Benefit of Writing Comics: Constant, Regular Practice
December 19, 2014
Over on my other website, www.CubesComic.com, I release a small web comic strip twice a month (the first and third Wednesdays of each month for those who are interested). As I write this, I’ve recently started my tenth year of doing these short, four panel comic strips. In those ten years, lessons I learned writing those comics have helped make me a better writer overall.
Through a series of blog posts, over the coming months, I thought I might share some of those lessons, in the hopes they’re helpful to someone else. I strongly believe that everybody has to find the method and style of working that is most suited to them. This worked for me. Do what works for you.
So after writing comic strips twice a month for nearly ten years, what is the first benefit that springs to my mind? Writing comic strips twice a month for nearly ten years.
Anyone who has ever tackled a large, creative project knows that it’s a LOT of work. Whether it’s composing a musical piece, writing a novel (or even a short story), programming a software application, painting a, um, painting, or whatever the case may be, it’s a LOT of work. So much so that I suspect many such projects never get started let alone finished.
Therein lies one of the key benefits of a simple four panel comic strip. They’re short. To do any one comic strip is not a large time commitment. From idea to finished comic strip it typically takes me two to three hours. On my release schedule, that amounts to only four to six hours per month. Not too much of a time commitment there.
In the early days of creating my comics, it was great to see that I had brought something of this nature into existence. I’ve done it so many times now, I tend to take it for granted unless I stop and think about it. When I do stop and think about it, it’s just as cool now as it was ten years ago.
The great thing about doing even just one comic strip is that once you’ve done it once, it’s easier to do it a second time. And after doing it a second time, well, what’s a third time? And then a fourth? A fifth?
That’s another benefit to doing these small comic strips. It becomes habit forming. It becomes a part of your life. I can’t imagine now not doing a new comic strip every couple of weeks. I can’t even remember what it was like before I started regularly releasing comics. It’s become ingrained in me.
At the outset of this post, I mentioned how writing comics made me a better writer overall. In fact, in this particular case I would say it’s made me a better creative person overall. Consistently doing these comics—these small creative works—every month has given me the experience and the confidence to tackle larger projects.
Take a large project like a novel, for example. My recently released novel, Satin & Sutherland – The Golden Curse, is about 140,000 words long. Well, I certainly didn’t write all those words in one go. Instead, I broke that up into small manageable chunks. Large enough to make progress, small enough not to be overwhelming. That was something I could do because I knew, from the experience of writing all those comics, that I could do it. I knew I could see that project through to completion with a little time and hard work.
For me, the key here was consistently doing those small creative projects every month. It gave me the chance to practice my technical skills (writing and drawing) and got me in the habit of regularly producing material. By the end of the first year of writing Cubes I had a good body of work to look back on and see what I was capable of. Once you know what you’re capable of, there’s no stopping you.
Want to know more about the benefits of writing comics? Check out the rest of the series.
- Part 1: Constant Regular Practice
- Part 2: Releasing Material
- Part 3: Character Growth
- Part 4: Long-term Story Planning
- Part 5: Writing Tight
- Part 6: Pacey Dialog
- Part 7: Humour or Humor