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I have been a fan of S. M. Beiko’s webcomic Krampus Is My Boyfriend since page one, and generally impressed with Beiko since I started paying attention to her work. As she finished work on the first 48-page print collection of the online story, I interviewed Beiko about how to get your start in webcomics, and comics overall, and how to plan out a lengthy story that unfolds serially in instalments. 

I have a new book publishing this year, THE NATIONAL GALLERY. See what award-winning filmmaker Guy Maddin (MY WINNIPEG) has to say about it and get a sneak peek at my favourite poem here!!!

S. M. Beikois the author of Krampus Is My Boyfriend, a free webcomic that you can read at www.krampusismyboyfriend.com. Beiko also authored the YA fantasy novel series The Realms of Ancient and the standalone novel The Lake and the Library 

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Music by Patrick Short (aka Electric Candles), who is better known as Kindest Cuts

Photography by Michael Sanders of Electric Monk Media

Art Design by [DRUM ROLLLLLLLL] author S.M. Beiko!!!!!!!!

The #1 Thing I Learned from Talking to S. M. Beiko

My personal productivity pitfall is this: I research too much. 

On one hand, I believe in being prepared and in doing things the right way. I want to do everything properly and perfectly, so I spend a lot of time preparing to work. I read, I research, I take courses, I make copious notes.

Which is all great, but sometimes it’s a method of procrastination — an insidious method, in that you are doing work, but all of your work is really preparing to work. It’s non-work work. 

On the other hand, as the podcast title might suggest, I believe in just doing things, in doing things the wrong way if necessary. And often it IS necessary. A lot of the time, you just need to start. You need to get out of your own way and get to work. 

I was impressed with how Sam described her process of getting ready to do the comic. She spent time planning but it was very directed: she created characters, brainstormed story ideas, did sketches, and other work that was exactly the kind of work she needed to do in order to create the webcomic. 

She didn’t spend a lot of time doing work that was optional. (This is the kind of work that I often find myself doing as a method of procrastination: high-level research into topics I cannot fully understand until I am actually engaged in doing the work!)

Her preparatory work was directed at (1) getting ready to actually launch the webcomic and (2) making certain that it was worth launching the webcomic, that she wouldn’t just run out of ideas or interest partway through. She got herself to the point where she had enough prep work done that she could commit fully to the project, and then she committed to the project. 

And launched. 

She didn’t wait until she had everything figured out. She figured out enough to get started and to make sure she wouldn’t quit.

She didn’t wait until she felt ready to start. She waited until she was ready to start, and then she started even though she didn’t necessarily feel ready. On paper, she knew she could start, so she did, and trusted her emotions to catch up and her confidence to come later.

In other words,she trusted the process. 

One change in my own work process that I am instituting after reflecting on this interview is giving myself a limited amount of time to research. Now, when I am considering a new project, I’m going to set myself a research period and a deadline to move towards launching into the project. 

When the research period ends, I have to start launching. Research is over. This should make me more intentional about prioritizing certain types of research and prep work, and less liable to get wrapped up in my own head and in endless turmoil about feeling I need to learn more before I start. 

Artists and writers learn on the job, like everyone else. They aren’t special and they don’t need to feel like they’re ready to start their work. They should start when the job starts, just like everyone else that gets hired to do a job. 

Resources

I have a new book publishing this year, THE NATIONAL GALLERY. See what award-winning filmmaker Guy Maddin (MY WINNIPEG) has to say about it and get a sneak peek at my favourite poem here!!!

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