Drama is toxic

  • On October 20, 2009 ·
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I spend a decent amount of time on IRC, IM, skype calls, and so on. One thing that keeps cropping up is the word “drama”. I will say there’s less webcomic drama these days than there was when I started. Part of it may just be the phasing out of people who used to run in those circles. When trolls get bored they tend to move on to find new targets. But I also think it’s because people are tired of seeing it and the average person doesn’t respond to it anymore. There’s always going to be gossipy insider in-crowd people who thrive on it, but I’ve found the energy you surround yourself with and generate is the kind you get back. You can be nasty and hostile  –  just means that’s the kind of attention you’re going to see back.

Drama can extend beyond internet quarreling to basically anything that derails you from what you’re trying to achieve. Real life is often a drama machine. Work, relationships, family, all these things can cause friction. And with webcomics a lot of folks don’t know how to handle their regular stress so it gets dumped in the blog as they explain why they couldn’t post their regular update. What seems to set the professionals off from the hobbyists are two things: How they deal with stress impacting their work and how they cope with it. The first part is a little harder to figure out than the second because we rarely see it. I find it important to pull yourself aside when you’re frustrated and look at things logically. I can be as emotional in my responses as anybody else. However I know letting myself get torn up over something doesn’t help the situation and it only hinders my ability to fix it. First you have to be calm, focused, and ready to handle your problems. You have to not blow up when you’re mad and you have to not get shaken to your core when somebody hurts or offends you. Take the time to get it out of your system, clear your head, and then come back to deal with it.

If you’re getting frustrated with your work, or the way people view your work, remember to relax and try to enjoy yourself. There are days when you’re just not pitching your “A” game. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes you’re really on top of things and other times you’re struggling to keep up. As long as you’re striving to make every day a good day for yourself you’re accomplishing something. Working every day on something can be difficult. Occasionally you can grow to resent it and avoid it. Other times you get intimidated by how huge a project may seem and recoil in anxiety. You have to be able to step into work mode and be able to leave it at a certain point. Just as you shouldn’t bring your troubles from home into the office you shouldn’t bring your troubles from the office home.

When it comes to dealing with your problems on your blog – don’t. I mean, if you run a site about the trials and tribulations of being a working parent or something where your audience expects you to let loose with your frustrations, by all means. However we shouldn’t treat blogs like livejournals. Readers have their own things going on in their lives that they’re probably bummed out about already and I’ve never known of a blog to get popular with people for being whiney. I like to keep a journal sometimes if I’m busy and I quarantine off negative entries because that stuff can be toxic. It can be a load to carry and if you revisit it you can sour your mood all over again. You’ll need to let it all out but don’t let it infect your day to day. Guy Gilchrist wrote, in part of his Drawn to Success series, that you should write down all your goals and ambitions in one batch of journals and all your fears and worries in another. Then never read the worries journals and burn them.

I’m going to paraphrase a speech I heard Bruce Springsteen gave to his band once. To you this may just be another gig, but to the guy out in the audience, he’s been waiting maybe all week for this show. He told his buddies about it, got all excited for it. Maybe he put in a hard week at the factory and now’s his chance to have a good time . So it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad night, got in a fight with your old lady, whatever. None of that matters. When you put on a show, you bring it or you go home. Now lets go put on the best show we can and give ’em something to talk about on Monday.