To all the writers out there who think that their random hobbies won’t help them at all, I am here to say: “Well, of course, they will!”
I’ve been cosplaying since I was in junior high. In fact, my first cosplay was Olette from Kingdom Hearts 2. I cut out some white flowers and my mom sewed them on for me. However, as I started getting deeper and deeper into the cosplay world, my mother refused to help me anymore. Instead, she taught me the basics of sewing and told me I could create these wonderful outfits on my own. And that was one of the best things my mother has ever done for me!
You see, in the process of creating cosplay after cosplay, I have learned a thing or two about my writing. It’s kind of funny, actually. To think that something so nerdy could influence something so . . . nerdy . . .
Okay! So it’s not that funny. In fact, it makes complete sense!
And hopefully reading this will help you learn more about your hobbies and how they affect your writing – or even life.
Writing Advice I learned from Creating Cosplay
1) Patience is a virtue! And key!
Creating a work of art takes time. Even when you’re on a deadline, you should still remember that your writing/cosplay will not be finished overnight. And if it only takes that short amount of time, there is either something wrong with it – like major plotholes or ripped seams – or you are okay with presenting something terrible.
2) Come up with a time management plan.
Even though it does take time to create something amazing, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a plan to use your time well. Writers and cosplayers who want to make careers out of their hobbies need to “churn out” as much material as possible in as little amount of time as possible, with it being the best as possible. And that’s a lot of possible that seems impossible with today’s fast-paced world! Yet, I’ve learned to do it. And I keep learning to do it. With two part-time jobs, a social life, and a family life, I have to make time to write and to work on cosplay. I will put off watching that favorite show of mine, just to get a scene done. Or I will take a super short shower in order to sew up a cosplay. (And I love long showers!) Whatever it takes to still have a life outside of work, but to keep doing what I love.
3) Learn how to budget.
Even though I have two part-time jobs and I don’t pay my bills with the money I make from my books or writing – yet – I still have to budget my finances. Just like buying materials for cosplay, I have to know exactly how much I need and I can afford for my books. For instance, I need to pay for my copyright on any book I put out. But I also need an ISBN for any physical book I print – and since Bowker is a monopoly, they can set the prices ridiculously high. I don’t have the funds to do both. So when it came to the parents’ anime guide I’m releasing this May, I decided to only get the copyright, and release the book as an e-book on Amazon, where I don’t have to have an ISBN at all. I save $125 and I still get the copyright.
4) Be adaptable. Always.
Even if you try to manage your time well and you create a great budget, that doesn’t mean everything will go as smoothly as you’d like it to. There will always be hiccups and bumps in the road that’ll come up. For cosplay, it may be that your sewing machine breaks. Or even that you’ve lost/gained a few pounds since starting that complex cosplay. For writing, it may be that your initial outline isn’t as interesting as you’d thought it would be. Or half of your beta readers dropped off the face of the Earth. (Or even that someone stole your story!) Whatever the case, you have to be adaptable. You will probably be frustrated, angry, about to cry, and even willing to give up. But nothing should stop you from finishing that cosplay or that book! Just take a step back, breathe in slowly and release, and then figure out what your goal is and how to accomplish it with this new roadblock in your way. It may be difficult, but you will have to do something productive if you want to finish with a brilliant masterpiece.
5) Pay attention to detail.
You can’t just make an amazing cosplay without adding the right amount of giant bows or correct lace. You also can’t write an amazing fantasy epic without the right type of characters, setting, and plot. If you try, you will fail. You have to pay attention to detail. As a cosplayer, I have counted how many studs a character had on his outfit before making my friend that cosplay. As a writer, I have made fully developed backgrounds for nearly all my characters – even the minor ones you barely get to see . . . for now . . .
6) Learn to rest and relax.
The worst thing anyone can do is to wear themselves out. And I know first hand how terrible that can be! So as your managing your time and adapting to your situations, please remember to take a breather and rest. I don’t know how many times I almost quit a cosplay, because of how tired I was from lack of sleep. Last minute work sucks! I also know that when I’ve just been staring at the computer screen for more than ten minutes and I haven’t written anything, I probably won’t write anything at all. So instead of continuing the staring contest, or putting myself in a terrible position to use a sewing machine, I take a step back and go do something else. I will either do some chores that don’t require a lot of thought, take that long shower I’ve been longing for, watch a favorite movie, or even just go to bed. I don’t want to strain my body. And, even though it’s good to work out your brain, it’s not good to overwork it when it’s super tired. Just saying.
7) Have confidence in yourself.
If you lack self-confidence, you might not be able to create anything. Even if you are, you might not see how amazing it is or be able to truthfully tell yourself how you can improve it. (Or be willing to take constructive criticism, for that matter.) Depending on your personality and personal history, you might have trouble in believing in yourself. But let me tell you: everyone does at one or many points in their lives. Don’t worry if “you’re not good enough”. You can always try to better your skills and yourself. There is no ceiling that you can hit! Just look at James Patterson. He’s been writing for years, yet he still creates interesting and wonderfully crafted stories. Look up then and now cosplayers and see how they have developed their skills in just a matter of a few years. It’s amazing! And you can do it too! It might take a little more than just pushing away. Which is where the next skill comes in.
8) Continuously build a community for support.
We humans are social creatures. Whether we need to be around someone all day, or we are happy alone for long periods of time, we still need a support system. How else are we going to make it through life?
As a cosplayer, I try to make a connection to those who not only like the same show I’m cosplaying from, but who also are similar in maturity. You see, when I was younger, I did hang around people who were very immature in the way they handled life. They had no respect for adults and would shove their ships (personal preference of which characters should be together) at others with an indignant ferocity. It was unnerving, to say the least. But as I grew up, I realized I didn’t need those types of people to support me. So I decided to find others who still shared my interests, but weren’t so childish.
As a writer, I try to make connections with other writers, even those who don’t write about YA fantasy. I want to get not only connections to spread my name and brand; I want to make personal connections with people who understand how hard it is to create your own world and characters and plot, without dreaded plotholes messing it all up. And yes, there have been some writers that I block or mute on Twitter and other social media. What they rant about is just too toxic for me to enjoy their online presence. However, that list isn’t very long. I find writers and betas and editors all the time who love books and just want to help create the best stories for readers to enjoy. And that helps so much, especially when my family doesn’t quite understand what goes into writing a book.
Now, there are a lot more skills anyone can learn from cosplay than what I’ve listed. And there are probably more skills that you have learned from other hobbies and parts of your life. I would love to hear about them!
If you’re a parent and would like to know more about anime, manga and cosplay, you should check out my new book Parents’ and Guardians’ Guide to Anime, Manga & Cosplay!