Cultivating Inspiration

  • On November 13, 2009 ·
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Like most creative types sometimes I feel there are days where I’m just on. Days where I get up, shoot from the hip, and it’s all great. Then there are days where it seems every little achievement is a struggle. If your goal is to spit something out with any regularity, waiting for inspiration to strike can devolve into endless waiting. Instead of doing that, I recommend the professional (or even semi-professional or hobbyist) creator actively pursue inspiration. Seek it out. Try to make drawing and writing fun because it really is if you can take the work out of it.

I appreciate the comfort of routine. Getting up every day at a certain time, getting to work, putting my work down at a regular time, and getting to bed at a decent hour, these things help me stay focused. Every so often lightning will strike and some brilliant idea will come from the heavens. Most of the time it’s spread out. It’s much more reasonable to expect regular solid results every day than to work feverishly when the idea hits you. Scott Adams posted this blog about his daily work day. Every so often I like to read over it and think, “That’s not a bad way to spend a day.” Getting up in the morning, petting the kitty, and then coming up with a fun idea to draw. Some of it may be tedious and mindless busywork, but it can also be very zen. Put on some music or a movie/TV show and get in the zone.

I think naturally I’m more of a writer than an artist and I have to work at making my concepts visual. However I’ve had years of practice and I know drawing is a skill that can be learned and improved over time. It’s gotten to the point with me where I come up with the idea and what I need to illustrate, then I go into drawing mode. I lay things out, I change the poses until I’m happy, and all I let my brain think about is making the best image possible. It becomes less of a conscious effort to make something and more of a reaction to what I’m laying down.

Another important thing to remember when establishing a routine is to break up the monotony that can kill your drive. If you’re drawing day after day, give yourself some time to just write. If you’re working on panels and pages, get a sketchbook out and doodle some designs for future characters. If I had to relive the same day all the time I’d go insane very quickly and stop producing. Sometimes I’m not firing on all cylinders when I’m trying to work on a page so I move onto sketching other things like props or settings. Suddenly I’ve found an angle I can work with. The key is to keep busy and to feel like you’re accomplishing something. I’ve found, as the pages start to pile up, you tend to believe in yourself more. “I can really do this. I’ve already done so much, what’s one more page? Bring it on!”