Stop Procrastinating! Start Working!

Ken’s previous article “Starting from Scratch“, talked about how to put your ideas to paper instead of just keeping them locked away in your head. This article is a follow-up, and its going to act as the kick in the rear you need to do what he’s talking about.

I had a high school gym teacher who was a hard-ass. He was the stereotypical gruff, drill sergeant type that didn’t accept any weakness from his pupils, and often said things to incite us into performing harder and making him eat his words. As awful as that may sound, I learned a few golden rules that I apply to life today – in those moments where I’m feeling down on myself or when I’ve taken too soft of an approach, I remember his philosophy from his famous catchphrase:

“Too bad! tough!”

He routinely yelled that out to people who complained, procrastinated and tried to weasel their way out of doing that last push-up or lap around the field. At the time, we felt it was his way of torturing us, but what it was really for was giving us the toughness to push through the roadblocks we set up for ourselves. It was also his way of forcing us to problem solve instead of being led by the hand. But most importantly, to be independent and self-sufficient.

One of the most common statements I hear from folks who are interested in comics is:
I have this great idea for a (web)comic but I can’t draw/write.

My response: Find someone who can draw/write and collaborate. Or learn how to get better at drawing.

Typically, you’ll get the next response in return. Why? Because people automatically resign themselves to the fact that they can’t do something, because it’s easier to complain and procrastinate about doing it.

The typical response:But, I can’t afford to pay someone.” ORI don’t have time to put into drawing.”

I think you can guess what my response would be:

 

TOO BAD. TOUGH!

The reason for the harsh response is simple. If you’re not willing to solve the problem you’ve created for yourself, you’re not ready to tackle the workload necessary to produce your comic, plain and simple. If you’ve already started procrastinating and giving reasons and excuses about how you can’t do something, then you won’t do it, so you should just move on until you’re ready to commit.

Have I incited you enough? Are you ready to prove me wrong? Are you able to find a way to make that wonderful idea come out of your head and be produced on the web or in print? I didn’t think so. You’re WEAK!

For those of you ready to make me eat my words, I salute you. You’ve smashed through the first barrier – now it’s time to tackle each step individually. Here’s a few tips!

1) Collaborate – if you’re not a strong writer or artist, pair up with one who is on the same wavelength as you in terms of style and theme for your particular idea. By working together, you’ll find that ideas will flow a lot better and new options will emerge that you never imagined. It will create stronger, more engaging characters, storylines and backgrounds!

2) Strive for Excellence – If you’re a D-I-Y personality, get the tools you need to get the job done. Resource material, tutorials, lessons, etc. Immerse yourself in things that will expand your knowledge base and spend the time honing your craft.

3) Commit – You can’t do any of the above if you’re not ready to stop making excuses and start doing some work. Procrastination is the number one killer of comic projects on the net. How many artists start off strong and lose their motivation quickly, then fall into a rut of missed updates, excuses and general laziness. This is the dreaded plague called procrastination. By committing to a project and making a strict schedule and adhering to it, you will force yourself into a routine and force yourself out of procrastination.

By following these 3 simple rules, you’ll be disciplined enough to moving forward with the creation of a (web)comic idea. Until you can get the CAN’T mentality out of your head and turn it into a CAN mentality, you’ll be nothing more than a festering, diseased procrastinator. And no matter what Ken tells you, there’s no ointment or cream for that.

Andrés ‘ Drezz ‘ Rodriguez is the author of the modern noir Online Graphic Novel entitled El Cuervo. You can catch the latest updates three times a week. He is also the editor of idrawdigital, an information site with tutorials and tips for comic artists using digital tools, with links to a ton of other great resources. You can follow him on Twitter at @ElCuervoComic

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11 Comments

  1. Haha – great article Drezz! I had a pretty strict father who I credit for giving me a mean work ethic, and like you mentioned, when I was a kid I didn’t see the rhyme or reason for his toughness. Now as a father myself I don’t think there are many more things I can pass on to my kids that can be more valuable. That being said, I may use a little less of the drill sergeant tactic, but I do think there’s a great value in, as you put it, pushing through roadblocks.

    Great advice – and even though I didn’t think I needed it, it’s given me a motivation boost for the day!

    • My dad used to say “With all that time you spent bitching about how you don’t want to do X thing, you could have been half done by now.”

      That and “Work is a piece of cake when you have elbow grease and a foot in your ass.”

      My own version of S#!% my Dad says…

  2. Love it mate. Really do!

    Writing, like drawing, is a bit like sado-masochism as it requires you to get beaten down on a regular basis if your work is simply not up to scratch or if you don’t give it both barrels.

    The trick is to have the capability to get up, dust yourself down and come back fighting. Procrastination is caused sometimes by the standard of work simply not good enough to which the answer is bluntly: TOO BAD. TOUGH! 🙂

  3. Well, someone has to say it. May as well be me. I have a big mouth and I’m not afraid to speak with it (or in this case, write.)

    I have a real problem with folks who are indecisive and inactive, and I won’t shy from throwing out all the old cliches.

    – S#*t or get off the pot.
    – Fish or cut bait.
    – If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
    – If you always complain that everything sucks, then maybe it is YOU who sucks.

    and so on.

    When it comes to webcomics, I think its time to stop coddling the folks who say they want to do something. Just do it already – otherwise get out of my way and stop wasting my time. Time that can be spent making a webcomic.

  4. *looks at self in mirror*
    I gotta stop talking about going back to 3x a week and starting a buffer, and just DO it. The rest of America operates on 4-5 hours of sleep and 2 pots of coffee, so can I. Screw that healthy-sleep talk. :0)

    • Flex your muscles in front of that mirror and hit the tablet.

      Start your buffer first, then worry about whether or not you can hit 3X a week. Life has a funny way of making new obstacles that you can’t exactly bust through – and those are not your fault. There will always be limitations.

      I’m telling people to bust down the self-imposed ones that are silly and counterproductive.

      • well, good advice nontheless. I have a plan to go on hiatus soon.. first time in 5 years –beyond my wedding (my site stayed active with 30+ guest pieces). Use the time to build a buffer, come up with a way to easily and quickly color the comics and simplify them as much as possible, and try to keep up with 3x a week after the site goes live again.

    • I want to get up to 3x a week with a buffer too. I’m aiming for a 36 page buffer before I start, but I also need to make sure that I can be reliable about 3x a week. Right now I have 17 pages in buffer. If I start this week and aim to make 3 a week, but still just publish 2, by the end of the year I will either have proved to myself that I can hack 3/week AND have my desired buffer, or know that it’s not for me.

      Rather than setting a goal to not sleep, I’ve decided that “getting tough” has to mix with goals that I can actually achieve. Otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure. Since the fear of failure is, in great part, the reason WHY people procrastinate, reducing a goal to something better-but-in-reach makes actually DOING the work easier.

      Best of luck with your goal!!

  5. This article got me good.

    I love to procrastinate. Even now that I am running a web comic, sometimes, I need that extra push to make a strip – this is where my wife’s nagging comes in handy 😛 (I love you!) – specially during those slow days or when I experience writer’s block.

    Great article. I shall now add those words to my mantra.

    “Too bad! Tough!”

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