Three Tips For Dealing With Moments Of Low Enthusiasm When Making Webcomics

2017 Artwork Webcomic unenthusiasm article sketch

Even if you’ve meticulously planned out several future webcomic updates and are feeling inspired by your webcomic, you can sometimes still occasionally suffer from moments of low enthusiasm/low motivation whilst making your webcomic.

This can be caused by all sorts of things – from your mood at the time, to the weather (eg: hot weather often does this to me). But, there are ways to deal with it and still produce webcomic updates – albeit at a slightly lower level of quality.

So, how do you deal with it? Here are a few tips:

1) Take a short break if you need to, but don’t fall behind schedule: As counter-intuitive as it sounds, you still need to keep up with your webcomic update schedule when you’re feeling unenthusiastic. This is because webcomics often have a certain level of momentum to them, which can be ruined if you start skipping updates.

Even if making a webcomic update feels like a difficult chore, you need to do it so that future webcomic updates will be easier to make when you’re feeling more enthusiastic. Even if the update you make looks absolutely terrible, the fact that you’ve actually made and posted it will mean more to both you and your audience than if you hadn’t.

If you need to take a short break to build up your enthusiasm again, then this is great. Just make sure that you don’t fall behind schedule though, since it might make your webcomic more difficult to get back into.

2) Work out what you can jettison: Since you’ll still have to make a webcomic update, you may as well make it as easy as possible. So, try to work out what you can temporarily get rid of in your next comic update, without seriously damaging the webcomic as a whole.

There are plenty of sneaky ways to do this – such as subtly reducing the level of background detail in your next comic update or even making a “talking head” comic (where the whole comic update consists of nothing more than two characters standing next to each other and talking).

Yes, it won’t look as good as anything you’ve made when you were more enthusiastic, but at least you’ll actually be able to finish the comic.

The thing to remember here is that the most important part of a webcomic is the dialogue. You can skimp on everything else if you have to, but you can’t skimp on the dialogue too much.

3) Build in some safeguards: If you’ve had some experience with making webcomics, then you’ll probably know what is likely to make you feel unenthusiastic. Once you’ve found this out, you should be able to build in some safeguards to reduce the number of times that you feel unenthusiastic.

For example, one of the many things I learnt from my very first webcomic [made in 2010] was that having to repeatedly draw the same detailed background over and over again quickly sapped my motivation. So, in all of my current comics, frequently repeated backgrounds either contain relatively little to no detail, or they’re the kind of dynamic background (eg: the streets of a city) where I can draw something different in the background of each panel.

Likewise, I’ve learnt that there’s a time limit to how long I can make a particular comic before my motivation runs out. As such, I often tend to make shorter narrative comics and/or groups of four-panel webcomic updates that have a limited length (usually between 6-17 comic updates).

This sort of thing differs from comic maker to comic maker, but if you know what will make you feel unenthusiastic, then you can design your comic in a way that reduces the chance of this happening.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Ways To Get Motivated To Make Comics (And Stay Motivated!)

2016 Artwork Comics Motivation Article Sketch

Although I’m between comics projects at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk about several ways that you can get motivated to make comics.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that there’s a subtle difference between motivation and inspiration. If you’re inspired, it means that you have a good idea for a comic. If you’re motivated, it means that you actually want to make a comic (and are eager to get started on it).

Both of these things can exist independently of each other (eg: being motivated, but not inspired, can be incredibly frustrating!). Ideally, you should have both of these things before you start a comics project – but, since there are already a lot of articles on the internet about getting inspired, I thought that I’d just take a look at motivation today.

So, how can you build up the motivation to get started on that comics project that you’ve been meaning to make? Here are four tips.

1) Surround yourself with comics: One of the easiest and most obvious ways to get motivated to make a comic is to look at as many comics as you can – these can be print comics, newspaper comics and/or webcomics and they can be in any genre, provided that you actually enjoy reading it.

The thing here is to find comics – in person or online- that you think are “cool” and to remind yourself that you can make comics too. Yes, even if you’ve never made a comic before! I’ll be talking about this topic in much more detail in the next point on this list….

But, yes, there are always comics that you will find cool. Although comics these days are dominated by superheroes and/or various types of manga, these aren’t the only types of comics out there. If you can think of a genre, then there’s a good chance that there will be a print comic and/or webcomic in that genre.

Not only that, go online and read articles about comics. Read about the history of comics, read articles where people praise and/or complain about comics, read interviews with people who make comics.

This is useful if you’re worried that making a comic is a “silly” or “pointless” thing to do. Reading about the rich history and wide variety of subcultures surrounding comics will show you that comics are as valid an art form as any other.

It’ll also show you that comics are something that people actually want to read. Who knows? Someone might want to read your comic, but they’re never going to be able to if you don’t make it first….

2) To hell with the artwork!:
If you’re new to making comics, then one thing that might reduce your motivation is a lack of confidence in your own artistic abilities. Don’t let this stop you! For starters, the most important part of any comic is actually the writing. As long as the art shows what is happening, audiences will forgive low-quality artwork because they’ll be more focused on the writing.

The other thing to remember about art and comics is that all comic-makers started by making comics with bad art. Bad art doesn’t mean that you’re terrible at making comics, it just means that you’re still learning. But, you’ll never produce good-looking comics if you don’t make bad-looking comics first. So, the sooner you get the bad comics out of the way, the sooner you can start making better-looking comics.

To give you an example of this, here are two comics from an occasional long-running webcomic series of mine. The first one is from 2012 and the second one is from this year. As you can see, the art has improved somewhat due to four years of daily art practice and learning. Yet, I would never have made the “good-looking” comic, if I hadn’t made lots of “bad-looking” comics first.

This is what my occasional webcomic series looked like in 2012:

"Damania - Haunted" By C. A. Brown [16th October 2012]

“Damania – Haunted” By C. A. Brown [16th October 2012]

This is what it looks like after four years of practice, at least two of which were spent making “bad-looking” comics like the one above:

"Damania Reappears - Mortified" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Reappears – Mortified” By C. A. Brown

3) Start something you can actually finish: Motivation is a tricky thing. It’s very easy to feel incredibly motivated at the beginning of a comics project, but it’s a little bit more challenging to stay motivated halfway through the project. So, when you feel that initial flash of motivation, use it to plan out your comic carefully and to make sure that your comic isn’t too long.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you should always err on the side of caution when deciding how long your comic should be. Yes, you might want to make a 92-page graphic novel, but what use will it be if you run out of motivation by page 20?

Whilst a shorter 10-20 page comic might sound less prestigious, at least you are a lot more likely to end up with a finished comic that you can actually show off. You can always make the longer comic when you have more experience.

I learnt this lesson through hard experience in spring 2014. Back then, I felt really motivated to make a “serious” graphic novel that was based on an unpublished novella I wrote in 2010.

I put a huge amount of effort into this comic (eg: it included detailed colour artwork etc…) but, by the end of page 22, I’d completely run out of motivation. It had gone from being a cool project, to being an exhausting burdensome chore. Since it wasn’t finished, I didn’t even really feel ok about putting it online. So, it ended up being unpublished too.

In fact, it was another year before I my motivation to make comics fully returned. So, yes, when you feel the motivation that comes with starting a new comics project, try to keep the project a reasonable length.

4) Learn how to deal with “endless projects”: One thing that can really kill motivation is the idea of an “endless project”. This can be a serious problem for things like traditional-style webcomics that don’t really have a defined “beginning” or “end”. If you’re constantly stuck in the middle of an endless project, the sheer awesomeness of making comics can quickly turn into the dreary chore of *groan* making more comics.

The best way to keep up motivation with these “endless projects” is to break them down into smaller pieces that you can actually feel a sense of accomplishment when you’ve finished each one. If you’re making a narrative comic, then you could split it into several 10-20 page chapters (and, yes, this is how most “graphic novels” are originally released – as lots of smaller comics, rather than one large book). But, for traditional-style webcomics, you might need to be a little bit more inventive.

For example, a quick look at this year’s section of the comics index on this site will show you that I have a new version of a long-running “newspaper comic” style webcomic called “Damania”. However, if you look closely at this page, you’ll also notice that this comic has been split up into several “mini series” of 6-17 comics. This year, I’ve made at least 70 webcomic updates, but I’d never have done this if I’d just tried to make 70+ comics in one continuous session.

Another way to deal with “endless projects” is to include shorter self-contained story arcs within your webcomic. This way, you can keep your webcomic going for longer, but you’ll still feel a sense of accomplishment and completion when you finish each story arc. This sense of accomplishment will help to keep you motivated.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three More Ways To Deal With Unenthusiastic Times (If You’re An Artist, Writer And/Or Comic Maker)

2016 Artwork Unenthusiasm article sketch

I’m sure that I’ve written about this topic before, but I thought that I’d talk about creative unenthusiasm again. This is slightly different from writer’s block or artist’s block, since it describes a time where you can think of ideas for writing or artwork but you just can’t really find the motivation or enthusiasm to put those ideas onto paper. It’s when writing or making art/ comics feels like a chore.

If you’ve seen a few of my recent articles and some of the art I posted earlier this month, you may have noticed that I was going through a bit of an unenthusiastic time. Still, I’ve been able to keep this site going using a few of these techniques. I apologise in advance if I’ve mentioned any of this stuff before, but hopefully there will be some new stuff here too.

1) Go for the “easy” option (but still make something): If you’re making smaller self-contained things (eg: individual paintings, non-fiction articles, short stories, webcomic updates etc…) then one way to deal with unenthusiastic times is to make things that you consider to be “easy” to make. If making things feels like a chore, then try to lessen the load as much as you can.

So, write about topics that you know a lot about, write about topics that you’ve written about before, draw the kinds of pictures that you could draw in your sleep, come up with an easy running joke/ short story arc for your webcomic etc…

For example, during my unenthusiastic art phase, I mostly focused on making digitally-edited landscape paintings. Since drawing people is something I consider to be slightly challenging, I tried to draw as few people as possible and I mostly produced digitally-edited paintings like this instead.

"Starburst" By C. A. Brown

“Starburst” By C. A. Brown

This ensured that I still had content to post every day, whilst reducing the amount of effort I had to put into my art. The thing to remember here is that although “easy” filler content might disappoint your audience, it’s considerably less disappointing than posting nothing at all.

The other thing to remember about “easy” things is that, even if you aren’t feeling enthusiastic, if you pay lip service to writing or making art (and do a bit of a half-arsed job) then it’ll be a lot easier to get back into the swing of things when you do feel enthusiastic again. And, eventually you will. So, just keep going with the minimum amount of effort possible until your enthusiasm returns.

2) Add some fun to the creative process: One way to get your enthusiasm back, or to reduce your unenthusiasm slightly is to try to find a way to make whatever project you’re working on fun again. Or to find some way to incorporate other fun activities into what you’re doing.

For example, if your webcomic is feeling stale – then make a short story arc that parodies your favourite TV show or videogame. If making art feels boring, then try making a type of art that’s slightly funny (eg: satirical cartoons, parodies, caricatures etc..) or make something rebellious (eg: nude art, punk art etc... If you’re writing fiction, then just try writing a short piece about something that you geek out about a lot. I’m sure you get the idea.

To give you an example from this blog, I plan to review “Serious Sam: The Second Encounter” at some point in the future. This is an old computer game from the early ’00s that I bought online when it was on sale back in December. The review will be an easy one to write and I’ll probably enjoy talking about this game a lot. But, more importantly, this has actually had a knock on effect on my motivation for writing other articles because I know that, as soon as I review it, I won’t have an “excuse” to play it so much.

That was a bit of a weird example, but it illustrates how incorporating fun into your writing, drawing, painting etc.. process can help you to feel a bit more motivated. This also brings me on to the last point on the list…

3) One-Time Backup ideas: One of the things that can help you feel more motivated is knowing that you have a backup idea that you can rely on if you can’t be bothered to think of new ideas. This works best if it’s an idea that can only be used once, since it’s there if you need it – but there’s also an incentive not to use it unless you really have to.

For example, if you’re an artist, then find an interesting-looking object that you can make a still life painting of. Since you can only really paint this object once or twice before it would get repetitive and boring, you’ll probably want to put off using it for as long as possible. In other words, you’ll be motivated to make more art.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂