Even though cartooning (is that a verb?!) and writing aren’t the same, I found a lot to take away from this interview with cartoonist Jimmy Margulies. He’s a Carnegie Mellon alum, which is what drew my attention in the first place, and he worked at the former Houston Post. He’s got some great insight into being creative professionally / being a professional creative.
Another observation I can offer about having to be creative all the time is by comparing it to a car. If you have a car parked in your driveway that you use only once a week, it will be harder to start up when you need it. But if you drive it every day, it will start more easily. I feel that by having the discipline of making myself come up with a number of ideas every day, it is much easier to get into that frame of mind than if I had to do it only occasionally.
I can certainly attest to this. I find that whenever I “take a break” from writing, it’s much harder to get back in the groove. Oh, sure, a random idea might occur to me and I might scribble it down, but that’s not exactly being creative. That’s being inspired. The creative part is developing that idea, turning it from a spark into a bonfire.
Developing one’s talent is important, but that is only half the battle. In the creative arts there is so much competition that anyone who is serious about success needs to be a great salesperson, publicist, and marketer of themselves. While creative people don’t often like to think of themselves as business oriented, it really is necessary. You have to be as creative in pursuing your career as you are in producing your art form.
Ugh. This is the part I’ve had to push myself on the most — well, second to the whole discipline thing — because selling is just not in my nature. I don’t know if it’s the Asian humility I was instilled with, or just a sort of natural inclination to keep to myself, but I find selling / publicizing / marketing MYSELF very difficult to do.
Fortunately Andy’s influence has been great for that. I like to think we balance each other out — he injects me with business sense, I draw out his artistic side — but really he’s so thick-headed I’m not sure anything I say gets through…