On Dedication (and lack thereof)
Zach Ellis is The Man.
Zach is a cartoonist friend of mine whom I met through my Rise Comics partner, Dave Franciosa. Zach was one of our earliest admirers when we began working on the Ban graphic novel, and was really supportive of the venture from day one. However, it’s not Zach’s fondness of my own work that leads me to praise Mr. Ellis today. There is an entirely different reason for that.
Beginning January 1, 2011, Zach will begin work on his ambitious project entitled: My Life in Three Hundred and Sixty Five .Jpegs. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Zach is going to create a series of images, one per day, for an entire year. Woah.
This got me thinking about the concept of dedication, which, I find, is something severely lacking in a lot of ’emerging talent’ in the creative communities. One would think that, as a hungry young writer/artist/filmmaker/juggler/whatever you want to do, that you would dedicate time and effort into your craft, in order to improve your work and eventually end up with a finished product. Makes sense, right?
Instead, too many ‘up and comers’ tend to sit on their hands and complain about how little time there is between their job and whatever else they have going on in their life. “I can’t find the time” is a common complaint. If this is true, there is only one explanation for it:
You’re doing it wrong.
Someone who truly has a passion for what they want to do, someone who truly has that creative hunger, that fire, these are the people who find the time, who make the time. No matter how busy you are, you are not busy every minute of every day. I’m sorry, but you’re just not. There is no excuse that you can’t spend an hour writing/sketching/juggling/whatever you want to do before you go to bed, or for half an hour on the train/bus/subway on the way into/home from work. Got an hour lunch break? Bring a sandwich and get to work. Somewhere in your week, there is time to pay tribute to your passion.
Zach is making a huge commitment, and he deserves to be commended for it. Not only has he committed to making one image a day for a full year, he has done so in the most public of forums: his blog. Now, not only has he made the commitment, but he’s on the hook to every single one of his readers of he falters.
Think of it as the difference between thinking to yourself “I should lose weight” and saying out loud to someone “I’m going to lose X lbs by X date”. Not only does setting a goal solidify the desire versus a vague statement of intention, sharing the goal with others drives you to succeed: you don’t want to come up short.
If you’re struggling to find your muse, or looking for inspiration, maybe you’d do well to start hitting Zach’s site, which you can find at http://www.zacheryellis.com. He’s a perfect example that, regardless of your schedule, those dedicated to their craft will find a way.
Kudos, Mr. Ellis, and good luck.