There are interesting points made here. My esoteric life roommate often makes some of the same points: why bother making something that looks so nice, at such significant personal cost? Unfortunately for me, my obsessiveness is intense. I couldn’t even deal with decent, but tonally inappropriate/inconsistent art. There’s this thing in my head and it’s GREAT and I feel like I have to match visual quality to 10 years of writing. Not just that, but if you’re me - you aren’t drawing anime, you aren’t really a cartoonist, you aren’t doing Marvel or DC house styles - you have this sneaking suspicion that if you don’t strive to visually blow everyone else out of the water, nobody is even going to give your work a chance, because nobody gives a rat’s ass about it on its own merits. It makes you feel like you’re constantly competing above your pay grade, which is pretty hellish for an unpaid webcomic creator.
the frankly biggest, and only, regret i have about devoting to a comic project long-term is it takes up most of the drawing/creative time, and it generally means every extra art project or even a single piece is time sacrificed from a coherent updating model on the comic.
So every time there’s…
The biggest struggle of making a webcomic (or I imagine any comic) is striking the balance between “what can I reasonably finish in an appropriate time frame” and “what will I not be embarassed to put my name on”. On an almost weekly basis I get messages to the effect of “this would have been better if you did _________” and all I can say is “it sure would have, but I had to use the time that would have taken for sleeping, working, feeding myself, and basic hygiene.”
It makes me feel like a dick because it seems like dismissing critique but it’s like, yeah, I know it’s wrong, I’ve had to beat myself up about it all week. But if you expect this comic to update with any regularity, it’s not going to be perfect.
My solution to this problem was to set realistic daily goals for myself. I can’t be one of those people who updates constantly. At least not with the working environment I currently live in. Full time job plus freelance plus pets means not much free time to myself. And some free time is spent on non-art activities. If you don’t take non-art breaks, your brain starts tunnel-visioning on artwork and stops receiving new input. New input is essential for growth as an artist. You gotta exercise, you gotta read, you gotta talk to people and socialize and go out to a bar even though you don’t like bars simply because your characters would go to a bar. So you gotta put yourself in positions and places a little outside of your comfort zone (safely) so your experiences become fodder for more stories.
With all that in mind, daily or even weekly updates become unrealistic [for me]. When I tried to live by an update schedule, I found myself sinking deep into a creative funk. For the level of effort and thought I want to show, I couldn’t make those updates on time. And feeling like I’d failed as a story-teller and artist, I became increasingly disappointed with my work.
What got me out of my funk was finding more realistic goals. Committing myself to small, daily accomplishments drastically improved my mood. No longer was my worth as an artist tied to how much work I put out each day, but instead whether I could complete one piece of the puzzle slowly being assembled. Line a panel, fix a panel. Color a panel, shade a panel. Write another paragraph. Small, simple goals that are easy to meet and, more importantly, give me a good stopping point. If I’ve completed my daily goal, it means I can spend time expanding my mind in other ways. If I have the energy to keep going, so be it, but I’ve volunteered for that extra work now. It’s my choice to do twice or three times as much work in a day, not out of some moral obligation. And given how readily I’ll destroy my health to keep working, setting small goals that also function as stopping points is muy muy importante.
Artists need to stop treating their work as worthless unless they accomplish superhuman feats of endurance. You hurt yourself that way: mentally, physically, and emotionally. The vast majority of art blocks I’ve experienced were the result of viewing everything I accomplished as worthless until the entire project was done.
We artists and writers need to look at our work like scaling a rock wall. If you look at the top tens or hundreds of feet above you and say THAT is your goal, then you might psyche yourself out. But by concentrating on just the next rock, and then the next and the next, all while keeping that larger goal at the back of your mind, you’ll stop feeling overwhelmed. You’ll start feeling better about the little bit you’ve done. Every little step is an accomplishment; every ledge you grab takes you that much closer to the top. And if you plan your journey to the top well, you’ll end up meeting deadlines and feeling great while doing it!
Enjoy the process! We’re artists, we love what we do while doing it! Or else why did we pick up that pen in the first place?