The Importance of Switching Mediums

Photo of train tracks, a freight train, and the underside of a bridge against a blue sky with some clouds in it. A colourful purple, pink, green, and blue glitching effect has been applied to the image. Hollow white text in the centre reads: "I am a writer first and foremost, but not all of my art can be writing. Writing is cerebral, and sometimes I need to get out of my head." Handle @sage_pantony in smaller light blue text under white text.

My mom says that when she’s feeling stuck with her art, she switches mediums, which always helps. Sometimes, I take pictures rather than write poems. I go for walks and film artistic interpretations of fountains. I colour while listening to podcasts or the chatter of my friends. I apply paint inexpertly to canvas.

I am a writer first and foremost, but not all of my art can be writing. Writing is cerebral, and sometimes I need to get out of my head.

I also switch up the what and how of my writing. I type type type on my laptop. I scribble in my notebook. I stop on a walk to poke at my phone. I focus on poetry. I pen essays. Occasionally, the odd short story comes out. I change topics and themes. I make zines. I self-publish and submit to journals. I write short pieces for Instagram and long ones for my blog. I create graphics that combine the written and the visual.

This is how I keep going–keep writing, keep creating. This is how I keep from getting stuck. Creativity isn’t static. It needs to ebb and flow to function. Getting too rigid results in becoming blocked. I have to accommodate my changing moods, interests, desires, and ideas.

Of course, this doesn’t mean having no follow-through. I still do my best to consistently show up to my practice and complete the projects I start. It just means I approach things with a certain degree of fluidity. My ultimate goal is to keep creating. How exactly I go about that is what changes. When I feel stuck with my art, I switch mediums, which always helps.

Making Time for Art

Photo of an open colouring book on a table with a partially coloured-in illustration of the Pokémon Mew on it, and a background of magic crystal balls and spirals.

I think we can make time for art if we are willing to prioritize it. There is always something else you “should” be doing, but if you can choose art, I’d recommend allowing yourself to do so.

I moved two days ago AND just got a new kitten. I’m also still working and only recently recovered from being quite sick. There is So Much I have to do. I should go to the store for supplies. I should put my art up on the walls. I should deal with the tall stacks of boxes piled everywhere. I should clean up and organize my new place.

And I will. All of this will get done in due time.

What I have recognized is that I also need to prioritize these three things:

  1. Rest
  2. Time to bond with my new kitty
  3. Art

My brain and body are very fatigued. I’m letting myself nap and sleep in so I don’t crash.

I have a new little friend who lives with me! It’s important to slow down and ensure we’re hanging out, playing, and learning each other’s habits and rhythms.

And art! Not creating anything for long stretches leaves me feeling deprived. Considering how busy and tired I am, this can be low-pressure. The short story I’m working on that requires a lot of brain power can wait. Instead, I’m writing this in the morning and then meeting a few friends at a cafe to catch up and do some colouring.

Yes, there are about 1,000 other things I should be doing, but it’s just as vital I take care of myself and my new feline friend. I don’t have to unpack and get set up at record speed. There’s no deadline for that; it’s just something I need to chip away at. Though there’s a lot I should be doing, there’s also what I can choose to do, and I’m making sure to prioritize that as well.

Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Close-up photo of a dark brown puzzle piece sitting on top of a wet, foggy pane of glass.
Photo by Modnar at

There are people working on a puzzle. They are contributing pieces to the whole picture so that they can look at it together.

There is also a person who is tightly holding on to a puzzle piece they’ve found. It is all they’re aware of, all they can see. They won’t contribute to the larger puzzle. They don’t even know there is a larger puzzle. They are exclusively focused on their own piece—holding it up to the sun, examining it through a magnifying glass, not looking away for even a second. They obsess over it like it’s the only thing of its kind in the world.

How do you reach this person?

They won’t bring their piece to the puzzle. They won’t even acknowledge that there is a puzzle. They think their one piece is all there is, and they’re sitting in their corner yelling, “Look what I have! Pay attention to me!”

The other people say, “Yes, we know. We see you. We know you have a piece. The puzzle is made up of a bunch of pieces. If you come over here then you’ll be able to see the others, and you might find the spot where yours fits. Why not come take a look?”

They don’t. They won’t. They think their piece is the whole picture, and they won’t listen to anyone else. They won’t even look where the others are pointing.

What can you do in this situation? How do you work with someone who won’t work with you? How do you show a person who is tightly gripping a single piece that it does, in fact, belong to an entire puzzle? That person’s world would grow a hundred times over if they would just acknowledge the existence of the rest of the puzzle, and the puzzle cannot be completed without their piece. Their contribution is necessary, and they won’t make it.

These kinds of situations come up a lot. I myself am guilty of having been the single-minded puzzle piece holder before, though I’ve always come around eventually. But what about the people who don’t come around? How do you illuminate the puzzle for them? How do you show them that, while their piece matters and is important, it’s a part of a larger whole?

I’m the Hot Potato

Photo of muted blue sky shot from below. There are yellow flowers out of focus in the foreground, and many little branches behind these flowers. Beyond this is the underside of a lit streetlamp with a no parking sign attached to its post.

I am not proud of how I behave in public. I don’t ever feel like myself. I am the star of the world’s least sexy peep show. I fumble. I try and fail to speak to you in French. There are about a billion eyes on me, and I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ACT. This isn’t cute and endearing. It’s just concerning. I look around and think, how does everyone else do it? Other people seem so confident.

Though I continue to learn and grow every day, I will always be the same little goblin. It’s me! I’m the hot potato! And I’m going to end up in the corner coated in city grit next to the dust bunnies. I can’t do anything but drop me. I step out of bed in the morning and into the world, and sometimes, I just CANNOT handle it.

I Move to a New City

Photo of a field with dirt, dead grass, and some shipping containers stacked on top of each other, with one sitting up vertically. Some warehouse buildings are in the background with a taller apartment building to the right. Dark clouds in the sky above. Wooden pole and part of a deck in the foreground.

I move to a new city,
Ask it to read me poetry.
The city obliges,
But do I listen?
Not always.

I move to a new city,
Where there’s a lot more graffiti,
Fewer trees,
And construction that goes on all year.
My date whispers there’s a conspiracy,
Doesn’t want them to overhear.

The date I know I’ll never see again.
I haven’t loved anyone since him,
But I’ve come too far to feel bitter about that here.
So instead, I walk around the city,
Take in all the graffiti
And watch as the trains pass by.
The ones that always seem five or six cars
Too short.

I climb to the top of a man-made mountain,
Cuts of wood arranged over damp earth,
And I sit down to write
My angsty little poetry about being lonely.
When really, anyone I could ever need to know
Is somewhere in this city,
Just a phone call or a few taps away.
But I don’t make any calls.
I don’t send any messages.
I put my earbuds in and block out the sound of the train.
I walk around by myself in the rain,
Looking for what I think only I’ll appreciate
On this Friday night, this night in the city,
This night of so many.

I pass people by and dare not
Look up or look for too long.
I let sparks fade into nothing.
So many missed connections,
I couldn’t possibly write a personal for them all.

Construction, torn-up streets,
Graffiti, rain, and spring.
A new album by an old band.
The same habits I always carry with me.
Struggling to connect, to find my steps.
Wandering around, trying to get lost but knowing where I am.
Wanting wanting wanting to not be so alone,
But craving my aloneness all the same.
Seeking connection, not seeking it enough.
Seeking adventure, seeking it too much.

When I come to a new place, I look different for a little while,
But the fog always clears, and I always come out the same.
I am the person I can never leave behind.
Doesn’t matter how many times I move
Or how many steps I take,
Who I am will always remain
Through fall, winter, and another spring.

This city is melting, grey and wet.
Only half-built, yet well lived in,
Which hits me where I need it to.
So I continue to walk, to take it all in,
Knowing at some point, I’ll have to begin.

It is so easy to love a place,
It takes no time at all.
Like loving a person, really,
Though less dangerous.
To love a place, a city,
Is to love its mess, its train tracks, its ugly parts,
Is to love its clouds, its rain, its construction,
Is to love a little but never enough,
Is to wander around alone,
Meeting meeting meeting,
Never quite connecting in the right way.