WonderCon ’15 – Switching Sides: Moving From Fan To Creator In Ten Steps

By Michele Brittany, West Coast Bleeding Cool Correspondent

When you go to a comic book convention, do you feel the tug of your dream to become a creator ache down to your soul? Do you stifle a whimper of wishing you were set up at a booth with comic books and/or art you have created? Are you at a loss of where to start? Saturday morning Douglas Neff of Toucan Learning Systems said a big enthusiastic hello to a room full of creative types looking for direction by attending the From Fan to Creator: Goal Setting for Creative Types WonderCon panel.

MBrittany_Fan to Creator 1Neff said it takes talent and craft to move from the front of the table as a fan to behind the table as a creator. It also takes setting, working and achieving your goals, which is what he was going to cover in the hour-long panel. He suggested attending the “how to” panels that provide insight into the creative process. More and more at the cons, attendees can attend panels that have assembled industry experts on design, writing, lettering, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Neff asked the audience if they remembered the concept of earning merit badges at summer camp. He had a similar concept but instead of badges, they were magic gold coins – ten of them in fact.

MBrittany_Fan to Creator 2Coin One. There is no magic. I know you were hoping, as was I, but sad to say but only one person can accomplish your goals: you.

Coin Two. Make it specific – your goal that is. You need to be as specific as possible with your goals. You don’t want any loopholes and you don’t want to be vague. Otherwise, you may not reach your goals.

Coin Three. Make your goal measurable. If you cannot measure your goal, then how will you know if you achieved it? The best way measure your progress is to put a timeline on when you plan to reach your goal.

Coin Four. Make your goal attainable. Neff explained that people typically over estimate what they can do in a year, but under estimate what they can do in a decade. He said that setting goals that are attainable is difficult, so Neff said to not get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time out. Instead, he said to back up, adjust the goal and then try again. Neff was adamant to not quit.

Coin Five. Get some help. Remember the show in which contestants could have a lifeline when they needed help? Same principle except in this instance, you get three! A coach that will hold you accountable to your goals and will kick you in the butt when you are not making your deadlines. A cheerleader to will believe in the dream of you, not your goals, you. This person will boost your confidence when you are down and feeling like you cannot make your goals. And third, a scorekeeping, who is has the expertise in your field, and will provide you with professional (constructive) criticism. This person will give it to you straight. This person is the hardest to find, so when you find time, hold onto them! Oh, and each lifeline is filled by a different person.

Coin Six. Go it one step at a time. Neff used the example of Frodo. He had a goal: take the ring and throw it into the lava of Mount Doom. Now, if he looked at his journey in one huge, gigantic goal, do you think he would have ever started? Or would he have just left the ring on the pedestal and returned to the Shire? You need to break up your ultimate goal into small attainable sizes.

Coin Seven. Play to your strengths, and know your weaknesses. For example, David Banner had to know his limit of anger before he would change into the Hulk. Neff read from Stephen King’s On Writing in which King explained that he found he did his best writing in the morning.

Coin Eight. Do your homework. Batman could not catch the bad guys of Gotham City without doing some homework to find them and know how to best fight and defeat them. Creatively, it means researching the logistics of getting your work out in front of the right people.

Coin Nine. Know your nemesis. Who is your arch enemy? Is it a person or a thing that keeps you from reaching your goal? Get to know your nemesis, put boundaries around it, so you can control and keep it from getting in your way of achieving your goals.

Coin Ten. Never ever ever give up! That’s right, no matter what, if you believe in your dream and your goals, don’t give in.

MBrittany_Fan to Creator 3If you are interested in knowing more, check out Toucan Learning (www.toucanlearning.com) and/or Neff’s book Epic Win! The Geek’s Guide to the Journey From Fan to Creator, available through Amazon.

Michele Brittany is an independent popular culture scholar and semi-professional photographer and editor of James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Superspy (McFarland & Company). She regularly posts reviews and analysis on the spy/espionage genre on her blog, Spyfi & Superspies and can be followed at Twitter @mcbrittany2014.

About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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