As I’ve mentioned before, at the time of writing these articles, I’m working on (another) short re-boot of my old “Damania” webcomic series which will hopefully have been posted here earlier this month.
Anyway, when I was making this short webcomic series, I ran into a very familiar problem that I had every now and then when I was working on this series back in 2012-13. I am, of course, talking about writer’s block.
Due to their regular schedule and the fact that each short comic has to be at least slightly amusing (and tell a self-contained story too), writer’s block can be a particularly harsh problem when you’re working on short “newspaper comic strip”-style webcomics. So, I thought that I’d talk about how I got past it whilst making the two comics I made when I had writer’s block one night.
Experience has taught me that there are many techniques that you can use to fight off writer’s block. Writer’s block can be a tricky thing, so different things can work in different situations – so this is hardly an exhaustive list of techniques. Still, I thought that I’d give you examples of a couple of basic techniques in action, in case they come in handy for you.
So, let’s start with the first comic:
This comic was probably the easiest of the two to make for the simple reason that parts of it consisted of craftily-recycled content from some of my older comics in the series (this one in particular). Since I already had a pre-made set up for the joke, all I really had to do was to change the punchline slightly.
If your webcomic has been running for quite a while, then one easy way to get past writer’s block is to see if you can find an interesting way to re-work some of your past ideas, themes and/or jokes.
This saves you the work of having to think of entirely new comic ideas (which can be one of the largest problems that writer’s block can cause) and, although it isn’t a cure-all for writer’s block, it can reduce the size of the problem quite considerably.
Likewise, as long as you change enough things and don’t recycle your own content too often, then it won’t be a huge problem. New readers of your comic won’t even notice it and long-term readers of your comic will probably either see it as a running joke or a nostalgic call-back to one of your earlier comics.
So, that’s how I got past writer’s block with that comic, but what about the next one?
This one was a lot trickier to write. I’d tried planning this comic out a couple of times in one of my sketchbooks and I’d come up with next to nothing. I had no detailed ideas for a comic, but I still wanted to make one. So, in the end, I decided to launch straight into making it and see what emerged.
Since I’d been meaning to make a computer game-based comic for a while, I decided that the first panel would look like something from a computer game – then I drew it, even though I had no clue what the rest of the comic would look like.
This also meant that I’d be able to start my comic off with a detailed art-based panel that wouldn’t really require much in the way of writing – with the hope that this would give the comic enough momentum to help me think of ideas for the other three panels.
This is a slightly risky and unreliable technique to use but, when it works, it works. All you have to do is to draw something random, cool and/or interesting in the first panel of your next update. If you do this, then you’ll provide your imagination with a prompt to work from and you might find an interesting idea for the rest of the comic appearing fairly soon afterwards.
For example, with this comic, since I’d drawn a picture from a hidden object game – I remembered reading online reviews of various games where people talked about the difference between modern hidden object games and old “point and click” adventure games and debated which one was best. Since I’d had experience playing both types of game, I suddenly had a very good idea of what would happen in the rest of the comic.
As I said earlier, these are only two of many techniques that you can use to get past writer’s block. Different techniques work for different situations, but it’s important to remember that writer’s block isn’t an unsolvable problem.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful.