What Printing My Own Stickers Teaches Me About Writing

Not the catchiest title, but it’s one of those days, which is not a bad thing. We had a snow day yesterday, with everybody home. Today, I had planned to take care of a few other things, but plans changed (everybody is fine) and well, low hanging fruit is printing stickers.

When I say “my own,” I don’t mean my own design, though I am splashing around in the shallows with that, but stickers I purchased, or downloaded, digitally, and printed on my home printer, for my own use.

I am all about the black/white/blush aesthetic right now, with strong elegant gothy leanings, and that’s not necessarily something one finds every day in things readily available in brick and mortar stores. Which is okay. I( am obviously not the only person in the world with my sort of aesthetic, needs, and preference, and it’s all about finding who makes what I want, and what I will actually use. Kind of like writing and reading, hm?

Of course this is also kind of like writing the sort of book I would like to read -which I hope is what I am doing- because it involves a bunch of research, typing odd combinations of words into search engines, until something pretty appears on the screen. Since I have a visual impairment, this kind of DIY stuff does make me ask “how badly do I want this unique thing?” on a regular basis.

For some things, like printing double sided pages, I will be going to the pros. March right in there with a flash drive full of clearly labeled files, and notes on numbers of copies, color or black and white, paper weight (the weight of each sheet, not a paperweight in hand to throw at annoying people and/or people who misprint my order) and one or two sided printing. Probably some other things, but I’m not looking at those notes right now. Ah. Paper cutting. That’s another one. I do have a slicer type paper cutter, which works pretty good, if I make dark pencil lines where the light cut lines are printed, but there are certain things best left to the professionals. That also applies to things like editing, formatting, cover design, etc, whether with a traditional publisher or on the indie route.

If I hand over the raw materials, go do something else for a while, and tender coin of the realm, I will get back a nifty bundle of very useful items. From there, it’s up to me to apply those in the right way. With what I printed today, I have stickers to pop into my planners and tell me when I need to blog, outline, revise, edit, keep track of progress by word/page/scene or whatever else makes sense for me at the time.

Some of the printables I’ve purchased, or downloaded for free, are going to require that professional attention, and though I can and do print stickers at home, I do not have a Cricut or Shilouette machine to do the individual cutting for me, which means I get to do the old scissors thing, and figure out whether I want to deal with the fussy cutting around each image, or go for a less labor-intensive method of cutting on the spaces between images, so I’m basically going for white squares around everything. Those don’t actually look too sloppy if I draw a black (or other color) frame around with a fineliner.

\One thing that bothered me a lot when I started printing my own inserts and printables was waste. Not toxic as such, but the way things are laid out on letter size paper, there are going to be big areas of white, that doesn’t get anything printed on it, especially for those that are sized to cut down into smaller pages that will fit into planner folders. Sticker paper is not cheap, so throwing away any of it unused is annoying. Except, I figured out, that it doesn’t have to be:

behold, the rubber stamps

Those scraps get a date with my rubber stamps. These aren’t all of them, but they do fit with the way I want things to look, and I love handling them. Doing things with visual arts actually does quite a lot to get the idea hamster running, so this is a good thing. Stamp on the scraps, peel off the backing, et viola, we have new stickers. That thing I thought I had to throw out, I don’t have to throw out at all, only make it into something else.

Which is a very good thing to keep in mind about those scenes, phrases, characters, ideas, etc, that we have to cut from a story during the revision and editing process. Could be that bit doesn’t die, but only becomes a seed to grow something new. Not exactly the same thing, but something with the same flavor, something that fits in with the rest, but has its own special voice and appearance. Considering that I have a couple of stalled stories that need to be transported to other eras, or seem to be me stuffing a ten pound cat into a two pound bag, which I often do tend to do when starting a thing. Sometimes it’s both. What I end up with something other than what I first intended, but I’ve learned a new thing, and that means I have more tools going in to the next project.


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