One of the interesting problems with doing any kind of creative work that a person does on their own is how to get things done. It’s easy to get things done at a job when you’ve got a boss and a paycheck making sure you do things but if you want to do something like make a painting or a poem all on your own how do you do that? What’s the process? I’ve been facing that question lately as I’ve been trying to get some writing done. Usually I’m good at getting things done because I like to do things. That helps. And habit also helps a lot to. There is an old saying that good habits are as easy to develop as bad ones. The implication is that you may as well develop good habits because the effort is the same as developing bad habits. I’ve done my best to develop good habits so that I can get things done. It’s still not not always easy to get things done though.

I’ve been getting five “Four Talking Boxes” strips done a week now for over a thousand strips. That means I’ve had to write five strips a week. They generally take me about half an hour each to write and I’d squeeze that half an hour in whenever I could. Usually early in the morning, just before bed, or right after diner. The strange part was that I’d always had to ask myself, “Do I want to write a strip today?”. Too often the answer was, “I’ll do it tomorrow” and then I’d lose track of the week have to double up at the end of the week and write two strips in a day. That got to be annoying. Oddly enough my solution was to write one strip every day. That way I never had to ask myself if wanted to write a strip that day and just did it instead. The decision of whether or not to write a strip was more pressure than the actual writing. That also gave me two extra strips a week so now I’m about twenty strips ahead and they’re is even less pressure. Odd that writing more made things easier.

Tools and comfort are also important in getting things done. I’ve been writing this blog once a week for for almost eight years now and I couldn’t get it started until I bought a laptop. My desktop is at standing height and has my Wacom tablet in front of it. I could never write comfortably at it and therefore never did. Since I bought my first laptop in 2005 I’ve been writing regularly. Before that is was on and off again. I also write my comic strips on the laptop so it handles most of my writing chores. Don’t underestimate the power of having the right tool for the right job in getting things done.

One of the things I haven’t written on my laptop is my “Message Tee” comic strip. The writing for that is all the slogans that appear on the shirts but I couldn’t get them done the same way I wrote everything else. As a matter of fact I had a hard time writing them. It wasn’t until I started writing little slogans down in my little notebook as I went on some walks that I was able to finish those strips. The problem now is that I have to start writing some new ones but I haven’t been going on walks like I did last year. I’m either going to have to start walking again or find a new way to write those strips.

Recently I’ve had trouble writing other things because I have no habitual precedent for them. With no good habits to guide me I’ve had to try to find some new ones. First off I haven’t been able to get my “Little Red Sketchbook” story off the ground. All of 2012 I drew in a little red sketchbook with the idea of matching it with some prose and making a book out of it. After finishing all of the drawing, scanning it all in, and setting it up in book form to be written I’ve got nothing. I’ve started it about half a dozen times with half a dozen stories but none of them have stuck. Most of the time it sits there with me not writing it. I’m still figuring out how to get this one done.

Another writing project I finally made some progress on this week was my new “Organics” story. That’s a comic that I made long ago back in the early to mid 1990s that I decided to make a new one of. It’s sort of a Surrealist automatic drawing method of making a comic and I obsessively drew it for about a month. I got twenty two pages drawn but then it sat there for weeks. Luckily I had something to fall back on for this one. I’d done comics like it before. So just yesterday I put all the pages in front on me, put them in order, scanned them in, and set them up to be written and lettered. Then I wrote the first page.

I had an advantage in writing that first page in that I already had it and a few other things written on some index cards. That’s how I occasionally write. In a notebook or on index cards. The disadvantage it that I then have to type it up later but the advantage it that it’s informal and easy to do spontaneously when an idea hits. Of course the biggest disadvantage is that waiting for an idea to hit isn’t a very reliable system. It doesn’t take advantage of habit. I think if I’m going to get this latest “Organics” story fully written than I’m going to have to come up with a new habit or system to get it done. For some reason I think that’s going to involve paper as well as the computer. Maybe that’s because I wrote my other “Organics” stories years ago before I even had a computer and that’s how I remember how to do it. I’m not sure. But either way getting the whole thing set up and getting that first page written is a lot further along than I was last week. Most often getting things done depends the most on consciously deciding to do it. Do it I shall.