100 Days of Personal Work
I have been an advocate for illustrators to work on self-directed work for some time now. The problem is that making the time for personal work can be difficult when clients come calling and your belly is rumbling. Those are the times when a lot of us put our own comics, children’s books, and dreams back on the shelf to collect dust until our client work has been cleared off our plates. This can create another problem… It may take more time to build up the steam we had, on our personal projects, if we only work on them in the spaces between commissioned gigs. In my experience, this usually means the self-directed projects never get done and I remain a contractor that only works on the dreams of others.
I recently became inspired by a website called Giveit100. The big idea, presented by this site, is that if you practice something for 100 days you will gradually learn whatever it is you want to do, whether that be dancing, cooking, or playing a musical instrument for example. People who sign up at this site are asked to make a short video everyday for 100 days to track their progress and as a way to stay motivated to stay on course while being held publicly accountable.
I slightly altered the goal of Giveit100 to fit what I want to do, which is to consistently work on my personal projects despite the amount of client work I am often saddled with. In my case, I’m trying to finish my own books while working on books I’ve been hired to do for publishers. Right now I am trying to finish a 4 issue comic book story and am devoting, at very least, 30 minutes a day to it. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but as of this writing, I’ve finished over two whole working days worth of time on this project that I wouldn’t have had completed had I not decided to do this. The benefit I’m getting is that my motivation to finish my personal project increases everyday. I jones to work on it and feel satisfied keeping the ball rolling. Additionally, its becoming a habit already just 17 days in.
I want to encourage you to try something similar. All of us working professionals are making money for other people and making their dreams a reality. Its our job, but I’d like to see more of us take the initiative to get our own personal vision out into the public sphere. In a world of decreasing advances with no promise of retirement, where quality art is made mediocre through design-by-committee, I think we owe it to ourselves to live our dreams and give the public better alternatives.
If you’d like to follow my progress as I work on a comic book for 100 days in a row, you can do so here.