reichenbachthatbootyup asked: Mr. Gillen, hi, my name is Elisa and I was wondering if you could give me spot or two of advice. A friend and I are starting a webcomic about a superhero of our own design, and this being the first thing I've ever written in this genre, I'm feeling a bit stressed and nervous about the whole ordeal. Especially the part where people will read and scrutinize my words. Do you have any tips on how to get over that so I can feel more confident and do my best possible work?
This is just the hard one. I could write a lot, and suspect still not get any nearer something useful. Here’s some stuff off the top of my head.
Here’s one thing: you must give yourself the freedom to be terrible. At least part of the point of doing your stuff is the process of becoming good. This means you won’t be good to start with. That’s fine. That’s normal. Only by being crap do you proceed to a stage of not being crap.
Two: doing that in public tends to speed up the process. There’s few things that hone you quicker knowing people are going to be able to read this stuff.
Three: No matter how good you are, some people will hate what you do. You will never reach everyone. The greatest creators have people who despise their works.
Fourth: getting your work out in a small indie scale is good practise for all of this. It’s easier to deal with one person hating what you do than thousands. Doing it in a lower level way lets you grow whatever defences you’ll require if your audience grows. This is a necessary skill. I’m often grateful for my background as a games writer, in that I had a decade of people calling for my head within ten minutes of things being published. To work in public pretty much means you need to acquire some calluses on your skin.
Fifth: if you’re leaning sensitive, remember - you don’t need to read people’s stuff. In fact, I openly encourage you against it. It’s probably bad for you.
Sixth: in terms of being more confident, while most of the above is pretty depressing, it’s also enormously freeing. I’ve some of my best commercial work stepping into jobs when I presume people are going to hate me - in which case, it doesn’t matter what I do, in which case all I have is me and the cursor. And the odd thing is that in those situations, it turns out far better than I could have hoped. People didn’t hate me. Hell, in the case of THOR, it pretty much set up my career.
Seventh, if you ever have to deal with someone who’s pretty obnoxious, remember your Wilde. All criticism is autobiography. Whatever they say says more about them than the work in question. This doesn’t mean they’re not correct, but they’re still talking about a lot more than just what you’ve done. However, this does tend to remove the sting from the very worst stuff you’ll receive. When - say - I recieve a death threat or something like that, I find myself grateful they didn’t like the work. “I’d hate to think someone like you liked what I did.”
Eighth: you can always turn off the Internet.
Ninth: Fear is normally a sign that you’re approaching the page with the proper seriousness. Fear is a sign you’re wagering something. Fear is a sign you’re trying something you’re not sure of. Your fear is a sign that the work you’re doing is necessary. Trust your Fear.
Tenth: the audience liking what you do is a secondary concern. This is about you and your art. Don’t worry about them liking your work. Worry about you liking your work. You won’t, of course, but trying to get your vision down there is what it’s all about.
To conclude, while your worry is 100% natural, it’s also a worry you can’t do anything about. If you jump, you’re going to fall. Give yourself permission to fall. All the best angels fall.