We've all been there: all of the sudden, the trajectory of your own life seems to thwart you from your ambitions! Maybe it's obligations to schoolwork or your day job; maybe your partner or family; maybe you wind up homeless or awkwardly crashing on a series of couches and shuffling through life like some kinda shiftless involuntary nomad; maybe it's ALL of them things. Maybe it's none of em, and ya got plenty of time per se, but just find yerself running into a big ol' mental or emotional wall called “I have no good ideas, I can't actually draw, and I totally just suck.”
So… what do you do when you CAN'T make work?
Now, I got a fair amount of experience makin comics, but I'd hazard to say I got a lot more experience not making comics. Hell, I took a “break” from making comics for the better part of a decade! What was I doin that while time? Mostly gettin' the everloving shit kicked outta me by the vehicles of misery and hardship I'd unwittingly orchestrated for myself, honestly. But also wringing my hands at the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of ever getting started again. In short, there have been periods of my life where my work had to take a back seat whether I wanted to or not; or wherein I felt like I couldn't work because I didn't have the time or wasn't ready or couldn't do it right or the way I wanted or as well as I wanted.
We've all been there, and bad as I hate to say it, we're all gonna be there again. You might be there right now! Hell, I'm kinda there right now (at least this stupid week): The Dark and Tedious Land of Not Working! But I'm gonna let ya in on a secret, here: It's not the end of the world, it doesn't mean you suck or lack discipline or passion, and most importantly you might end up there but you ain't gotta stay.
So, what DO you do when you can't make work?
I'll tell you what I do, and it's totally let the “not making work” become this shameful albatross that weighs me down and paralyzed me til it becomes a vicious cycle or self fulfilling prophecy or some other heavy and doom-ridden cliche. Or at least, that's what I'm prone to do, so I gotta work hard against my nature. What I actually do is this: I make the work I can make RIGHT NOW. Not always the work I want to make or the work I think i should be making. The work I CAN make. RIGHT NOW.
Sometimes that's my long epic comic, and that's great. Sometimes it's shorter comics, sometimes just a drawing or a daily prompt I gotta force myself to complete, and sometimes all that amounts to is a few scribbles sketches or sloppy layouts or notes. But you'd be surprised how far momentum- even the momentum perpetuated by a painfully slow pace- can carry you.
And you know what? If you're doing anything creative in this big bad cruel world that wants to crush you into dust, yer beatin' the odds. And if you've ever dared to make something- to express yourself, no matter how hastily or crudely- yer spitting in the face of death and despair and every dumb and hurtful iteration of that guy who yells “who fuckin cares about you, huh?” and that's pretty cool. And if you ever have, you can again.
So. What do YOU do when you can't make work? Shoot!
image credit: Fontaine Fox
HyenaHell at 12:00AM, April 7, 2017
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