Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Digging Yourself Out Of A Rut
Ironscarf at 4:04AM, March 8, 2016
posts: 1,831
joined: 9-9-2008
We all dig The Ruts, but once in a while, we need to dig ourselves out of one too. You know how it is. You're working on a long term webcomic project and trying to maintain consistency. Consistent style, quality, update schedule - it's a big commitment, perhaps running for years, or even indefinitely.

Sooner or later it happens. You find yourself in a rut. The jokes aren't funny anymore. The drawing board or tablet that freed your mind feels increasingly like a ball and chain. The plots that once wrote themselves are now striking for better pay and conditions. We've all been there.

So how did you tackle it? Any tips and tricks you used to get youself over the wall? Any tried and tested methods you can share with the group? Or did you just burn the whole thing and start again?
last edited on March 8, 2016 4:12AM
bravo1102 at 9:17AM, March 8, 2016
posts: 5,740
joined: 1-21-2008
My usual solution is to switch to another project, and then continue into something else put the first one on the back burner and and let it stew in the subconscious for a while. Of course this doesn't work if the two are mutually exclusive. Like the places where I would do one project is the place where I would be doing the other one and I can't move the one to do the first or the stop the first and then it gets all can discombobulated and I'm stuck in a rut again.

That's where I am right now. Hip deep in started projects that were put aside when they got into a rut and unable to start something different until the rest are finished. And every day eating my heart out wanting to do another comic but all my work space is tied up.
Bruno Harm at 12:15PM, March 8, 2016
posts: 123
joined: 10-18-2015
I like some good conversation. get out and socialize, catch up with those friends you haven't seen since you went into your cave and started drawing, it gets you thinking about other things, and conversations can lead anywhere. hopefully to new ideas.

I hear exercise is good… you'll have to let me know..
usedbooks at 12:35PM, March 8, 2016
posts: 3,342
joined: 2-24-2007
My ruts are usually just kinda burned out on a particular story or type of story. So, I'll come up with a completely different arc to recapture my interest. I write a world with a varied cast, so I take breaks from character sets with different character sets. The best rut-breaker for me is a spontaneous self-contained flashback. I've fit them in places my script didn't originally have them, and they've helped a lot.

If drawing/creation becomes a chore altogether, I'll take a week off. It's usually all I need and all I can manage because I'm a teensy bit addicted to creation. If I stop drawing, I end up using the week writing scripts during ad breaks or video game loading screens.

My weekly strip, however, ended. I used to have a page of ideas to work from. Then I forced myself to come up with a weekly gag. Then my gags became forced, so I figured all the ideas I had were successfully on paper, and it was over.
Sway at 5:59PM, March 8, 2016
posts: 32
joined: 1-29-2015
Multiple pages.

I usually have three-four different pages in progress at one time, that way if I'm getting bored or starting to lose interest in what I'm drawing, I can zip over to another page and try something new. Even if those four pages are set in the same scene with the same characters, they often feature new plot developments, or scenery adjustments.

In terms of how to get out of a rut with writing, I've started to do a lot of my writing in short bursts using Google docs on my phone. Instead of breaking off a half hour to pound out a couple of pages, I'll write a rough outline of a scene on my phone with some bits of dialogue that I come up with spur-of-the-moment. It makes the experience more organic, less intrusive to my daily schedule, and also leaves enough room to experiment when it comes time to put it to page.
Ozoneocean at 7:32PM, March 8, 2016
posts: 28,256
joined: 1-2-2004
usedbooks wrote:
The best rut-breaker for me is a spontaneous self-contained flashback.
That can switch you to ANOTHER rut though if you're a slow artist like me, but it's still a pretty good method.
Also, just sketching your characters in an alternative scenario can be pretty inspiring. The image can have a suggested narrative all its own that can make you want to go in new directions or lend new insights.
ashtree house at 12:02AM, March 9, 2016
posts: 128
joined: 1-15-2015
Bruno Harm

I hear exercise is good… you'll have to let me know..

This. For me. I put on really loud music and go for a run, and let my imagination soar. Sometimes to really upbeat and inspiring music, I can think of new comic pages or scenarios in my head; and the endorphins make me feel good and energetic and makes me think I can accomplish anything, haha. This usually works generally if I am feeling bored or frustrated with my pages too, getting out and sweating in nature really does wonders for me.
Bruno Harm at 8:45AM, March 9, 2016
posts: 123
joined: 10-18-2015
I used to ballroom dance and bike ride and go on hikes. Then I had a kid, and my hobbies are making dinner and dishes and laundry, and cub scouts and soccer and PTA meetings…
maskdt at 9:33PM, March 10, 2016
posts: 58
joined: 9-11-2008
I used to go for long walks, but thanks to my immune disease deciding to attempt a murder-suicide on me, walks just aren't that relaxing anymore. So, now I tend to go for a drive or run errands just to get out of the house and let my brain change gears for a while. It gives me a chance to focus and, once I'm at my destination, I tend to get as much walking exercise as my body will allow in one session anyway.

So far, it's working quite nicely.
Ironscarf at 2:36AM, March 18, 2016
posts: 1,831
joined: 9-9-2008
I hadn't even thought of exercise of a rut breaker, probably because I rely on my walks so much. I need at least four long walks a week to keep the creative juices flowing. You reach a point - usually after an hour or so for me - when all the daily detritus dissolves away and you can finally think clearly. So yeah, exercise works.

Also what I've been doing recently is making small changes to my processes. I switched software, changed my drawing routine a little and now I'm doing more preliminary work on paper than I have for ages. Anything to get me out of what I'm used to, because there's a thin line between comfort zone and rut.
binaryfaye at 6:43AM, March 19, 2016
posts: 51
joined: 8-19-2010
Well, recently my computer has been going thought some things for which it had to seek professional help. So once a month it's gone to visit the computer doctor. Which gives me a week long vacation!

I lie. It's been driving me completely crazy.

I'm pretty sure one of my pages takes a full week to make if I don't do anything else. (eat, sleep, breathe, whatever) So I don't usually have the option of finding something else to work on instead. I just have to power through and reward myself with a beer that I promptly fall asleep drinking.

I always watch netflix or listen to music while I work so if I find myself getting bored I'll just switch shows or genres.

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