March arrives on Saturday, and with it arrives the beginning of Stage Two of my 3×5 Project. What’s that? You didn’t know this thing would be split up into discrete stages? You thought it was going to be one big continuous year-long project? Yeah, well, so did I. I was wrong.
This is the thing: During the process of working through the first month of the project, my brain underwent some shifts as a result of the project itself. One of those shifts involved the realization that I didn’t want to draw 365 consecutive cards. I want to draw some — and the process of doing so during the month of January honestly helped me figure out both some technical bits and some bits about my relationship with art in general — but I just don’t want to do it every day. What I do want to do every day, however, is something creative and/or educational.
To that end, I’m doing some tooling around with the concept of my little 3×5 Project. I want to try to split these things out into one-month projects, usually centered on a common form or theme. They won’t all be art-related, either; I think what I did with the project in January was good for my brain, and I want to expand that good-for-my-brain-ness into new directions. The first couple of ideas I’ve had — and I’m not yet sure which one I want to do for March — include:
- Using the 3×5 cards to develop a screenplay. Not to actually write the screenplay, mind you, as I sincerely doubt agents or studio readers would be inclined to read a screenplay hand-written on a batch of index cards. But I can develop character sketches, scene ideas, bits of dialogue, ideas, outlines… if I can do 31 days worth of index cards dedicated to one particular screenplay idea, I’d be a long way toward actually being able to put a draft together at the end of the process. One of my biggest problems with creative endeavors is a somewhat serious case of ADD (see: the fact that I started changing project parameters before January was even up), but I’m pretty sure I can put somewhere between fifteen minutes and an hour per day into a project for one month. And even effort that little would put me in much better shape than I’ve ever been in regards to actually getting a screenplay written. (This same technique could obviously be applied to any other form of writing, I think, but for now, it’s just post-Oscars and I want to think about a screenplay.)
- Using the 3×5 cards to learn a foreign language. I clearly couldn’t get the same level of language learnin’ I could in other ways, but I think I could get a good functional foundation laid this way. Using the cards to conjugate verbs, to record vocabulary, to take notes on grammatical rules and concepts, to practice constructing sentences — I do believe I could either get a good start going on a language I don’t yet know but want to learn (French or German, f’r instance) or to enhance and expand my knowledge and understanding of a language I already feel fairly comfortable with (Spanish, most likely). I think this would be more effective with a language I already have some facility with as hearing the words wouldn’t be as necessary, but I think it could work to some degree regardless, especially if I can find a way to supplement the cards.
- Using the 3×5 cards to “storyboard” a comics story. These cards would be almost perfect for doing small-level sketches of pages for some sort of comic project, with notes about what I’m thinking on the other side.
I like this month-by-month project idea for several reasons, one of the biggest being that it’s working with my particular bland of short-attention-span flakiness rather than flying in the face of it. Knowing that at the beginning of the next month I can move on to a different project (even if it’s a variation on the same project) should help keep me focused. I also like that these projects could easily build on each other — I could work on, say, learning basic French one month, take a month or two on something else, and then come back for some intermediate-level French (with my stack of cards from the first time to use as refresher notes if necessary). Or I could do nothing but work on characters for a potential novel or comic series or screenplay, work on something else, then come back a month or two later and focus on plot. I like the fact that for creative works, choosing to work on a particular project for a month removes one of my biggest obstacles: the “what to write” hangup. I’ll know what I need to work on every day, at least in the macro sense.
Most of all I like the fact that it’s a way to move forward on something, to prod and poke my brain into working on the stuff I keep saying I want to work on but never do. If I can’t manage fifteen minutes or half an hour a day to work on one of these creative endeavors, to write some notes on an index card, I must not really want to work on it all that much, huh?
I’m open to suggestions, too, for other projects in the same vein. And as always, anyone who wants to appropriate this thing and try it for themselves, please do! I’d love to hear what some of you guys come up with, and I’d love even more to heard how it worked out for you after trying it.