Have you heard of the Triangle of Writing Metrics? It’s a process that helped author Rachel Aaron increase her productivity five times over! For those of you who don’t have time to read her in-depth post (but certainly bookmark it to read later!), the triangle can be boiled down to this handy diagram:
When you align all three components, that’s when you are at your most productive and energetic. Rachel went from 2k words a day to 10k! The formula is basic but requires some thinking and self-reflection.
I like to think of it as aligning your own stars. You know those days when everything seems perfect for getting your stuff done? You have a good amount of energy and you knock off a bunch of items on your to-do list while eagerly working on a really exciting part of your project. Basically, the Triangle Method is recreating that environment so that the stars are always aligned for you every time you sit down to work. It’s like backwards-engineering your perfect work day!
This might be less relevant to comics just because most artists already have an idea of what they’re going to draw before they start to work. Either through thumbnails or storyboards, you can reduce the amount of time spent scratching your head as you try to figure out how to layout a page. Likewise, templates, sketches, outlines, and character reference sheets are all helpful ways to speed up the drawing process and avoid reinventing the wheel. (Have you ever started drawing without knowing what the end result would be?! It takes forever to finish because of all the moment-to-moment decision making and back-pedaling.)
I can already think of times when I felt most productive (Friday and Saturday nights, when no early obligations are looming the next day) but it will be interesting to track everything down to a science. I’ve always seen myself as a night owl but there’s no denying the amount of energy I have to burn when I get into the office in the early mornings.
I love this part because it forces you to constantly ask yourself “why?” before tackling a scene. If you dread writing/drawing it because it’s boring or doesn’t go anywhere, then rework it or trash it altogether. It’s that easy. As a comic artist it’s always the most exciting when you reach a scene you’ve been dying to draw. Every scene should be like this! Even if it’s a back-and-forth dialog scene, make it count. One great example is The Walking Dead comic series. Every scene is important – appropriately either fast-paced or slow and dramatic – and the story moves along at a delicious pace.
What process hacks have you tried to speed up results?
As an aside: I don’t necessarily think that quickly producing volumes of work is the Best Thing Ever, simply because quantity doesn’t always mean good quality (usually the opposite). But it’s still beneficial to get an idea of what you’re capable of, especially for those who freelance or work from home. Try it! I know I will.