Forgive Yourself (on Freelancing)

From a video interview with Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment). This spoke to me so, so much, I had to transcribe it for myself – proving that I am just a little bit crazy…

“As a freelance artist, working at home, you encounter two demons. Two major demons at the beginning of your day and through your day.

The first demon is a blank page. There’s nothing scarier than staring at a blank page and wondering, ‘What the hell am I gonna do? How do I start?’

The other demon is that you realize that you have been looking at the same four walls in your studio for twelve hours, and what happens with that (you may not even realize it) is that you start to get cabin fever. You start to go a little bit crazy, and the more you’re locked into your room on deadline, the crazier you end up getting. Your brain just starts thinking silly things.

I used to have huge problems with deadlines as an artist, and when I looked at my day it wasn’t like I was out goofin’ off. I was at the table every day, seven days a week, and I still wasn’t delivering stuff on time. It wasn’t for lack of working. And my editors were getting upset, and I couldn’t figure out why this was happening to me… I would draw and erase continually, trying to get one panel [of a comic book] perfect, until I got so frustrated and I was just completely blocked. (You start thinking: ‘I’m not good enough.’)

One day I said, I’m gonna be a little more forgiving here, because I started doing the math hourly, and this is not working out. So I got to a point in one particular day where I was blocked on something that I just couldn’t nail, and I gave it like four or five tries. I spent a couple of hours on it and I said, you know what? Here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m gonna put it down. I’m gonna take a shower, get dressed. I’m gonna go outside. I’m gonna have dinner. I’m going to take the day off. I’m going to make it okay for me to take the day off – and just walk away from it.

And I did that, and when I came back… boom! I was able to do it. And as long as you’re not taking five days off in a row, but as long as you’re forgiving enough to say, ‘Today’s not a great day. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s okay for me to take a day off.’ As long as you’re budgeting your time and saying, ‘You know what? I haven’t taken a day off this week: go. Let me just get away.’ Doesn’t matter if it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; just go and step away from the page. When I come back, I’m in a better frame of mind to do it. So I’ve taken that with me.

And of course sometimes, you just don’t have the time to take that day off, and you gotta grind it. But if you’re more forgiving to yourself about anything you do, whether it’s art, writing, whatever it may be, I find that it opens you up a little bit better. Unclogs the system.”

-Joe Quesada

Here’s the full interview at CBR TV from last year, which includes a whole host of comics stuff. The part I transcribed is just a short section.

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