How much time do you spend working on your craft?
The best thing you can do to help your career is to sit on your butt and do the work. However, in order to get good enough to actually do the work, you have to practice. You have to hone your talent.
The dictionary defines “hone” as “to sharpen (a blade)” and “refine or perfect (something) over time.”
No one comes out of the womb with a fully formed talent. That talent has to be honed, and the only way to hone it is to sit down and practice. Practice includes studying, not just writing, drawing, or flatting or whatever. You have to study techniques, incorporate them, and then practice in order to become accomplished.
Do you know why some get hired rather than others? They put in the time and effort to learn their craft. (Now is the time where some would cite Rob Liefeld. I won’t disagree with them. Liefeld is an unexplained anomaly. I wouldn’t suggest aspiring to follow his path.)
Getting hired for a job means someone trusts you enough to do the work. Sure, we want to get into Marvel or DC, or have our book published by Image, but without putting in the work, it’s a pipe dream at best. Trial and error, learning from mistakes, growing as a creator…these are the things that will get you where you want to be.
How do you gain that time? Sacrifice. Here’s my schedule: I work a 12 hour shift at my job, I work out (gotta stay healthy because my job and being a creator is very sedentary), I spend time with family and friends (I’m actually getting some of those now!), and I have to sleep sometime. Those are full days already, and somewhere in there I still write this column daily, I write The Proving Grounds weekly, I work privately with clients, and I try to get my own writing done. That doesn’t include the emails that I have to read and reply to, and the pitches that come in to ComixTribe that I have to look at when they come in. None of that even speaks to watching the movies and shows that I enjoy.
Being that busy and still working on my skills takes dedication. I find a way to get the work done. In order to keep getting work, I have to stay on top of my game. In order to move from strength to strength, I have to continue to put in the effort. It’s like being an athlete or a musician: you’ve got to continue to train or practice, or your skills will suffer.
Put in the time to work on your craft. It will pay off over time.