Making the Big Push- Motivating Yourself

If you were told that comics pays well at an amateur level, then you were lied to.  If you believed that person, then you're a fool.  There's going to be a lot of long days ahead if you want to draw comics for a living.  So how does everyone seem to do it?

I gotta tell you, the motivation doesn't come easy.  Nor does it come cheap.  Love of the craft can only go so far after so many long days.  Sometimes it only happens through sheer willpower.

I think I'm a fair enough example.  I've been fighting a page for two days.  It shouldn't've been a particularly hard page, but it was.  It seemed like nothing would go right.  I'd spend my daylight hours fighting an ecroche that equally had a mind of its own (albeit, a mushy Van Aiken clay mind), and then get to muster up what little reserves of energy I had leftover to try and fight that page.  It was pretty discouraging.  It's still pretty discouraging.  But you know what?  Sometimes you just have to soldier through and do better on the next page.

Keep that in mind when whatever project you're working on doesn't go quite as planned.  Not everything you do is going to be perfect.  Not everything you do is going to be impressive.  Just as you have off days, sometimes you have off projects.  Sometimes you can't get in the groove.  Sometimes you don't have the luxury to wait for the groove to come back to you.  The goal is to learn something from every thing you do.  I learned from that page that back of the head shots need to be banned from my shot vocabulary, permanently.  They are just too boring to hold my interest.  And if I'm not going to ban them, I'd damn well better improve on them, fast.

This is not an excuse to do poor work.  This is permission to stop hating yourself when you're less than perfect.  Hating yourself is probably the fastest way I know to lose motivation.  How can you stay motivated when you see no future, or no hope?  It's bad enough when those around you think your goals are a joke, you have to believe in yourself.  And you can't do that if you hate yourself.

Some people work really well with entertainment in the background.  Some work well in groups.  Others work best alone, in the quiet.  You need to create the work environment that works best for you.  I don't work well in front of a computer, it's just too distracting.  So I work in my den, far away from my computer, with Netflicks on my TV.  I have my cellphone with me so I can occasionally post pictures to Twitter, because getting outside critique and encouragement are both important to keeping me motivated.  I need a record of my hard work. 

Have what you need around you.  I get made fun of fairly often for surrounding myself with supplies in a three foot perimeter.  It's like a little circle of crap.  But it works for me.  If I get up for anything other than a break, I am likely to not want to get back to work.  Things need to be convienant.

Find little bribes.  I sometimes bribe myself with sweets.  This is not the best idea, as I ALWAYS gain five pounds during finals, and live off pure Godiva.   There are other ways to treat yourself.  Comics, favorite tv shows, days off, breaks, these are all treats.  Actually reward yourself.  Don't just promise yourself something and then withhold it til more work is done.  If your boss did this to you, you'd get discouraged, so why treat yourself even more poorly?  Its time to end the abusive relationship you have with your body. 

Do take breaks.  Real breaks.  Put the sketchbook down.  Pick up a little light reading.  Let your brain take a rest.  Get away from the internet.

Stop comparing yourself to other artists all the time.  Its important to take stock of your work occasionally, and to always look for ways to improve, but constantly comparing yourself to others and only finding fault will only demotivate you, and make it difficult for you to work.  If you're not working, you won't be improving.

Make time for what's important.  You need to have more than one thing going on in your life, you need to love more than one hobby, especially if that one hobby is what you're paid to do/going to school for.  You are going to get critiques and criticisms that knock you on your rear, and your self esteem can't rest in just that area, or you really will feel like you've been hit by a train.

Take some time to destress.  I need about an hour to unwind after working on something before I can even start thinking about sleeping.  Don't expect to just fall right to sleep, your brain needs time to process things.

I promise, if you take care of yourself, the motivation will be there.  Part of being a big adult person is learning how to push yourself, how to make yourself work.  For me, its only REALLY fun for about ten minutes, when I've just figured out a really hard problem or when I've managed to finish a page in a day and I can sit back and feel proud.  My real pleasure comes from sketching and scheming, the work is in the comic, and the reward is when it's finished. 


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