In Blake Snyder’s final book in his Save The Cat books on screenwriting, Save The Cat Strikes Back, he writes:
“What was I? What specialty did I offer? What was my service? I was impossible to find, or even see, because I had no silhouette. When they thought of me the writer what did they think? Well, nothing. I’d thrown myself in all directions, not mastering one.”
I’ve recently found myself feeling a bit rudderless. This might seem odd, because I just released a book. It is doing well for something that is just getting its footing. I’m currently in production on volume 2 and by all aspects, things seem to be on the way up.
I’ve mostly been thrown off because I’ve found myself falling back into that familiar trap of trying to do too many things and not strive to be great in one area.
We all get this way I think. Especially if you work on long form projects like I do. When you start working on a project it’s very easy to be excited and enthusiastic every day you sit down to work. Skip ahead a year or two and, even you are in love with the project, you can start to long for the days you can switch gears to something else.
I’ve always been focused in full on Adamsville from a comics perspective. It hasn’t taken very long for me to be tempted by another graphic novel project, before I pull myself out of it and get refocused.
The temptation for me has been around the idea of other mediums, i.e. children’s books, screenwriting, etc. I always think I can do more and accomplish more than I really can, given my resources in time.
It’s been my understanding from others, and in my own experience, that the best method for scaling more quickly in a given field, is to find a focus and give it your everything. If you don’t want to become known as a romantic comedy writer, or a portrait artist only… Your best bet would be to avoid writing romantic comedies and painting portraits. Does this mean you can’t explore those side interests? By no means. I do however think, and this is what I am telling myself right now, that if you want to get to the next level and see tangible progress you have to get focused.
Think across almost any medium of art and you’ll see this. A country music artist isn’t going to start doing rap music tomorrow. A horror writer isn’t likely to become a period piece romance author tomorrow. I think a better question is to ask why the country music star got to be a star, and why the horror writer is known for that as well.
The truth is, they have spent many years with intense focus on how to be masters at their craft. They’re great at it because they’ve taken the time to know why certain things work and certain things don’t. The horror writer knows that if he plays by certain rules and pushes them further, he can make something great. And probably knows that if he switched to writing a period romance piece, he would be rethinking the genre from scratch. It’s tough and yields mixed results.
Well what can we do to improve ourselves? Ask yourself:
1.) What do you want to become known for?
2.) What can I do to get myself there faster?
3.) What distractions can I eliminate?
I want to become known as a master of all-ages science fiction/fantasy suspense graphic novels. I can get there faster by staying focused on Adamsville and then related style projects. I can eliminate distractions by not going into full production on any project that is not related to the above. Sadly this means setting aside children’s book projects, or other web comic ideas, that take time away from this focus. It’s not easy, but it is beneficial!
What about you? Do you struggle with this? How do you overcome it?
If you haven’t read Adamsville, you can buy the first volume from Amazon for 20% off over the next two weeks! They’re eligible for free Prime shipping.