Writing Tips: Studying Other Arts
Many writers say that writing is the purest art of them all, and although it’s one of the main components of art, it was the last form in a complex web of different evolutionary changes. If you think about telling stories around the campfire, and how natural it is, it makes one wonder just how long we’ve been doing it. That’s something science would have a very difficult time proving, seeing as how that type of behavior must be observed in real-time, not in deep time. But one could wager we’ve been doing it since we first learned to communicate, and that makes vocal story-telling the very first art.
Drawing would have come next, or around the same time, as vocal story telling. It was the first visual art of our race, and it helped the imagination grow with new interpretations and visualizations. Then, patterns in sound were being interpreted and replicated by our ancestors, making music. It wasn’t until centuries later that ancient tribes would begin documenting things on tablets. It wasn’t even writing down thoughts at first. The first thing we learned to write was math.
Needing to able to calculate population growth, supplies, changing seasons, and distance, made writing a necessity in a thriving population. Soon after that, people began to write their thoughts down, as well as their stories, and writing became what we know now. Writing was the last of the three fundamental arts, and it took thousands of years for society to learn of its uses.
These fundamental arts are the three key elements to all art in our society, and no matter what craft you’re into, one or more of these play a crucial role in your creation. There’s visual interpretation, which is the most basic. Then there’s imagination through spoken or written word, and imagination through sound.
From these, we’ve created new types of art, and new mediums to present it.The evolution of the creative mind has come a long way in the short time that man has been around, and every day there seems to be a new form popping up.
Since all art is related to one another in some way, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that you can learn a lot about one craft by studying a bit of another. That’s what we are going to talk about today, but before we do, I want to leave you with a little bit of advice:
Scattered energies will bring you no reward.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m encouraging you to study all of the arts that you can, however, don’t over indulge in those studies. If you’re a writer, your main focus should still be on writing. But it is healthy, and creatively rewarding to dive into other crafts on the side.
For those of you reading this that aren’t writers, and would like me to go into this subject on another craft, then please let me know in the comments. This blog really is only long enough for one main focus today, and as usual, that is writing. For today, we’ll go over other crafts and explore what you learn from them to better your writing.
Alright, let’s get something out in the open right now. I’m a metal head. I like rock music; I like old country, and most of the branches that come from them. I am not a big fan of Pop, Rap, or Hip Hop, but, really, to each their own. That’s not to say those genres don’t have their benefits. I just don’t like it and I find the meaning in some of their lyrics to be unimaginative and generic.
But, a lot can be learned from the music you listen to. Using myself as an example, I’ve learned a lot about writing from listening to metal. You might ask me, ‘There’s a lot of screaming in metal, so how the hell can you understand it?’
OK, you got me. Most of the time, it’s difficult to understand, but you don’t let that put you off. You listen to the song, catch what you can of the meaning, and then look at the lyrics in depth later on as you listen to it to interpret the real meaning. Screaming is not just for emotion, it’s to make you pay attention to the message being sung. In quite a lot of metal music, there are deep, complex stories, and there are deep, complex concepts. But you have to look deep in order to find them. It’s takes time, and critical thinking, and in the end it’s mentally rewarding.
Lyrics are where you learn metaphors in an entertaining, emotionally charged way. You also learn patterns, and if you listen to the right kind of music, you can even increase your vocabulary. Not to mention that it can relax you when stressed, and listening to the right kind of music when you’re stumped can sometimes open a creative window, while blocking out distraction of the outside world.
Take what you can from your music, just remember to examine what it is you’re listening to, and determine whether or not it really is meaningful, or helpful, or if it is just entertaining.
Paintings, Photos, and Still Art:
There’s an old saying, and I’m sure you’ve heard it. A picture paints a thousand words. It’s an ancient phrase, and it’s survived a long time because of how true it is. Inside of an image lie new possibilities, new stories, and new worlds.
For instance, look at the above photo. I took it last year when water levels overtook the grid roads behind town. It’s straight forward, and simple. Without knowing what happened, you can look at it, and get a base conclusion of what’s going on. But if you look at it with an imaginative eye, you see more than what’s there.
You can see horrible events, such as cars being swallowed by a deep pit underneath. Or you could see an emergency route, cut off at a bad time. You see a setting, and what you do with it is up to you.
Imagine a person in the photo, standing near the edge. What are they doing there? What happened? How long have they been there?
You see how many stories can come from a simple photo?
Study pictures and paintings and other graphics, and don’t be afraid to draw out your own worlds. It can be a great tool in constructing your story, and if you can improve artistic talent, you might be able to save some money on book covers.
No! Not video games! They distract you! Bad for production! Terrible!
Yes video games, and yes they are distracting. But no, they are not terrible.
While I agree that having video games near your writing space can be a very bad idea, and it is easy to get pulled into the pre-made, pre-set world inside of them, they can invigorate the imagination. Just don’t play too much. Use moderation people, like I said in the beginning, scattered energies do you no good.
Also, not all video games are helpful. Some are very simply written, and involve no creative benefit whatsoever. They are just fun games. Once again, a relaxing state of mind that can be helpful at certain times, but it truly is more of a distraction than a help at that point. Figure out what’s fun, and what’s helpful, to determine pure entertainment from inspiration.
The beneficial games I’m talking about have deep stories, puzzles, original soundtracks, strategy, and involve critical thinking in order to do well. Most games like these often hold deep worlds to explore, and that can be helpful.
How can all these be helpful?
Doing puzzles, learning new strategies and, with newer games, making choices that change the outcome of the game, are great brain trainers. They challenge your logic, and they put you into a position of a character, and the choices they need to make, in more real-life detail.
The stories involved in a well written video game are as original and amazing as any book or movie. The Final Fantasy series, for example, holds a new and imaginative story within each game, and complex worlds to explore and learn, giving you inspiration for worlds you may create.The Fallout franchise makes you feel like you’re in a post apocalyptic wasteland, in amazing detail. Skyrim puts you into a medieval world.The Zelda games are a mix of story, great puzzles, and strategy.
Need I go on?
Game creators spend months, sometimes years, making every detail of these games, and games like them. Just like music, figure out what genres are actually beneficial and what is just fun, so you know what you’re taking in.
Once again, don’t get too caught up in these places, but do allow yourself to dip into them. You’ll be amazed what you might find.
Movies, Sports, and Other Spectacles:
Movies are another one of those mediums that easily put you into an immersive world, showing you things you otherwise wouldn’t have seen; introducing characters you otherwise wouldn’t have met, and so on.
Sports can teach you about the rules of different games, and what the human body is actually capable of in terms of physical contact, speeds, etc. As a whole, there isn’t a lot to be learned from sports in terms of writing, but there is some. You don’t want to write a game the wrong way and have it picked apart later on, for one example.
Live spectacles are the best out of the three in this category. They provide real live, close contact scenarios. Pyrotechnics, acrobats, extreme sports like free running and skateboarding, and even sports entertainment like WWE, can provide new ideas of how things really look, or would look. Sure, some of these are faked, rehearsed, and all of that. But they aren’t being played on a screen for you after being edited. They are being played in real-time.
There are so many more to go through, but unfortunately, this is where I have to end it today. I hope that I didn’t sound to crazy, and I encourage you to look deeper at some of these mediums to find things you otherwise may have not been looking for. At a base level, art is all connected, and you can learn a lot from studying it in all forms.
What other crafts do you explore?
Do you have anything to add?
Do you just want to chat?
Let me know in the comments below!
Note: I said earlier that I love metal music, and that I find that it helped with my development as a writer. If you’re interested in what kind of bands have great stories, and lyrics, here is a list of a few for you to check out. Buy the albums, and support the artists if you can.
– All That Remains
– Five Finger Death Punch
– Within Temptation
– Scar Symmetry
– Symphony X
– Shadows Fall
– Stone Sour
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