meeks: meeks and lorelei (Default)
[personal profile] meeks
April 11th marked the first anniversary of my crowdfunding debut, and it was probably the most consistently busy year I've ever had. I've posted over 150 paintings and sketches, received thousands of feedback comments, unexpectedly won a Rose and Bay award, and met a lot of really creative people. I've sold prints, done private commissions, and received tips from over a dozen generous patrons, including three K-fans, each of whom contributed over $120 to my various art projects over the last year. The Kickstarter campaign for my first picture book exceeded it's funding goal and raised over $11000. Your support and enthusiasm has far surpassed my expectations. Thank you all!

As you have undoubtedly noticed by now, the Story Sketches project has been largely dormant for a couple of months, but fear not! I have no intention of abandoning it. I've been sort of waiting for my workload to lighten, but after taking stock of my plans for the next year, it's become clear that that isn't really going to happen. The challenge is to figure out how to manage more than one ongoing project at a time, and I appreciate the patience you've all shown while I try to work out a solution.

I know that several of you are balancing multiple projects and/or offline jobs and families, and it's encouraging to know that it can be done — I just have to come up with a better workflow than
  • start working on something

  • receive message about another thing to be done, start working on it

  • get distracted by a third thing

  • belatedly remember what I was working on in the first place

  • repeat :P
The best approach for me will probably be to divide tasks by project (e.g. Story Sketches, EDST, Torn World, self-promotion, one-shot commission) and/or by type (e.g. research, drawing, technical, writing, design) and pick one category to focus on at the beginning of each work day, depending on the relative urgency of each and the number and type of spoons I wake up with. This could result in more image-only posts (with text to be added later), or making several posts at once instead of uploading each picture as I finish it.

Participating in SketchFest (run by champion multitasker [livejournal.com profile] ellenmillion —Thanks, Ellen!) has shown that I can be very productive within a limited time period, so I may try to apply this model to other types of activity. Setting a timer while I work on posts like this, for instance, will hopefully stop me from spending days on composing and editing an informal piece of text that my writer friends probably wouldn't spend more than a few minutes on. :P I'm sure I had more to say, but this post has been in-progress for nearly a week(!) which is long even for me, and I expect to be afk for most of tomorrow, so, ah...consider it a 'sketch'? ^_^;

If those of you who are more organized than I am have any advice, I would certainly appreciate it!

Yay!

Date: 2012-04-24 08:27 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>April 11th marked the first anniversary of my crowdfunding debut, and it was probably the most consistently busy year I've ever had.<<

Congratulations. I'm sorry I missed the exact date. I remember that one of your goals was to do more artwork, that you needed input and thought crowdfunding might work. Looks like it did!

>>I've sold prints, done private commissions, and received tips from over a dozen generous patrons, including three K-fans, each of whom contributed over $120 to my various art projects over the last year.<<

W00T! I'm thrilled to see you racking up k-fans. I think that's a sign of a successful project. Really, you invented a new kind of project, in terms of linking to extant projects by creating new content for them in ways that would connect different audience pools.

>>As you have undoubtedly noticed by now, the Story Sketches project has been largely dormant for a couple of months, but fear not!<<

I have missed seeing those.

>>I just have to come up with a better workflow than<<

I've spent, well, my entire life working on that issue. It's just my nature to be attracted by new things, moving things. Learning to finish stuff has been the challenge. But I've figured out that if something can hold my interest, it will usually hold an editor's interest too.

One of the ways I keep myself focused on an ongoing project is just repeating that this is what makes me a professional and some other people amateurs. Determination to stick with something. Dunno if that particular lever will work for you or not, but you might be able to find something that does.

>>The best approach for me will probably be to divide tasks by project (e.g. Story Sketches, EDST, Torn World, self-promotion, one-shot commission) and/or by type (e.g. research, drawing, technical, writing, design) and pick one category to focus on at the beginning of each work day, depending on the relative urgency of each and the number and type of spoons I wake up with.<<

Yes, that works. The trick is to figure out what kind of divisions you need; that is, what impacts your work flow or wears you out. So for instance, I'll consider whether or not a project pays, and what type of work it is (fiction, poetry, editing, etc.). If I do too much of one thing, I'll burn out on it and need to switch to something different.

So last year's project was boosting your workflow. You've done that. This year, I suggest examining how you feel about your work and what causes it to flow better or worse. That will help you figure out how to manage different projects together.

Oh, and pad your deadlines if you have them. Shit always happens. Any time-sensitive plans need to account for that. I learned that from being a procrastinator, except I hate having to do things at the last minute, so I wound up adapting to finish them early. Ironic, eh.

Also worth tracking is the popularity and/or profitability of different projects. For instance, I prioritize the Poetry Fishbowl because it's really popular and my second-highest-paying gig. Torn World doesn't pay much but it's a steady market to get stuff published and is good practice not just for writing but also for people skills. Lower priority, but worth keeping. Figure out what your different projects do for you and that may help you organize them.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2012-04-26 09:24 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I think the quality is improving along with the quantity, and that's largely due to feedback from people like you. <<

I agree that the quality is improving, and I'm glad I could help.

>> I'm also finding myself lesss daunted by the prospect of drawing backgrounds or unusual 'camera' angles. <<

I think your style of crowdfunding lends itself well to the gradual development of backgrounds, where you start with a fairly rough sketch and then refine as you discover things or people comment on them. You also have a marvelous gift for unusual angles, not just for artistic interest but also for solving challenges in composition, like the back-of-the-oven perspective in "Restoration."

>>Yes, I've decided that anything that I and my audience are really enthusiastic about is worth showing to an art director...which of course adds "assemble list of art directors" and "design + send sample packages" to my list of things to do...<<

True also; the first time I had an editor ask me for a book was for a popular poetic series, The Origami Mage. I've been quite gratified by how good of an "editor" my audience makes collectively, along with individual people who are just really good at selection and/or feedback. By the time my audience is done going over a batch of poetry, they have usually picked out most of the best ones.

So I think you're on the right track with gathering things to show to art directors. Maybe ask your audience for help in choosing what to put together.

>>I'll have to think about that one. I don't want to be seen as unprofessional, but focusing too much on that seems like it might make this feel like a job...which kinda takes the fun out of it. <<

For me, wordsmithing is my dayjob and I like that. Doesn't have to be the same for everyone, though. The idea is to figure out what your underlying motivation is and how to connect with that.

>>For example, I can produce several sketches in a row more easily than I can do a sketch followed by a piece of writing.<<

That's chunking, then, and there are ways to make a schedule support it. No wonder you do well with Sketch Fest; it's perfect for that.

>>I'm hoping it will provide an income stream that requires less constant attention than the more interactive Story Sketches.<<

Yeah, one of my goals for this year is to collate more of the poetic series. Eventually I'll be offering things that people can buy, like collections from previous years. I need to find ways of creating a backlist with the Poetry Fishbowl project so previous work can continue to generate income.

>> I do track income and participation by project, but I haven't really stopped to look at the numbers and what they mean.<<

It took me two or three years to get enough data to start seeing important patterns, even just to figure out what I should be looking for. Sometimes if you skim back over things, something will jump out at you.

Date: 2012-04-24 04:25 pm (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: Abby from NCIS, text: squee! (NCIS: Abby: squee)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Wow, has it only been a year? Congratulations! I hope for many more! :D

And good luck working out a schedule/workflow/whatever it is that works for you! Anything that results in more art from you is something I can support ;) (if not necessarily monetarily...)

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