(the following is a snippit from my recent e-mail to the “AWESOME LIST” which is for Coaching Clients of “Cash For Cartoonists” If you’d like to get on the Awesome List see the directions after article!)
For those that are pressed for time, this is for you! I know several artists who tell me they’d LOVE to launch a comic strip but feel they don’t have the time.Â I’m pretty much doing Trader Dons in my “spare” time. I already have enough other projects taking up time and produce the two day a week comic, Bigfoot and Tiki. While I’m lucky enough now to work at home, home life is extremely busy! We have three boys, ages 10,13,14– a dog, three cats and bills to pay and a bunch of busy responsibilities. It occured to me that sharing how I manage my schedule with you, or giving you tips on how I’m fitting this in might shed some light on how you can fit something into your busy schedules. For now, here are two ways you can fit something new into your schedule if you’re really serious about making this a career. Start off slow and at least pen in 3 hours a day into your M-F or move some of those hours to the weekend or your days off…..
1. WAKE UP EARLY! Yeah, its going to SUCK at first. But trust me, you can get SO much done in the early AM before the rest of the world is awake. Let’s say you work a 9-5 shift at your full time job, and you leave your house at 8am. Go to bed a bit earlier and wake at 5am. Spend 5-5:30 waking up and having coffee, maybe even doing a little workout. Then hit your desk for TWO HOURS in the morning. If you’re fast, you can actually produce a strip in that time frame, and if not, you can get a whole bunch done so you only have to spend an hour or so later in the evening when you’re home to ink or color your comic. Give it a try! You’ll be amazed how much you can get out of the way before the humdrum work day begins! If you’re a night owl, you can accomplish something similar, BUT research has shown that your brain is better at creating new things in the A.M. when it’s fresh and rested.
2. CUT DOWN ON “PLAY”: I’m not saying don’t have fun. I’m not saying you can’t play video games or watch a movie or catch up on your new shows. What I am saying is that I hear so many creators online say they “don’t have time” or complain about time management, but I see when they update their social networks with “I’m watching Breaking Bad!” Or “watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy” or “I’m on XBOX live, anyone want to join me?” — UGH.
If you’re SERIOUS about producing a comic or making a career of your cartooning, you’re going to need to retrain your brain to think about that hour you spend watching Breaking Bad or hours you play some game online. Personally, I loved to play video games, the last game I bought for myself was “Red Dead Redemption” because I missed shows like Deadwood and wanted to feel like a bad ass gunslinger for an afternoon.Â I chilled out and played it for like FOUR HOURS on a Saturday and I realized…. Holy crap, I could have drawn two strips or got something important done. I’ve been tempted to go buy that new Batman game too. .. but then it settles in that I’ll probably play it for four hours then realize I could have made something instead of consuming someone else’s creation. Got that? Cut the crap out.
Make your WORK come before play. I use the play as a reward of sorts (but don’t slack or over indulge!) For instance, on Wednesday I had last minute client meetings all morning and afternoon for some illustration/design jobs and it REALLY cut into my time I planned on working on Trader Don’s for next week. Not to mention I had an unscheduled trip to my son’s high school to deal with issues there (UGH) which ate another hour of my day or so. When I was finally home in the evening to sit down to work, I really just felt like chilling out and catching up on some recorded shows, but instead I told myself “Get this strip done and polished, and if you have time left you can make some tea, have a cookie and watch a recorded show” — some nights I won’t have time to watch the show, but oh well. Work first. Play later.
The greatest thing for me is,Â sometimes my PLAY is actually extra drawing because I enjoy creating so much. Instead of watching a show on the DVR, I’ll bust out some watercolors and a sketch pad and just experiement for half an hour or see what happens. I find that incredibly enjoyable. Even just sitting down with a sketchbook and coffee while you watch a little tv in the background and experiment. Fool around– pause the screen and doodle somebody’s face or do some life drawing of the setting in the show. If you’re smart, this extra doodling can be used later too, as either brainstorming notes, or just mindless fun content for your social media feeds to keep people interested in your work.
—Hope you found this helpful! If you’d like to get even more in your inbox, you can now join the “Awesome List” (my creative coaching newsletter) for a one time fee of $20 via paypal. OR you get one on one unlimited coaching via e-mail AND your name on the Awesome List if you buy the “Coaching Edition” of my ebook here.
Awesome article. I do need to work on that “waking up earlier” thing.
One thing that has helped me a lot is: don’t get mad at distractions. Like that hour you had to spend at your son’s school. I used to get interruptions like that and fume about them the rest of the day–to the point that I got very little done.
And now, back to work!