Knowing Yourself, Knowing Your Project

and Lessons learned by taking on too much…

Yesterday I did the unthinkable. I left a project. I was part of a good bunch of people with a vision. Together the writer, artist, colourist and letterer (that’s me) created a comic. No one else has seen it yet, but soon it will be sent to a comic publisher for consideration. And I feel I was slowing the team down.

I had to re-do things three times, I couldn’t get the information I needed, and I made the mistake of trying to learn too much on the job. Sometimes things are too big for a beginner to handle.

The following article is my advise to anyone in creative or business fields. Especially if you don’t want to tear your hair out.

 

Make sure your enthusiasm doesn’t exceed your ability

Congratulations, you can be part of the team! Think about what you need in order to do your part; skills, resources and contacts. Think about how much of a learning curve you need.

 

Find out the business and personal contact details of everyone you can

This will speed everything up, especially when asking for help. Add them on facebook, twitter, get their email addresses, their mobile numbers – what ever they check most. Nothing is more frustrating than precious time creeping away before a deadline, waiting for a reply.

 

Get a second opinion

A mentor can be a wonderful port in the storm, especially if they’re in the same profession. Find someone who is not involved in the project. They wont be biased, and may have resources which can help you.

 

Put yourself in the way of critique

Improving means finding your mistakes, fixing, and learning them. I suggest that artists and writers join deviantart (deviantart.com). It’s a great place to share your creations and gather a following. There will be the usual smattering of ‘trolls’, but also comments or critiques left by the ever-growing online community.

 

Make time for revisions, and for yourself

Constant work is dull. Especially when you’re re-doing something for the third time. Make time for relaxation. Take time away from your computer screen.

 

Do what you love

Without this motivation it will be hard to finish anything. Find the heroes who have gone before you, aspire to surpass them.

 

Don’t worry about being unique

No one can live exactly as you can. Just do your best. But remember- you must deliver the project to the brief.

 

Find out the brief

If you don’t know what you need to deliver, it is going to be very difficult to produce it. Briefs are generally an outline or list of ideas, styles, and the size the final product must be.

 

Think. Who or what are you doing the project for?

Yourself, others or promises? If you aren’t learning, being paid, boosting your portfolio/CV or having fun it’s probably time to re-think.

Do you know when you need to finish? Are they reasonable? Can you finish the brief on time without working yourself to death?

 

How many projects do you have on the go?

If you’re studying, have more hobbies than you have time for, and are taking on extra work, something will be neglected. Usually, sleep. The quality of your work and life will begin to wane. No matter how organised you are. I have a wonderful ‘to do’ spreadsheet, but no matter how I ran the numbers there simply wasn’t the time to do everything.

I hope this helps you. I had to make a hard decision, but its meant that I’ve had more time to focus on other projects I agreed to. I’ve been finishing on time, and my ‘bosses’ like what I created. I feel happier about what I’m doing, and there’s more time for friends. Projects have found a balance, and I’ve been able to say ‘yes’ to projects for the future.

 

I may not have achieved what I set out to do, but I’ve certainly learnt lessons to take with me for the future.

 

Edit: Perhaps I need to listen to my own advice some times. I do not want to pretend I know all the answers, but nor do what I know I ought to.

 

First published on Heart Of Glass magazine online

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