Discipline, Routine, and Following Through.

Many artists and creative people fantasize about creating a project that they have a great passion for. But the reality is that these projects remain a fantasy and never get brought out and shared into the real world. This is the one thing that I think artists and creatives have trouble with. They often ask themselves, “How do I get my ideas out into the real world? How can I go from fantasy or fantasizing about my passion project and set some realistic goals? You can and you will. You need DISCIPLINE, ORGANIZATION, and ROUTINE.

Quite recently, a good friend inquired about the creative process and how I managed to finish my Graphic Novel “Dreamwalker” that I self-published back in 2011. Looking back in reflection now, I have to confess that it was not an easy process. Often times I wondered whether I would make any monetary gain or if people actually would be interested enough to read it. And there were many reasons I almost didn’t create it, and those reasons were just outside noise and distraction. And I realized that none of those things mattered. What mattered was that I was passionate about creating this project for my very own self satisfaction and at the time I was creating it – there were months where I had a burst of creative energy running through me. This burst of creative energy kept me up at night.  Almost every night! When inspiration hits, you have to go with it – let it flow through you, let it come out the way it wants to come out with no judgement. Over thinking these amazing creative projects won’t help it from being born. Its like a baby that you need to constantly nurture, be patient with, and there will be struggles and challenges – but that’s part of the process.

Sometimes you’ll doubt yourself or become completely over joyed, but regardless of what you think the outcome should be – you must enjoy the process and follow through with it.

Being able to do what you love is sometimes the reward itself. Our passions fuel us.

Well its easier said than done right? How do we even begin or start the process of creating these amazing projects? Whether it be a graphic novel, a novel, a short film or a painting/drawing, whatever it is you have to put pen to paper. Write that shit down. Record it. Track it. The process of writing something out by hand does some amazing things to the brain. It helps us remember so much more than merely tapping a few buttons on your phone or even typing out words onto your laptop. I’m not going to go into this in detail, but here is a cool article I found online explaining this. Click here

Think of working on this passion project as part of your routine everyday, setting aside a few minutes to an hour everyday to your passion project can lead you closer to finishing it. Routine makes for good building, in order to build something amazing, you have to do the work. If you’re on the verge of finishing a page, a drawing, and its 2 o’clock in the morning – that’s probably a sign to quit and save the rest for the next day. Balance is what helps us, if we don’t get adequate sleep and rest – how can you put your all and your 100% best into something you love? The only way to get real world results is to constantly work on this project, whatever the amount of time you can dedicate to seeing it through – Do it. No excuse. Got back to back work meetings all day? Go to a cafe right after work and give yourself 20 minutes to work on it. You’ll get more done in those 20 minutes than trying to think about it during work.

Every artist has their own special and unique process of creating things. Some of us struggle with many different excuses or procrastination. How did I finish my “Dreamwalker” Graphic Novel? Well for one, I had a constant obsession with a story that was stuck in my mind for about two years before I even produced it. And let me tell you, it was a never ending process! When I went about planning my pages and how best to convey the story, I had thumbnails upon thumbnails of stick drawings with dialogue notes on the side! ( I work in 1×2 in thumbnail boxes) I ended up re-drawing and editing a page more than twice, I’d mess up, I’d spill ink everywhere or realize I totally missed a drawing that I wanted to include. I’d have other friends that I trusted to help revise my work or give me ideas at different points of the project. Art is such a collaborative process that I relied on the good advice that my friends generously gave to me, even if you want to do your own thing – constructive criticism is very valuable. It took me about 6-8 months to finish my graphic novel. the first three months was just solely working on story ideas and research. The next 3-4 months was spent drawing and inking. I think by the end of it all, I developed a system for myself in managing the drawings that I ended up cranking things out in April and May of 2011. Most of the things that I did in the last month was scanning, designing the layout for the pages and color correcting jpegs in photoshop. Make a list from start to finish and you can determine what needs to get done when it needs to be done. If you don’t, you can burn out and waste time.

The most important element to be able to finish a project is COMMITMENT. Commitment to yourself, to the project, and commitment to following through to finish. You decide what’s more important to you.

Do something about it. We all have a a very special way of looking at the world – and to have something born out of you leaves a very special energy pattern on the world. And that should be enough motivation for you to finish your work. You are important.

The very thing that you choose to do now can positively alter your future. No pain, no gain.

I’ve made a list of things that I do to get myself going and whether you find it useful or not – it will serve as a good reminder of getting yourself organized. The key here is ORGANIZATION. Organizing your thoughts, ideas, notes is the first step really. If you can’t do that – I don’t know what else to tell you. Learning to discipline yourself is a good lesson to go through, if you don’t have discipline than you can’t focus. If you can’t focus on one thing at a time or that moment you set aside to work on your passion – then it will remain just a potential. Who wants to spend their life just being a potential? Set the bar high for yourself and you’ll succeed even if you think you’ve failed. Do what you believe is great work.

Keep track of you. Some ideas to get you started.  

Get a journal, write in it 10 minutes a day or more to record tasks, make lists. Jot down notes on research or things you want to accomplish for the week.

    • Schedule. Use your Google Calendar to sync to your mobile phone calendar. Even if it is a small increment of time such as 10-25 mins, schedule it into your workday –  you’ll benefit from working on one small thing every day and soon you’ll start to see those little things adding up. Schedule in anything that has to be done that day, whether its sending an email or doing the laundry – you’ll be able to track your time better and see whether you are making progress or just wasting time. ( But time is never wasted in my opinion, things you may never use as part of the research and development process can teach you a lot.)
    • Setting realistic goals. They could be short and long term goals, you can make separate lists for yourself and re-evaluate on a weekly or monthly basis.
    • Give yourself a deadline. If you want to put something out there into the world then you must give yourself a reasonable deadline and mark it on your calendar. Having a deadline will help you get things done.
    • Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this project?” Is it monetary? Is it my passion? Regardless of your reason, giving yourself a specific outcome will help you in finishing this project. Maybe you want to get your work ready for a festival, workshop, submission to a publisher, etc.
    • Tune into your inner self. How? Well, get quiet and find a comfortable space and let yourself DAYDREAM. This is the only way great ideas can come in – is when you are open and receptive to that universal flow of energy. Einstein was said to have “thought experiments” when he scheduled in a period of time in the afternoon to let his thoughts wander and lead him into some amazing insights. In one year he published a collection of essays on the theory of relativity. Go ahead Google it.
    • Get Visual. Do some image research online – find things that inspire you – it could be about the story’s location, a character outfit, etc. Use your imagination! Print your images out and create a Vision Board for your project. You can also create a mood board on color, places and environment, character drawings and ideas, this is your world – Create it and let it fuel your imagination! Better yet, find images on Pinterest! This is a great way to create some digital boards – if you wish!
    • Listen to Music. Create a playlist in your computer, ipad, mobile device, etc. Or get on Pandora, spotify, or any of those awesome music sites.
    • Watch some Movies for inspiration. Feeling stuck or hindered by your project? Watch some Princess Bride, or the Matrix, or whatever suits your fancy.

Questions, comments, or a simple hello? I’d be happy to hear them!