Last week, on Outside the Panels #5, I wrote about plotting a comic and structure. This week, on OTP#6 I want to write about inspiration for creativity and story. Where do ideas come from? Honest answer to that question is, living. Just living life and experiencing everything is what fills the well of ideas.
Before I start….
I hate urinals… Passionately. The very site of them just skeeves me out. Let me stop right here and just say that this did not just come out of no where, and I don’t just randomly sit in a room, thinking about urinals. I was actually in NYC for meeting. Think about it, you’re standing up and peeing on a wall with another man peeing into his own urinal. Sometimes you get little wall dividers for “privacy” and sometime you don’t like in MetLife Stadium –it’s disgusting. Honestly, there is nothing private about them. Your “junk” is hanging out, while another man’s junk is hanging out. Your pee has a smell and so does his, the guy next to him, the guy on the other side of you and the next to him. To the ladies reading this… sorry, but this is something that continues to nag my brain and if I don’t get this down then I won’t be able to write the next few weeks of C U NEXT TUESDAY. In closing, urinals are unsanitary in every way and totally disgusting. (Being bladder shy certainly doesn’t help the situation.)
In other events, I was on LinkedIn the other day and saw a question in one of the groups I belong to. The question went like this, “How can I find inspiration to write a comic?” Here was my two-cents:
I wouldn’t look for inspiration… I know it sounds weird, but hear me out…
If you spend time thinking about writing and looking for inspirations then you aren’t doing much writing. Personally, I think the worst thing to do is look for inspiration. Just let it come to you. Read comics, books, or even scripts (any). Watch TV/movies/youtube videos, listen to music, are all usual answers.
My answer is a bit different…
Here is a good exercise that will get your creative juices flowing… I guarantee it.
Just open any comic in your stash… Anything. Open to a page –any page. Write that page in a comic script format but just don’t use the characters. (Ex. Substitute what that character is instead of their actual name… hero, villain, damsel in distress, kid on a street… whatever, wherever) Then just keep writing what you think should happen. I’m not saying use that exact thing as your story –you could, I suppose– but at least now you have a start point. If you don’t like it don’t use it. But at least you are feeding your creativity and moving your fingers.
If that doesn’t work, just take a scenario: Main character gets home from work and…. There is a fight in the schoolyard but…. One fine day, in the middle of the night when…. The president has a bodyguard who… A recovering addict is going to…
Take any situation in the world –don’t be picky– and add the words: “and, but, who, when, if, then” to the end of that situation and keep going. That really is a great exercise. IF you can’t build from that then I don’t know how else to help.
Does any of that make sense?
My best advice is “don’t think about writing… just write.” It will come to you. Just remember, if you truly have a passion for writing you will do whatever it takes to write.
I really like helping people who want to figure out how to get into this whole comics thing. Maybe, if I ever become relevant in the comics business I could teach a course at a university as an adjunct, turn it into full-time (one course a week) and get my kid to go there for free. Yes, I have absolutely thought that out a few times in my head. As a person with $97,000 left on his student loan repayments, consider this elaborate scheme plotted.
I had some random idea for a comic one time. I was listening to the Word Balloon Podcast and host John Siuntres was having a conversation with Greg Rucka. I was on twitter just browsing, re-tweeting and favorite-ing, when Greg Rucka was talking about his upcoming Dark Horse title, Veil, and he said something that dropped a key into my mind. I picked the key up and wondered for about two seconds what that key opened then a door slammed down in front of me –it almost crushed my foot! I took that key and stuck it in –that’s what she said– and the key opened the door. I couldn’t see anything beyond the light casted in from behind me, but that never stopped me before. I walked in and saw this idea come to life before my eyes. Right then I realized that while it would be a good idea for a comic, it would be a better story if it was a novel.
In all the writing I have ever done I have never attempted to write a novel. I know it is a lot of work. There is research involved, formatting, long-distance pacing, and a whole heap of madness. Well… that isn’t much different than comics is it? Maybe if I just take it a few steps at time I will be good. “Time” … now there is something I don’t have much of, and will have even less of when my baby comes trying to play. I think I could do it, I mean… sure. Why not give it a shot?
If I was to write this idea as a novel, I have the beginning as clear as day, I know exactly how it has to end, and the middle doesn’t really need details because I never write with a plan for the middle of any of my comics. I just let the story and the characters guide me to the ending. Maybe I should give it a shot?
Hmmmm… while contemplation ensues don’t forget to enter your email at soulmen.launchrock.com!!!
Thanks for reading!