When working on a big project, whether it be a comic, novel, video, complex painting etc, it's very common to find yourself stuck at any given point. It happens to everyone; maybe you're unsure of where to go next, or working on it has become more of a chore and less fun But there are some simple things you can do to make sure that you get through your project in the most easy and enjoyable way.
Before you get started
Before you even begin working on your project, there are a few things you should do to make it a little easier on yourself and to help keep things going smoothly.
~ Write down your ideas
This one is a bit of a no-brainer really. Make a mind map or some bullet points of all of the things you want to include in your project. Events, themes, character profiles; no idea is too insignificant. You won't remember every idea you come up with, so writing it all down will make sure you never forget the best ones.
~ Plan ahead
Remember when you were a kid and your teachers always told you 'every story must have a beginning, a middle and an end'? Well, the same applies to any project. It's difficult to complete something if there's no end in sight, so make sure you have one. Decide what you want the ending/finished project to be like. Knowing how you want your comic/novel/video to end or having an idea of what you want your painting to look like when it is complete will make sure your work doesn't stray all over the place, and you won't be sitting there in three months time wondering where it's all going.
Once you've decided on your end, move to the middle. Having an idea of whereabouts you want to be halfway through your project is a big help. Look at it like a check point or a pit stop; it makes it easier to keep going in the right direction and stops you from going off track.
I know. The dreaded 'r' word. But research is vital to any project. Odds are, you are probably not going to be creating something based only on your life experiences. Your characters, for example. They may be of a different race or religion. Maybe one of them is a drug addict and the strongest thing you've ever taken is Anvil.
Example; a character with a drug addiction. Which drug does he abuse? How long has he been taking it? What are the effects of abusing said drug? All of these are very important questions that you need to know the answers to, because they will affect the personality of your character, his life, and the way he interacts with others, all things that you need to know before you get started.
What are you painting? People? A detailed landscape? Before you get started, it's a good idea to practise. Sketch out a few landscapes or people. Work on your style. Experiment with new paints, new brushes, different ways of painting. This applies to writers too; get a feel of writing for your chosen genre. Practice writing as different characters to get to know them better. Making a video? Work on your editing, camera angles, shots, lighting. Find things that work for you and that work for your project. Experience is everything, so make sure you have plenty before you start your project. That way, the quality of your work will be higher too.
~ Know your world
This one is for a comic/novel/video. Is your project set in a world you created? Do the people have their own cultural customs? Language? Religion? If so, you have to create all of these things. Think of Lord of the Rings. One of the reasons why the series is so good and so popular is because the world is so detailed and so believable. And if you want your world to be the same, you have to know everything about it. It's a lengthy task, but your work will be so much better for it.
Once you've started
So you've gotten all of the preparation out of the way. You've started work on your project and it's going well. But despite being well prepared, you can still hit a brick wall when working on a long project. Maybe you feel working on it has become tedious, or you keep getting distracted by ideas for new projects. If that happens, there's one simple thing you can do that will make all the difference.
~ Don't be afraid to take a break
It really is that simple. If you work on something for a really long time, it can start to weigh down your mind a little. Taking breaks to work on other mini projects can be really refreshing, and then when you go back to your big project, it's like starting on a new slate and you're rearing to go. Having a hiatus to work on something else for a while will be a good thing for your creative mind, and you'll enjoy your big project all the more when you go back to it.
Likewise, leaving your project alone and not working on anything for a while is okay too. Go out with your friends, take up a new hobby, start that book you've been meaning to read. Take your time. After all, it took Leonardo da Vinci between four and seven years to finish painting the Mona Lisa. YOU CAN'T RUSH ART. I know some people like to set themselves deadlines, but creativity doesn't recognise such things. There's no reason to rush these things. Take your time and take care. Nurture your work.
And that's it
Working on a big creative project is no easy feat. It takes time, it takes work. But it can be so much fun. I hope these tips will help to make it all a little easier and less overwhelming.