I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a few days now! A new year always brings me hope for what is yet to come. There are many possibilities, all unexplored and waiting for me to realize them. I then had the bright idea to go back to last January’s “Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year” post and compare what my goals were with what I accomplished.
Oh man, guys. I’ll keep this brief, because I refuse to let this steal my New Year’s motivation. I FAILED HARD. I had four goals that I identified in that post:
- Participate in color collective prompts at least 2x’s per month.
- Finish some pages for a book dummy.
- Mail out postcards to potential agents and publishers.
- Practice with my watercolors I got for Christmas 2018.
I don’t believe I did a single color collective prompt. I did do some sketches for some page layouts for a book, but I didn’t finish anything. The only postcards I mailed were my Christmas postcards I sent to a few friends and family in December. The one thing I came even remotely close to “achieving” was I did a few pages worth of watercolor drawings.
I won’t make excuses for my failed goals last year because it is pointless to do so. What is important for me to look at is what I learned from this past year. Here are the things I’ve learned which I plan to take with me into this new decade:
Keep Moving Towards the Mountain
I started listening to the SVS podcast Three Point Perspective late last year, and it has really been educational and motivational to me. They have mentioned a couple times the commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman in which he talked about the need to always be moving toward your end goal, your “mountain.”
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from my mountain. -Neil Gaiman
Reflecting on last years goals, I think they were admirable, but I wasn’t zeroed in on my goal. Color collective is great, but will I be better served by cranking out a piece that I’m rushing to finish during a few evenings throughout the week or by spending that same time working on pieces that are perhaps better conceived or will need more refining than a week’s worth of evenings will allow. When working a full-time job and trying to squeeze my illustration time into evenings and weekends, I need to check myself that most of my time is going towards pieces of consequence. Not every moment, but most of it.
Give Yourself Grace When It’s Needed
I experienced a physical set back at the end of summer last year, and ended up taking a break from art for what felt like forever. I struggled with feeling like a failure for not being able to do the work I felt like I needed to be doing. The advice I got from family, friends, and other artists was all the same: let your body heal! Take time to take care of yourself.
There are seasons in life where things get hard. You get sick. You grow your family. You move all of your belongings to a new location. You will not be the same level of creatively productive during these times. You may not even be creatively productive at all! And that is OK. Give yourself the grace to know that this will not be forever, and just get back on that horse when you can. I was off my theoretical horse for months, but I continued to listen to podcasts and think about my ideas I was having during that time. I came back to my illustration with a real fire under my butt to move forward and make something of myself.
Reading is my long-lost lover. I used to tear through books voraciously. Life happened, reading became about getting through text books in college, and reading after having children meant reading the same 10 picture books over and over at bedtime. Now that I am pursuing a career in children’s literature, I have realized the importance of continuing to expand my horizons when it comes to reading. I am reading for myself again. Comics, graphic novels, young adult fiction, science fiction, picture books, and even professional development books are all on my “Want to Read” list on Goodreads, which I began using last year.
I rediscovered the joy of my public library last year, and look forward to my visits! My most recent trip included picking up War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, illustrated by Edward Gorey.
Reading is very important for someone wanting to be an author/illustrator, but reading also important for anyone, ever. Really! It helps you see the world in different ways, learn about topics you might not have known about, and grow your creativity. I challenge you to pick up a book or two this year and learn to love to read.
Onward to 2020
In my last post, I mentioned setting a goal for myself regarding my graphic novel idea that came to me last year. The intention was to have my main plot figured out by year’s end so I could begin fleshing it out further and then storyboarding. What ended up happening was a bit more detailed writing of plot than I had originally intended for the initial run, so I have not yet finished the whole thing. I am getting very close to the end, though, and am very happy with the progress that I have made on that front!
In preparation for undertaking the largest project I’ve ever attempted, I have decided to set about making a shorter comic as a trial run. I will use one of my favorite personal anecdotes and retell the story in graphic novel format, albeit a short one. This will allow me to focus mainly on format and execution instead of laboring over a plot for a long amount of time. I began storyboarding for this project last month, and am probably just under halfway through my first draft.
With all of that said, here is my official list for me to refer back to come next January (or late December, if I’m feeling like an overachiever.) Some of these are not art related, but I wanted to have one master list in one area.
Goals for 2020
- Work on storyboards for my GN and refine my story line.
- Publish my practice comic online by the year’s end.
- Track books I read on my Goodreads account (where my reading challenge is 50 books for the year. It’s going to count picture books, so I’m pretty sure I’ll blow this goal out of the water.)
- Participate in another 5k.
- Finish out our new master bedroom.
- Buy our home (which we’ve been renting for years.)
My next steps for moving forward with my GN will involve finishing my plot notecards. I hope to have those done in the next week. After that, I will be getting some feedback from friends on how the story progresses and see if any major plot points need adjusting before I progress with the story.
As for the practice comic, the next step will be finishing my thumbnails by the end of this month and beginning to revise where necessary. I will plan to check back in at the end of the month with an update on my progress! I will need to keep on track if I am to finish this on schedule.
The topic of schedules reminds me that I am looking into becoming a bullet journalist. I love lists, and have always loved journaling, but found that writing everything out in my journals took too much time out of my evening after I had children. I think I might try out a bullet journal and see if I can figure out a way to make it function for me. So much more effective than my piles of loose note pad pages that I carry around with my notes on them. I did start using one notebook just for story ideas last month and have been super pleased to have that all in one spot. Now I can do that for my whole life (in theory)!
I am moving into 2020 with hope and expectations for a great year. I hope you all take some time to make goals for yourself as well! And if you feel as though you’ve botched your goals or been a failure at any point during the year, just dust yourself off and try again.
I would love to hear from fellow writers/artists with big goals for 2020. Let’s encourage each other and keep one another accountable! Also, hit me up if you bullet journal and know how to make it effective. Beautiful pages are great and all, but I need functionality.