This is where we’re going to drop all niceties, false pre-tenses and notions. This is where we get serious. Don’t make excuses. Stop finding reasons not to finish the job. Stop using your own weaknesses or gaps in skills as an excuse not to draw your comic or write your book. Just because you don’t have the skills yet doesn’t mean you can’t work on your project while you’re learning. One of the best ways to learn is on-the-job experience and the same goes for drawing and writing and finishing your graphic novel. Don’t wait until you’re done reading this book to start it. Read this book as time allows, bit by bit or chapter by chapter, when you’re not busy making your comics. Put the work first. I will talk more about that later in the book, but in the meantime, let me enlighten you as to how you can make changes in your life to make completing your own comic, graphic novel or book possible.
Not everyone is blessed with the skills for success the way I am, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took many years for me to master the various skills and stages of making my own comic books. For many years I could only handle one, maybe even two, parts of the entire concept-through-production cycle, if at least one of the parts were small. Remember how I mentioned learning from other professionals in the previous chapter? Well the same professionals can also help you create your own book. You can find skilled and helpful artists, colorists, letterists, writers or whatever you need at any price level. All those friends that you made at conventions? Some of them are really good colorists, some of them are writers working as letterists until they can get their big break. There are a lot of ways that you can work together with people. Check out comic book chat boards. Make friends and let people know that you’re looking for collaborators. You might have amazing writing skills, but can’t draw a stick figure. That’s okay. It is okay to seek help and work together with other talented people. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t worked with some amazingly talented people who created amazing artwork that I had the privilege of coloring or lettering or writing the script for. There are a plethora of opportunities.
Go online and look at websites like digitalwebbing.com, where you can post an ad looking for collaborators to share in the work of making your comic. There are separate sections where you can post an ad for people looking for paid work or those looking for collaborations. If you’re on a limited budget, then you’ll likely want to focus on those willing to collaborate with you. Just be aware you usually have to offer some incentive like a share of any sales when the book is finished and published. If you’ve got a little bit more financing to work with, then you may want to post an ad and offer a page rate for whatever it is you need help with in order to complete your comic book. You can also look at professional freelancing and book industry related sites like bibliocrunch.com or upwork.com. You can even find handy designers and artists at fiverr.com; just be aware you get what you pay for. You may want to talk to an artist first before clicking a hire button. Talk about the entire scope of what you need and expect and ask what they will charge you before you go ahead with the plan. Buying a basic $5 gig will often not fill your needs of professional presentation.
Start being a comic creator every day. Make it a habit. Every morning when you wake up, draw a panel before you do anything else.
Gerry Roberts, public speaker and author of books like The Millionaire Mindset and Publish a Book and Grow Rich, suggest that you attach new productive habits around your existing habits. For example, he says “write for five minutes before and after you brush your teeth. Do the same thing before and after you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Find a couple other habits during the day, positive things, part of your regular schedule that you don’t think about, and do your creative work for five minutes before and after. Once you got that down and aren’t struggling to do it, stretch the time before and after your current positive habits to 10 minutes of work before and after. So now you’re writing or drawing for 10 minutes before and after you brush your teeth and before and after each meal. Now slowly, over time, increase that amount of time and don’t allow other distractions to interfere with it until you’ve done your full time. You’ll soon find that the non-productive or distracted gaps between your daily habits get smaller and smaller. If you keep at it, those unproductive gaps will close up entirely and you’ll find yourself focusing for long stretches between your daily chores and getting a lot more work done.
Start using a schedule. Plan out your days and weeks in advance. Know what you want to accomplish with clear goals and put them on your schedule. Do whatever it takes to meet those self-imposed deadlines. The best thing you can do is put it onto a real surface, on a real schedule that you can look at and say “I need to do this every day” or “this is due by the end of the week, so I have to focus on it.” If you’re using a digital calendar, have it give you automatic reminders on a daily basis. There are a number of free apps as well for mobile devices where you can create to-do lists that you can check things off as you finish them. As a result-oriented person, it feels great to look back at my to-do list and see all the things that I’ve checked off. Even if it starts out as just one or two hours a day where you focus on your creative work, do it just like we talked about making a habit above. Make it a habit, schedule and stick to your schedule and don’t let anybody or anything intrude on it. Make sure your family knows that you’re spending an hour after dinner every day writing and you’re not to be disturbed. Or instead of wasting time watching television, TiVo that shit and hunker down in your writing area or basement studio and spend one to two hours working on your creative project. At least I think they still use TiVo, I don’t know, I’m more of a Netflix person, so I just watch what I want when I’ve got time to watch it after I’m done with my creative work.
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