Advice for writers
A number of years ago For your Consideration ran an article about me on The Pulse website. I’ve just been re-reading it and especially the advice I gave to new writers, which I thought was worth sharing. I don’t think I’d change anything in my answer today, hopefully I’ve heeded my own advice. If you’d like to read the full article head here, or to the columnist Chris Beckett’s page here.
THE PULSE: For aspiring creators, what is the best advice you would give to them as they work to break into comics?
ROGERS: I’m not sure I can add anything to what far more established and more successful creators have said in the past. Most of the advice I have been given or that I have read has proven to be right really. I guess I can summarise some of the key things that I think are important for you though.
Don’t show your work too early. This is a mistake a lot of people make and it can totally destroy not only your confidence but also your credibility. I was told this many times and didn’t listen. I sent my first ever story “Darwin” to Andy Diggle and it was nowhere near good enough. I can laugh about it now, but it was a stupid and sizeable mistake.
Learn the craft. You really do need to understand the medium and how to write for it. Simple things like script layout are something you need to get a handle on, and reading other people’s scripts is a great place to start. Get an understanding of story and embrace structure rather than fearing it. And do the background, as tempting as it is just to get writing preparing a full back-story for your characters and universe will prove invaluable.
Make plenty of contacts. Every time you speak to a creator, editor or fan is a networking opportunity, in person or online. One thing people often forget, particularly on forums or by email, is that everything you say and do makes an impression. Be courteous and keen, but not too pushy. When you do meet influential people make the most of it, I have had to learn not to be shy to ensure I don’t miss opportunities. And to not get drawn into online fire fights too!
Treat artists very well indeed. Without them you are just writing scripts not making comics, so look after them. They hold the keys to the kingdom. (Feel free to shoot me for that cliché)
Get your own work out there. If you can’t get published just do it yourself. As long as you have had some editorial or professional feedback then it is not vanity press by any means. And if you don’t “break in”, whatever that means for you, at least you have a comic in your hands and available for others to read.
Give yourself deadlines and set yourself clear objectives. It is easy to end up talking about what you are going to do and still not do it. Easy to let your day job, family life, social life, social networking and console games take up all your time. Setting yourself daily or weekly objectives as well as an end goal will really help you focus and keep your eye on where you are going. This doesn’t sound like fun, but there is nothing worse than regretting not putting the hours in.
Write every day. This is something that everyone tells you and everyone is right! I spent a lot of time reading about writing or taking courses about writing when I could have actually been writing.
My main personal advice would be to find something that helps maintain your motivation. We all have down days especially as writing can be such a solitary thing, so you need a light at the end of your own personal tunnel. I think about how I will be remembered after I’m gone (I refer to it as my funeral montage), it’s a bit morbid but it definitely ensures I put enough effort into it. J. Michael Straczynski put it far better than I can though.
“ Like everyone else, I am going to die.
But the words – the words live on for
as long as there are readers to see them,
audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy.
It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.”