Full Time Jobs vs. Comics

Posted by August 30, 2015 6 Comments

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The world has become overrun with ghosts and only the Shiver Bureau is able to get the ghosts in check. The bureau is made up of a rare group of people called Inspectres, identified by their green hair and eyes. The bureau has gained a lot of power because of their singular abilities and have become feared and untrusted by the people. There are rumors the bureau is corrupt. Inspectre Pickle and Trish are going to clean up the bureau while fighting off hordes of shivers, politicians, and other, more dangerous, things lurking in the shadows.

Walter Ostlie writes,

Hello, my name is Walter Ostlie. I work a 40+ hour job, have a wife and a son, a dog and a cat. I’m an addict.

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I’m addicted to making comics (and eating candy). It’s an addiction because I can’t stop even though there are plenty of reasons to stop. It will most likely never generate money, takes time away from family and friends, and it’s physically and mentally demanding. So why do it? There really isn’t any other choice. However, I’ve learned how to work with this addiction and not let it control me. It’s all about finding a balance and planning.

I haven’t made much money from comics which means I have to work a full time job to pay for all things in life. Well over half of my day is spent working and sleeping. Take a few more hours for eating, chores, exercise, and family time and I have about 2-4 hours a day for comics. That isn’t a huge window of time, especially considering the drain on energy from the rest of my day. I had to find a routine that worked for me and stick to it.

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It wasn’t easy, but I wanted it, so I made it possible. I just finished my second graphic novel “Shiver Bureau” and launched a Kickstarter to fund printing the book. I created this thing, this world, these characters out of nothing and that makes all the hard work worth it. So I want to share my routine in hopes that it will help other creators finish their books. The world needs more comics.

THE ROUTINE

For Shiver Bureau, I would wake up at 6am, chug a glass of water, get coffee, grab a PB and J sandwich, sit my butt in the chair, and start working. There is no question about feeling inspired. There is no time to be inspired. The inspiration came when I decided to create Shiver Bureau. That came and went, now it’s time to get to work.

That would get me about 2 hours of drawing time before I had to get ready for work. Work was a bust for 8 hours, but I found some time at lunch to rough and plan pages. After work, was exercise time. Exercise is maybe one of the most important pieces of the routine. I hate exercising, despise it actually, but it keeps the body in prime fighting condition. Drawing is gruelling on the body. It puts stress on the neck, back, and hands. Exercise keeps me energized and allows me to deal with the toll comic creating puts on the body.

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Then dinner and chill time with the family. Before bed, I try to get in another 1 to 2 hours. I think of this as bonus time. The more I can work before bed, the more I allow myself to feel proud. I try not to work too late though. I need those 8 hours to recharge the batteries. Rinse, repeat.

The weekend is a free for all. It is important to save a lot of the weekend for family, but I still wake up early and try to get 2-3 hours in the morning and another hour spread throughout the day. I try to keep the weekends pretty relaxed unless I am behind schedule.

THE SCHEDULE

The other piece to my productivity is the schedule. I know about how many hours it takes for me to finish a page. I map out what I should have completed by a certain date. I can always refer back to the schedule to see if I am on track or if I’ve fallen behind. If I fall behind then I kick on the afterburners and do more work on the weekends.

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It is important to be realistic when creating the schedule. I don’t want to set a goal that is unattainable. Missing a goal is a tough hit to my motivation. I am honest about what I can complete in a given amount of time. If I wasn’t, the schedule would be pointless and do more harm than good.

QUICK TIPS

If creating comics is a new experience, don’t start with an epic 200 page graphic novel. Start with 10-20 page short stories. This is enough to learn consistency without having to commit to a style. Creating several short comics versus a single long comic allows experimentation which stimulates growth and knowledge. It can also help grow an audience.

Grow a readership by posting stories online. Posting everywhere is tedious, but worth it.

Having a supportive family is key. Discussion and understanding is a great place to start before jumping into creating comics. If everyone knows what is expected there will be less chance for feelings to get hurt and people feeling ignored. The happier the family, the easier comics will be.

Podcasts and audiobooks are the secret ingredients to comic creating. Many creators have self doubt issues and I have it in spades. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks shuts off the part of my brain that whispers words of doubt. On the same hand, I would suggest against listening to music, movies, or TV. Movies and TV are distracting. Music still allows the doubt brain to function.

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Diet is very important The body needs to be in top form to survive creating comics. Originally, my morning routine involved an energy drink and a sweet pastry. On the weekends, I would drink a bunch of energy drinks and eat bags of candy. I used the sugar as my motivation. The sugar sent my body into a downward spiral of depression. I started exercising and eating healthy, cut out sugar. I noticed I was so much more productive. I would wake up in the morning and I was ready to draw, I didn’t have to force myself to draw. Then I would go on another sugar binge and feel less energized. I am not saying to eat like a rabbit, but be careful about sugar intake.

BONUS KICKSTARTER THOUGHTS

Since I just launched Shiver Bureau on Kickstarter, I wanted to document some of my thoughts while they are fresh.

Don’t feel the need to create a bunch of knickknacks to garner pledges. The main focus of the Kickstarter should be the book. Extras can be added later as stretch goals.

Building initial momentum will rely heavily on social circles. Don’t launch before there are at least a few people listening to you.

THE END

Hopefully this helps other creators. I love talking comics and creating comics, so feel free to reach out to me.

WALTER OSTLIE

SHIVER BUREAU KICKSTARTER – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1717578189/shiverbureau

SHIVER BUREAU WEBSITE – http://shiverbureau.com/

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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