I have so many goals I want to achieve, that hardly any of them ever get started. Hopefully, you guys and dolls can share in this (at least a little). Every day at least one new idea pops into my head. Anything from new project ideas, stories, business plans, or just general ‘make my life better’ ideas. Any one of these usually has a mountain of smaller tasks, attached to it making the mountain so much higher than it needs to be. Many times, it’s just totally un-climbable.
Take for example, working out to get that ‘healthy’ body most of us artists don’t have. How do you even start that? Eat better? Work out? Schedule the time to make all those ‘healthy’ meals? Cardio? What kind of cardio? How much? How much will all of this cost, financially and time-wise?
The main problem I started to notice with this kind of thought was that I was focusing on the entire story, when what I should have been focusing on were the chapters. Once you know what you want to write, zooming in on the details, and making sure those all add up, makes stepping back and seeing the finished story happen. A lot of us rush this step, but the details are what make up this little story or book we see in our heads.
How can we use the three acts of storytelling to set goals? If you’re not familiar with the three acts, they basically break down to this:
“The three-act structure is a model used in writing and in evaluating modern storytelling that divides a fictional narrative into three parts, often called the Setup, the Confrontation and the Resolution.”
I’ve included a note card for my personal project, ‘GUILDBORN‘ below. How all of this works is actually quite simple. Grab a note card, or a small piece of paper (the smaller the better, as it takes away our ability to elaborate). The first thing you write down is what the root of your goal is. Place it in the middle of the notecard. As you can see with mine, it’s ‘Create GUILDBORN’. That’s the mountain. That’s our story. Next, write all the important things you can think of right now that are the ‘Setup’ or our ‘Struggle’ with getting this to actually happen, above our goal. A few things I added were ‘Research (covering many different avenue’s), marketing, and most importantly, actually making the damn thing. Finally, the ‘Resolution’. From our struggles and pain, come the pleasures. In many cases this is what we were really after the entire time. Write this below our goal. You can see some quick notes I put down include publishing, conventions and essentially trying to point eyes at it, so people can enjoy the book.
All stories we read, that most of us remember and enjoy, include either a PRO-active hero, or a PRO-active villain. That’s what we need to remember. YOU and I NEED to be the PRO-active hero (or villain ha ha ha) of our goals. No one really cares about those whose stories are in-active. All of the struggles, no matter how hard or simple will make us PRO-active. We need to chase the goals down. Don’t let your goal be pro-active, that makes you in-active.
The fact that these gigantic mountains that we want to climb are created by each of us, and our imaginations is empowering. Sure, we might not ever get to the top of our mental mountains, but by working out your goals like a story, it makes it crystal clear as to what motions, steps and preparations you might need to take, to being your journey.
Finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a video I highly recommend watching daily, if possible:
“You can’t climb the ladder of success, with your hands in your pockets.”
One day, I’d like to be like Doug TenNapel. I remember listening to a short interview he did on YouTube a year or so back, where he talked about creating 1-2 graphic novels a year. That sentence continues to blow my mind. The thought of creating my very own graphic novel is exhilarating, and terrifying all in the same.
To this day I continue to tell myself, that “I have no time.” Working a full time day job at a video game company, hacking away on The Standard, and wrapping up many commissions seems to give that excuse some weight. Gives it some legs. But all of those things (as great as they are) are not “personal”. Don’t get me wrong! Working on a project like ‘The Standard’ has been one of the best experiences of my life. Creating the world and the characters is very personal. What I mean to say is that “personal” projects done by yourself, and only you.
I have yet to seriously push towards attending comic conventions as well. I did attend a few conventions in Chicago around 2003-2005. I also hit up the amazing New York Comic Con in 2012, and that was great! Meeting all the Comixtribe guys was humbling, and inspirational. But I continue to have this fear in the back of my mind to purchase a con-table. One of the biggest fears is “What would I try to sell?” Silly question, isn’t it? I’m an artist! I can make prints, and draw up sketches. There’s a ton to sell. But that’s not enough, for some dark reason, I feel like none of it will matter unless I’m selling a comic book.
That’s why I’ve decided to be a bit more like Doug TenNapel. We’ve all only got a few years on this beautiful pale blue dot, floating in space. Why not do everything we can to make it count? I’ve begun to read novels again, and researching writing tutorials, discussions and lectures. It’s all so amazing! It’s like learning to draw all over again! I know a few of you might think that’s a huge load of work to toss onto yourselves, but for me, it’s been truly liberating. I feel as though my art and story telling has gotten better as well. I can’t explain it entirely, but scripting has actually helped my visual sense of pacing and direction.
GUILDBORN (working title) will be my first graphic novel. There are still tons of things to be done for the book, including the script, but it’s all so exciting. Ever since I read Lord of the Rings in high school, played Magic the Gathering and played Dungeons & Dragons, fantasy has been a huge deal for me. In my entire professional career, I’ve never had the opportunity to create a fantasy world. GUILDBORN will be my excuse to do so. I’m not expecting to create anything that will stand the test of time, or win awards, or be read by millions. This is all about solving two major problems. 1) Creating my first graphic novel, and 2) Have fun letting my imagination go where ever it pleases.
I’ve been posting things here and there, on Facebook and Twitter over the last month. Sketches of character designs, monster designs and other little things. Nothing is cemented or set in stone just yet, but again, listening to Doug’s advice, he brought up trying to work in a simpler style in order to hammer out 2 graphic novels a year. So, here’s a bunch of concepts for GUILDBORN:
I gotta tell ya, setting the goal of having GUILDBORN finished in 2014 is exhilarating. I still have doubts as to whether or not I’ll achieve it. Again, I’m not looking to blow people’s minds. I just want to create a wonderland for myself, and if people want to tag along, well, I hope you enjoy the book! The freedom of a personal project is exactly that. You’re only limited to what YOU want to do. And that truly is something to look forward too.