So I've been working on my own project outside of Disney for quite a while. In July, I will have put three years into it already. I've been thinking a bit about personal projects and what I think are important considerations to think about before undertaking one. So this is the first in a series about things to consider when planning a personal project.
Every one of us is all too familiar with the life cycle of creative endeavors; countless personal projects are started with a ton of passion and the best of intentions, but are abandoned at some point along the way and never completed. Sometimes it's simply because the passion burns out. Passion is, by its very nature, a powerful but ultimately short-lived phenomenon. Sometimes other priorities take over your life and the project doesn't seem important anymore. Sometimes time just passes and you end up with a new perspective on your project, and what seemed like a great idea a while ago just seems silly now or not worth pursuing anymore.
I can't speak for how anyone else is able to maintain their passion and stamina while working on their own personal project, but the single biggest factor that's enabled me to stick with my project is a concept that I didn't invent, and I wasn't even aware of back when I started working on my endeavor. I've heard other people talk about this idea since I began my project, and once I heard people discussing this concept, I realized that I been following this principle all along.
Basically, the concept is: Create the thing you want to exist in the world.
This is also the reason that I started this blog. Back before I started this thing, I was constantly searching for a website where someone would talk about drawing, writing, film and storyboarding...all the stuff I was passionate about. I was searching and searching for a place where someone else was wrestling with all the stuff I struggle with and talking about it. And then I just started writing stuff down, mostly in the hope that it would inspire others to start doing the same.
Anyway, my personal project was a similar story. I began working on a graphic novel three years ago, and although I didn't realize it at the time, what initially got me going on the project was the desire to create something that I really wanted to exist in the world.
Here's the backstory: I've always really, really wanted to love comic books. Comic books are stories told with visuals, which is similar to storyboarding and film, and should be right up my alley. Many of the people I work with are big comic book fans, and they're all super smart and amazing artists, so naturally I figured I was just missing something. I didn't walk into comic book stores very often, but when I did, I always really wanted to buy something. But most times I'd look and look, and in the end nothing would really catch my imagination, and I'd leave empty handed and disappointed.
So over the years, I formed a foggy idea of what I wished comic books were...but weren't. And those things--and my burning desire to want to love comic books--eventually became so strong in my mind that it drove me to start on my journey to create the thing that I wanted to exist in the world.
So ask yourself what is missing in the world that you'd desperately like to see. What kind of movie do you wish was being made these days? What kind of book do you wish you could read? What kind of music do you wish you could listen to? If you feel that way, it's certain there are others out there that feel that way too. And by hanging onto that desire to see that element out in the world, you can sustain yourself through the tough times that come along with trying to create anything that's original, fresh and inspired.