As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, I’m such a bad blog owner. I wasn’t able to celebrate the Googly Gooeys birthday last April 26. And, it’s their 6th birthday at that! (And, I’m not supposed to be starting my sentences with ‘and’). But, I have a really good excuse and I’ll let you know when the right time comes! 😉
So, six years ago, these random shapes were born on my laptop and were first shared on a private Multiply site. *Whattt? Multiply?* What you’re seeing today is a product of a bad day/week/couple of weeks + some odd desire to share something + an illustration exercise thanks to a corporate project peppered with encouragement from a couple of friends.
If you asked me some years ago, I wouldn’t probably be proud of the blog’s age. I mean, things would have sounded more awesome if let’s say I was able to do everything in less than a year instead of X years. If you also asked me before some advice about blogging and social media, I would have honestly felt robbed. But, these days, and I really think it comes with ageing, I told Abbey that “I think I’m getting OLDer. I’m ready to step aside and watch other people grow and learn through my mistakes.” We both laughed because Abbey always jokingly calls me “mommy” because of the age gap. But deep inside, I’m really hoping that it means that I’m probably, hopefully (keeping my fingers crossed), finally maturing. #Ahha
When I graduated from college, I would meet people in the corporate world who would just sit down with me and share a piece of their mind. I really didn’t understand why or where the motivation was coming from but I’m grateful nonetheless. Years later, I find myself sitting on the other side and I just feel that if I don’t share the stuff that I’ve learned so far, I’m actually wasting all the hours I’ve used committing mistakes and overthinking for nothing. So, here are 6 things I’ve learned during the past 6 years of creating comics, blogging, dabbling with social media and pursuing your silly dreams:
(But wait, if I start sounding preachy, don’t forget that I’m writing this for myself as well so that just in case one day I start getting tired, ungrateful and questioning my purpose in blogging and life in general (oh the drama), I can look back on these.)
1. Do what you love doing. – It may be the most senseless thing because it’s not related to your college course or out of all of your relatives and circle of friends, you’re the only one into this. It feels like you’re about to spend a lot of time on what could potentially be the biggest mistake of your life. I always say, “It doesn’t make any sense but as long as you’re not hurting anyone or anything, just go for it!” But, I think Ellen DeGeneres says it better with: “Do things that make you happy within the confines of the legal system“. 😉
Looking back, I could have just easily thrown this idea away. But, as I was reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon the other day and he said that “Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog.” I agree. Everything you’ll see on this page can only traced back to some unexplainable need to write, share, draw, doodle and upload photos online. 🙂
2. Stop doubting & start practicing. – I’m guilty of this too. Since I took up some business course coupled with math in college, I always feel “unschooled” when it comes to drawing & art. I see people’s works and I go, “I’m not the best in my field!” I mean, just look at everyone’s works here. How is that supposed to make you feel?!?! Hehehehe.
But, of course, I eventually got tired of doubting and went on with my work. I mean, if I just spent all the time loathing all my output, I wouldn’t have uploaded a single thing…
Then, somewhere along the way, you will meet people who will remind you about how hard your task is compared to theirs which will definitely make you doubt what you’re doing with your life. One time, someone told me “What!?! You’re going to blog about that croughnut recipe? You’re going to illustrate every tiny detail? That’s hard.” Yes, it’s not so easy and it also means spending time alone for hours and hours. I went with it anyway and it’s one of our most viral posts which eventually reached Dominique Ansel’s PR team (for a funny reason which you can read about here).
3. Show the world what you can do. – I know it sounds ambitious but with the internet, it’s like the world’s oceans have just converged and you can just reach out to anyone anywhere. Every single time there is an opportunity to submit your work to a blog, an online contest, a magazine, just go for it. There’s really no harm in trying. I mean, at the very least, you’re going to get a non-response from a site you’ve been a fan girl of for so long (which kind of hurts, I know but you should still be okay). As a rapper once said, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. 😉 Then again, don’t think of these opportunities as an end (where your fragile ego is attached) but as opening doors to more opportunities and a means to learning the process and acquainting yourself with the dynamics of social media & blogging. 🙂
4. Dream big but work on it too. – People always think everything is instant. When working out, I like it when our instructor says “The only way is through it”. There are no shortcuts. I mean, anything that looks like luck & overnight success for musicians and movie stars you know is the product of years and years of hard work. Sure, there’s beginner’s luck wherein one day, you wake up and discover that your inbox or social networking account is exploding with notifications just because a really strong blog or account out there picks you up. But, in the long run you can’t really rely on these temporary highs. Be grateful when they happen but know that sustaining your audience is another puzzle to solve. You can’t just be sitting there. Always create opportunities for yourself. Get involved in your community or if not, create your own community. 🙂
5. Embrace your weaknesses. – These days, all I get is “Your blog is so colorful!” or “how do you make your colors so vibrant?” That’s how it may look like on the outside because that’s how I choose to look at my work. But, of course, I can just choose to continue torturing myself with the following lines:
My illustrations and perspectives are so flat.
Everyone else’s palette looks more mature.
I have a bright & kiddie palette which is ironic for a comics that isn’t targeted for kids.
I’m so not in the middle of this webcomic / GIF animation / typography / vector drawing / watercolor trend!
But sometimes, no matter how many times you draw, you end up with pretty much the same thing. So, don’t fight it anymore and just embrace it. That’s your style. Well, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself and your style of better embrace it and work on it as if it’s what make you unique. (I totally feel like I’m quoting Tyra Banks from America’s Next Top Model while typing the last line. :P) Read more about finding your own style here.
6. Just keep swimming. – There are days when I just can’t stop myself from churning out new content and I just have to save everything in my notes because I can write faster than I can draw. But there are also days when I just feel like I’m mentally constipated. I’m reading but I can’t write. I’m fed with a lot of visual inspo every day but I can’t seem to come up with any that I feel is worth-sharing. I used to force myself and I end up with a half-hearted output.
There are also times when I don’t really know what I’m doing. The hardest one for me was last year. I was aways for 25 days and that was the longest time that I didn’t get to upload an entry on the blog. I was on the train from Venice to Florence and I was really thinking, maybe I should abandon my blog and the characters altogether and just post my photos on Instagram?
Then, I received a message from a friend. She said, “Hey, why don’t you post a travel photo with the characters on it so it still looks like it’s yours?” I laughed and I replied “I’m always on the go. You just don’t know how impossible that is!” I still don’t put the characters in all the pictures but every single time I upload something or I collaborate with a brand or blog, I really make sure that if there’s anyone happy about the post it should be me more than anyone else. I shouldn’t lose that sincere spirit of sharing our I’ll end up getting burned out trying to please everyone.
So these days, when I feel like I can’t produce anything, I have learned to sit patiently until the storm passes. I have learned to forgive myself. As much as I’d like to be the diligent blogger / content creator / Instagrammer, there are off days where I can’t force myself. Sometimes, I just need to refuel. I’d like to get more things done in a shorter amount of time but I realized, if I intend to do this for a pretty long time, I should learn how to pace myself and my energy. When the miserable phase is finally over, I’m ready to blog again! 🙂
Whew! If you made it to the end of this post, thank you and please feel free to share whatever stuff you’d like to share with the readers as well about blogging and spending time on seemingly senseless pursuits in life in general. 😉
Again, happy 6th birthday to them Googly Gooeys! 🙂