2017 Productivity

At the end of every year, my social media feeds fill with productive creative people touting how much work they’ve done in the past 365 days. Seeing how much everyone has accomplished, it’s very easy to feel like you haven’t done anything at all—or at least you haven’t done enough.

This past year, my son was born. In the most important of ways, it was the biggest year. He’s the best thing I’ve ever had a hand in creating and being with him daily is the best “work” I’ve ever done. Naturally, it was a pretty busy year. (So busy I’m finally writing those post in February!)

While parenting is a life shift that redefines everything, I still wondered how my year stacked up in terms of creative output. Even when you’re having an incredible year, at least for me, it’s hard not to try and tally your efforts. (I’m a bit of a listmaker.) When I crunched the numbers, expecting it to have been a light year in creative work, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve had busier years, but to have done all this… Continue Reading “2017 Productivity”

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Writing News: Winter 2017

I’ve been a comic book editor for seven years. Five years at Dark Horse Comics, one at Stela, and one as a freelance editor, roughly. In that time, I worked on 59 graphic novels and more than 200 single issue comics at Dark Horse, got 32 projects greenlit, up and running, and edited at Stela, and I’ve edited 18 different scripts (so far) while freelancing (plus some other assorted jobs).

This year, though, I finally made some headway as a writer.
Continue Reading “Writing News: Winter 2017”

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Resources for Copywriters

After nearly a decade working as a writer and editor in journalism, publicity, and comics publishing, shifting my skills to digital marketing copywriting has been a broadening experience. As a job, it utilizes all the same skills I’ve previously engaged as a wordsmith, but it calls on them in new and — sometimes — very different ways. And that’s a good thing: Diverse experience is essential to improvement. You could argue that continuing to write daily is the greatest way to improve, and I wouldn’t argue, but writing about subjects and in voices I’d otherwise never touch has forced a honing of my skills it’d be hard to replicate left to my own devices. Continue Reading “Resources for Copywriters”

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One of my favorite writers explains writing and writers

While I haven’t delved into my favorite living writer George Saunders’ new book Lincoln in the Bardo — as Abraham Lincoln grieving his dead son seems a bit intense for a brand new dad — I’ve enjoyed reading interviews about his process going from expert short story writer to first time novelist. My wife giving birth has waylaid a more thorough examination of this Guardian article, but I wanted to save it here for future reference — for me and you, any writers or editors that love creative process advice as much as I do. Continue Reading “One of my favorite writers explains writing and writers”

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Recommended Storytelling and Comics Writing Resources

In my unending quest to continue improving as a writer and editor, I’ve been blogging haphazardly over the past two years when I come across great writing tips or storytelling resources. I love reading about writing and storytelling. It’s fascinating and enriching. I’ve witnessed things I’ve read come to life in my own work, improving my skills—you couldn’t ask for better results to time spent studying your craft. So, in the hope I’m not alone in this pilgrimage, I’ve tried to collect some those resources (plus, my thoughts) for others. An infographic about book facts created by Robert Brewer was part of the impetus behind all this additional study. Continue Reading “Recommended Storytelling and Comics Writing Resources”

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Fred Van Lente’s Five Comic-Making Mistakes

New York Times Bestselling author Fred Van Lente—who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on Resurrectionists, Brain Boy, Project Black Sky, new editions of his Action Philosophers and The Silencers, and a few other things—is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest writers in comics. If you’re looking for a script format to mimic, head to his website and check out his templates. As an editor, I love this format! It’s also one of the preferred formats of letterer extraordinaire Nate Piekos of Blambot! Continue Reading “Fred Van Lente’s Five Comic-Making Mistakes”

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What story do you want to tell?

If you want to create comics, I think Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is required reading. “But Jim! I’ve read enough comics to understand them! I don’t need to read this!” Well, if you’ll allow me a sports metaphor… Watching Michael Jordan or Lebron James play hundreds games isn’t gonna make you a great basketball player, nor is watching every NFL game on Sunday gonna make you a great coach. In short, there’s a lot of doing the work and studying the craft involved in mastering the craft, so if you want to create comics, you should do more than just read lots of comics, you should immerse yourself in information about the craft.

But, getting off my soap box (“He said, while writing am advice-centric blog post.”), I’m writing this post about two pages from Understanding Comics that I think are a great lesson for newcomers and a fantastic refresher for old pros alike. Continue Reading “What story do you want to tell?”

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Never stop improving

Last night, I was watching MasterChef with my fiancé and I realized that, over the two seasons I’ve watched, there are always a few contestants who seem certain they know better than the judges. Gordon Ramsay will come around, ask them what they’re cooking, taste it, and often offer some sort of “Are you sure about this? Did you think this through?” criticism. The contestants who often do the best, take that cue and work toward applying the criticism to their cooking. The contestants who are often eliminated early on in the competition are the ones who shake their heads at the criticism and seem convinced that they know better than the judges. Continue Reading “Never stop improving”

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