Preview Blog: When is it Time to Quit?

Every artist thinks about quitting at some point. When you are just starting out and there’s little or no attention being paid to your work, it can seem like an exercise in futility to keep making comics. Why spend hours of your life on something nobody cares about?

At this point, quitting seems like the best idea. You get your life back and you no longer have to deal with the frustration of pouring your heart and soul out with nobody being interested.

But what if you’re quitting too early. What if the next update, or an update next month, is what catches the attention of the public and finally gets you the audience you deserve? You’ll have missed out on everything you were hoping for because you quit too early.

So when is the right time to quit? When you’ve been going for 6 weeks and nothing is coming together? When you’ve been working for six months and the only page views are from your Mother? How about when you’ve been updating for 6 years and you still only get 10 views a day? Or 100? Or 1000?

We’ll be discussing all this and more when we record on Thursday, and we’d like to hear your views. Leave us a comment here, on Twitter or on Facebook and we’ll make your views heard on the show.

8 Responses to “Preview Blog: When is it Time to Quit?”

  1. smbhax29 August 2012 at 09:06 #

    Well obviously “what if the next update, or an update next month, is what catches the attention of the public and finally gets you the audience you deserve” is the wrong way to approach working on your webcomic, although hopefully I’m not the only one who nursed that romantic notion when I first started (“maybe *this* update is the one that goes viral! :o”). But 99.99999% of the time it doesn’t work like that–an audience usually being more of a gradual building process–so it’s probably best just to get that idea out of your head as soon as possible.

    As for when to quit, perhaps simply when you don’t like it anymore. That could be for a lot of reasons–maybe just thinking about the comic fills you with disgust, or you don’t like being hungry and living in cyber cafes so you have to go get a job instead, etc. In all the final statements left on all the dead comics I’ve seen, it pretty much always has to do with the author, rather than the audience.

    • Zoe Kirk-Robinson29 August 2012 at 12:25 #

      Thank you. I was hoping someone would take this view. You’re entirely right, in my opinion, that you can’t look at comics from the point of view of “*this* is the update that will make my fame/fortune/girl of my dreams love me!” because that’s not how art works.

  2. Stef Marcinkowski30 August 2012 at 02:39 #

    Failure + a single day = success.

    Understanding one’s own motivations is key to knowing when to pull the plug.

    For the casual webcomicker, a steamy relationship or perhaps a steamy math exam may be enough to make us want to throw in the towel.

    For an aspiring pro, who’s trying to hone their craft at an accelerated pace, bailing out on one property to develop another may be a smart move.

    For anyone who’s developing a career, buying a home or starting a family, there’s not a lot of time available for making comics. It was fun while it lasted.

    To anyone who’s still making comics, despite impossible odds: we will never pull the plug because of SPITE.

    • Spencey30 August 2012 at 12:31 #

      It depends on your motivation behind making comics in the first place. Is your focus on making a comic because you love comics, or do you see the comic as a vehicle to get you to another specific goal (money or fame for example).

      I get the feeling that a lot of people start making a comic because they perceive it as a passive way of making some cash and possibly earning some secondary fame, dreaming of the day when they are standing in line and they hear some kids whispering, “Psst! Isn’t that the guy who draws Betty McCrombie: the DayGlo Zombie?” However, they soon learn that it can be hard work, both to find (and keep) an audience, to maintain a schedule and to make people actually care about the work. For these people, unless they are very, very lucky, it is a matter of waiting for the penny to drop. They will drop the comic to pursue their *actual* goal.

      Personally, I like coming up with (hopefully) clever storylines. I like drawing girls and cars and writing quirky dialogue. I like building up a readership. Despite starting a family and having changed my day job I do keep trying to get back to the comic. Why? Because that’s my focus. I love it!

      • Stef Marcinkowski31 August 2012 at 01:52 #

        I’d love to hear your thoughts, James, on keeping up with a comic with kids. With two 6-month-old twins, I have almost NO TIME to continue Sarah Zero, and all the time management skills in the world can get me only so far!

        • Spencey31 August 2012 at 13:08 #

          Six-month old twins?! Oh boy! First off, congratulations. But let me reiterate… oh boy.

          I’m not sure I can tell you much that you don’t already know (and with two versus my one you probably know the story better than I do!) In the 15 months since my son was born, I’ve spend around 10 months regularly updating a comic but I have had to recognise my limitations and have taken 5 months off during that time.

          I realised early on that I will never again *find* time to update a comic. It’s never going to happen because there’s always something to be done. Accepting that simple fact has freed me …to *make* time for my comic. In other words, I don’t wait for a chance to work on the comic, I look at my available time and nominate some time for it to happen.

          For me, it’s all about setting a routine for the wee one (so much easier as he gets older, by the way). Mine is in bed every night somewhere between 7 and 8pm. He wakes up between 6 and 7 am (and I’m always on breakfast duty). I can’t do anything at the weekends or during work hours. So, that leaves me between 8pm and, say, 10pm weeknights to split up anything that needs done (housework etc). I’d estimate that I can dedicate a maximum of 5 hours per week to work on the comics this way.

          However, as you know, good comics are about good planning. Time in the shower, giving the baby a bottle, driving to work, eating lunch or doing housework can be spent figuring out layouts, mentally writing scripts or just thinking about ideas and jokes, etc.

          I also had to prioritise and figure out what was needed to get the job done. I realised that I was spending loads of time commenting on other people’s comics, replying to comments on my own site, participating in Twitter discussions, participating in the Webcomics Co podcast (the best podcast since records began!), attending conventions and drawing pin-up art. None of this was actually ‘core’ to producing a comic. So I dropped it all. Seems harsh I know, but what choice did I have? I could either talk about comics or make one. Not both.

          I have not drawn as much of Girls in Space since the boy came along but I have drawn a lot of another comic, a toy review comic on my personal blog because it is so much easier to relate it to my life, and I use a lot more image re-use in it (which I would never allow myself to do with Girls in Space). It’s just another compromise I’ve learned to accept in order to keep going.

          You are right that time management skills (which is really what I’m talking about too) can only take you so far. However, it is worth remembering that your kids won’t be six-months old forever. If you do need a break remember that stopping a comic is *absolutely* not the same as pausing it. It will get easier. Your kids may even want to make their own comics with you in due course. I certainly hope mine does.

          Anyway, after saying I’ve given up commenting online, I’ve utterly contradicted myself by writing a long post here! Hope it helps and good luck!

          • Stef Marcinkowski1 September 2012 at 04:30 #

            Holy crap, that was such a wonderful response it should function double-duty as a blog post. In fact, you should read it word-for-word on an upcoming podcast, heh. You inspired me to set aside one hour tonight to work on SZ, after 7 weeks of nothing. Will try to MAKE time for Sarah again. Thanks!

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