No Time? No Problem!

For the next five minutes, Apu is going to party like it's on sale for $19.99

This is the post every blogger has made at least once. It’s the inevitable “I don’t have time to blog about my original topic, so I’m going to blog about not having time to blog” post. Unfortunately, both blogging (well, my original post, anyway) and comics took a backseat to some of the more important things in life this week—family time, personal health and responsibility, some weedeating I kept running out of time to finish, and so on.

When I get busy and don’t have time to work on passion projects, I have often felt like a failure. I used to build this nonsensical bubble, encompassing a certain amount of time, that I couldn’t see past. For instance, let’s say it’s the weekend. I decide I’m going to do a bunch of creative work and be super-productive. I build my bubble around that goal, not taking into account my chores, or family time, grocery-shopping, errand-running, or that get-together that’s been on the calendar for weeks that I knew was coming. When all is said and done, the weekend is over, and no creative work got done in my all-important bubble. I was crushed. I would obsess over how I maybe could have done things differently to squeeze in more time. And, since I often couldn’t see past the bubble, I sometimes even worried that I was running out of time in my life to get things done. All because I didn’t get the work done I wanted to do in a period of time that couldn’t realistically accommodate it, anyway.

I don’t think like this anymore. At least I try not to. I still have my bad days, here and there, but overall, while not having the time to devote to creative endeavors can be discouraging, it’s not the end of the world. The following are some reassurances I use to keep myself encouraged and grounded in reality.

It Happens to Everybody

I paint every creative who has ever inspired me as this infallible, indefatigable fountain of quality work that never falters, never questions their ability, and certainly is never too busy. Then, when I can’t measure up, I feel inadequate. The truth is everybody gets busy. Everybody struggles with self-doubt or other obstacles, and everybody fights his or her own battle. Scott Kurtz of PvP just opened up to his readers about his struggles with anxiety. We’re all human. Just because I had a busy spell doesn’t mean I am suddenly a failure in the company of other creators. My pace may be different, but the only way I can actually fail is to give up.

Set Realistic Expectations

Rather than setting unattainable goals and getting mad that I didn’t reach them (surprise, surprise), I try to review what I already have planned, then set goals relative to what’s already going on. If I’m looking ahead to the weekend and need to do a bunch of yardwork and house-cleaning and laundry, prep meals for myself for the coming week, attend a birthday party, squeeze in a commission for a client, and spend time with my family, that may not be the best weekend to plan to draw four pages of a comic book. It’s not going to happen. A smaller, more manageable goal, like one page, or a couple of panels, is way more likely to get done. I have learned to respect my time. There isn’t anything wrong with being ambitious, but I have found that lining up more work than I can handle is counterproductive and leads to disappointment.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Comics are a long-term commitment and a lot of work. I’m not going to be able to finish any of my projects tomorrow, or even by the end of the week. So when the inevitable busy stretch hits, it’s really not a big deal. In fact, there will be several dozen more busy stretches before the project is anywhere near done! It’s nothing to get worked up about. I just work when I can. That’s all I can do.

It’s Okay to Not Work, Sometimes

If I know I’m not going to have a reasonable amount of time to work on comics or other projects, I try to embrace the opportunity to recharge. It’s okay to take a break and enjoy life away from a drawing table or computer. Even though I enjoy the work, it’s unhealthy for it to be all-consuming.

That’s all for now! I will have a table at a comic convention here in a couple of weekends, so next week, I’ll be going over some of my convention habits and hang-ups, what I do right, what I do wrong, and how I’d like to improve. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!