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UniverseX259
04-22-2015, 07:44 PM
Is it just me, or does anyone else here REALLY like working under a deadline?

As I've mentioned on here before, I feel that the default state of the human being is to be lazy. Unless we have a fire burning under our asses it's easier to just coast or do nothing. And in terms of comics and other writing/graphic projects we're usually bound to deadlines. And sometimes I find that this fire can help produce the purest work since you have to cut out all the fat and focus on the core of the project.

I did some reflecting about freelance jobs I've done, and in the past 5 years I can count on one hand the amount of projects that had hard deadlines. I was able to meet them all, and I had the confidence to do so knowing that these projects would be turned into something in a short amount of time. I also got a great sense of accomplishment from the hard work I did. But most projects I've worked on didn't have these deadlines, I was told to work on them at my own pace.

Working at my own pace is less pressure, but there's also a sense of uncertainty - What's going to stop this project from going on forever? Will it actually be printed/released? If it's long term will there be any stability in it? It came as no surprise to me that the projects with the tightest deadlines were the ones that were actually released to the public in a timely manner. But there are still projects I've worked on "at my own pace" from years back that still haven't been released, although the client is still looking into ways of producing them.

A lot of people have told me that one of my strengths is my ability to work fast, which is a must in a periodic medium. But it's hard to flex these muscles in the "at your own pace" world. Every week I set up a schedule of what I'd like to accomplish......Very rarely does it all get accomplished. In "at your own pace" projects I tend to hit roadblocks such as waiting for approval of my work, or things getting to me late. Since the fire of a deadline isn't burning under a client's ass they have no incentive to work quickly. Many times I'll work faster than the client can, and my speed ends up being their fire.

This thread was inspired by a project I'm trying out for. The pay is lower than I charge, but I'm going for it because it has tight deadlines and is for a company that will DEFINITELY release it. If everything stays on schedule it won't be too much of a blow to my wallet since above all it will be steady. It'll also give me the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is and see if I can produce quality work at a fast pace.

So yeah, I like deadlines. What about you guys?

paul brian deberry
04-22-2015, 07:57 PM
first, i would agree with everything here.

as a an ace letterer, I've been under many deadlines. do my best work with an axe to my neck. i won't take a gig anymore with a long dragged out deadline. give me a few weeks an 100 pages to letter any day.

never had an opportunity to work under a deadline as my primary trade as a crummy writer.

Steven Forbes
04-22-2015, 08:21 PM
I love deadlines. Always have.

As a writer, I feel like I do my best work when writing to a deadline--even if it's self-imposed. I like writing my daily stuff, because it keeps me writing. Otherwise, I'm going to be lazy.

As an editor, I generally set deadlines, but don't get to work under them a lot. The nature of being freelance. However, I don't like getting paid totally up front, because then I feel like I have no reason to get to the work immediately. Pay me in the schedule that I ask for, and we're both protected. Pay me in full up front, and I feel more inclined to get around to the work when I can. So, for me, getting the rest of the payment acts as something of a deadline.

But yes, I love deadlines.

paul brian deberry
04-22-2015, 08:41 PM
Self-imposed deadline NEVER work for me. Not sure why... maybe it has something to do with that there is no real danger of anything happening when i miss one of my own deadlines.

Stewart Vernon
04-22-2015, 08:58 PM
I can be on both sides of this. When things go according to schedule, I like schedule and deadline responsibilities. I agree that it is good motivation and an easy way to keep track of progress.

My "but" here... comes from working as a Technical Writer where I had a deadline but no control over the schedule. So... there would be a computer project and they would rewrite the specs mid-project and sometimes the engineers would work last-minute miracles to try and make their deadline for manufacturing of the hardware BUT they were constantly squeezing us in the documentation department.

We would be expected to write a document for a product that was constantly being redefined underneath us... and have artwork produced that would then need to be scrapped and drawn again for major hardware changes... and they would completely ignore the lead time for the printer to produce hardcopy and get that back to the company for inventory to include with the hardware as part of the manufacturing department.

In these cases... I hate the deadline because they always tried to hang the problem on us if we couldn't work the miracle.

Translating that to the comic world... imagine there's a comic that is supposed to be monthly and you need to finish it this month in order for it to be printed and distributed next month. That's cool... until the writer has writer's block, or the artist draws slow that month... and you're the inker who can't do any work at all until those two guys have done their part... and they give it to you with only a week left and say "we're done, it's on you"... and you find yourself under that last-minute crunch month after month through no fault of your own.

So... put me down for reasonable deadlines and schedules that don't create dependencies that allow for the back-end work to be under high-pressure while the front-end work gets a lot of leeway to be late.

And all that said... For the daily comic strip I do... when I began I was working sometimes months ahead... usually a few weeks at least... but I was missing out on light-bulb moments and things I wanted to tie to a current event. So for the moment, I'm doing tomorrow's comic tonight... and that's a self-imposed schedule and deadline pressure to allow me maximum flexibility for content but put my feet to the fire to get something done every day.

The comic is fun for me... and I'm the only one holding my feet to the fire... and so far that has worked really well for me to improvise in the eleventh hour some of my better ideas.

Scribbly
04-22-2015, 10:23 PM
When we work without deadlines the bills will show us deadlines.

UniverseX259
04-22-2015, 11:59 PM
I love deadlines. Always have.

As a writer, I feel like I do my best work when writing to a deadline--even if it's self-imposed. I like writing my daily stuff, because it keeps me writing. Otherwise, I'm going to be lazy.

As an editor, I generally set deadlines, but don't get to work under them a lot. The nature of being freelance. However, I don't like getting paid totally up front, because then I feel like I have no reason to get to the work immediately. Pay me in the schedule that I ask for, and we're both protected. Pay me in full up front, and I feel more inclined to get around to the work when I can. So, for me, getting the rest of the payment acts as something of a deadline.

But yes, I love deadlines.

As an artist who sets his own deadlines, I say that the fire under my ass is money. I can take a week to do a page, sure, but then my bills won't be paid. And like you that fire will be gone if I'm paid in advance. I always do a 50/50 split or some similar variation - I get part of the money upfront as a sign of goodwill, then getting the remaining 50% is motivation to finish my end of it. If I want that money faster then I'll have to work faster.

And like Scribbly said, I always work faster when the rent's due. Amazing how that is!

UniverseX259
04-23-2015, 12:10 AM
I can be on both sides of this. When things go according to schedule, I like schedule and deadline responsibilities. I agree that it is good motivation and an easy way to keep track of progress.

My "but" here... comes from working as a Technical Writer where I had a deadline but no control over the schedule. So... there would be a computer project and they would rewrite the specs mid-project and sometimes the engineers would work last-minute miracles to try and make their deadline for manufacturing of the hardware BUT they were constantly squeezing us in the documentation department.

We would be expected to write a document for a product that was constantly being redefined underneath us... and have artwork produced that would then need to be scrapped and drawn again for major hardware changes... and they would completely ignore the lead time for the printer to produce hardcopy and get that back to the company for inventory to include with the hardware as part of the manufacturing department.

In these cases... I hate the deadline because they always tried to hang the problem on us if we couldn't work the miracle.

Translating that to the comic world... imagine there's a comic that is supposed to be monthly and you need to finish it this month in order for it to be printed and distributed next month. That's cool... until the writer has writer's block, or the artist draws slow that month... and you're the inker who can't do any work at all until those two guys have done their part... and they give it to you with only a week left and say "we're done, it's on you"... and you find yourself under that last-minute crunch month after month through no fault of your own.

So... put me down for reasonable deadlines and schedules that don't create dependencies that allow for the back-end work to be under high-pressure while the front-end work gets a lot of leeway to be late.

And all that said... For the daily comic strip I do... when I began I was working sometimes months ahead... usually a few weeks at least... but I was missing out on light-bulb moments and things I wanted to tie to a current event. So for the moment, I'm doing tomorrow's comic tonight... and that's a self-imposed schedule and deadline pressure to allow me maximum flexibility for content but put my feet to the fire to get something done every day.

The comic is fun for me... and I'm the only one holding my feet to the fire... and so far that has worked really well for me to improvise in the eleventh hour some of my better ideas.

You just hit on a really important part of comic creation, and that's getting all the foundational stuff out the way ASAP. I've always likened it to building a house: Would you go back and change the foundation when you're at a point where you can put the siding on? Worse yet, would you put the siding on before the walls are even built? Then why would you start inking pages when the client isn't confident in his idea?

I've luckily never had a client change their mind during a VERY tight deadline.....Although I've dealt with some incredibly indecisive clients before. Luckily with illustration there are very few people you have to go through, so most matters are between me and the client only. But still, it's frustrating when you're on a roll and the client decides they don't like what they have and want to do it over. This happens to me all the time with "at your own pace" jobs, particularly vanity projects - The client's ego is so wrapped up in this project that it just has to be perfect, and since there are no deadlines they can take their sweet time trying to attain that perfection.

I'm not by any means one of the greatest artists out there, but I'm confident in my skills as an artist and storyteller. If you give me a solid script I'll draw the hell out of it and get it done on time. So I'm hoping that whoever I'm working for has the same mindset. And god damn does a tight deadline do wonders for make the creative team throw out their insecurities, egos, and transgressions.

Stewart Vernon
04-23-2015, 03:24 AM
I have worked with some good Technical Illustrators when I was with companies that had them instead of having each writer do his own art... and more times than not I got back way better than I had asked for in the illustrations for manuals I was writing.

I always felt sheepish and guilty when a week after getting great art I had to go back to the artist and tell him they completely redesigned the mechanicals and now most of what he drew was essentially unusable... and that the deadline we rushed to meet last week now has to be rushed again to do it all over again.

I made a point in those cases to go back to the people who caused the problem and let them know how much time and effort we were all wasting doing stuff to meet a deadline only to have the rug pulled out from under us again and again.

Not every company was like that, but enough were... and from what I can tell, it can be as bad in comics if you aren't careful.

My rule always was... You can screw up your own deadlines all you want, just don't screw with mine... and if you owe me something that I need before I can start, don't hold me up. I'm not perfect and I'll screw up from time to time too... but my screw ups will only affect me... I won't screw up in a way that holds someone else back from doing their part.

UniverseX259
04-23-2015, 04:13 PM
I have worked with some good Technical Illustrators when I was with companies that had them instead of having each writer do his own art... and more times than not I got back way better than I had asked for in the illustrations for manuals I was writing.

I always felt sheepish and guilty when a week after getting great art I had to go back to the artist and tell him they completely redesigned the mechanicals and now most of what he drew was essentially unusable... and that the deadline we rushed to meet last week now has to be rushed again to do it all over again.

I made a point in those cases to go back to the people who caused the problem and let them know how much time and effort we were all wasting doing stuff to meet a deadline only to have the rug pulled out from under us again and again.

Not every company was like that, but enough were... and from what I can tell, it can be as bad in comics if you aren't careful.

My rule always was... You can screw up your own deadlines all you want, just don't screw with mine... and if you owe me something that I need before I can start, don't hold me up. I'm not perfect and I'll screw up from time to time too... but my screw ups will only affect me... I won't screw up in a way that holds someone else back from doing their part.

This is why I prefer to work on smaller projects with, at most, 2 people I have to go through. The more parts on a project, the higher the chance something will go wrong.

One way this can benefit you, though, is if you're paid hourly rather than per-project. I had a horror scenario working on some designs for a financial firm where the flat rate pay for the project was WAY higher than anything I had ever worked on before.....The only problem was they wanted so many revisions and kept changing their minds that in the end the high rate wasn't worth it due to all the hours I was putting in. Now if I sense a project will be like this I'll charge hourly instead of a flat rate. It might be a headache working on it, but at least I'll be compensated for that headache.

Steven Forbes
04-23-2015, 04:25 PM
Now, just imagine trying to teach a new writer the craft of writing! It's horrible, and gives me nightmares. The first script runs with red, and my hourly productivity is dramatically slowed.

Screwtape Jenkins
04-24-2015, 02:15 PM
Reminds me of my favorite quote:

"I don't need time. I need a deadline."

Duke Ellington

NatMatt
04-24-2015, 05:03 PM
Honestly, a deadline is the only way I can work. Recently, I began a project around mid-March. In all that time, I've drawn two pages in total. A few days ago, the writer of the book told me he needs six pages done by early-May. Now, I'm almost up to the fourth page and now moving fast from this point on. My point is I would have never finished the book unless I was given a deadline.

UniverseX259
04-24-2015, 08:47 PM
Honestly, a deadline is the only way I can work. Recently, I began a project around mid-March. In all that time, I've drawn two pages in total. A few days ago, the writer of the book told me he needs six pages done by early-May. Now, I'm almost up to the fourth page and now moving fast from this point on. My point is I would have never finished the book unless I was given a deadline.

Great example. A deadline is a goal, and a goal should be like a destination - You can focus all you want on the journey and take any road you want, but it should all result in reaching your destination when you should be there. But a journey without a destination can turn into a mess, and you may just drive on forever or just stop half-way.