Make Comics Forever!!

Make Comics Forever is a forum for cartoonists dedicated to improving their productivity. This is not a forum for wimps! This is not a forum for flakes! We are here to share tips and techniques on how to produce more work and better work. Become a comic-making machine! Join the discussion now! To become a member, email a request to robyn @

Monday, October 31, 2005

What Works

Sorry to make the comparison again, but here goes - Alcoholics Anonymous was started by alcoholics. And that how it is with Make Comics Forever. I started this group because I have problems - with productivity and discipline.
I've been thinking a lot about what I need to do to become a more capable cartoonist. I've learned some activities are helpful and some are detrimental. I'm trying to keep a running tab.

WHAT WORKS (for me)
1. Keep a record, make lists (like this one), WRITE IT DOWN. When I feel discouraged or frustrated, I write in my journal. It helps me MAKE SENSE of things. I want to improve. Writing is a tool I can use to understand my problems and propose solutions. It also acts as a RECORD. I can't keep this all in my head.

2. Act from a place of INSPIRATION, NOT GUILT. Guilt can be a motivator, but not a very constructive one. Guilt feeds guilt, and in the end, it can incapacitate you.

3. WRITE IN ALLCAPS when you need to.

4. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Maybe that's what the Higher Power talk in AA is really all about. I've felt my most productive times to be when I'm working on a project that's important (like CCS.)

5. A little help from my friends. Cartooning is such an isolating activity, I find I need the kinship and support of friends and colleagues. Last week Alec Longstreth and Aaron Renier visited CCS. Drawing with them I felt encouraged and productive.
IT'S EASY TO GIVE UP WHEN NO ONE'S LOOKING. Develop a chain of support. Should we start Make Comics Forever sponsors (like AA?)

6. Work within structure. GIVE YOURSELF DEADLINES. Develop a schedule. You don't have to go hardcore Longstreth style, you're allowed to be flexible. Find out what works for you.

7. Strike while the iron is hot! When you are inspired, when an idea is fresh, work NOW. Write it down in your journal. This is especially important to me. I'm forgetful, I can't trust myself to remember anything. I've made a rule for myself - act when the idea is in your head, or you will forget it.

8. DON'T STOP. I played the flute in 6th grade (I was awful, btw.) I remember when I'd flub up some part of music, I wanted to stop and start over. My music teacher always encouraged me to play through. Then try it again and do it right. This isn't always the right advice, but it can keep you from getting road blocked.

9. When all else fails, STOP. Get out of the house, listen to some music, do the dishes. Take a break. Come back and do more comics.


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

Great advice!

At 11:04 AM, Blogger CamChes said...

This is the kind of stuff I contend with regularly too Robin. Everyday life can get overwhelming (try waiting for a baby to arrive...ANY day now...) I found some great inspiration in seeing Chris Ware's opening on Friday, and reading the new Acme Novelty, but at the same time I find it overwhelming at the size and quality of his enormous creative output. I wish I had more of the obsessive workaholic in me... I know what you mean about working from inspiration and not guilt. In order for me to accomplish something, it really has to come from within. Not the pressure of others...

At 11:06 AM, Blogger CamChes said...

Apologies for misspelling your name...

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Mal Jones said...

I love the idea of MCF Sponsors.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Dr. Syn said...

When I saw Robyn's 10 step programme, I copied it & tacked it up next to my desk (with the recent move it's more like a work-postage stamp!!) In my case, doing this pretty much alone, I've bumbled along, with focus beng a rare & precious commodity. Definitely impacts productivity. During the past couple of days, I had some frustrated & brain blank moments. I pondered the list, gave the situation some thought, & got back to the matter at hand. The points are not "gospel", & will not help everytime. In my situation, they've made a good place to start from !!
Thanks !!
...the screen name is a long story !

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous lu said...

i also this year have been working up to "be able to draw" and then "draw comics" in the process i learnt a few things about creating and made a little list you might find helpful. the biggest trick is knowing that it's all about confidence.
confidence = motivation = productivity.
for me anyway

Tips to creating successfully
- don’t get trapped covetting other’s works
- don’t tell people what you’re doing till you’re nearly at the finish line
- keep yourself healthy socially and mentally
- keep taking in input to fill out your ideas
- you’ll never finish it if it isn’t fun - the point is that creating be a fun thing to do
- don’t edit, just keep going until you’re finished. THEN you’re allowed to edit.

At 10:57 PM, Blogger E. Will said...

I agree on confidence being one of the most important elements....and also not editing until you're finished. I'm currently in the process of writing a comic. Or attempting to. Writing is much harder for me than it should be because I have that awful habit of editing as I write and telling myself "THAT'LL never work!! Don't write that!" instead of just letting things flow, stream-of-consciousness style. Sigh. I'm working on it though.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Quezzie said...

Wow, "keeping yourself healthy socially and mentally" is quite a task, but neccessary for me I found. Working in a complete VOID, it's easy for me to feel down about my work. It's also easy to choose not to sleep, and have a whacked out work schedule. I like the not coveting of others' work, and LISTS (I have an extension for Firefox called QuickNote where random tasks or ideas can get typed down). Work from inspiration and not guilt tends to be more fun too...

This blog is awesome, btw.


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