Get yourself over to Tumblr right now because marvelous comics artist Kate Beaton is doing an AMA, and you’re going to want to hear everything she has to say. If you haven’t already stalked her comic strip Hark! A Vagrant, it’s a historical comic caricaturing famous figures, literary characters, or even herself. It’s witty and clever and seriously funny — and you’re going to love it.
Right now, she’s answering all sorts of questions about her work, like the fact that her favorite era to draw is the Middle Ages, and that she gets her pens from jetpens.com, and that she likes cats. (That last one has nothing to do with her work, actually, but it’s still good to know.) But she’s also dropping some serious truth bombs that will inspire you to do your best work, and will help any struggling creative feel a little bit better about their unfortunate writer’s block.
When You’re Not Feeling Inspired
Make a change: your location, your pace, whatever. Something is blocking your thoughts, and you just need to give it a jolt. And definitely don’t beat yourself up about it. As Kate Beaton says, “No one … is going to feel funny every day, and that’s OK.” And don’t think too hard about what you’re supposed to do. Holing up in a secluded cottage might work for some people, but eating ice cream and watching The Mindy Project might work better for you. “Whatever pulls you out of a rut in your mind is legit.”
When You’re Not Getting Enough Done
Just do your best. Don’t even focus on what you haven’t done; it doesn’t matter. “I always come back to [my work],” says Beaton, “even when the updates are less than I’d like.” Hey, you’re still doing something, give yourself a high five!
When You Don’t Know Where To Go Next
Should you pursue another degree? Should you change jobs? Should you drop out and try and make it on your own? For any creative, these questions seem impossible. But you’re not on your own. Beaton’s main words of wisdom: “keep asking around for advice.” Don’t be afraid to admit you need guidance; people will be happy to give it to you.
When You Can’t Get Started
Maybe something great is coming! Some ideas just fly right out; some need a bit more work. Don’t panic — your creativity is doing its thing. And don’t over analyze it either. Kate admits that “[sometimes] I am very slow … and even I don’t know why.”
When You're Not Sure About An Idea
Go with your gut! Your thoughts are there for a reason. Beaton explains that her first drafts always “capture the movement and expression I’m looking for. If I labor on something too long, it looks bad.” There’s no time to be afraid; just follow your heart!
When Everyone Else Is Doing Better Than You
You don’t have to compete with anyone but you. Sure, use them as motivation (Kate said that living in New York “lit a fire” under her), but at the end of the day, it’s about doing your personal best. Beaton’s motto sums it up: “I have to be better at what I do today than I was yesterday.”