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B&N Week 168: Are You Ready For Some Advice?

| March 11, 2014

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Tuesday! We’ve got a warming trend in Tucson. It’s hitting the high 70s to low 80s on a more consistent basis, which means it’s going to be blazing hot in a couple of weeks. Thus, the circle will start again. Not looking forward to it.

This week’s question is another deceptively simple one. Here it is: are you ready for some advice?

Advice comes in many forms. You come here, week after week, looking for advice on how to do things that pertain to creating comics. There’s advice from family and friends, there’s advice from gurus, there’s advice from people who are just wanting to help.

There’s good advice, there’s bad advice, and there’s the advice that’s good but you don’t want to hear. Sometimes, that’s the best advice for you, but you have to be ready for it. But are you?

Bad advice: the daily horoscope you find in the newspaper. It’s so generic that it’s almost useless. It can be amusing to read, but like a fortune cookie, they’re virtually useless. [Fortune cookies that we know and love originated in the US. A bit of “wisdom”, along with some lottery numbers on the back of them, and those numbers have been winners on occasion. While I was in the Marines, one of my bosses taught me that the “fortunes” became even better if you added “with sex” to the end of the wisdom. Try it.]

Good advice: Dear Abby, or most other advice columns that are tailored to your individual needs. Understand that this advice will only be as good as the person giving it, as well as the initial information given. If someone stinks and complains about it, and then they get advice to shower—that’s sound advice to give. However, if the rest of the story is that they stink because they’re allergic to water, then the advice isn’t sound.

Advice is only as good as the information that is given that you want the advice about.

How can you be ready for advice? First, you have to be willing to set aside your internal reaction that you’re “right” and that everyone else is “wrong.” This can be a challenge, especially if the advice is something you don’t want to hear.

Editing is advice on how to make the project better. Even though that advice might be “wrong” for you, if the editor is doing their job to make the story better and not turn it into their story, then the advice is “right” for the story. As the creator, you may not agree, but if the editor is working from the script and is asking for changes in the script, the art, the colors or the letters, then as long as they know what they’re doing, they’re more than likely giving the correct advice.

Disagreeing with advice doesn’t make the advice wrong. It just means the advice doesn’t work for you at the moment.

I dislike Dr. Phil. I can’t stand the man, don’t see how he has a show, or how people listen to him. I disagree with him on a fundamental level, and blame Oprah for his celebrity. However, just because I disagree with him does not mean that his advice is wrong for the people it helps.

Being ready for advice takes some work. If you are not ready to listen to another person, then you aren’t ready for advice. If you aren’t willing to implement changes to what the advice pertains to, then you aren’t ready for advice.

I try not to give advice to anyone anymore. Not on a personal level. [Professionally, of course, is another matter.] The simple reason is because they’re not ready. I’ve had too many people ask me for advice, and I tell them what they should do and the reasons why, and then they go and do the exact opposite of what I said—only for things to happen the way I laid out, and they then come back to me saying that they should have listened. Not saying “I told you so” gets too difficult, sometimes.

There is only one thing to take into account when you go searching for advice. Credibility of the source. Credibility can be challenging to come by, especially if you’re looking to move into a certain space yourself. Credibility comes from experience, and you can only gain experience over time.

Let me say something quickly about experience. It is expensive to come by, and it is hard won. Screw a textbook definition: experience means you’ve gone through things, both good and bad, and have learned from them. Learning from your experiences so that you can make informed decisions is why people turn to advice givers.

Everyone needs advice. Everyone. What happens when you aren’t ready for it is simple: you make things harder than necessary. Going it alone isn’t always the best way to go. Yes, you learn lessons, but you also slow yourself down that way. Asking advice cuts down on your time and your learning curve.

Are you ready for some advice? Only you can tell. If you are, great! If you aren’t, ask yourself why. Do a self-assessment, and then do whatever work is necessary to make the changes so you can make your life easier.

That’s all I have for this week. See you in seven.

Click here to discuss in the ComixTribe forum at Digital Webbing!

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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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