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B&N Week 83: Be A Better Creator–Attitude

| July 24, 2012

Welcome, one and all, to another wonderful Tuesday! It’s a relatively mild day outside—no scorching heat, a nice breeze, a few clouds. Days like this make me glad to be alive. Really, if you aren’t happy about a day like today, then you aren’t human.

This week, what I really want to talk about is your attitude. In order to be a better creator, you have to have a good attitude, and that is in several respects. Let’s get into the Bolts & Nuts of it shall we?

I’m blessed, and I know it. I’m intelligent enough, talented enough, and driven enough to do anything I put my mind to. I do it, and generally, I do it well. (Wow! Hubris much?) [No. Just giving the facts as I see them.] Now, that being said, I also do my best to remain grounded. I know that, in comics, I’m nothing without a creative team; as an editor, I’m nothing without clients. I’m always grateful for every member that climbs aboard a project that I do, and for every client that hires me to edit them.

Having a good attitude is key to being a good team member. Egos have no real place in a team setting. Remember that it’s about the work, the work being the book. A single rampant ego will have one of three consequences: other team members will voice their displeasure; other egos will start to flare up, possibly causing a clash; the project falls into a shambles.

That’s what a rampant ego will do to a project.

I’ve said before about how out of control my ego was. Looking back, I wouldn’t have hired me, and I wouldn’t have wanted to work with me. Basically, I had a bad attitude. It took time, patience, and seeing myself for what I was to start to effect change.

A good attitude has several facets to it.

The first, and in my opinion, greatest facet, is a spirit of can-do. Let’s face it: if you don’t believe you can pull off an abiogenesis—something out of nothing—then you shouldn’t be in this game. And by belief, I mean something that is deep seated and you know to be true. I’m talking about knowing it like you know you’re loved. It isn’t something that you should even question. Believe in yourself as much as William Hung believes in himself. [Just have more talent than Mr. Hung. Thanks.]

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: creating comics is hard. Well, doing it well is hard. A lot of planning, hard work, execution, promotion, and more. If you don’t believe you can go from an idea in your head to the shelf in a comic shop, then give up now. That can-do attitude is what will keep you going when times get tough. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that will keep you going.

The next part of having a good attitude is being a team player. Very few people can create comics all by themselves. With that being the case, most of the time, you’re going to be part of a team. Being a team player means you’re doing what’s best for the team [with the ultimate goal of everyone’s actions being good for the book]. If you’re not a team player, then unless you’re extremely talented, you won’t get far in comics.

Being part of a team is hard work, as well. Let’s face it: the writers and artists get all the recognition, with everyone else only being afterthoughts. Sure, the reader is seeing the inks that Nancy Potwell laid down over Graeme McFreelancer’s pencils, but the reader doesn’t see it that way. They look at it as just being Graeme’s work. The colorist is barely ever mentioned, and the letterer is mentioned even less. As a matter of fact, generally, the only time a letterer is mentioned is when something is messed up, and as such, stands out in the letters. And the editor? They’re only ever mentioned when something grossly wrong has occurred.

Those team members who are not the artist or writer are basically subsuming their egos in order to get the work done. Sometimes, that can be difficult. Often, you’re not getting any recognition outside of the creative team itself, and that can be a difficult pill to swallow.

And the writer or artist themselves? Sometimes, that attention can go to their heads. Resist the temptation. Fight the urge. Be a good teammate.

The next facet of having a good attitude is being humble.

This is important, folks.

Creating comics is a calling. We all understand that. The road from idea to the shelf is a long and arduous one, fraught with expense, with failure always nipping at your heels. There is no earthly reason to create a comic except that the medium calls to you. In today’s economy, getting a gig isn’t something to sneeze at.

You need to be humble. You need to be grateful for every paid gig you get. Someone believes enough in your talent and skill to pay you for it, so you should be humble and grateful for the opportunity. This is for every part of the creative team.

This isn’t to say you should be all “aw shucks” and bashful about the opportunities. I’m just saying that you should offer your heartfelt and sincere thanks for the opportunity, for any and all praise that comes your way, and again for the opportunity when the gig is over.

These are all important factors in having a good attitude. Can any of these be missing? Sure, but it makes it harder on you [and everyone else]. I like to think of these factors as being interconnected. But if you want to be a better creator, a having a good attitude is essential.

That’s it for this week. I’ll be taking reader questions for the next few weeks in order to do a Q&A. If you have a question, shoot it to me at stevedforbes@gmail.com.

Homework? Check your attitude.

See you in seven!

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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