A couple months back, those of you that follow me on Twitter (@mbreitweiser), may have noticed that I was selling off my xbox. While not that big of a deal, it was really part of a large scale overhaul and re-evaluation of how I live and work. The exodus of the Xbox, was quickly followed by that of the Wii, and even our HDTV plasma, along with a few other underused distractions in our now TV-less and Console-less household.
My career was at a tipping point, really. I was struggling with even doing 3 penciled and inked pages every week, and frankly, Marvel was growing increasingly frustrated with my output, and so was I. I was tired of being handed open-ended projects, because I couldn't be trusted to ship on time. At the end of my 31st year of life, I felt that if I didn't imediatly get serious about being and artist, and a leader in the art community, then my opportunity would be blown forever. That would amount to a lot of wasted years building a career that I could be proud of just to see it all slip away.
Most of my productivity issues stemmed from distraction, and distraction stemmed from fear. Sometimes fear of failure, sometimes fear of success. So the first logical conclusion I reached was to get rid of all the distractions I went to when fear kept me from my drawing table. In my case it was Call of Duty MW2. The Xbox was gone within in days. I experienced a withdrawal for a day or two, but after that it really felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Getting rid of the distraction wasn't the only solution, though. I really had to change my perspetive on working. My iPad had arrived around this time, and with the distractions gone, there was a marked uptick in my book consumption, and I started reading "Linchpin" by Seth Godin.
The first half of Seth's book was pretty much retreading philosophies I had formed on working creatively in and since college. The second half of the book, however, was what really affected me. About overcoming your fears, shipping your product, and sharing your creativity with others. It really opened my eyes up to a new way of working.
I had been entirely too selffish with my work and my time. I had a lot of knowledge about art, but wasn't sharing it freely enough. I had the capacity to make more art to share, and I wasn't living up to that potential. And, most importantly, I started looking for fullfillment in creating things rather than consuming them.
Also, on the physical side of things, my colorist and health nut wife started shifting us to a diet of more raw and vegatarian foods. A change in my diet gave me a noticably clearer mind, so thanks babe for keeping us healthy!
A marked uptick, not only in my productivity, but also my general happiness ensued. I started looking at my art as little gifts. Sure Marvel pays me for them, but I'm essentially giving it to the reader to enjoy as a little gift. And the more I gave, the better I felt! I quit worrying about making the art perfect and just started making the art FINISHED.
last week I did 11 pages in 7 days, then the next few days pitching in on the inking and coloring to make sure it got out on time. I shipped. I made the deadline. And on a major Marvel title that was waaay behind schedule. Sure I only slept 4 hours a night, but it got done, and it felt great! Not only did I earn the trust of my editors, but I can now trust myself. I can ask for higher profile book with tighter deadlines, and I am confident that I can ship. On top of that I've accomplished much more. Elizabeth and I painted and redecorated the house, I've been writing and reading TONS more, and I've found more time to connect with friends and fans.
Oh, and as a completely unexpected side benefit, I started making more money!
In short, distractions are only outlets for your fear. You can get rid of them, and just find more distractions, or you can alter your perspective towards work entirely, and find new meaning through productivity.
Anyways, those are just some thoughts I have been chewing on lately. I would Highly reccommend reading, Linchpin. Also, I read "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink , and "Cognitive Surplus" by Clay Shirky. All great books about how creativy and giving go hand in hand with productivity and business.
Thanks for reading!
@mbreitweiser on Twitter