Creative Challenges

Beyond what I post in twitter and facebook directly, I have a blog because I want a place to host my longer form writing. I want a creative outlet for my sometimes perverse need to document the things around me, to explain how to do something, or to just rant about some random topic. Most of the content on this blog is very technical in nature. Someone who isn’t into technology and programming would probably be woefully disappointed with the standard fare here. This post – well – it’ll be a little different.

I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to pick up some new creative challenges.

Sketching and drawing is one, with the main idea being getting back into the habit of sketching things around me. My mother does the most amazing pen and ink and silverpoint sketches. Faces, life drawing, and sometimes landscapes or other fixed scenes. I struggle with proportion in my life drawing, and practice is about the only way it’ll get better. Fortunately, that’s easy to swag – as a pen and paper are easy to come by in a day to day office environment.

Writing, which I’m doing some of here, is another creative outlet that I’ve enjoyed for a long time. I tend to write more “how to” and technical documentation these days. I enjoy reading a lot of fiction and have thought a lot about writing some of my own fiction. That usually stumbles down around the ankles of “what the hell do I want to write about”. Regardless of those stubbed toes, I’m thinking that I might gear myself up and jump into the deep end and even compete with my sweetie during NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve no idea what the story might be, but knuckling down and doing it seems like a really good creative challenge.

The most out-there thing that I’m thinking of taking a swing at is machinima: making a video/film production using video game technology. I’m not aiming to go all special effects and such, just exploring the process of telling a story in a video format, and learning the basic tools and techniques to make that happen. I’m kind of thinking of it somewhere between the idea of cartooning to animation to film-making – just using tools that I can leverage on a laptop today, as opposed to actual film. I was sort of inspired by Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 coming out basically for free this year – a little kick that the tooling is getting even easier to come by and use. Mix that in with Make HumanBlender, and iMovie and quite a bit of the tooling – to at least learn the process and try it all out – is totally available and at no real cost. I’ve been spending an hour here or there watching videos and learning the basics of 3D modeling, but without a particular end in mind. Making an a story through machinima seems like a neat way to use it.

The tough part isn’t the tools, but the story: it’s the same problem I stumble on while writing – what story to tell? Again, no idea – but it sounds like a terrifically good creative challenge to work on, so I’m hereby putting that on my list too.

EDIT: Finally found a pic of one of mom’s silverpoints:
Ryan, Silverpoint by Caroline G. Heck

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

One thought on “Creative Challenges

  1. Go for it, Joe. The story (or drawing) evolves with the doing. Now, it I can just remember to put that bit of wisdom to work in my own life….. Thanks for the flattering comment about my artwork:)


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