Well I did it! I finally produced a new YouTube video! I felt that an appropriate topic would be fear of failure… since that’s the main reason I haven’t produced a video till now! Please check out the video, and leave a comment with any suggestions for improvements or future topics!
I’m in the muddy-middle of my developing comic right now. The story almost totally nailed down, and the art for the first chapter (50 or so pages) is well underway. In a way, it’s the hardest part: the end is nowhere in sight, and the initial burst of inspiration has faded away. Around this point, I start to have doubts about what I’m doing. In particular, there’s one doubt that bears a lot of weight in my mind…
Someone else has already done this.
As artists, we are under pretty intense pressure to be creative and original. We want to be groundbreaking geniuses, so that people will marvel and say, “We’ve never seen that before!” But this pressure is so great that our fear of failure (and being labeled uncreative) is paralyzing. It’s so easy to convince myself that the comic I’m working on (heavy on the Victorian romance) isn’t original or unique, and I should go back to the drawing board until I come up with something new.
During one of the low moments, when I feared that I was a total rip-off, I decided to reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and my way of somehow crossing time to commiserate with both Eyre and Bronte on the troubles of storytelling and
men with wives in the attic wait what. But Jane Eyre does more than give me an escape: it reminds me that the number of times a plot has been used doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find the audience who needs to hear that story again.
There’s no limit on a good story.
Jane Eyre is the story of a young woman who grows up in hardship, falls in love only to discover her lover’s dark secrets. After she leaves him (rather than compromise her morals), she inherits a small fortune. She suddenly feels called back to the man she loved, and discovers that his dark secret (and wealth) no longer stands between them. That’s…that’s pretty much it. The story of a young, lower class woman clinging to her virtues and eventually guiding the man to redemption… it’s been done. But instead of throwing the narrative away like an over-played melody, I ask myself…
Does someone still want to hear this story?
The answer will almost always be yes, no matter the narrative. The stories may have been told before (perhaps even told by brilliant storytellers), but there’s something to be said for taking on the role of a contemporary storyteller. Past literature, art, and music are all important parts of where we’ve come from. But why not share what we (you and I) feel and think right now? Bronte and I share a love for a brooding intellectual man: rather than let that commonality be a barrier for my own stories, why not use it as a building block? Surely my love of Broody McDarkster isn’t that unusual.
So instead of trying to create something that no one has ever seen, I’m trying to do the opposite: I want to tap into universal, timeless stories, with characters that (while not generic or flat) ring with certain familiarity. This isn’t copying. It’s a matter of recognizing the why behind the myths and legends that shape our very cultures. And let’s be honest: there’s no such thing as too many Mr. Rochesters.
There are moments in life when pursuing creativity is easy. I feel inspired! I have all the right tools! I have the time I need! I’m so excited to sit down (or stand up) and CREATE! Those a golden moments that all creatives look forward to. It’s easy to create work in these moments, because we feel like there are no barriers between us and our clearly-visible goal. It’s like road-tripping with your GPS: you know how to get to your fun destination, and you even know how long it will take.
What all creatives quickly discover is that there is no GPS for most projects. There are no quick rides or shortcuts. After the initial burst of motivation, we’re left staring at the vast stretch of just do the work. I’ll be honest: that’s the part that I dread. There’s just so much, and the end seems to be totally out of sight. After I run out of that first explosion of energy, I generally fall flat on my face and wonder how I’ll ever get moving again. It really feels like I tossed myself into a massive wasteland, empty of any clear paths or signs. How do you navigate such a dried up void? Continue reading “Inspirational Wasteland”
I’ll be honest: this was a slightly horrifying realization. I’ve gotten through school/life by sleeping late in the day and staying up late into the night. Writing, drawing, reading, or video gaming well past midnight and then sleeping until lunchtime: that’s always been my ideal day. But in the last few months… that just doesn’t work. Continue reading “Maybe I’m a Morning Person”
Taking little steps has never been a strength of mine. I’m a brainstorming, big picture, grand scheme type of gal. I prefer to immediately leap into action rather than plan or inch forward. When I approach a new project, I love developing the brand and marketing approach… actually developing content behind the scenes? Much less glamorous. Not enough of the ol’ razzle dazzle.
It’s Wednesday, which means we’re half-way through the week! Wednesday is also a good time to look back at the first couple of days and reflect on what we’d like to do differently before the week is over.
For me, I constantly need to evaluate how productive I actually am, and compare it to how productive I want to be. I’m very susceptible to the Monday resolution fervor which (much like New Year’s resolutions) fills me with an all-too-brief burst of determination that quickly fizzles into almost nothing. Using Wednesday as a checkpoint helps me adjust, correct, and continue on my merry way!
Here are 3 questions I ask myself to see if I’m on the right track:
- Do I have deadlines to meet?
I work extremely well under pressure (probably better than I do without it.) Deadlines give me a bit of an adrenaline rush that motivates (scares?) me into action. This rush tends to carry over into non-deadline tasks, giving me the motivation and determination to carry on. Give yourself some deadlines, and find a partner to hold you accountable!
- Do I feel regret?
Probably connected to my love of ‘pressure’, I work hard to avoid regret than I do to earn reward. If I fail to earn a good thing, I can easily shrug and say “oh well, maybe next time”, whereas the fear of something negative happening (regret, frustration, etc) is harder to ignore. There’s no need to go overboard and terrorize yourself, but keep the consequences in mind as well as the benefits.
- Have I pursued my personal goals?
In the busy day-to-day business of client work, professional development, a day job, and basic living-ness, it’s easy to feel like I don’t have time for personal projects. At the same time, however, setting aside time to work on my own goals helps me feel less like I’m simply drudging through the week and more like I’m actually making progress. Setting aside time for yourself gives meaning to the rest of your day!
How is your week going? More importantly: how do you want the rest of your week to go?
As an artist, there are a lot of things that I say to myself (sometimes without noticing) that make it really hard to work. It’s a habit of psychological “nagging” that cuts down on my productivity, but also my confidence. While I’ve gotten a little bit better at it over the years (as I get more confident) there are still a few things that I think over and over that really slow me down. I’m hoping that making a deliberate list of them will help me ignore (or even not think) them.
I don’t know if this will work… So I better not try it.
This is a huge problem when I’m thinking about experimenting with my technique… I’m afraid that I’ll make something awful, so I just make nothing. Which is better than something “bad”? No.
I don’t feel creative… So I’ll just sit and do nothing.
This is certainly okay once in a while, but it very easily becomes a habit. I pretend that my lack of inspiration is totally “over-powering” me, and I’m helpless. What nonsense. You can make your hand move, even if you don’t have a reason to. So make it move!
I’m not as good as that person… So why try to improve?
That question should answer itself, but here’s the more detailed response: being intimidated can be paralyzing. However, recognizing the way in which someone has superior skills is a great way to teach yourself. Why is that person “better?” How do you think they got that way?
It’s “just” a hobby. No big deal if I don’t take it seriously.
Then don’t expect anything amazing to happen with it. Publisher don’t publish hobbies. They publish crafts. And don’t expect others to take it seriously. Carelessness shows.
I’d be more dedicated/disciplined if I were getting paid.
I have learned the (very) hard way that this is entirely untrue. You have to respect your work AS work before you start respecting it as a money maker. If you really make sure that Good Work is just as important Good Money, it’ll be much easier to work a job that a) sucks and b) doesn’t pay well. Not that you shouldn’t try to make more money, but try to always be satisfied with your handiwork.
I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Kansas City, MO as I finish this post up. Today I will be tested on my knowledge of typography and page layout. Tomorrow I will set up my computer and equipment, and Thursday I will compete to show off my design skills. Fasten your seatbelts, kids. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.