Something that everyone will unquestionably struggle with at any point in their creative career is “Where do I find the drive and motivation?” Well I’m here to break the news to you. If you really love something and have a creative passion for it, the instances where you have to ask yourself that question should be very few and far between. Everyone has a moment of doubt every once in a while, but if you’re asking yourself how to find the drive to do something on a daily basis, week in and week out for months on end, it’s probably time to find a new interest or hobby.
Don’t focus on an idealized pie in the sky expectation. Analyze the numbers. Learn about your industry. Every industry has business publications. Seek them out and find out what sales figures are like for the particular type of project you want to create. Talk to those professionals and fellow creators that you’ve met through things like collaboration. All these friends that I’ve been telling you to make are resources. Soak in those books I told you about and when all else fails, just come out and ask somebody what they get paid to do their work. Just be respectful about it. You could even ask someone how much they would charge you to do that work or how the sales are on their books. Do not look at others’ self-promotion or movies or online videos or music videos and think that’s the life that you’re going to live and achieve. It’s not real. It’s all part of image and marketing. Famous writers, authors, actors and creative folks that make millions of dollars, or allegedly make millions of dollars, have media and marketing gurus on their payroll. The image being presented is always more glamorous than the reality. Fame does not always equal fortune. Many famous actors, authors, comedians, musicians and others are making less than what you do with your day job. They do this because they love it and have a passion for it. So get into this with realistic expectations. Don’t expect to pay off your house mortgage, your car payments and get a villa in Tahiti after your first year of self-publishing comics. It’s not gonna happen.
Be honest with yourself
What are your motivations for creating this comic? Cut through all of the noise and all of the fluff that you would give in your imaginary dream television interview and really think about why you want to do this. Be honest with yourself about your motivations. If you want to be a writer, creator or graphic novelist because you want fame and fortune, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. I hope you read the point before this, about being realistic. Be very aware that fame and fortune do not always go hand-in-hand. Fame and fortune is a convenient figure of speech, but does not reflect reality. Many people are famous and don’t have a dime. Many people are incredibly wealthy and you’ve never heard their name. I’ve met a few people who are very wealthy and nobody knows them and they seem to be the happiest of the bunch. I wish that I could fit in that latter category. I could be happy about it, but I don’t do this for money. I have personally experienced at least a mid-level amount of fame with some of my projects, doing television and radio interviews and stuff, but just because you’re getting a lot of media coverage does not mean that you’re making a lot of money. It’s a false assumption. In the Middle Ages, scientists of the time believed that after a certain amount of time, garbage would compress and turn into rats. They thought human garbage created lower life forms. It sounds absolutely insane to our sensibilities now, but at the time it seemed like the most obvious association to the thinkers of the day. Rats were always around garbage, so they came from it. They didn’t have the tools or the perspective to see how false that assumption was. In the same vein, we only assume fame and fortune go hand-in-hand with creativity and attention because we see them around each other, so we assume that they come from one another. The reality of the fact is they can all be existing, apparently together, and neither one is a guarantee of the other. So please be honest with yourself. If you are looking for fame and fortune, this is probably not the industry for you. You will likely be one million times happier if you pursue a career as a golfer, defense lawyer, or almost anything really. If the idea is money, then start saving up for medical school. If you want to share your knowledge and tell stories to help inspire others and share your ideas with an audience, then this is where you want to be.
Follow your passion
Fitting in with both of the previous points, I’m going to use an oft heard cliché. Follow your passion. That is the only valid motivation to work as a creative writer or artist. Yes, you deserve to be paid for your work, and no, don’t do it for free, but the money you make from it should be the result of something you put the effort into because you truly love it. Follow your passion. Make comics because you can’t picture yourself not making comics. Apply that to anything in your life. If you want to create, if you want to pursue a creative venture, do what it is that you can’t not do and do it regardless of your life or financial situation. Don’t rush or be impatient. It took me 10 years of indie, small press and self-published comics before I ever got a job with a large publisher. Do what you love. Fit it around your life and continue pursuing how to do that thing you love as a job to make a living. It takes time to learn from others, but if you spend all your time learning and no time doing then that’s not called productivity either, that’s called procrastination. So follow your passion. If you love making jewelry, make jewelry, even if you have to flip burgers at McDonald’s for 30 hours a week during your days. When you’re not busy with that, make jewelry and squeeze in small amounts of time to learn more about making jewelry. Same goes for comics and graphic novels. If your passion really is money, you may want to pursue accounting or banking and have the ability to look and play with all the money you want every day.