Our office had a multi-day, off-site meeting earlier this week. 350 or so people with talks about specifics of our business as well as broader ones on more general subjects. One of the speakers was Raquel Malo, who was talking about how your physical health can/does impact your mental and professional health. She managed to get all 350 in the conference room doing some resistance training with some heavy elastic bands that were passed out, so she was definitely an engaging speaker even if most of the people promptly forgot or dismissed everything she said.
But she, at one point, referenced the work of Jim Loehr. By a complete coincidence I had a copy of the very book she was ultimately referring to in my bag, The Power of Full Engagement. It had been sitting on my shelf for months and I grabbed for something to read on the plane ride. I didn't even realize it until the trip home when I started reading through some of the exact same material she was talking about.
What the book goes into, moreso than Malo did, is the notion of being actively engaged with your life. About how the vast majority of our lives are dictated not by any real choice, but out of habit. The example the book starts with is brushing your teeth. You've probably done it so often that you don't think about it any more, it's just part of your morning ritual.
There's nothing wrong with doing things out of habit, of course, provided that they're helping to lead you to whatever your larger goals are. If, for example, you come home after a day of work and plop on the couch for several hours to watch television, you're not really engaging in behavior that's going to further almost any other goal other than becoming permanently sedentary! If you want to become a better artist, or a well-known writer, or have some kind of impact on the comic book industry, you need to take steps to actively change your habits into ones that will further your own ends.
Starting a new habit is not easy, by any means. I started this blog, for example, in 2006 with the intent of posting every day. It took me about eight months before I got into the routine of blogging every single day! But having done that and gotten myself to that point, I've become very much in the habit of writing daily. And that has helped me both by landing paying gigs with the likes of MTV (more on some of those gigs tomorrow!) but it has also helped me hone my process enough so that I can write faster and more efficiently to meet the writing deadlines I run up against. (Well... usually meet the deadlines.) It still eats up a chunk of time, certainly, that I could spend doing something else, but it's time that I've carved out for myself to achieve my larger goals.
I don't like to get all preachy on you (who am I to tell anyone what they're doing right or wrong with their life?) but if you want to really become engaged with creating comics or writing about comics or whatever, you really need to sincerely commit to it. And, just like going to the gym, getting off your butt to get started is the hardest part. If you happen to miss a day for whatever reason, you have get back into the game before the new good habits you've started become even newer, less productive habits.
Besides, what are you waiting for?
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