever had to modify my approach to a monthly challenge. Usually I get about halfway through until I realize that I’m putting too much on myself and need to change it up. I think a big part of this decision is that video production takes a long time! A lot longer than I had anticipated. I’d really only be able to manage it if I was working from home or working part-time. Another big part of it is that I have a tendency to make things overly-complicated. I know I could just upload daily two-minute videos of me talking about what I did that day, but I want them to be holiday-adjacent, and I want to share my thoughts on things I really cared about. Thus, if I want to have that extra level of care, I need to take more time than a single day (well – more like four to five hours that I have left over after work) to create videos. And y’know what? I’m surprisingly okay with that!

I’m becoming more and more okay with taking my time to do something well than to churn out content and sacrifice taking care of myself. I didn’t always – I used to get super down on myself for “wasting time” on taking care of myself. However, as I get older I’m realizing that healthy meals and adequate sleep are very important to my well-being. I can’t write well if I haven’t got enough sleep. I can’t draw well if my¬† hands are shaky from not eating.

But beyond that is a more important concept: I am worth taking care of because I am enough. My work, my output, doesn’t define my value as a person or as an artist. I don’t always remember these things, and some days it’s harder than others to love myself, but I’m working on it.

I’ll still take up internet challenges that seem really fun to me, but I’m going to be more okay with prioritizing my health and well-being over striving for perfect completion.

Thanks for reading, folks. Hope you have a great day!

Katie

Inktober and Obligation

I really enjoy Inktober and other challenges like it. The 100 Day Challenge, Hourly Comic Day, National Novel-Writing Month, Mer-May, Witchsona Week – they’re all great! I like participating because these events help give me structure and accountability, two things I struggle with. It’s also really nice to see my social media feeds flooded with wonderful artwork from so many amazing artists! I don’t have an artist community to be a part of in New Hampshire, so these communities of art challenge participants are comforting to me. Even if I don’t actually know anybody, I finally feel like I belong to something!

I’ve noticed that there’s a weird atmosphere surrounding Inktober this year. Overall the theme is positive: don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do all of Inktober, it’s meant to be fun. Some people are more salty than others though, and they almost seem resentful of people who are able to draw for all 31 days, or resentful of the idea of art challenges in general. I saw so many posts with things like “Oh yay Inktober is here! I’m going to NOT DO ANYTHING BECAUSE EFF INKTOBER I HATE IT”. That made me sad, and it made me feel a little guilty for being excited to participate.

I tend to be very easily influenced by others’ opinions on things. I’ve got issues with seeking approval and prioritizing being liked over standing my ground on my own opinions, so stuff like this makes it harder for me to enjoy doing art challenges or posting them online. I don’t want to upset anyone or make anyone feel bad by posting and celebrating my own work. I’m still unsure of what to do about it, but for now, making art makes me happy, so I guess I will…keep doing that?

I do agree with the main premise of the arguments going around, that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we don’t complete every single day or complete things on time, and neither should we feel obligated to do art challenges in the first place. Social media often feels like a pressure cooker full of expectations, and for artists with little free time on their hands (most artists, I think), the idea of making extra artwork for art challenges to appease their audiences can be super stressful.

I think art challenges were initially meant to be fun exercises to challenge folks to draw things they might not usually draw. If that’s something that appeals to a person, then they should go for it and have some fun! If it’s something that would cause a lot of stress and strain to a person, it might be better for them to prioritize doing what they need to do in order to take care of their self.

In general, I think we could all be a little kinder to folks who do and to folks who don’t participate in these things. Just – be nice, everyone! We’ve all got a lot on our shoulders, and not all of that is apparent on social media. So, whether you are or are not participating in Inktober, I hope you’ll give yourself space this month and remember to be kind to yourself. You’re doing great.

Peace and grace,

Katie