From The Sketchbook: The Last Mermaid Artwork

Part of becoming a writer is figuring out how my instrument (me as a writer) works.

As it was when I began to study acting, the work to do is immerse. Get into a class, go on an audition, talk to others on the journey and listen for the patterns. Also, acknowledge that others’ journeys have nothing to do with my own. It’s just how it has occurred for them. Continue to play and try and try again and try something different if that didn’t feel good. Rinse and repeat. Repeat and rinse. Sometimes momentum creates a situation where I don’t rinse and come in dirty and that becomes the best performance yet because it has so many layers of grit and realness. And I learn either way.

And its all art, the shiny parts and the blurry parts.

As I started along this journey of writing The Last Mermaid, like with acting, I had to immerse to figure out what works for me. Part of figuring this out is learning what works for others, though the key is being in tune enough to know what works for me and not trying to fit into a model of w

hat they do because it was successful or prolific or whatever.

Part of becoming in tune with our inner artist is living out of tune for a while and realizing how awful it feels to try to live in tune with someone else’s melody.

What works for me.


  • I do best when I set aside time to write and do it no matter what.
  • I work well with goals.
  • I work well when I create a new login for my computer where I’m logged out of all distracting applications.
  • I work well when I have my workspace cleared of clutter before sitting down to write.
  • I work well with noise canceling headphones. Or, a very noisy place that’s so loud it becomes a blanket of numbing noise. I prefer the former, but both work too.

As I continue to tune in and explore writing in my own personalized way, I find it helpful to explore this world in a sketchbook. It’s where I come from. I have a large Rubbermaid container of sketchbooks from high school, through design school and up to now. I still keep a pen and paper in my purse at all times. Even though I can technically write all of my notes and ideas somewhere on my phone, I always miss the tangible, grounded feeling of a good old-fashioned notebook.

I try to reserve some of my writing time for putting pen to paper and I just start sketching. Something new always develops, whether it be a new insight into the way something works within the world or a new type of plant, magic, character trait. Expressing the story with multiple creative methods helps to keep it flowing and fluid and exploratory and, most importantly, fun.

Part of my journey with this story is learning patience and the practice of working on something little by little.

“Slowly but surely”, as they say, and learning to truly trust the surely part.

How do you write best?

I’d love to know what writing methods work for you and whether you have your own sideways approaches to writing a story and developing a world.


All images ©2018 Jolyn Janis & Migomax LLC