Motion For A Change Of Venue

WE FOUND MORE LIL’ WIL WHEATON PLUSHIES!!!

trouble-with-lil-wils-03-18-15

72 more, to be exact. GO HERE and get yours. 

Someone must have gotten them wet and fed them after midnight, because when Explosm (who used to handle my merch) moved warehouses, they found another box of Lil’ Wils.

I know I’ve said this 3 or 4 times in the past, but this is really it. These are the last ones. The old warehouse is completely empty and no more will ever be made. I promise. They are still half price. Just $10 while they last!

EMERALD CITY COMICON IS AT THE END OF MARCH! 

emerald city comicon 2015
I will be at booth 110 with my con-wife David Willis. I will have old prints, new prints and THE SKETCH-A-MATIC! Come see me, and bring me booze and cookies as is our tradition. (There is a helpful map of various Hiveworks webcomics at ECCC here.)

One of the hardest things about working from home (and, trust me, I am NOT complaining about the fantastic privilege of being allowed to roll out of bed at 10am and work in my pajamas on the couch re-watching Fringe on Netflix) is KNOWING when you are AT WORK. When “the office” is your couch or your home desk, there’s this sort of constant feeling that if you’re awake, you should be working. Especially if you keep oddly and every fluctuating hours like I do. The days sort of blend in to each other and the concept of a weekend disappeared years ago. So there’s this general feeling that you are either A) ALWAYS at work of B) NEVER really at work, and it can lead to odd feelings of guilt when you aren’t working or to a lack of family time (eating dinner together, etc) when you are working.

The only reason I say this as a general experience as opposed to a singular weirdness experienced by only me, is that I’ve heard the same thing from dozens of other work-from-home creatives. For a lot of us, this feeling of a need for a separation of home and work life leads to moving the work portion of your day to a new location. This could be a coffee shop, or it could even mean getting your own office space. I know quite a few cartoonists that have to leave the dirty work of drawing butts and such at the ACTUAL office in order to maintain a reasonable semblance of a home life. Others have to completely unplug from the Internet for 5-6 hours at a time in order to stay productive. After 8ish years of this weird job, I am still in the “just sort of figuring it out as I go” phase. There are months at a time where I only want to work in my office from the hours of midnight to 6am. Then there are times when my sleep schedule syncs up with the mortal world’s and I want to work in the living room to be around my family.

I really like the idea of something like a Makerspace or a Hackspace where I could just be around other people who are trying to make something. I wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I know from experience that “creative energy” is a real thing (i.e. a fake thing our dumb lizard brains trick us into thinking is a real thing). Excitement is contagious and creative competition can be quite healthy. I do my funniest work when I’m pitching ideas back and forth with other creatives, trying to one-up each other or twist ideas into new directions. I wonder what that says about my 1000+ comics that I’ve written and drawn in total seclusion.

COMMENTERS: Do you find your productivity or creativity require a certain environment to get into gear? Do you ever need a change of scenery or sound…ery to do your best work?

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30 Comments

  1. When I lived in a big house full of creative types, I would get up, get dressed, walk around the (conveniently near) park and come back home before starting work. Then I'd do the same at the end of the day (walking the other way round the park). All that, just to give the sensation that the room that had been my bedroom was now my studio.

  2. Fortunately I have set hours of 10am-7pm… but then I log off work after 8hrs of sitting at the computer… and sit at the computer some more. I've recently started "no computer Saturdays" and it's actually made me accomplish a ton of stuff that needed doing, including getting out in the nice Florida weather.

    I have a rule to leave the house for lunch. It makes a huge difference in my motivation (or lack thereof) when I don't. That's usually the only time of the day when I talk to humans that aren't scrolling IM messages (I don't "do" phones because I have trouble following conversations over them)

    • See, I work for a major international conglomerate, and while they give me a laptop & cell, I'm expected to be in my cube during the week…and read emails and such over the weekend.

      No, not doing that.

      The main reason to be in the office is to A) chat with my boss face-to-face when she's there (as I need), and B) to get the various strains of cubus farmicus plageous illiniss that people pass around when they come to visit & the Ohio weather goes from snow to summer to spring to sleet to spring rain in a work week or less.

      I've gotten some noise for not truly taking "time off" as time off, which I'll only do if I think I need to be on a call (never a meeting) to hear something I'm not going to learn otherwise.

      And when my boss is out traveling, on vacation, sick, etc. I'm in my home office, and I really don't care because the work gets done.

  3. I work at home for a company that is in another state (and time zone). It took me a while to get into a routine that had me working productively during "business" hours and not just feeling like I was always at work or never at work. But routine was the very thing that got me there. Make a cup of coffee, read some webcomics, put in a load of wash, listen to a podcast, all *before* starting time, puts my head into a mode of thinking I took care of that stuff now time to get on with work. It "helps" that I'm up at 5:45am to see my husband off to his job, so I have a good long lead in time.

    That said, I do like to get out sometimes and work at my friend's coffee shop, though it tends to get a little too noisy at times for the kind of work I do.

  4. When I started the latest novel, I had a set hours of work. 8 hours, midnight to eight am as that when allergies started kicking up full swing. That lasted about four and a half months. Then I would work for a couple hours, do something, come back. Then it became "Well the computer is on, I need to write." Which lead to days of writing 2,000 plus followed by days of dumb click games. It has just been a blur of days running into the other with either working or not working periods,both accented with their own stresses. (The computer's on and I'm not writing…ahhhhhh. I've been writing for eight and half hours, my friends have forgotten I'm alive!) I may have to try your approach and get out of the house for a bit just to stir things up.

  5. Yeah, I also have to adhere to a strict schedule to keep the distinction between work and non-work time. The kids define it: I start work after I drop them off at the bus stop, and finish work to pick them up.

    I would love, absolutely love, a hackerspace-style place to work a couple times a week. I don't have trouble keeping my hours straight, but some days the Q U I E T of the house is just too much to take. It would be so good to have an "office" filled with "co-workers" to go to. I fear my sanity is starting to suffer without some group of people to chat about Mad Men with. I find myself feeling jealous of my wife's stories about long boring meetings with insufferable people — "you are so lucky!!"

    • Having to sit through those meetings in person, you're much better off where you are.

      I'm sure there's a app, or Soundcloud-something-or-other, that could give you "Office Mix #47" as background noise for your day?

  6. I am completely unable to work in my home office anymore. If I could have figured out a paying gig, maybe it'd be different, but I've spent almost eight years out of regular employ as housedad, and so the home computer has reverted to a lolz-and-pron box.

    When my daughter started preschool, I forced myself to get out of the house one morning a week, go to a restaurant without wifi, befriend the wait staff and tip well, and write for like three hours. This worked until my son was about six months old and the waitresses wanted to talk to him all the time, which killed my productivity. Now that he's in preschool, I'm back in school myself and typically working on something for a class instead of my wallet.

  7. I'm most productive with art around midday at my desk, and with writing late at night on my bed. No clue why.

  8. I've worked from home for 6 or 7 years, and the thing that helps me out a lot is having an actual "space" for work. We were lucky enough to have a spare room, but maybe even a desk in the corner would be enough. I get up, make some coffee, and then 'go to work' in my office. I'll come out for more coffee, lunch, and bathroom breaks, but pretty much from 8am to 5pm I'm in that room, doing my real work (although occasionally my wife and 2 year old come in for a visit for 5-10 minutes or so). If I need noise, I turn on the radio. Every once in a while, I have to do something later, or I'll get 'on a roll' with programming or writing something, and run long, but mostly at 5pm, I walk out of the room and shut the door, and work is done until the next day. No answering work emails from my cellphone either until the appropriate hours.
    That computer gets relegated to its regular task of making money, and general internet surfing, game-playing etc gets done on the phone, table, or PS3.
    Just like with real work, there are some days I'll take off an hour early if I'm ahead of schedule, or if my daughter is doing something that looks like a lot of fun, but you just have to subdivide in your mind, that here is work and there is play, and if you spend too much play time at work, or too much work time at play, you're taking valuable time that was committed somewhere else.
    I know people who 'work' from home, who have a hard time getting on task – but I know a lot of them who are ALWAYS ON. Like if you're working late until 9pm, so you shoot them a summary email of the fire you just put out, they'll respond immediately to have a conversation about it. NO. NO Conversation. It's 9pm, the fire is out, I'm done. Let's talk about it tomorrow morning when I come to work. 😀 I don't want to be either one of those people, but you're right, it's hard sometimes.

  9. Yeah, I almost exclusively work in the student union of the local university. It hits just the right sweet spot of a quiet work space with some background activity.

  10. I can't stand working from home. More often than not I travel an hour onto campus just to get work done, even if it's just creative work rather than work-work. Also, campus has free internet and electricity.

  11. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. I have a semi-office in my bedroom and I've noticed that if I work too much at coffee shops or coworking spaces it "wears off" and I'll spend 15-30m at a time just people watching. If I work at home too much (which I've been doing lately because it was cold and I didn't want to walk to the coffee shop) I get weirdly isolated feeling and start having whole conversations with my animals and I don't get as much work done.

    One of the things that helps the "always on" issue for me is that I have my laptop for work and I'm basically not on it when I'm not working. All non-work computering is pretty much done on my phone or iPad. Some of my actual work computering is done on an iPad (researching, reviewing notes, dictating emails, etc.), depending on how my wrists are feeling. Having two separate machines helps. Although I'm taking my first vacation in almost six years of self-employment soon and it will be disgustingly tempting to answer work emails on my phone; the downside of carrying a computer in your pocket.

    Also, for all y'all (and Joel) wanting a place to work with other people, you might see if there are coworking spaces local to you. There are a ton in Austin because we have such a startup/freelancer/artist community here. They've all got different vibes though; I've been to several and found one or two I really like (and one or two that was overrun with tech bros, hi I am trying to work, please stop incessantly hitting on me and talking loudly about how you want this totally hot job candidate to come to the interview in a bikini, also go fuck yourself). Or meeting at a coffee shop with freelancer/artist/etc. friends. It's worth checking out, anyways. They do cost money (depending on the place and their business model and setup, anywhere from $25-300 a month), buttt if I work at a coffee shop 3-4x a week and get lunch while I'm out, I can easily drop $100-150 in a month on coffee/food, so it's kind of a trade off.

    • There ARE coworking (which autocorrect tried to change to "cowering") spaces in Dallas but they are in Dallas proper. Like downtown. Im about an hour from there. I did a show in Austin in december and there were like 2 spaces in the adjacent strip mall.

      • Oh gotcha! I didn't realize where you were, my bad. Yeah, we do have an insane amount of them here. I can think of 5-6 offhand that are within a 10m drive of where I'm sitting right now. If you're ever in Austin for more than a few days and want a good place to work, I'd be happy to give plenty of recs for coffee shops with decent seating and wifi.

  12. Y'know, I just recently got HijiNKS ENSUE Volumes 1 and 2, and I loved them! Loved recalling comics I hadn't seen in years, loved the new commentary, loved em! And seeing them reminds me of how much more I love the older version of the artwork. I'm not digging the newer style of the faces; the old ones were so much more appealing and expressive! I know HE is always evolving and changing things up, not just with the art, but the content. Just like to put in a vote for, maybe, kinda, sorta… evolving back the other way, sometime? Maybe?

    • Can't say there's anything I can do to help you there. If I started drawing differently, then I did it for a reason. Either I wasn't satisfied with the way I was drawing things or I just got better at drawing. "Evolving backwards" isn't an option. You might have liked the older faces because they were more cartoony and I only knew how to draw 2 or 3 expressions. I have no desire to return to that state.

      • I find comments like Sean V's perplexing. Like, I can't imagine anyone going up to a painter and saying "I liked your early work better, please go back to painting that" or telling an author to write more books like their first releases. It's freaking art, not widgets from Walmart.

        • Because the original comment was respectful, if not really misguided, I didn't see the need to be anything but honest and civil in my response (though my gut reaction is redfaced rage). The truth is, I can sympathize with Sean V's feelings, just not the actual follow through. I've often thought, "This show was better in season 1. I wish they would go back to the old way." The difference I do not have access to the people making that show. I am accessible, so Sean CAN actually let me know that I should go back to "season 1" in his opinion. The problem with both of these scenarios is that the viewer's feelings are valid, but the action taken crosses the line. If you met the creator of your favorite show in a restaurant, telling them how much their show sucked (even if you believed it and even if it objectively sucked) is just rude. The internet is a big restaurant and Sean's comment was rude, but considering the caliber of comments that I COULD be getting, I don't take any offense. What commenters like this don't realize is the problem isn't with the creator, it's with them. What I'm doing and what Sean likes the most used to be the same things. Now I'm doing something different and Sean doesn't like it as much. That should really end the conversation before it begins. "This is not for me," is such an important sentence.

          • You're right of course, and I've seen some of the extremely rude comments you've gotten on past strips. It's stunning sometimes.

          • You do have a point. I guess it just wouldn't occur to me to do it to a creator's face, as it were. Not if it wasn't asked for.

  13. As a junior in college, my current creative time is whenever I can fit it in. This week is spring break so it's pretty much "do all the creative things as humanly possible!" since I don't have any pressing homework I /need/ to do this week. During an average school week, then it'll be in between classes or as rewards for completing homework things. Sometimes I will do some writing on a story while I'm meant to be watching the boring film in whatever class that doesn't require note taking during the film. It's that or I fight trying to stay awake sitting in the dark at 9:30am. Weekends tend to be the main creative time because I have homework and housework but more down time in between those things vs the week when I have classes. (Even my creative writing class is more talking about creative writing in class and doing all the actual creative writing outside of class.)

    I do interact in some online fandoms with people who share my interests and there are sometimes chats where we all spew ideas at each other that we may or may not write if we ever finish the current writing think we're meant to be encouraging each other to work on (which does happen, we do some sprints to be creative but then there's lots of chatting and procrastinating.)

  14. I actually cant work anywhere else than from home. Well, I CAN do inking and pencilling if I've already sketched out ideas, but I cant brainstorm worth crap anywhere else. I dont know, might be the lack of a structured, quiet environment. Because I'm apparently still a special needs student despite being 28 years old at this point

  15. I used to commute to my two jobs from home on trains and buses which would take up about 45 minutes of my day each way. I never knew how much it inspired me to be creative staring at the same scenery every day until I got my current job much closer to home. I recently took a trip to the same area recently and I did more creative work in an hour and a half than in the last few months. But I don't like commuting…

  16. I definitely had the same thing as you describe after I finished my Masters; I had spent 20-odd months working 7 days a week, mostly at home. After I handed it in I spent a solid month feeling pangs of guilt that I wasn't doing anything. Surely there was a paper I could read or some spreadsheets I could make. Actually, no, I was ok to play World of Warcraft for the next seventeen hours.

  17. Slowly but surely, it became a trial to find that original joy in murdering transients and hookers under the boring backdrop of my apartment. What was once new and exciting, became tedious.. and MEH…. Good thing I live in St. Louis, where there is an abundance of old world urban decay! Hollowed out ruins of a gilded age long gone makes for a beautiful setting. When I'm feeling saucy I like to change it up to the post apocalyptic industrial wasteland along route 3, just a dancing daisy chain across the river. Ahhh West Illinois… What happens there better stay there.

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