Tips for working on a long series

I started replying to this question saying “I can think of 3 reasons…” but I couldn’t put it into short descriptions, so I thought I’d write it down here.

I’ve just finished drawing Grey is… Volume 7 and I don’t feel like I’ve worked for so long on it, but I think 8 years under the belt might give me some place to talk about the things you need to commit to a long series, since the story has just reached its mid point… I think.

From my humble experience, here are a few tips I found helped me in how to find discipline to work on a long series.

• Real true passion for the story

This is the most important thing. If you have it, you’ll find all ways and all techniques to tell it, even if it changed format, look, style, etc. If you love it enough, you’ll have the will to tell it.

• Knowing one’s self

… so deeply with all flaws, strengths, weaknesses to be sure of what you like and want to tell, what you enjoy most and to be able to play all the mind tricks to get yourself on the desk, coz man you’ll need those.

Knowing one’s self, in my opinion, comes even before passion. If  you know yourself enough, if you self-reflect enough, if you observe yourself enough, you’ll be able to know exactly what it is you’re passionate about. But the nature of passion is mysterious and fluid, so it can so easily come first from a very unknown place. Being self-aware of where it comes from though helps a great deal when you’re unmotivated, uninspired, burnt out, facing an art-block or struggling with where to go with your series.

Knowing one’s self is a key element for succeeding in any profession, really.

• Standing on the line between caring and not caring

… for feedback.

Remembering to take your readers’ comments into consideration to a certain point is essential.

Readers can open your eyes to questions you’ve never thought of, and their interest in certain trivial things can help you add a flavor, a gag, or an ongoing joke to your series. Comments can totally encourage or discourage you too, so you need to remember to stay in the middle dealing with those. Always interact with your audience but try to know how to let them affect you and your series.

Remember that those good and bad comments aren’t the only ones out there. There is a bigger number of people who are silent. And since they didn’t say anything and are still there, then it means they have nothing to say but enjoying the way you’re doing it. It’s good to have a few people whom you trust and know they know you and your vision. Those people are the ones whose feedback you take at face value and can help you get your head out of the sand when needed.

This point is so important for indie creators and webcomic artists, but it also works even if you’re published. If you know what you want to tell enough, and have passion for it, you’ll be able to convince even the biggest publishing company (if they’re interested in your work) of what it is you want to say over the years.

• Balance

Always balance your life. Work constantly but don’t over-work. Take care your family, friends and important relationships but keep in mind to take care of yourself as well. Take breaks but don’t drag. Look for ways of entertainment and follow other artists’ blogs, social accounts, video channels, but never too much to make sure you don’t get lost in a sea of different opinions, visions and voices.

• Abstract simple small steps

Whether it’s planning your work day or planning for your story. Never go into all details.

We as creative people like things to be interesting and creating is exploring the unknown, so if you detail everything in your story, it’ll quickly become boring and very known ground which you’re comfortable with but can become monotone for you. You need to keep the process of creating and the work you’re creating new to you every day.

Routines will change over the years. Methods for planning. Tools of trade and all other techniques you use will vary, just for the sake of keeping it new and fresh for you as a productive creator.

Thank you Micah for the question, and I hope this helps in any way.
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