Marilag Lubag's Blog

The Double-Edged Sword

March 2, 2016
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Sometimes, it’s easier to learn the craft when we’re with a lot of like-minded people. At the same time, it’s easy to feel insecure. If someone could do what you’re doing ten times better, it would make you feel insecure no matter how self-confident you are. Nevertheless, I find it easier to learn when I’m with people who are good at what they do. It makes me want to strive harder to learn just to keep up. Despite my insecurities, I’m better for it.

For example, when I was in grade school, I wrote some poems that got published in the school newspaper. In high school, I joined the school newspaper. While I’m average at what I did (I didn’t win any contest), I still learned how to do things better because of the education I got from my teacher. I’m a good poet but even then, I had to admit that there are others who are better writer than me.

On the other hand, it causes me to feel insecure at my classmates—they were better writers. Still, I write and improve in my own pace, even if I’m not as good as they are. Eventually, things even out. Some people had stopped writing. Others are now writing for a living. We improve in our own pace. Our growth depends largely on whether we want to write or not and how much practice we’re having. We shouldn’t feel insecure if people are better than us.

People that are better than us in our respective crafts should inspire us rather than hinder us. If we can see the good side of working with other people, we would be able to have new ideas to incorporate in our craft. On the other hand, if we let our insecurities to get the better of us, it would hinder our progress.

When we’re around other people who are good in our chosen craft, it’s easy to feel insecure. However, we need to let go of our insecurities so that we can become the best artist we can be. It’s time to do our best and let others inspire us instead of letting our insecurities get the best of us.


To Be a Professional

February 25, 2016
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It doesn’t take a genius to understand that we need to invest a lot if we are to develop our craft. It’s not easy to do what we want we don’t have the skillset to do it. It’s like not having the right tools for what we wanted to do.

We need to invest time and money in order to learn our craft. I had countless of crochet magazines and books—instructions that would show me how to do certain things such as Broomstick lace, Bruges lace, and fillet crochet. I take my time to practice so that I am able to do what I want in terms of such techniques. I start with simple projects first. Later on, I develop a more complex items—something that can be reflected with my improved skillset.

If you are serious about your craft, you need to do similar things. You need to practice such skill set and invest in books, lessons, and practice. Otherwise, you would not improve in terms of your medium. The goal is to be a better artist. It’s okay to produce work in subpar quality if you’re just starting. However, you should produce better work in the subsequent projects. After all, the more you practice, the better you get.

It takes time to develop our skills in order to succeed. Still, we often get impatient with the results. Real professional artists takes time to develop. They often start as terrible artists but with constant practice, they become masters. As a child, my crochet practice were too tight and curl. I’m able to follow a pattern but I would always wonder why they don’t measure the way it was specified. Later on, I realized that I’m not following the gauge.

I am able to create better items two years later. With constant practice, I am able to do double crochet evenly. Soon, I’m able to teach my classmates how it should be done. At this moment, I’m trying to decide whether or not to get a certificate of being a master in crochet. For now, I’m practicing my skills.

Being a competitive professional artist requires an investment of time and money. It’s like being a professional in some other fields. To become competitive at something, we need to push ourselves in order to learn the basics. It takes a decade to become a doctor. Similarly, it takes a lot of time and practice to become a competitive in our crafts. I don’t expect a beginner in crochet to produce the same materials I am able to produce overnight. It took me years of practice to master my skill. For that matter, don’t expect yourself to write with the same quality as that of J.K. Rowling or that of Stephen King if you just started writing. They had been writing since they were children while you just started very recently.

Take your time to learn your particular craft. If they’re not looking the way you want, keep practicing. The people you consider were good at their craft had put on more hours. Similarly, you need time in order to catch up.

What have you done to improve your skillset?


Freebies

February 15, 2016
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Last week, Kristen Lamb pointed out how giving away free stuff could actually backfire and hurts us writers. She pointed out that while giving away freebies might give writers exposure, exposure cannot pay rent. She’s saying that giving away everything for free would mean that people would expect that novels don’t cost anything—a.k.a. the Law of Supply and Demand. The more supply there is relative to the demand, the less the price.

Not only do this topic affects writers, it also impacts other artists as well. While there are people who frown upon giving away their products, I believe that giving away freebies is a good way to advertise. It means that you would get your name out there at very little cost to you. However, just because you’re giving away your product for free doesn’t mean you have to give away everything. It cost you time, brain cells, and materials to produce your work. You have to find a balance between giving your products away and getting compensated for your efforts.

For example, I watch K-dramas and anime for free. Crunchyroll, one of the best anime sites out there offers their service for free. They also show K-dramas. And it’s legal. They have a three tier pricing—one for free, one for limited, and one for the best. The free things allow you to watch the videos but they tend to have a lot of commercials and HD is not available. The one for limited price means that you can access all videos commercial free and in HD and all the manga. The one for the best price works a lot like Amazon prime—they also include free shipping for the anime merchandise also available on the site.

Another online free service I know is the Free Belly Dance Classes. The site is totally free but if you check it out, you’ll notice that it’s full of ads. Advertisements are the reason why the website has been up for so long. Then there’s the section of DVD’s—it’s $5.00 for each one. Tiazza also accepts donations from people who wants to help her keep her site running—a.k.a. the tip jar.

Then there are the people from self-help industry. They are the ones advocating that people should be willing to work for free. I’m pretty sure they’re partly to blame with why everybody are handing out their work for free. Oprah Winfrey does associate with a lot of them and they were the ones advocating on doing things for free. Still, there’s always a catch. I notice that everytime a particular self-help expert offers a free talk, they only offer it for free for a limited amount of time. Usually it’s between 24-36 hours. If you miss it and you want to listen, you have to buy it.

Just because people are advocating giving away our work doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get compensated. There is no such thing as free lunch. We have to value ourselves and our efforts too. We have to find a balance to do both.

Should you give away your work for free? What do you think?


Making a Blanket

February 10, 2016
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It took me forever to make my first blanket. After all, I’m the type that would get fits of inspiration only to lose interest later on. It was always my dream to make an afghan but I’m always intimidated by it. Still, I’m determined to finish one even though I didn’t have a lot of time. With this desire, I decided that I would spend five minutes crocheting everyday. I had a pattern to follow, using a specific hook and a particular yarn.

I crocheted for five minutes everyday. Usually, I wanted to do it longer but I only give myself five minutes a day. It took me at least two years but I was finally able to finish it. After that, the second one came a lot easier. I’m trying to make another one although this one is more daunting than the first. I decided to make a blanket out of Tunisian crochet in order to learn it.

Creating a blanket is a lot like writing a novel. I had done both although my novel was never published. Each was a herculean task—one that requires a lot of commitment and a lot of perseverance. There are many times when I wanted to stop what I was doing but kept on moving forward that until I had finished my project. That being said, there were creative works that require a lot of stamina. Someone who plans to do either needs to have a plan on how to tackle the project. My plan was to spend a little amount of time everyday crocheting and about an hour a day trying to write a novel.

It takes perseverance and stamina to finish a long term project. However, if you are consistent at making progress, even if it is five minutes a day everyday, eventually you would finish it.


Starting Small

February 9, 2016
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As an artist, our vision often doesn’t match how our creation would come out. Often, our brains come up with visions of grandeur but the rest of our skills had not caught up.

In an episode of Super Girl, Kara’s boss Cat Grant told her that if Super Girl really wants to become a superhero of Superman’s quality, she needs to start small and work her way up. Her boss’ point was that Super Girl is making a lot of mistakes and the city was paying for it. Kara defended her tactics by saying that even Super Man did make his mistakes. Kara’s boss explained that starting small means that someone won’t cause a lot of damage while they improve their superhero skills.

Supergirl 021016 post

Even superheroes have to start small. Check out the show at CBS.

There was wisdom to Cat Grant’s words. After all, it would mean that if you are learning how to use a particular medium, it would mean that you would have a lot less materials to waste if you would start small. However, I myself am a very impatient person. I prefer to make a ton of mistakes, not caring if I waste a lot of materials or not, especially since my preferred medium costs me little. When it comes to yarn, all I needed to do was to unravel and I could reuse it again. When it comes to singing, I could sing all I want and only my entire family would hear if I’m singing out of tune. They’re used to hearing me sing that they don’t even care if I mess up. And writing? It doesn’t even cost anything so I write all I want even if it’s horrible.

Now, for those who had to use a more expensive medium, Cat Grant’s advice is essential. After all, oil paint costs hundreds of dollars. Playing with paint is even more costly on canvas than with strong white paper.

Nobody should bite on more than he or she could chew. For example, if one wants to write a novel, it requires determination and perseverance to finish one. It’s like making a crocheted blanket—a very daunting task. If you or someone you know plan to write a novel, you need to pace yourself and write even when you don’t feel like writing at all. Like blogging, it’s easier to fix words on a page than starting with an empty space.

It is your choice whether you prefer the Cat Grant method or the Superman method. Both would make you a hero but the damage would be very little if you do the Cat Grant method. Meanwhile, the Superman method meant that it would be a very expensive method in terms of time and money while you learn your skills.

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Quality vs Quantity

February 3, 2016
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As artists, we all have to pay our dues. That being said, there was an age-old debate. What is better? Quality or quantity?

To me, quantity is better than quality. The more things you create, the more you get to practice your craft. The more you practice, the better you get. Quantity is better than quality because quantity leads to quality.

For example, if you want to become a novelist, you should write your story even if it is a total trash. Your first goal should be to finish your novel at the shortest time possible. Once you’re done with your story, you set it aside and start a new one. When you’re finally done with your second story, you go back to your first one and you edit it.

I’m good at crochet not because I was born with the talent but because I worked nonstop on my craft from the time I was nine. Everyday after school, I would get my hook and my thread, trying to get things right, making sure that everything is tight, not realizing that it’s better to do loose stitches than tight.

It took me years until I was finally able to do things well. By the time I was in junior high, I was able to show my classmates what the teacher was talking about in terms of crochet. Because of my years of practice, I learned what works and what doesn’t in terms of crochet.

If you want to be a good artist, you should create things as much as you want without worrying about the quality. Learn what works and what doesn’t, filing everything in your ever growing knowledge of your craft. Read the books about your particular craft. If you like a technique you read, use it over and over just because you like it. You have to enjoy the creative process and forget about the quality. Eventually, because you have practiced a lot, quality would follow.

If you want to be a professional writer, I encourage you to write a novel and self-publish it in sites such as Amazon or Smashwords. Be sure to self-publish it for free. I doubt that your work would have a lot of buyers. People don’t know your enough to buy from you. That’s the way it was to first time self-published authors. My fanfiction stories are just started to get traction even though I stopped publishing fanfiction four years ago. Meanwhile, since your work is not picking up the traction, keep working on other stories and improve your writing skills.

Having no one buy from you early on your writing stage is actually a blessing in disguise. That means there won’t be a lot of harsh critics wasting their time pointing out every single flaw you have as an artist. Review your work from time to time and edit it. The goal is for you to be prolific because quality follows quantity.

To me, it’s important for artists to be prolific. It’s a way for an artist to practice on their crafts and learn from their mistakes. Eventually, the artist would be so good at their crafts that people would actually buy their products not because there are too many of them but because they are good artists.

And for those who would criticize me regarding my stance? The goal of my blog is to unlock your creativity and not to improve your craft. To do that, you need to allow yourself to produce crappy work. I am well aware that other people would criticize me for my view. However, the only way to improve your craft is to practice. The more work you produce, the better you’ll get.

 

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