It’s important for every creator to make a schedule for their creative time. The idea of “creating when inspired” or “in the mood” doesn’t work. (Been there, done that.) Not very long ago I was mocked on-line for suggesting a creative schedule to someone who was having trouble creating. The answer I proposed to their problem was to treat it like a job and just do it. Most seasoned creators will tell you that you have to create whether you feel like it or not if you want a career in this business.
The formula is simple: Approach this casually, you’ll get casual results. Approach this diligently, you’ll get diligent results.
There is no way around this. And, usually, once you get going on a project after deciding to start working, the project starts to flow on its own anyway.
Schedule out your time. Schedule out your projects.
It’s worth taking the time to do this step. In fact, it actually saves you time later in a multitude of ways.
For what seems like ages, I’ve wanted to get back into webcomics. I briefly had one when I aired the first issues of Axiom-man many years back (along with some Canister X Comix stuff), then took everything down for various reasons. Recently, I’ve been wanting to do a comic again but know it’s a long slog and one that may or may not pay off, whether via viewership or compensation. (Ideally both.)
As I mentioned in my Patreon reflections article, if I didn’t have bills to pay, I’d gladly give away my work for free. But I can’t. I have myself and a family to take care of.
I love comics . . . but they take a long time to create. It takes anywhere from approximately eight to twenty-four hours to make a single page depending on your process and how many people you’re working with. Twenty-four hours. A whole day . . . just for the page to be read in a minute or less. And that’s the main hangup with webcomics: Time. Comics take a ton of time and unless you are independently wealthy, a good chunk of that time is taken up by a part- or full-time job so you can fund the basic essentials for life.
The standard model for webcomics–which typically make money from ads and merchandise while the comic itself is on-line for free–only works for a tiny percentage of webcomikers. All those other webcomics you love have someone behind them who stays up to all hours working on pages and making enough money off it for a few items but not enough to make a full-time living (if they make any money at all).
And this is the conundrum: How do I make my webcomic monetarily worthwhile so I have the time to make more of the comic on a regular basis?
I have some ideas, but thus far they all cater to the standard webcomics’ long game. And by “long game” I mean that getting traction can take anywhere from a few months to several years. There is no recipe I can think of that will shrink that time frame, and I’ve done my research.
This blog post isn’t a complaint, by the way. It’s just getting my thoughts on webcomics out in front of me so I can see them.
I’d like to be able to share with you my still-formulating webcomic plan–which incorporates old ideas with [hopefully] new ones–but I can’t because it’s still formulating.
I’ve had a webcomic in my head for coming up on a week–or maybe it has already been a week? I don’t know–that’s slowly being added to every day, my subconscious bringing ideas and notions to my conscious brain and filing them away as both solid form and possibilities. I’m also not overthinking this stuff either because overthinking and painfully analyzing something leads to disaster, if not immediately then inevitably.
All I know is there is room for innovation in webcomics. I think what happened was webcomics came out under a certain model thus that model became the norm for comic readers. It’s going to take time to break that norm.
After being in publishing for sixteen years, I know the industry is constantly changing. What worked for book authors ten years ago doesn’t work now so writers made changes. The same holds true for comics: What worked in the old webcomics model doesn’t work now so it needs an upgrade.
Back to formulating. Will post more thoughts when I have them.
Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada and there is a lot to be grateful for. In fact, there is always something to be grateful for whether it’s Thanksgiving or not. Today will be spent visiting and eating and taking it easy (oh, and doing Inktober, too). Having a break is a good thing and will fuel creativity for later.
I want to wish my fellow Canadians a Happy Thanksgiving. Pause and breathe and take a moment to reflect on all you have, especially on the things that matter most like friends and family, acquaintances, and anyone who has crossed your path that has been a blessing to you in some way.
On September 14, 2019, I launched my first Patreon page. It was a thrilling day and one filled with hope and excitement. Sure, part of the reason to create the page was to supplement my writing and drawing income, but, having been part of Web culture since close to the beginning of my career (circa 2000), it was an opportunity for me to create a place on the Web to share cool stuff with people in a kind of “club” format.
See, I have this problem of creating a ton of stuff for free and putting in on the Web whether via this blog or social media. As of today’s date, I’m on here blogging articles, essays, and musings Monday to Friday, my free weekly newsletter goes out on Saturdays, I started up a YouTube channel again, and I’m doing Inktober and sharing those sketches on social media (see the icons on the right). I enjoy entertaining people and, if I was in a place where money was no object, I’d gladly share all my work for free. But I can’t. I need to eat, need to buy supplies, need to cover costs, etc. so I have no choice but to charge for my work hence adding Patreon as part of my platform.
If there is one major aspect of Patreon I truly enjoy, it is the idea of having a special place on the Web where people use a key (money) to unlock a door (my Patreon) to get stuff only available on the other side of that door. It’s an opportunity for me to virtually sit down with a group of people several times a month and go, “Look what I made. Hope it entertains you. Hope it educates you.” Almost like show-and-tell but, hopefully, much more entertaining. And, in the end, that’s what Patreon stands for for me: My patrons. They’re a special group of people who were willing to shell out a few beans to help a northern jackass like myself keep making entertainment for them and others.
(Side note to explain what creators mean when they say buying their work or supporting their Patreon enables them to keep creating. They are not saying that without the support they can no longer create. A creator creates and always will. Just how it is. What they are saying is your support buys them the greatest and most precious of all commodities: Time. Time is the most valuable thing on the planet. Once a moment passes, it’s gone forever. No going back. No storing it up. It’s not even in abundant supply because we all die. If a creator spends their time doing everything but creating–I’m talking surviving life stuff not blowing hours on social media–then we’d have no entertainment. By supporting a creator, you’re filling up their Time Bank Account instead of them spending their Time Dollars on things that hinder the hours needed to create something. Even if ten hours a week can be supplemented, if the creator is responsible, they now have ten extra hours to make stuff for you. It’s win-win on both ends.)
I’m only about a month into my Patreon journey. It’s been wonderful so far and I look forward to the days that are scheduled to upload new content. Right now, a new chapter of my creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, airs every two weeks (a new chapter went up today). On the off weeks, I put up essays on the creative industry and also treat patrons to behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Central. Of course, there are also extra blog posts for everyone as well as patron-first announcements where my patrons receive news before the general public. I’m still finding my footing regarding what else to offer. I have a plan for an ongoing special something for patrons but it’s not ready yet. Perhaps in the New Year, perhaps sooner. Regardless, I’m pleased with my current offerings and am excited to share more as time goes on.
My patrons are my special group. They are those who’ve gone the extra mile by way of monthly support, and for that I am grateful. I want to publicly thank them here and I want to offer a thanks to future patrons as well.
Snow usually hits Winnipeg around the end of October. This year it has come early. In fact, it’s snowing as I type this. Those white patches in the photo above are snow. Rumor has it a storm might hit this weekend. No matter. Since it’s Thanksgiving in Canada this weekend, I’ll be safe inside eating turkey.
The arrival of snow means it’s time for me to start getting my winter productivity plan underway, which is a variation on how, and what, I’m working on now.
I’m hoping this winter season is an opportunity to catch up on releasing books that should have come out while I was ill and, possibly, create some new ones. The next step in the process is to sit down and ponder timelines then break those general timelines down into smaller steps so deadlines can be adhered to. (My newsletter is a great place to keep up to date on timelines and work being done.)
Ps. Tomorrow, a new chapter of my ongoing creature feature serial novel, Gigantigator Death Machine, hits Patreon! Don’t miss out.
Status report for 100919 – Busy week thus far, including–but not limited to–notes on marketing ideas for books, comics, social media, and the blog; Inktober; SEO work; book order facilitation; contracted publishing work; daily blogging; idea formulation.
Last night, as I was winding down, I was struck with an idea for another massive project, one that, by it’s very nature, would be ongoing for years to come. I made a bunch of notes, but I had that famous moment where I thought, Gee, don’t I have enough to do already?
“Why is it that I keep coming up with ideas for gigantor projects? As if I’m not busy enough writing books, making comics, blogging daily, taking and sharing pictures of my cooking efforts, marketing, freelancing, and trying to rebuild my life. I need to stop sleeping.”
If I could indeed stop sleeping, that would free up 8 to 10 hours a day. But I also know that without a good night’s sleep, a person won’t make it in this world, and my years of functioning off minimal sack time are long gone.
My plan for this massive project is to let it simmer in the ol’ noggin and if I’m still hyped about it in a week or two (or more), then maybe I’ll put it in motion.
One of the main reasons people enjoy entertainment–whether that be books, comics, or movies–is because they say it provides them with an escape from everyday life. And let’s be honest: the world isn’t too pretty right now. In fact, if people needed an escape from reality, 2019 is a good year to hammer down on that.
It’s often claimed people don’t like to think when being entertained. They just want a break from life, be told a good story, and that is all.
Except . . . that doesn’t happen. Entertainment immerses you in life under the illusion of escape.
See, there is a reason that while we’re in the middle of being entertained we like what we’re watching/reading, why we have favorite books or movies. The reason is this: we can relate to the source of entertainment on some level, whether overtly or subtly. Whether a scene is plain-as-day relatable (someone at work getting a cup of coffee while talking to an intense co-worker) or something metaphorical even if just on a subconsciously-recognizable level (good guy fighting a bad guy, equating to us wrestling with our own issues), everything in a piece of entertainment is a reflection of real life, the very life we’re trying to escape from.
(Even something as whacky as watching a psychedelic cartoon is akin to us closing our eyes and watching the colors swirl by.)
You get my point.
There is no “escape” into entertainment. It might feel like it with your brain sending reward chemicals throughout your body and you’re muscles relaxing while you slouch in your recliner; you might even forget your problem(s) for a short time, but in actuality, you’ve simply just changed your perceived interaction with the world.
If anything, entertainment is an avenue that gives us the tools to deal with the world around us. How many times have you watched a movie or read a book and related to what’s going on, whether to a specific person or situation? How many times have you looked at how a character handled something and applied a similar or same idea or solution to your own life? How many times have you quoted memorable lines to yourself whether for encouragement, wisdom, or humor? How many times have characters reminded you of people you know thus creating a bridge between you and them, even bringing some understanding as to why your friend Joe does what he does? The combinations of these things are nearly endless.
Entertainment speaks to us on multiple levels and automatically puts us in a state of active or passive engagement. And it’s this engagement that immerses you in entertainment. Your brain is always working. It never shuts off. Even when you sleep, it’s working and showing you stuff and telling you stories.
As you’re being entertained, you’re processing what you’re reading or seeing and correlating it to what’s already in your head and the world around you to help you make sense of life. It’s impossible to escape into entertainment, that is, truly escape. Entertainment is simply another window through which to view the world. (Even fantastical worlds, which were created and written with some, even minute, connection to reality.)
All this isn’t meant to put a damper on entertainment value but rather add a new layer to it, a recognition of what’s really going on when we try to get away from planet Earth 2019.
Outside, fall has settled. The gray clouds are out. My kind of weather.
This is a fitting picture of work life at the moment. Lots of work in progress (the leaves), with ominous gray clouds hanging overhead (projects yet to be done). It’s been a long time since I’ve had sixteen thousand things on the go. (Okay, not that many but you get the idea.)
I’m thankful to be working again. I’m thankful to have enough on my plate to keep the creative machine going.
I’m thankful I’m no longer in my own personal gray forest. Just a gray forest of work.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m participating in Inktober this year. This is my first time. For those who don’t know what Inktober is, it’s basically NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but for artists. The goal? Draw one inked drawing a day and share it with at least one person on-line or off-.
Today is Day Three so after I post this blog entry, I’ll be working in my sketchbook to create a new offering. Days One and Two are posted to my social media, which is where you’re invited to check out my daily drawings. My Inktober efforts show up on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr feeds.