I’m in the world of neverending work at the minute. Milway Two Hats is the name, writing this, scribbling that, lost in a mixed up world of mice and yetis. This topsy turvy double life of writer/illustrator warps my brain sometimes, so here’s my guide to dealing with it. If you’ve ever thought about combining your illustrating and writing skills into one package, this is what your average day will be like:
1) Get up in the morning and either pick up a drawing implement or hold your hands above the keyboard. This decision is not always easy. It can be made easier by point 2…
2) Drink one cup of coffee. I’d often suggest following this with another cup if you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a writing day – that faintly edgy supercharged coffee buzz can really help. When drawing, try and avoid this second cup – that faintly edgy supercharged coffee buzz will make all the characters in your drawings look like Mr Messy.
3) Now do something. This is it, the point where you either type or draw. If you’re drawing, good luck. It’s likely half of your day will be spent rubbing out your work. If you’re writing, half your day will be spent nursing the delete key – or checking your emails.
4) In one of those moments of calm (when the cleanly rubbed out/deleted blank page stares at you) find time to go and make some breakfast. This will likely be left on the plate half eaten – lost to the creative process. This will be the same for lunch, which generally won’t take place until at least halfway through the afternoon.
5) When dinner rears its ugly head and you actually have to go and do something else other than work, take this brief respite to mull over what you might have achieved had you taken the other route back at point 1.
6) After eating, feed the cat so that he stops bothering you and then check the work you have done throughout the day. It’s likely that if you sit down right about now and do another hour’s work, you’ll achieve more than you did throughout the rest of the day. This is because you’ve planned to go out and meet someone, and should currently be elsewhere. The best work always happens when you need to leave the house, or should have left the house.
7) Go to bed, safe in knowledge that tomorrow will happen all over again.
I’ve been really knocked out by this cold, and while I’m trying really hard to work, it’s not making life very easy. It’s only words or pictures, I know, but my brain’s not functioning. So I’m easing myself back into mice and yetis gently. Wouldn’t want to scare them with a sneeze after all.
What does seem to be functioning pretty well is my imagination. I’ve been able to scribble down a few new ideas, some of them with potential, and some of these have been successfully filled out into proper story proposals.
It’s always peculiar where ideas come from, but there’s definitely two stages to it: 1) the spark, the little nugget of a plan that comes anywhere at any time, and hopefully gets jotted down in a notebook, and 2) the sober thinking, cogs clunking around stage, when 1+1 has to equal 2 and so on. It’s stage 2 when more themes/side stories to the idea have to appear, and if they do I know I’ve got a goodie.
When stage 1 hits, I tend to create a new folder on my computer, give it a title, and hope that’ll help stir something. I might just leave it there for months, doing nothing, but I do usually come back to it. This generally happens after stage 2 of the process has taken place, and I’ve thought about it again, and found ways of making it work.
And then, more often than not, I realise it’s a book that someone else should write. Or someone else would write better. But any way, this here is a quick scribble of a crow from my sketchbook.