Thursday, May 1, 2014

V4 Sneak Peek #7: 3 Keys to Huge Projects

We're drawing the final chapter of Volume 4.  I finished page 15 of Chapter 12 yesterday- which is page 84 of the book as a whole.

And there are still over 30 pages to draw- egads.

Stopping to think about it, the effort required seems almost overwhelming.  Even when Volume 4 is completed, we still have the rest of the series to tackle- years upon years of work.  How do we do it?  When you're in the midst of a long term project, how do you stay on track and keep from getting burned out?

There are a 3 keys to staying productive, and staying sane, in the midst of titanic workloads.

Key 1:  Love work.  

It's not enough to like the *idea* of having a story.  Everybody does that.  But the ones who pull through in the end are the ones who actually enjoy the work itself.  Because that's the real payoff.  Doing, not having.  It's not enough to want a finished book, to want the result.  The mountain climber standing at the summit isn't the one who wanted badly to be at the top- it's the one who loved to climb.  

Key 2:  Do One Thing.  

Effective multi-tasking is a fantasy.  If I have e-mails to answer, art account messages, accounting work, inventory to package, updates to write, and a book to make, one of those must be the Most Important Thing.  Determine what the Most Important Thing is, and get it done.  Note that it needs to be specific.  "Finish Volume 4" can be my priority, but I can't sit down in a day or two and "Finish Volume 4."  That's not a task, it's a goal.  Break goals into incremental stages until you have a doable, finishable set of tasks.  Then do the most important one.
And relax- because, while you're working on it, that task is your sole concern.  You're not doing other things at that moment- so why waste focus on them?  You only have one thing in the world to worry about, so ease up and get rolling.  Doesn't that feel nice?  

Key 3: Balance.

All-nighters are for arbitrary college deadlines on assignments that are only worth a letter grade.  In reality, working efficiently over the long term requires balance.  An all-nighter gives you a few hours of extra work one day, and then robs you of effective function for the next two.  To work effectively you need to be alert, attentive, comfortable- in a word, healthy.  Get balanced meals, sleep at night, take brief breaks to stretch and exercise.  Maintain yourself, because if you really want to complete your project, you need to retain the capacity to work efficiently, indefinitely.

Getting rest and staying healthy is easier said than done, but at least don't deliberately burn yourself out under the delusion that it's helpful.

Another thing that has helped us specifically- our incredible freelancers.  The color blocking is coming right along.  Because of their help, I can focus on pencils and then skip right to shading this summer.  Thanks you guys, you are absolutely amazing!

And what kind of Sneak Peek would this be without a few drawings?

Enjoy, and we'll see you for the next update!


Phillip Mai said...

Hi, call me Mai. I'm new there and I really love your work! I just wanted to asked, are you two saving your work daily in a flash-drive because losing all you work if something technical happen to your computer can be a real bummer. Not to mention redo the work again is a drag. I just want you to know I am a big fan of your and I care of your work.
PS. When will Volume 4 be available in Lulu.

Dave and Liz said...

Good evening Phillip, thank you for the concern. We're definitely saving our work regularly- we've got redundant internal drives and offsite file backup, just to be on the safe side. V4 will be on Lulu after we fulfill the Pre-order customers- but we've gotta finish the book before we can even open Pre-Orders. Thanks for watching our progress!

catgirl said...

Hi Dave and Liz - I just found Dreamkeepers yesterday, specifically the first free Ebook at iBooks, in case you were curious. I'm in love with your world and the characters in it. The work is utterly perfect, and I so hope film rights get picked up by someone. Hand-drawn animated features, especially if they're as beautiful as yours are, are really the best. I assume you both have survival jobs to sustain you, but I can't imagine when you have time to sleep!

I'm catching up with the Saga, about to start Vol. 3, and looking forward to it! Thank you once again for generously sharing your talent with us!