Having heard a number of cartoonists speak, one of the predominant themes that arises is the crushing social isolation the act of making comics entails. Even for the most die-hard introvert, this can be fairly dispiriting at times.
I enjoy my solitude but I’ve put myself on a strict schedule to allow myself to actually have a social life and the conclusion I’ve drawn is, you can most certainly have your cake and eat it too. You just have to be a hardass motherfucker about it.
Now the caveat is, it’s easier for me to say this because, unlike professional cartoonists, I don’t have any deadlines, but in a way, this makes things more challenging because I am the only party to hold myself accountable at the end of the day. But, for those in a similar position, here’s the schedule that works for me.
- Monday to Thursday, 23:00 to 01:00 is for finishing line work and shading. (I find the late weekday time windows most efficient because I am least likely to be interrupted.)
- Weekend afternoons are for line work and composition as well as creating blog content and cuing up posts.
This schedule means that my Friday to Sunday evenings are reserved for personal relationships while I still have time on weekday evenings for my relationships and other responsibilities; in addition to a demanding full time job that I love, I have multiple ongoing commitments to other groups and organizations and am always working on a variety of projects.
With this schedule, I complete an average of 4 pages/week although my output has reached 6-8 pages on rare occasion. If I don’t make quota by the end of the week, I forfeit my Friday night to finishing and don’t sleep until the job is done. (Within reason of course; if I’m labouring over very detailed pages, I will see my output crawl down to a frustrating 2 pages/week.) If I come out ahead at the end of the week, I still aim to make or beat a 4 page quota in the next week.
Someone who knew me in school commented that I must not waste a single second in order to juggle so many commitments. To be honest, this wasn’t and still isn’t true. I still waste tons of time being deliciously idle and unproductive. I am just a hardass motherfucker about making sure that I get my shit taken care of first and then I do whatever the hell I want.
My best brief advice I can give for maintaining discipline over a long art project is to identify what triggers you to procrastinate and then to override those triggers with better habits. I also have a more global strategy for tackling procrastination, but that’s an entirely separate post.
I hope someone finds this useful. If you have any tips on dealing with the isolation that making comics imposes, or have some good scheduling strategies, please, do share.