Sunday, November 20, 2005

Why Do You Write?

Before you sit down and start writing, you need to ask why you are writing in the first place. Different people write for different reasons, and some of those reasons don’t make for great writing.

Money: Let’s nail this one right off the bat. The odds of you making any money at this are slim to none. You may make enough to pay for materials, but that’s about it, and that’s if you are extremely lucky. The problem is that most people either don’t go in with a business plan, or they go in it specifically for the money. Because this is a business that depends so heavily on the art, you can’t really predict what kind of money you will make; the art will either be incredible or mediocre, and either a fan favorite or not. And neither has anything to do with the other.

Fame: This is most likely, but still not a good enough reason to start a webcomic. Fame in any art is fleeting; that is exacerbated in an internet-based art-form, given the web’s time dilation effect. If you want fame, try a rock band instead or an acting career instead; at least you will have something permanent to remember your fame by, not to mention some interesting stories.

Advertising: This is sort of debatable. The idea is that the website acts as an advertising panel for your art. The problem with this is that, because you are trying to run two entirely different kinds of business. The art business requires a certain kind of mindset; you have the same kind of self-promotion, but you can go for weeks or months without having to post something. A webcomic, however, requires a posting at least once a week. Also, an art studio can be dependant on just one type of art (photography, painting, what have you); a webcomic requires not only good drawing ability, but good writing as well. Even the best artists don’t have usually decent story-telling skills, and without them the comic falls flat. As it was your source of advertising, your business dies quickly. Seriously debate this.

I Needed A Hobby: NO. Just run away now. Don’t look back, and have no regrets. A webcomic represents a commitment. I know that a lot of hobbyists are capable of some extreme commitments, but this requires a long-term boring commitment; this is a marriage-type commitment. There will be problems, you need equipment and software that isn’t cheap, and this is not good for a momentary rush. If you need a creative outlet, take up painting.

Because You Have To: Now, we’re talking. The more passionate that you are about what you want to do, the more successful it can be. If you need to draw, and you don’t feel good unless you have written or drawn something, then that’s the best sign. You may see it as way to the Major Leagues (Marvel, Dark Horse, Tokyopop), and you need the training. But this is something you see yourself doing for a long time, just like you intend to breath for a long time, but you consider breathing optional; without the strip you are nothing. That’s what I’m talking about, and that’s the only acceptable response.


Willie Hewes said...

Firmly disagree. I started my webcomic on a whim, and it's still just a hobby (I'm not making money, ergo, it's a hobby). That's not a bad reason, and it doesn't mean I'm not going to get somewhere.

Also, are you talking about writing or drawing? I'm confused.

Finbar Reilly said...

1) I'm definitely talking about writing.

2) It sounds like you have decided to go somewhere with, rather than just something to do. Guess I ned to clarify that...


Anonymous said...

I like what you said about doing a webcomic being a marriage-style commitment, I've used that analogy before. I've started a lot of comics in my life and gotten bored of them... which is a common problem for fledgling comic writers (and to willie hewes: you are likely an exception).

I'm not going to make any claims that I'm any kind of good writer, but I do know that I took my time preparing my comic and *ahem* "getting to know it" for about 3 years before I started actually doing the pages. While I still got a little ahead of myself and am still filling plot holes here and there ^_^;, I'm at the point where I can't not do this webcomic, and bringing it to life is incerdibly fulfilling, my main ambition (I mean, besides actual marriage and family one of these days).

This comic that will likely consume my life for the next 4, 6 or even 10 years... and I'm ok with that!

Anyways, just a note... I really like this blog and will be watching it closely, I really like your articles! You may want to see this blog that covers some similar webcomicky themes, (I think):

~Serena Samborski (You may see me on the gaia forums as "Serena", that's how I got here)