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The slow grind that is webcomics and how to combat it

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Sept. 28, 2018

Once the honeymoon sheen of releasing your new project wears you can easily find yourself burnt out by the concept of having to muster the energy to continue working on it. Sometimes you might have written yourself into a corner or maybe you feel like you are not liking the art direction. Unfortunately, even with jobs you love, the “grind” comes creeping in and trying to keep that comic boulder rolling up that hill is a struggle. So here are some things to remember to help keep your nose to the grindstone through those tough times.

Plan, plan, plan
One thing that cannot be overstated is you need a plan. Work out your overall story and then think about how many chapters/issues/pages you wish to complete that work in. By giving yourself a framework not only does it reduce possible tangents that can muddy a story, you also know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Do pages in bulk
Once you have a plan laid out then decide how long your chapters may be and do each step in bulk of 10-20 pages. Work out the thumbnails, then the sketches, then the inks and panels and finally colour or shading and lettering. This will help you maintain consistency in your look too.

Do a smaller one-shot comic
If you’re feeling burnt out from your project, you can shake it up by creating a small one-shot. Typically 30 pages, this gives you a chance to really exercise your planning and producing in bulk skills whilst feeling like you accomplished something.

Find ways to interact with other creators
A big part of webcomics is interacting with the audience but, if you’re feeling like you need some encouragement there are plenty of communities that can help give you the little push you need. The DrunkDuck Forums are a great place to start if you need advice or support. Twitter also has a strong webcomic community with chats every week. By getting out there it can help alleviate the feeling of isolation that often comes with the craft.

How do you maintain focus when creating your projects? Do you find it a struggle at times? Let us know in the comments below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST) where we’ll be talking about this topic!



nerdimation at 9:45AM, Oct. 2, 2018

--honestly, I say it's up to you. It helps to tell other people about your project too, co-workers, friends, family, so they know you are working on something and you will be encouraged to complete it. And discipline is the most essential here. Learn discipline.

nerdimation at 9:42AM, Oct. 2, 2018

Sometimes the little decisions you make matter the most, such as workspace and personal preferences. I know from personal experience that I am 100% worse at my job while my phone is around. Throw that sucker out a window and turn it off(unless you ABSOLUTELY need it for family emergencies or something)! To dance or not to dance? Silence is the best music for writing productivity; however, listening to music while drawing is, in my humbly researched opinion, a boon to productivity (because of the way the left and right hemispheres of the brain are wired, you can focus on drawing and drawing consistently when you have a rhythm to draw to and your left and right hemispheres are helping you divide the tasks in your brain). However, since writing is a logical based skill, it may be better off to turn the music off when trying to write. There has been a case made in Richard William's, "The Animator's Survival Kit" that you should always have silence when drawing (animating) but--

EssayBee at 1:48PM, Sept. 29, 2018

Interacting with other creators is also great. Yes, it can increase your workload, but collaborating with others can be refreshing and a great exercise in flexible storytelling. Fusion had the privilege of participating in Crossoverkill, and--even though Fusion was playing in a sandbox created by the other creators--it was a lot of fun intertwining her story into a larger narrative. Developing a story with others works all sorts of creative muscles that don't get worked much with solo projects. And it can also provide additional exposure for your own projects as well as introduce you to friends who can understand and commiserate with the hardships of keeping a creative project going.

EssayBee at 1:39PM, Sept. 29, 2018

The planning thing also helps lay some breadcrumbs in the event of writer's block. Sometimes the worst blocks aren't from knowing where things are going, but in the transitions--the little bits that you know have to happen to get from one beat to the next, but don't get the same detailed attention in planning. Having a firm grasp of where things should be going (which doesn't necessarily mean things will ultimately end up how you planned) can sometimes provide some hints for the direction characters should go.

rmccool at 10:30PM, Sept. 28, 2018

I move back and for between comics doing a few pages on this one then going to the other.. part of this has to do with the emotional energy of each story is different .. I have a long plan/plot but if I just look at the end I am sure to get discouraged by how slow I get there, I do better when I look at what I want to say in short units.. and when I give myself permission to take odd little side trips. when I get stuck I draw my characters in a non- story way.. like they are in a fav movie or book. . ha right now I am excited about building up to a hug and a secret years in the making.... little moments little chapters..

AmeliaP at 3:33PM, Sept. 28, 2018

@Avart: "Sometimes I spend more time editing and planning than drawing/toning." I'm with you. A thumbnail planning takes the same amount of time as a finished page for me. Ugh!

AmeliaP at 3:32PM, Sept. 28, 2018

"Do a smaller one-shot comic" Best. Tip. Ever. Yes, yes and yes! With a smaller project scope, you can develop something achievable. It helps to decide if you're ready to spend months or even years of your life doing that. "Find ways to interact with other creators" Yup, I NEED to be more active in community. My own project is killing me XD

BlackBlightWoods at 10:57AM, Sept. 28, 2018

I'm going to attempt to create a larger buffer of pages and thumbnail/write more. Committing to final ideas is always a challenge, as is working on more than one page at a time. I have pages and pages of plans, but sometimes I tweak small things that change the story drastically. Trying to buckle down and commit more often, thumb nailing a bulk of pages so I can keep the story moving!

usedbooks at 7:57AM, Sept. 28, 2018

I can't do pages in bulk. There are just so many steps (a page takes at least three full days work or a whole week if fitting it in around a 40-hour work week), and changing from step to step helps me focus on my process and prevents burnout. What does help me is multi-tasking on different projects or types of projects. I was so scared to add another project (illustrating and writing a novel) to my time-consuming Used Books project, but by making it entirely different, it provides me relaxation and refocusing which actually improves my production. Writing Used Books scripts months in advance also helps. I can energize myself by working on different story arcs. -- And, yeah, talking about my project(s) and plans with other creators is the most vitalizing. Although discussing plot ideas kinda ruins the surprise for those readers. (And stopping uploading to build buffer would kill me. The reader feedback drives me and helps me tweak pages for clarity as needed.)

JustNoPoint at 6:47AM, Sept. 28, 2018

In a future one of these you should talk about the long grind that is the snail speed your potentially LONG story moves in. This eats at me much more than the idea of working on the comic often enough. Also, ever considered adding a DD Discord widget to the front page?

JustNoPoint at 6:43AM, Sept. 28, 2018

That's definitely my current plan. I finished the rest of the issue that I went on hiatus with. Now I'm wrapping up the thumbs for the 52 page issue 2. I was striving for 44 page but as you said, that's just the guideline and sometimes you see you need more. When dealing in print you have print limits to guide you too. With KaBlam no single issue can go over 64 pages without getting into graphic novel lengths. If you go over 44 pages by one page for instance you have to add 4 sheets to the issue for print so I use that to decompress things a bit more anyway. But yeah, long story short I intend to come back with over 60 pages ready for buffer! Woot

Avart at 6:11AM, Sept. 28, 2018

I MUST make pages in bulk, around 10 pages or 30-40 panels, the editing, lettering and SFX can take me as long as 1-2 days. Sometimes I spend more time editing and planning than drawing/toning.

bravo1102 at 5:47AM, Sept. 28, 2018

Attack of the Robofemoids wasn't posted until I had every page done. I've loosened up the production schedule since as I developed a work rhythm. But time has such a way of throwing off schedules and now I'm forced to take all kinds of hiatus. Wish I just had time to dedicate to nothing but the comic, but its always multi tasking anymore. Another great article that I've lived through and really speaks to my experiences.

PaulEberhardt at 5:33AM, Sept. 28, 2018

typo: I meant 100 pounds of potatoes, not just 10. 10 would be next to nothing.

dpat57 at 5:30AM, Sept. 28, 2018

Very little of that works for me personally though I can see how it's excellent advice to fight the grind.

PaulEberhardt at 5:26AM, Sept. 28, 2018

Sound advice! I've thought of making pages in a bulk once, but even when I was at my best I never managed to, perhaps because my pages often are self-contained episodes. Actually, it's my second time of trying this at the moment, as it's a several pages long episode and when I'll post it I don't want it to be interrupted by long waits forced upon me by that never-tiring devil called "real life". So far that endeavour has only resulted in making the wait even longer, but we'll see... Anyway, I'd like to add these suggestions: set yourself a clear goal, one at a time, which is high but not too high. And if it's really a lot of work you're facing, try not to think of how much work it is or of the result but just start. It's how my grandma used to manage peeling 10 pounds of potatoes within a very tight schedule, back when she worked at a village inn. Both methods worked very well for me. They still do - I'll just have to use them for comicking again, as well. :(

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