Well, to my surprise, I ended up finishing making the six-comic webcomic mini series I’m currently posting here in about half of the time I’d initially expected to spend on it. This was mostly because I prepared it during two marathon sessions spread across about three days. So, for today, I thought that I’d talk about binge-creativity.
Binge creativity is something that I’ve dabbled with occasionally ever since I discovered something called the “3 Day Novel” contest in 2009 and decided to unofficially try making one as a challenge (and ended up writing a 21,500 [?] word novella in about four days). Although I generally prefer the steady pace of “little and often” when it comes to creating things, there is something exhilarating about binging very occasionally.
So, although it isn’t something you should do regularly, I thought that I’d offer a couple of tips:
1) Plan for it: Whether it’s setting aside the right amount of time, structuring your project in a way that makes it easier to binge or just finding an idea that enthuses you enough to make you want to have a marathon writing or drawing session, you need to plan.
The most obvious reason for this is that the last thing you need when binge-writing or binge-making comics is to get writer’s block. So, knowing where your story is going before you start is incredibly useful. Even if you have a better idea whilst actually making the project (and decide to do that instead), having a backup plan is a useful way to prevent writer’s block.
Time is the most important consideration when binge-creating. Ideally, you should have several large unbroken blocks of time (eg: a free weekend or, if you’re nocturnal, several nights). But, failing this, you need to structure your project in a way that can be fitted into lots of smaller blocks of time.
In other words, you need to include things like short chapters and short comic updates that give you the sense of accomplishing them when you finish, but also mean that there are lots of points where you can temporarily leave the project without the feeling of leaving any one part of it unfinished.
Likewise, it’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t judge your rate of productivity based on your first “session”. When you start a marathon project, you’ll be filled with excitement, energy and enthusiasm. So, you’re going to make more stuff better and more quickly during your first “session” than you will during subsequent sessions. So, plan for this!
This slight drop-off in energy or enthusiasm is also something you should plan for too. For example, in my webcomic project, I structured the story so that the first couple of pages would have more background detail than the later parts of the comic. Since this works in context, it meant that I could still produce reasonably good-looking comics throughout the project.
Likewise, project length is a very important consideration too. The thing to remember here is that a finished project is always better than an unfinished one. So, err on the side of shortness when planning how long your project will be. If you have extra time and/or enthusiasm whilst actually making it, you can always make the project longer.
2) Efficiency: Simply put, you need to be as efficient as possible when binge-creating. So, knowing yourself and knowing the tools you use are absolutely essential.
It is important to know yourself because you need to know what type of conditions are best for your creativity. For example, I tend to be at my best when I’m in absolute solitude – but with some kind of non-interactive distraction in the background, such as music or a DVD. Likewise, with writing-based things, taking short breaks to read things online too can help stop me feeling burnt out creatively. But, of course, different things work for different people. So, know yourself.
Likewise, know the tools that you will be using. For example, when making art and comics, I usually use a mixture of traditional and digital tools. This came in handy when binge-making my current webcomic mini series since, because I know how to use various features on the image editing programs I use, I was able to add things like starry skies, realistic skin tones etc… to my comics within the space of seconds. Likewise, I was able to correct mistakes and re-edit the dialogue relatively quickly too.
With the traditional elements of my comics, I use a mixture of waterproof ink rollerball pens, a small palette of 5-7 watercolour pencils, a waterbrush (eg: a brush with a water reservoir in the handle) and thin, cheap watercolour paper. This a set-up that, from experience, I’ve found to be the best and most efficient. But, of course, your own preferred set-up could be different.
Plus, finding the most efficient tools for you might not always be immediately obvious. For example, although I’ve experimented with a graphics tablet and with left-handed mouse set-ups in the past, I actually find that the most efficient tool for image editing (but not for drawing or painting) is to use an optical computer mouse right-handed. This is mostly because I’ve had a lot of experience with gaming, general computer use etc.. with a mouse, mostly on computers that are set up for right-handed users. So, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, using a mouse right-handed just feels more intuitive whilst editing.
To give some writing-based examples – if you’re typing your story, then decide whether you want to use a spell-checker whilst writing (since they can be a distraction). Likewise, choose a font size that feels right when writing (you can always change it later). If you’re writing by hand, then choose a type of pen (ballpoint, rollerball or fountain) and paper (eg: spiral-bound notebooks, hardback notebooks, loose sheets etc..) that you’re comfortable with.
So, knowing a bit about the tools you use and, more importantly, knowing yourself can make your projects a lot more efficient.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂