During May 2010, I committed to making a comic (ostensibly a "journal comic") for each day of the month. Some fabulous comics-making friends joined in. The month was a success - lots of great work got done, and Mike and I both made it to the end!
How I managed to keep going:
- Being part of a group was half the job. I got excited about seeing new work come up in the flickr pool, and felt like keeping that going was important enough to bust through the dry spells. Support from friends was also sometimes enough to reverse my mood right when it needed it.
- My partner participated, so on nights when I was lazy, seeing him working on his comic made me grudgingly pick up the pen as well.
- We kept our social calendar fairly sparse for the month. Whenever we did go out after work, it was quite challenging to get the comic done, so we didn't do it often. This project was a top priority! Hopefully our friends still like us a little.
What I learned about comics-making and my own creative habits:
- That dull, depleted feeling I get by the end of the work day is hard to resist, and if I don't fight it, the rest of the evening will consist of snacking and watching X-Files reruns. However, it only takes a little bit of fight to reverse the tide - just a first step towards trying to stay active makes all the difference. The results might not be great every time, but it'll always be better than mindless nothingness. After fighting back my dullness each night just long enough to get a comic done, I never woke up the next morning and thought "if only I didn't make that comic last night." Even when the results were not good, nothing was lost for it, and the occasional payoffs made the gamble feel worthwhile. I still managed to watch plenty of X-Files.
- Artmaking has a payoff percentage. For me, it's maybe at around 30% - it takes 7 embarrassing drawings for me to generate 3 that feel somewhat rewarding. So the crappy 70%? Totally necessary. This fact feels much more tangible and manageable now, after The Month in Comics.
- The content of your life is what you make it. Both Mike and I occasionally wished we'd done something more remarkable during the day, to spice up our comics. Occasionally it was actually the deciding factor when we couldn't decide between laziness and action. I found myself following trails of interestingness in my own head very purposefully, looking for the juicy middle in days that often were dominated by a beige work cubicle, the gym, and the need to get the dishes done before the jungle of dirty dishes made approach to the kitchen sink impossible. Turns out even though my walk to work is a relatively small portion of the day, if I kept my eyes open, something would always be there to be found & drawn.
- When you look for beauty, you find it. When you can't even get yourself to look for beauty, well, there's the struggle, and that's worth something too.
Man, am I glad to have done that, and am I glad to be done!