I’ve probably talked about this subject before but, since I still seem to be feeling slightly uninspired, I thought that I’d re-visit the topic of comics burnout today.
If you’ve never heard of “comics burnout” before, it refers to a type of extended period of writer’s block where you just can’t make any comics. It’s different to “ordinary” writer’s block, since it usually only happens after you’ve made a lot of comics in a relatively short period of time. Basically, you can get to the point where you’re absolutely tired of making comics. Comics burnout can feel like a permanent thing at the time, but it really doesn’t have to be.
This happened to me in early 2014. I’d made loads of comics in 2012 and 2013 and, near the beginning of 2014, I’d attempted an incredibly large and over-ambitious comic project. I got about twenty four pages into it before I ended up abandoning it (and leaving it unpublished) out of sheer exhaustion and unenthusiasm. Apart from a couple of very short one-off comics, it took me about another year or so before I eventually thought about making comics properly again.
Thanks to this, I’m a bit more knowledgeable about comics burnout than I used to be. So, I thought that I’d offer a few tips about how to deal with it and how to prevent it.
1) Remember why you like comics: The thing that lifted me out of comics burnout was rediscovering a fascinating website about old American horror comics. After looking at quite a few examples of this genre, I just had to make one of my own… and that’s how I got back into comics.
So, one way to recover from comics burnout is to find comics (either physical comics or webcomics) that remind you of how cool comics can be. Find a comic that is so interesting that you actively want to make something similar.
2) Ease yourself back into comics gently: Back in 2012 and 2013, many of the comics that I made were longer full-colour comics. Even when I made traditional-style webcomics, I’d often work on them for weeks at a time – producing multiple updates per day.
When I got back into making comics in 2015, my first comic was a short black & white comic that took me about three or four days to make. After I finished this comic, I waited a couple of days before making another short B&W comic.
In the end, it took four short black and white comics, created over the course of an entire year, until I felt like making comics in colour occasionally(like this webcomic mini series).
I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that, after experiencing comics burnout, you shouldn’t try to throw yourself back into making as many comics as you used to. Go slowly, choose “easier” artistic mediums and don’t overload yourself.
3) Spot the warning signs: Even when I was making comics regularly, I’d usually leave at least a couple of days between comics projects. On those days, I’d just make “ordinary” paintings or drawings. Even so, I’d often spend weeks at a time making comics – with relatively short fallow periods between them.
When the length of your fallow periods drops quite significantly, this is a good warning sign that comics burnout might happen. In fact, this is why it will probably be at least two or three weeks (if not more) after “The ‘Let’s Play’” finished before my next comic appears. Basically, with my comics projects before that, the gaps between them had dropped from two weeks, to one week, to just three or four days.
In addition to this, I’d started to notice that the quality of my comics had started to drop slightly too. Instead of feeling excited about making comics and feeling extremely proud of the comics I’d made, making comics began to feel a little bit like a mundane chore. If you start to feel this, then it’s usually a warning sign that comics burnout might eventually happen. So, take a break until making comics feels exciting and cool again.
4) Quit when you’re ahead: One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from feeling burnt out when making comics is to finish your comics whilst you still enjoy making them. If you do this, then you’ll actually be eager to make comics again, rather than completely exhausted and unenthusiastic.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂