Friday, March 1, 2013

Waiting for the Perfectionist to be Quiet

How many times have you started something that you didn't finish? How many times have you started something that was really great while you were working on it, but not good enough when you looked at it a short time later?

A big reason webcomics and other large creative projects fail is our tendency as creators to be perfectionists. I'm here to tell you that while your perfect-side has good intentions, it is anything but good for you and the work you are trying to do. You need to stop trying to be perfect or you will risk not getting anything done at all. And that's okay -- we're all geared this way, at least a little bit.

A big part of hushing the perfectionist inside us all is to stop being afraid. I will be writing a bigger post covering the ins and outs of how and why you can lose your fears, next week, but until then you can rest easy knowing that anything that anyone in the world ever released to the public was rarely, if ever, perfect.

A better way of working around perfectionism, I feel, is striving to make something great -- not perfect. Here are some pointers for how this can be achieved:

  • Start writing without fear of failure. You will often surprise yourself when you write quickly and without thinking too much into things. There will be time to edit, later.
  • Standardize your work. I can paint elaborate paintings in a classical style if I want to. I can do wonderous things with pencils and pens that would make you think you were looking at a black and white photograph. I don't do these things when I make comics, however, because of time constraints. I would never finish! Simplify your drawing style to a point where it looks great and fits the theme of your story, but isn't taking forever to finish.
  • Quality over all is very important but you simply must find a way to do the best work possible without forcing your audience to wait forever. If you have a webcomic that takes you two weeks to finish a single update, then your audience is waiting too long. Learn to work far ahead of your update schedule, reduce the number of pages you upload per-week or find a way to simplify your presentation.
  • The best update schedule to follow when doing a webcomic is weekly, but the second-best update schedule is whenever you can get your updates ready, consistently. If you absolutely can't work weekly, try once every two weeks, or once a month, but be consistent and don't drop the ball! Keep at it and keep to your schedule!
  • Don't leave your core audience, your tribe, hanging! Even if you're just going to give mini-updates or teaser pin-up style updates -- an update of any kind is better than nothing, to show your audience you are serious about your webcomic.

Remember -- Perfectionism kills good projects. Strive for perfect, but settle for great!


Mary Goglia said...

I am definitely like this in making my wip comics, looking at every little detail and wanting to redo parts of it.
This is a very interesting and informative article.

Dawn said...

I am so glad it inspired you, Mary! Remember - good and great get published while perfect never sees the light of day! Don't be afraid to get out there!