An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
– Cambridge dictionary
Passion. Everyone knows this word. The excerpt from the dictionary above is just one of many different definitions of the term.
What a lot of people don`t know is that the word “passion” actually comes from the Latin root “pati” which means “suffering” or “enduring.” This word was, for example, used to describe the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross to save the world.
At first it might seem that over time the word evolved into meaning something completely different than suffering. But I find it a strangely appropriate word for one of our modern day definitions: “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”
Do you have something you`re passionate about? Do you know the feeling of doing something you absolutely love, even if it`s hard? Even if you have to wait for a (long) while to see results? Even if it means you`ll face problems that make you want to pull your hair out? To truly pursue a passion means you have to endure painful things for it: frustration, waiting, restraint, failure, choosing it over other fun things or even, in some instances, physical pain. (Think of wrestling, or having a baby)
But not pursuing it causes an even greater suffering: the pain of missing out on something that stole your heart.
Drawing and comic making fall into the passion-category for me. And I discovered this week that even though I love doing it, it`s still quickly drowned out by all the other things I have to do, mostly short term plans and commitments.
Being full of optimism, this year I wanted to focus on action. I want to complete stuff, cross things off my list. So, at the beginning of each week I make a list of simple, doable actions that I can take to help my projects forward. This is going fairly well, since I focus on putting clear actions on there that I can start immediately and don`t have to go thinking and planning over first. (that`s what I do when I write these actions down)
I am doing this for three weeks now and it feels great. Only until one problem became really clear to me: I reserved comic- and drawing time for when I`d have “free time” and so, on this list, there are no actions related to the things that are most important to me in relation to art. (You know, that thing I am passionate about.)
This is kind of weird, right? I have actions for the most unimportant things imaginable. Yes, having an empty email inbox helps keeping my sanity, but it`s ok to not be on top of everything all the time. (a lesson I keep learning again and again every week, it seems)
And its really easy to let your “free time” get filled up with watching TV or going on Facebook as well. It`s free time, after all. And after a day of working, sometimes I just don`t feel like using my brain too much. Even if it`s for something I love doing.
Another thing I noticed: spending lesser and lesser time on art heightens the urge to only make “good” drawings, because: “now I`m actually sitting down and having time, so make something awesome! No pressure or anything…”
From this realization I learned three things:
Your passion needs your time.
Specially reserved time, in which you can work undisturbed, in which you don`t feel the need to do other things. And not just once a month either. Regular contact with your passion makes doing it a habit, it gets easier to not skip it because “something important” has come up. It makes you less sensitive about the work as well. Don`t succeed today? Try again tomorrow, or in a few days. It`s not that big of a deal if you mess up, you know you`ll be trying again soon. And most importantly, working on your passion might even do more for your sanity than an empty email inbox. (Except when your passion is organizing and sending people emails all day) Drawing makes me happy and fulfilled. Why am I not doing it more?
Focus your time and energy on the right things that get you where you want to be.
Even if it`s hard. Do relevant things that fuel your passion, like finding right minded people, or help you progress to where you want to go if it`s a project with a finish, like trying to qualify for a sports team, making a book, finding that one piece that`s missing from your collection, or nursing a person back to health.
I just spend the first half of last week on thinking of a new title for Reminiscence. The comic might need that eventually, since there are already a few comics that use that title, and I`m also looking for something that could grab someone`s interest more. But by focusing on the title I was only getting myself distracted from what the story actually needs right now: thumbnails. This ties back with my tendency to draw back from difficult things. It`s a long time since I`ve drawn an actual comic page, and thinking of a new title seems like an easier task. (HA! Got myself there, titles are hard.)
The title of the Reminiscence comic is only important when I`m getting the story out there. I am blogging about it now, but that doesn`t mean I can`t have a working title that gets changed after a while. I realized that and started thumbnailing for the story, finally! I`m still figuring out how to keep you readers updated about that. My thumbnails are kind of messy and might not be that interesting to look at and I want to avoid spoilers. I will ponder about how to do that some more. I want to let you all in on the comic making process after all. If there`s anything specific that you`d want to see, don`t hesitate to offer some suggestions in the comments.
Last, but not least:
You do this because it is fun
Man, have I lost track of this part fast! I started the Reminiscence project because I wanted to work on a new idea, and I wanted to add in things I love and love to draw. The comic was originally intended just for the fun of making a comic. And here I am, stressing about format, titles, and “what if it doesn`t look as good as in my head” things, and, even more dangerous: “what if people don`t like it?” So what! That was never my intention anyway!
When did I forget that this was my “having fun project?” Practising comic making again and probably failing a lot, but learning a lot from that as well. I wanted to work on a comic in a relaxed way, doing what I love.
I gotta go back to that.
Speaking of things that can steal your fun away…My teacher, Chris Oatley, actually just started a really good series of blogposts about “passion projects” and the “making money” aspect of it. If you liked this article I`m sure you`ll love this series!
If you have a passion, (an ethical and healthy one, a passion for eating at McDonalds every day is probably bad for you) a passion that bums you out whenever you`re neglecting it, by all means, GO FOR IT! Carve out some time, even if it`s just five minutes a day. Focus your time and energy on what can fuel your passion or help it progress forward. And most importantly, don`t lose sight of your enthusiasm and the fun that comes with pursuing something you love.
Do you have a passion? Enthusiasm is contagious, share it in the comments!