Step 1: Get an idea. A really, truly amazing idea. An idea so original, so poignant, so epic, that it simply must be told, and only in the form of a comic can it be told to peak effectiveness.
Step 2: Get excited. Tell everyone–but be very, very vague. Flood your social media accounts with enthusiastic and enigmatic posts like, “Y’all, I have the best idea, and I’m going to do a super cool thing with it! Updates coming!! Watch this space!!!” Then, when people press you for details, say, “I can’t tell you, I don’t want to jinx it!”
Step 3: Start making the thing! Clear off some space on your desk. Sharpen your pencils. Get out that special notebook you’ve been ‘keeping for the right project’. Make a playlist to set the mood. Buy healthy, brain-fueling snacks. Find your favorite straw cup (it was in the sink with the dirty dishes) to help make sure you stay adequately hydrated. Wash all the dishes since you’re there. While you’re at it, tackle those piles of stuff on your desk that you moved out of the way. A clean work area will help you focus, right? Dust! Mop! Vacuum! Take out the trash!
Photo Credit: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole & a Half
…Take a shower. You’re sweaty from all that cleaning.
Step 4: Take a nap.
Step 5: Start making the thing for real this time! No excuses. You’ve got everything you need. Your space is spotless, your materials are ready and waiting. You have a Great Idea, and all you need to do is get it onto the page.
Step 6: ::stares at the wall::
Step 7: ::refreshes Twitter compulsively::
Step 8: ::stares at the wall some more::
Step 9: Okay. Gonna do the thing. Really and for real. Just get it started. If you can just get it started, everything will fall into place. Right?
Step 10: ::gazes in despair at the wastebasket full of crumpled-up papers::
Step 11: Well, you gave it a good try. You can start fresh tomorrow.
Three Weeks Later…
Step 12: Whoops. Life sort of happened, didn’t it? All right, let’s get back to this. Time to outline! That should help. Wait–instead of a traditional outline, how about a sticky-note wall? Or better yet…
Step 13: Get dragged out by your friends because you’ve been shut in for six days, happily (and slightly obsessively) turning your office into a yarn web in an eerie imitation of a conspiracy theorist’s living room.
Photo Credit: The Beaverton
Step 14: Start writing in earnest.
Step 15: Get excited again. “This is great! This is incredible. I am incredible. Look how much I’m writing! I’ll be done in no time.”
Step 16: Uncertainty. “Wait, this is good, right? I mean…right?”
Step 17: Melancholy. “This is crap.”
Step 18: Comparison. “Ugh. Why am I even trying? All these other writers are so much better than I am!”
GIF Credit: Nickelodeon Television, “Ren & Stimpy”
Step 19: ::cricket noises::
Several Months Later…
Step 20: Get bored one afternoon and re-read what you’ve written. “Hey, this isn’t that bad. Actually, it’s pretty darn good!”
Step 21: Start writing again. Really get into a groove. Enjoy yourself. It’s all coming together!
Step 22: Writer’s block.
GIF Credit: BBC UK, “Black Books”
Step 23: Try everything you can think of to shift the creative malaise. Read comics by writers you love. Search the Internet for inspirational quotes about writing. Do some research into that one thing in your story that needs historical verisimilitude. Buy a giant pile of “How 2 Rite Gud” books by authors you admire, try to read them, and burn out almost immediately because they’re all so different and each claims that their way is the way and it’s far too confusing and just frustrates you even more. Take long walks. Meditate. Check your horoscope. Burn sage in your writing space. Make a sacrifice to the Writing Gods deep in the woods in the middle of the night by the light of a full moon. Eat an entire pint of ice cream while sitting on the sofa in your pajamas and sobbing over Steel Magnolias.
Step 24: Decide just to push through. Work on other sections until the fog lifts. Edit. Re-write. Plot what’s going to happen later on in the story, after the section that’s giving you troub—
Step 25: Holy cats, you’ve come unstuck!
Step 26: Finish your first draft in a haze of elation. You’re back. This is fun again. This idea is totally awesome again. Everything is going to be okay!
Photo Credit: Charles Schultz, “Peanuts”
Step 27: Edit your draft.
Step 28: Repeat steps 16-20.
Step 29: Edit your draft again.
Step 30: More edits.
Step 31: Even more edits.
GIF Credit: Universal Pictures, “Bruce Almighty”
Step 32: Congratulations! You’re finally satisfied with the state of your first draft. It is everything you ever wished it could be, and more. Now, since it is a comic, it’s time for Phase Two: Art!
Step 33: Remember that you can’t draw for beans.
Step 34: ::primal scream::
Painting: Edvard Munch, “The Scream”, 1893