Making comics is a high octane business, and the people who have the staying power to make it a career nail down a schedule that works for them in pretty short order. Time management is key, whether you’re working on an indie book or for a publisher, and as part of #MakeComics week on Comicosity we decided to ask some creators in the industry what their schedules look like. The vast majority put an immense amount of time into their craft, and the “pro tips” around time management and scheduling that you’ll find below are worth their weight in gold. We posed a question to each of the creators below and the information we got back was astounding, both shedding light on the effort it takes to make comics, and the dedication and scheduling required to stay in the industry. The question we posed:
What does your typical work week look like in terms of hours/days worked, and on how many projects?
Writer of Daredevil, Archie, The Flash, Empire – publisher of Thrillbent
You don’t want to know. It’s a discouraging answer. But the truth is, I’m in the office six days a week (Saturdays off), pretty much from 9-7, very few breaks. But in those hours, I can juggle two or three projects a week comfortably–and four to five uncomfortably. I haven’t had a week where I’ve had the luxury of concentrating on one project for seven consecutive days in I don’t know how long–which is a great problem to have–but between writing five or six comics and managing Thrillbent.com and developing new series, I’m certainly never bored.
Writer of Kick-Ass, Civil War, Chrononauts, MPH
I work 48 hours a week but squeeze it into four days, working 7am till 7pm and then I get 3 days off with the family and totally recharged by Monday morning. I like to think I take a week with an issue but going back to when my career really kicked off in 2000 I’ve averaged around 18 comics a year. I think most guys do around 36 or so and pals like Brian Bendis can do over 50 or 60, which is amazing, but for some reason I’m pretty slow and even when I’m slogging my guts out it never seems to go above 18 comics in a single year. Maybe I need to stay off Twitter!
Writer/Artist of Howard the Duck, Jughead, Sex Criminals
Oh, god. Um, I’m in the studio working around 8am, and try to get through one page of Sex Criminals. After that I spend the late afternoon writing and responding to emails and emergencies. I usually wrap up around 9pm. This is six days a week. I recently decided on a policy of having one day a week off, which mayyyyy be saving my life.
Writer of The Tithe, Aphrodite IX, Think Tank, The Test. President/COO Top Cow
I try to only work on one project a week. More than one a week and I blur them together in my head. I’ve had to do it because of deadlines I don’t like it. I really don’t understand how someone like Charles Soule works on so many different projects. They are gods among us mere mortals I guess. I get up Mon-Fri between 4-6 and write until about noon. I go into the office after lunch and get whatever business related stuff needs to get done. If its a convention weekend the weekend just gets lost. If no convention I refuse to work on Saturdays and spend the day with my family.
I have the luxurious position of getting to devote all my time to one single project (Oh Joy Sex Toy) and that takes up about 5-7 days a week to write and draw it. I really wish I had time to take on additional freelance gigs or just shorter stories, but I’m so slow that OJST eats up all my time. I try to keep office hours, which means working from 10-6pm, Monday – Friday. But more often than not I wind up working until 10pm and over the weekends too :-/ Curse my inability to draw faster!
Writer of Resident Alien, Durham Red, Terra Obscura
Hard to say. I don’t spend all my time sitting at a keyboard, but I’m always writing bits in my head. By the time I get to a computer, I’m usually able to work really fast because I’ve thought about it so much already. There also comes a point when you’ve written all you can productively write, and anything else you do will only make it worse. Then it’s time to take a break, which could be a matter of minutes or hours or days. There are no hard and fast rules to this stuff, other than to start projects, to finish them, and to not give up.
There are always stories you’d rather be writing than the one you actually are, so you have to be a bit disciplined about it. But it’s also good to be trying to develop at least one other idea while still working away on your priority project.
Writer of C.O.W.L., Nightwing, Batman Eternal
It’s so varied and eclectic that it’s hard to pin down. When I was primarily working for DC, I was much more regimented than I am right now. With DC, it was easily eight hours a day, bouncing between any combination of outlining one book, writing another, giving lettering notes on another, and writing solicitation copy for another. And, when DC was in New York, it meant my workday typically started around 6:00AM. Or at least, that’s when my email would start pinging. Now, I tend to start a little later—around 9—although I do tend to write better in the early mornings and at night than I do in the middle of the day.
At the moment, most of my projects are creator owned series plus a screenplay I’m hacking away at. So, I primarily have to answer to myself… which is both a blessing and a curse. I still tend to work seven days a week, but they’re rarely full days. Someone described being a writer as perpetually having homework and that’s a pretty apt way of describing it.
Writer of The Sixth Gun, Sinestro, Magneto, Harrow County
Monday through Friday, I work from 8:30 to 5:00. I often work an hour or two at night, too. On Weekends, I try to work at least a couple of hours each day, sometimes more. If I’m on schedule, I can usually stay on schedule by writing 5 or 6 pages a day. That’s not too grueling, and it leaves lots of time during the day to focus on outlining and brainstorming (where most of the real work takes place for me).
Writer of Green Lantern, The Flash, X-O Manowar, The Homeland Directive, The Surrogates
There’s no such thing as a typical work week. The number of projects is fluid because new projects come in and previous ones phase out. To me, ten hours a day, five days a week would be ideal, but that rarely happens. Right now I’m working on five different projects simultaneously: Green Lantern and The Flash for DC, X-O Manowar and Book of Death for Valiant, and the second novel in my Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape series for Simon & Schuster. So working nights and weekends is common. The thing about the arts is, you’re the only one who can do what you do, the way that you do it. There’s nobody who can do your writing, drawing, inking, etc. for you. It’s just you.
Writer/artist of Superman, Booster Gold, New 52: Futures End
Usually juggling 4-5 issues of something(s) per week and there is no such thing as regular hours. I have tried to structure it that way but, in reality, it’s just a dream.
Colourist of The Sixth Gun
I work on two to three books a month, depending. By most standards I’m considered slow, so this takes me 50-60 hrs a week, working pretty much every day.
Adam P. Knave
Writer of Amelia Cole, Artful Daggers, Never Ending
If I ever have a typical week I’ll tell you. Right this second I am mostly working on four pitches, with three active project scripts being worked on. Also a novel. But regardless of workload I try to write/edit/work on pitches at least four hours a day (I have a day job, too, keep in mind so there is a limit). That goes up if the deadlines demand it, but in general I try to use any supposed downtime to start new pitches or take extra passes at scripts and plots. Writing and editing are muscles, the more you use them the better they get – but if you give yourself too much downtime you have to fight to spin back up.
Writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians 3000, Hypernaturals
I work too much. I work between five or six full days a week, spread over all seven days sometimes. I split my workload between comics, novels and game writing. I like to jump around to stop things stagnating, though this doesn’t work for everyone. So it’s, say, some comic scripting in the morning, and some novel chapters in the afternoon. 70 to 100 hour weeks are not uncommon. Right now (and this is typical) I have the following projects underway: 2 games, 2 novels, 3 US comics, 3 ongoing strips for 2000AD, a movie project, plus ‘research’ (actual research, general reading, planning, and ‘housekeeping’ – answering emails, doing interviews etc). In a given week, I’ll probably do a little of ALL of those things at least once. But the key thing to stress here is that I work the way I do because it suits me: I think I do my best work when I’m under pressure, so I let myself get busy. I work too much. Don’t do that.
Writer/artist of The God Machine, Fraggle Rock
When I’m working with a deadline my typical day can be from 12 to 14 hours on drawing pages and coloring pages respectively. That’s just on my own personal project THE GOD MACHINE. Writing comes and goes for me and fits in wherever I can do it.
It’s worth noting that weeks can go by without seeing another living soul for some time, all for love of the deadline!
Writer of Further Travels of Wyatt Earp, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors – letterer for Marvel
I basically work 7 days a week, though my weekend schedule is a little less…scheduled. During the week I keep a tight regimen. I wake up at 5 AM so I can get two hours of work in before the kids have to get up. Sometimes I spend that time writing, sometimes if I have a tight deadline, it’s spent lettering. Then after I get the kids off to school, I have breakfast, check Twitter and Facebook (I’m @joecaramagna on Twitter, btw) then I get back to work at around 8:30, and most of my day is spent I break for lunch around 12:30, check Twitter and Facebook, then get back to work until 1 PM. I usually take another break from 2:30 – 3:00 to pick up the kids from school and have a coffee (and of course Twitter and Facebook), then work until 5:30 when I break for dinner with the kids. My evenings are mostly spent doing things like this, answering interview questions, or watching episodes of Avengers Assemble or Ultimate Spider-Man for work, and then I write for a bit until it’s time for bed. But I make sure to do SOMEthing non-work related for 30 minutes before bed. I’ll watch something, read something…which of course isn’t really not work related because inspiration comes from everywhere, right? On the weekends, my schedule is flipped. I wake up at 6 AM to letter for 2 hours, and the rest of my days are spent writing. Taking breaks to do family things, of course! That amounts to a few lettered books and one script per week, on average.
Writer of Journey Into Mystery, Russian Olive to Red King, Moving Pictures
I’m very fortunate in that my time is really my own. I get an uninterrupted 8-12 writing in most mornings. Afternoons are reserved for other business-related business, email, errands, wood chopping, whatever. And I can only concentrate on one thing at a time.
Artist of Green Arrow, Futures End, Shadowman, Captain America
If I’m drawing a monthly title I work , pretty much, everyday from when I wake up until bed. That sounds grueling but I take a half hour break about every 2 hours. That seems to work as far as reducing fatigue & eye strain on a large volume of work. It also gives me a chance to let everyone else in the house know I’m still alive. I’m, just now, working on a second project but prefer to do that between issues. Two different projects in the same day is too much juggling of notes, layouts, reference, etc.
Writer of Aquaman, Batman ’66, Convergence: Shazam, Meteor Men, Justice League United
I try to average about a 20-22 page book a week. The hours per day are all over the place because its more about how focused I am. Focus actually counts more than time. If I can see a story clearly in my mind, I can get it down fast (because I learned to type as I mentioned!). I’ve cut back recently but for a while there I was doing around four books a month, and I’d rather do two or three separate books a month instead. You can spend a lot of time doing busy work remember, so it’s not all pure creation. Yet the other stuff is important too- editing, tweaking, promoting. But it’s not usually the most enjoyable parts.
Writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Hypernaturals – Inker
A typical comic week for me would be aiming to get a minimum of a page a day inked, so anywhere between 5-7 pages a week inked and an issue of a comic outlined and plotted. I’d try to be at the drawing board for 10am, after walking the dog for an hour, work till 6pm or so, cook dinner and eat with the family, then an evening shift till 9pm or so and finally veg out watching Game of Thrones or whatever boxset TV we are into at the time. I’d normally spend a morning or two writing up plots and outlines and make up the inking time over the weekend but try never work full days on Saturday or Sunday unless deadlines were tight.
Writer/artist of Neat Stuff, Hate, Reset
I don’t really have a typical work week. Sometimes I’ll spend the whole week plugging away on one pig project, but other weeks are broken up by smaller jobs, travel, mishaps etc.
Writer of M3, Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade/Kato
I still work a day job, so my typical day starts at around 6am. I work on comics and check emails for about 45 min, then shower, then get on a train to go to work at 745am. I’m on the train for close to an hour, so I work on comics (or blather on twitter) for that, too. Then I’m at work from 9 to 530pm, then back home by 7pm and I work on comics until 1030-11pm. On the weekends it’s usually whenever I wake up (about 6 or 7am) to whenever I have to get something else done.
Right now I’m working on lettering Swords of Sorrow for Dynamite, and getting pitches sent out to different publishers. I’m working on numerous projects at any given moment.
Writer of Goners
I work about 4-5 hours a day. And about 3 of those hours are for writing. The other 1-2 are devoted to emails, PR, plotting, or meetings. There are some random days in the month that I will be in a day-long meetings, which cause me to have bouts of crazy back pain.
I feel like my back is now fitted solely to the office chair that I’m used to… which I can’t tell if that’s sad or not. I’m an eighty year-old man in a thirty-three year-old body.
As for projects, I am currently juggling TV and comic scripts. I’m writing on two shows and writing a new comic tentatively called HERE//after with artist Morgan Beem (Valor Anthology, Horizon Anthology) and the second volume of Goners with Jorge Corona, which should hit in November of this year.
Artist of Genesis, Creepy, Shadows (In The Dark)
I don’t really have a typical work week, but I’m at my desk by eight, try and get my emails sorted as soon as possible in the day. I cook dinner at about eight in the evening for myself and my partner and I try to get a reasonable amount of sleep. At the moment – this week- I’m just finishing up pencilling an issue I’ve already planned and researched, so this is really just drawing time on a single project, but next week I will have new script, layouts, research, making up some page templates for a different project, and doing some cover sketches/ pencils for this series. I’m still learning how to manage my time, but am coming round to realising I work better if I manage my stress.
Writer of Harley Quinn, Starfire, The Big Con Job, All-Star Western
I get up very early in the morning and eat some fruit. Exercise then get thru my e mails and write till about lunch time and take a break and start again till I hit my deadlines. In the afternoon I get out and do chores, anything to get my mind off my work for a bit.
Leila del Duca
Artist of Shutter
Ideal work week is 6-8 hours a day, Mon-Fri. What it’s been lately is 8 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. This more strenuous work schedule is due to me picking up an extra 20-page issue, plus I’m writing a 6-issue miniseries, all with Shutter still being a monthly comic. It’s arduous since I work best when I have more time off to recharge, but I really care about these extra projects and know it’ll all be worth it in the end!
Writer of Avengers A.I., Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex, Our Love Is Real
This answer is so common as to be a cliche, but there is no typical work week. Lash yourself to your routines, like a sailor to a ship’s mast, lest you get swept away in the squall. Exercise. Meditate every day. Do not neglect your sleep. Whatever it is. The most important routine I learned (from Bendis and Gillen, but probably others) is to write five script pages every day. When I do that, I am okay. When I do not, things are not good.
Writer of Stumptown, Lazarus, Gotham Central, Batwoman, Queen & Country
I put in between six and ten hours a day writing, and I tend to focus on one issue at a time, but given deadline constraints and the vagaries of life, I often find myself having to juggle. But I run first thing in the morning, I get home, I get cleaned up, I eat my breakfast, and I get to work, and I do my best to do that six days a week.
Alex de Campi
Writer of Grindhouse: Doors Open After Midnight, Valentine
It varies massively. Some weeks I spend 90% of my time lettering my books (I’m slow, and do on the fly rewrites). Some weeks a whole day is eaten up by new book promo. I’d say I get about 6 hours writing done a week… over 1 or 2 different projects. Occasional late-night bursts of scribbling in notebook about future projects… a paragraph here, a paragraph there, and so the story is slowly built. I try to concentrate on only one writing project a week, and one lettering project, but sometimes life doesn’t afford me that luxury.
Writer of Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers, Darth Vader
I don’t really keep track of it in terms of hours work, because that’s really not how I work. My metric is amount of pages actually moving into the world. My abstract process is that every weekday I’m up by 8 or 9 and I’ll write a minimum of five pages of draft before lunch. Ideally more, but at least five. Afternoon is for everything else – which is getting pages to a finished state, dealing with rewrites, wrestling with editorial notes, research, e-mail, future planning and whatever else the job throws at me. I try to finish around 7, and then my wife and I have a knife fight over who’s going to cook. I don’t work weekends, because I’ve discovered steady writing works better than rush writing. More importantly, it allows me to have spare time if I actually need to do a sprint and need stuff. If you’re working full out constantly, by definition, you have no time for something going wrong. Which it will. Constantly. Oh – I also read five comics before I start the day, work out three times a week, which works into the morning routine.
You may notice I said “Abstractly” at the start of that. There are times I keep to that religiously. There are times I barely stick to it at all – this week has been a clusterfuck, and despite working constantly, I haven’t written a single page of draft. In fact, I’m writing these answers in a car on the way to a friend’s essay, and have hope of doing some early work on an Angela story when I’m done. But keeping a routine which I know I’m meant to be sticking to (and a routine which is not impossible) at least gives me a sense of what I should be doing, and a yardstick of progress.
Abstractly – that word again – I work on one project at a time. I write all of an issue before writing something else. I’m normally far ahead enough of the artists that I can do that, but there are times I have to bounce around between artists to keep various ones fed. That’s rare for me, and something I striongly advise you to avoid. I’ve seen it break better writers than me. The only time I really do it is when I am feeling really crappy on a day, where I move to a project where I know I can do an easy five pages. This is obviously cheating.
(The five page a day thing was got from Ed Brubaker. He says you have to do them in order. I can tell Ed frowns at all the above. Sorry, Ed. I am weak.)
In terms of the afternoon though, that’s often firefighting, so I’m jumping around whatever needs attention.
Writer of The Invisible Republic, Star Wars Legacy, Once Upon A Time: Out of the Past
It varies a lot. I work pretty much every day, even though I try to take Sundays off. Some days are 12 hours, some are five. It really depends because even when I have everything perfectly balanced there are always revisions that come in unexpectedly, emails to answer, scripts to polish… As far as numbers of projects, right now I’m working on two miniseries, an ongoing, a graphic novel, and a prose novella.
Writer/artist of Tally Marks, A Boy & A Girl, Over The Surface
Generally, I work Monday – Saturday, 11ish – 8ish, at a studio downtown with other comic artists. But I take on lots of commercial storyboarding work, which is totally unpredictable and can cause me to work into the wee hours of the morning and over the weekends. In addition to most Sundays, I also take occasional days off when I feel sick or burnt out or it’s just really sunny and a cafe is calling my name.
Ideally I would just have one comic project and one commercial project going at a time, but freelance has been a “feast and famine” situation in my experience, so it’s more often a matter of juggling 6 projects that all need to advance during the week!
Writer of The Flash, Green Lantern Corps, The Leg
I just counted, and I have 13 projects that are either active or in some stage of development, so definitely I keep lots of plates spinning. I can go weeks at a time without touching any of those, though. Typically I spend about half of my days scripting, and the rest goes to researching, networking, story-planning and other tasks. It can vary pretty widely, though. If an issue is about to go to the printer, I’ll spend a lot of time proofreading.
And typically I work 8-4, with maybe a little more at night after our kid is asleep.
Writer of The Spider, Black Panther: Man Without Fear, Sherlock Holmes
I’m a full-time writer, so I’m free to organize my time any way I like — within the limits of what family life will allow. As a morning person, I like getting up early — 4:00 AM most days — and getting in a few hours before the kids wake up. In these early hours, I work on my main project, generally a novel. After the kids go to school, I’ll get back to work, switching over to one of my side projects — comics, shorter prose, gaming scripts — as the day moves on.
Writer of The Red Ten, Epic, Tears of the Dragon – publisher of ComixTribe
Ha. SO MANY PROJECTS!
Here’s an image detailing all of the current projects on my plate. Those little smiley faces are projects that I’ve given myself permission not to even think about this week!
I probably put in anywhere from 20-40 hours of comics work each week… but even when I’m not working on comics…I’m working on them in my head.
Writer of Doctor Who, Captain Britain MI:13, Action Comics, Saucer Country
I’m an ‘amphibian’ as Neil Gaiman puts it, writing comics, prose and TV at the same time. I look at my deadlines, then split my work up into small packages, to work on several different things every day. My week is also punctuated by childcare, because my lovely toddler son, Tom, is also an ongoing project.
Writer of Copperhead, Secret Identities, Near Death, Generation X
Well, my “day job” these days is in television. I’m on the writing staff of a new CBS series called ZOO. So on a typical weekday I’m in the writers’ room all day. So that means I have to write my comics on the weekends or early in the morning or in the evening. My Image Comics series COPPERHEAD is easier to pin down than my other series, SECRET IDENTITIES (because that one’s co-written). But with COPPERHEAD, artist Scott Godlewski and I work “Marvel-style.” Which means I first write a rough plot that describes each scene in broad strokes (and how many pages each scene should take). But there’s no dialog and I don’t break the action down into specific panels.
I can usually write a plot for a 20-page issue in a weekend. I’ll spend most of Saturday figuring out what the issue is going to be on a conceptual level, and get down the basic structure. I’ll start around 8am and hopefully be done by late afternoon, depending on the issue. Then Sunday, I’ll start up at 8am again and be done actually writing the plot by late afternoon.
Again, because I’m a morning person, I don’t like to write past 6pm unless it absolutely can’t be avoided. My brain just fizzles out around that time.
So I spend one weekend a month plotting the issue, and then once Scott’s done drawing the issue, I spend another weekend writing the dialog to match what he’s drawn. I can usually knock that out in a single day, again, starting around 8am.
There have been a few occasions where I’ve written a little bit (a few scenes) on a weekday morning before I go into the office. But that’s rare.
If I’m writing a comic book script that’s “full script” (with full panel descriptions and dialog), I can usually write the issue in two or three days if I go into it with at least some idea of what the story is. But if it’s something I’m starting from scratch, it’ll take me at least a day or two to figure out the pacing before I can start scripting.
Writer of Roche Limit, Hoax Hunters, The Burning Fields
It depends. There’s some stretches of days where I don’t have a lot going on, then there’s some stretches–more and more often–where I’m buried in work. That’s how freelancing goes, feast of famine. I like to typically limit myself to four comics a month, as I still do other writing (like the novel I just signed a contract for).
Writer of Drifter, Men of War, Viking, The Cross Bronx
It varies. Writing requires a lot of weird stuff and some of it’s hard to structure. I wrote a western last year and I spent an entire 80 hour week just consuming content for reference and inspiration. Beyond that, you’re dealing with other humans, doing interviews, planning your next steps while working on what’s on your plate. There’s almost no part of my day where I’m completely disconnected from work. Sometimes I’m having a meeting with someone overseas at 3am. Sometimes I’m in the shower and I have to run out to write down an idea.
Writer of Green Lantern, Witchblade, Artifacts, Magdalena
Short answer for most freelancers: you work all the time. If you work at home, then you’re always at work. I know very few comic people who keep set hours treating this like a 9-to-5 job. Honestly, it’s probably healthier to treat it that way, and be able to get up and walk away from it. But most don’t, me included. Very often, you work seven days a week. Very often, you work 10 or 12 or 14 hours a day. Most people who do comics don’t have to force themselves to work, they have to force themselves to step away from the work. It’s a constant
As a writer, you’re always juggling multiple projects, at least three of four of them, sometimes more. Sometimes, you have to juggle them within the same day, which I find to be a real pain. You have to juggle the jobs you’re doing along with lining up jobs for the future. You have to write your scripts, write pitches keep up with emails, promote what you’re doing, do interviews. Honestly, if you can’t multi-task, you can’t be a writer.
Artist for Cow Boy, Ordinary People w/ Brad Meltzer – letterer for Marvel (and more)
I’m in a weird world where I’m doing a number of jobs at the same time. I letter comics, I run a business with 5 guys lettering comics, I draw 3 children’s books a year and now working on a new graphic novel. So no two days are the same, but I’m normally up and at my desk by 8 in the morning and wrapping up at 7 or 8 every day and sometimes I’ll be here until 10 or 11 at night. I don’t do as much work on the weekends, but I do work on them. Again, dedication and sacrifice. It’s what I love to do.
Writer of Midnighter, Undertow
WELL I still also work in the Spirits Industry, but because comics and Spirits both have flexible schedules I am able to do both. I tend to work more on comics on the weekends and more on Spirits monday-thursday. But in general, my mentor once told me in a perfect situation he likes to write four pages a day, and so I like to use that as my baseline. That would in theory mean a 20 page book would be done in a work week, or 4 books a month. Does it work that way always? No. You have emails, marketing, production notes to deal with. But I think it’s a good goal.
Writer of Southern Dog, Art Monster, After Houdini
My work week has gone through a few major changes to accommodate major life changes. When I started out, I was single and living in New York City. I used writing as a way to alleviate the stress of being constantly broke while living in one of the most expensive cities in America. Between the odd hours of my day job as a Mac Genius at Apple Inc., I would stay up until 4 or 5am writing. When I got a girlfriend, my nocturnal writing hours ended and I had to shift the bulk of my work to weekends. The year leading up to my wedding took many of my weekends which required more modifications to my routine. These transitions weren’t easy and I’m sure there will be many more in my future, so it’s important to be flexible and adapt.
These days, I’m working on seven creator-owned books. Some are mini-series, some are anthology shorts. Some have publisher backing, some don’t. Rolling deadlines determine the priority of each project, so between my current day job and buying a house with my wife, I jump between projects. I don’t write during the week too often, so I will typically spend all day Saturday and Sunday writing.
I’m hoping to eventually make the transition to writing full-time. If that day comes, I’ll have to revise my routine once again, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to hit the ground running.
Writer/artist of Rust
Ha.. what a time to ask. The last few months have been pretty rough for me. I’m still adjusting to parenthood with a little 18 month old friend running around the house preventing me from drawing as long as he’s awake. Because of this I’m in the midst of reworking my schedule. I’ve had several different work day routines. The first was that I used to wake up at 6am and work on my books until about 9am, and then I’d drive to my day job in video games. After a few years of that I burned out and started working at the other end of the candle. I’d start work after dinner and usually be up until about midnight. I’d spend about 9 hours a week on Rust and sometimes 2 or 3 more hours on other projects; pinups for friends, prep for shows or other volunteer work. These days I can only focus on Rust and those 9 hours have probably dropped down to about 3, so I need to figure something out. For this reason, Rust Volume 4 is going to be later than expected.
Writer/artist of Sweet Tooth, All-New Hawkeye, Bloodshot Reborn, Underwater Welder, Trillium
I am currently writing 7 monthly books and drawing a graphic novel. Drawing takes much more time than writing, and if I don’t raw every day I’m not happy.
Monday to Friday I arrive at my studio (a space away from my home) around 7:30-8 am. I make coffee and draw for an hour or so. Then I meditate then get back to the drawing board until 12:30 or so. I grab a quit lunch then draw again until 2:30. Then I meditate one more time and draw until 4 or 4:30.The day is often also broken up by phone calls/emails with editors etc, but I try to limit this as much as possible to focus on drawing.
I also write one script a week. I spend an hour or two each night writing and then an hour or two on the weekend if I need it. I stagger projects so that I take a month off from each monthly book I’m writing. So one month I may write Hawkeye, Bloodshot and Descender then next I’ll write my three other monthly books.
Writer of Nailbiter, Birthright
I work about ten hours a day five days a week. Sometimes more. A lot more. Just depends on the week.
I take the weekends off, so all of my laptop writing is during the week. BUT even on the weekends I will write notes for scenes, dialogue and plans in my notebooks. It never really stops, y’know?
My goals are one script a week. That’s my happy spot. If I write five pages a day, then at the end of the week I will have written 25 pages that week. BUT since most scripts are 20 pages now, it allows me more time for outlines and edits. Then I sneak in a few outlines and pitches for new work.
One thing to keep in mind is that working as a comics writer is like running a small business. You’re not writing all day and that is it. There is a LARGE managerial side of the business. Emails, artist proofs, color proofs, letter proofs, final proofs, interviews, pitches, phone calls, promotion, marketing and conventions. That stuff can take up a lot of your day. It’s good to build a system and schedule that works for you that allows you to operate like a small business, but still be creative.
Writer of Skullkickers, Wayward, Figment
I honestly don’t have a typical week. Between teaching Animation courses at Seneca College, traveling for conventions, and working on multiple creator-owned and work for hire comics, every week presents its own scheduling challenges.
I try to stay on task with an extensive To-Do List broken down into smaller/more achievable goals. My Inbox is pretty lean as I methodically archive emails that are taken care of, leaving only email threads/current messages where I need to respond or need the information while I’m working.
I wish I had a ‘typical’ schedule to speak of, but I really don’t.
Writer of Princeless, My Little Pony
Usually I get between 8 and 20 hours a week to work on between one and four projects. It’s largely determined by how much of my attention the rest of my life is demanding and who I’m waiting to hear back from. I try to carve out at least a few hours every Sunday dedicated specifically to working on writing.
Writer/artist of Kate or Die, Bravest Warriors, Fraggle Rock
I work from home. I normally get up around 9 or 10 and work until 7, but sometimes if I’m out running errands I’ll come back and work until 10 or 11. I work on the weekends, too. A normal work week is usually 1-2 comics (for ComicsAlliance or The Nib), 1-2 full scripts, plus side work like logo design, tattoo art, merchandise design, comic covers, and pitches. So many pitches!
Artist of The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw, I Am The Cat
I try to limit the number of projects I’m doing. I learned the hard way working on ‘I Was The Cat’, ‘Tragedy Series’ and ‘Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw’ simultaneously. I feel like I aged 10 years in the space of 3 years. Now I just work on Autumnlands because I want to give it my all. That said, I think it’s good to fit in some little, pragmatic projects just for myself. I have a little all-ages book, a rock n’ roll mini series in development with Jeremy Barlow and a science advocacy blog cooking on the back burner at the moment. I’ll do what I can on those in what downtime there may be while working on ALTC. If you commit to too many projects with specific schedules it will turn your dream job into a nightmare-scape filled with justifiably angry collaborators. You have to be honest with yourself about how much you can get done. Kurt Busiek has been helpful to me in this regard; he has a very well calibrated detector for the accuracy of wishful/hopeful productivity assessments that I propose.
Now my average week is no less than 6 days. I make time for my wife, best friends, jogging and guitar playing. If you don’t enforce limits, you can go nuts and become unhealthy and sad very rapidly. Nobody knows how long they’ll be around so you have to strike a balance between developing/exploring your craft and experiencing /cultivating your relationships with other humans!
Writer of BlackAcre, Halo
I try to get four hours of actual writing done each day. You can get a lot work done with this four hour window if you don’t get distracted. Actual writing means writing only – no emails, phone calls, internet, reading/research (I usually spend four to six additional hours on this other stuff). Separate your writing time from your email time and your reading/research time and it will work wonders for your efficiency. Set the timer on your phone. If four hours is too long a stretch, break it up into two-two hour blocks.
Artist of Bandette
I generally spend about six or seven hours at my studio, five days a week. I stick to one project at a time, because I find it difficult to divide my focus. So the thing that has the nearest deadline gets all my attention. When I get towards the end of an issue or have a tight deadline, I start adding a few hours at home at night or on the weekend. Any more than that, though, my hand starts to cramp up, which is no fun!
Writer of Squadron Sinister, Halcyon – producer of Arrow
There’s really never a typical work week. And it would probably depress me were I to calculate the number of hours that I work in a given day. I’m a big believer in efficiency. I hate to waste time. I want to get my work done and go home to spend time with my family. I generally structure the day as follows: I wake up at 5 AM. The mornings are for my feature projects. Then I head into my office at Arrow (the show I executive produce). When I go home, after the kids are put to bed, is when I generally get my comic book writing done. This is a very reductive sketch of how I work. If I’ve had a breakthrough in, say, a feature project and am inspired to write, I’m not going to prevent myself from doing so just because it’s during so-called “comic book writing time.” I’m not dogmatic. In terms of projects, I probably work on an average of three different projects per day. That number goes up exponentially, however, if you include replying to emails in “working on a project.”
Writer/artist of Lady Killer, Helheim
Up until recently I have been juggling two monthly books at once. Balancing the art duties on both and writing one. My day typically starts around 10 and I work till I drop out of my chair then do it all over again. With breaks for tuna sandwiches.
Artist of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Whiteout
One third emails, bookkeeping, and dealing with business stuff for me and for Periscope Studio, two-thirds actually drawing comics.
Writer of Colder, I Am The Cat, Plants vs. Zombies
I work seven days a week. Most freelancers do. And it’s probably around nine hours a day. Sometimes longer. Part of it’s my fault, because I work on a lot of different projects. I have seven different comic series in various stages of production, and then two different novel series, as well as amounts of work that come and go, the smaller stuff. Plus, one thing a lot of non-professionals don’t factor into the daily writing schedule is that at least half your time is taking care of the business of comics… so you can work as a writer for hours without writing a single word.
Writer of Swords of Sorrow: Miss Fury/Lady Rawhide
My work week is a little weird because I also do non fiction freelancing and I have a couple of large non fiction & fiction projects that I am working on right now. But the week I spent on my Swords of Sorrow script is probably typical. This was my first comics project (hopefully not my last!) and I wrote the rough draft in about 3 days (two days of which I spent rewriting scenes that worked in my head but not on paper), then put it aside for a day to work on an article. Came back, hated a scene I originally loved, rewrote it, put the script down again to work on another project, came back and reread the whole thing and made maybe 5 or 6 more changes. Then I showed it to my husband who is an artist to make sure my descriptions for the artist made sense. He gave me 3 or 4 notes, I made those changes, found some dialogue I thought was weak so rewrote it, then I finally showed it to Gail Simone and Molly at Dynamite who was our editor. More notes followed, more changes, then I put it aside for a few days again because I had another deadline I needed to meet. Came back, did a final pass and turned it in again. That time it was accepted with no notes. You may have noticed that I do a lot of editing on my own before I turn things in, and I do more editing afterwards, though I suspect my process is a little onerous from the outside, I never believe that my work couldn’t be improved. In fact I assume that I’ll look back 6 months after publication and think of changes so I try to be open to edits throughout the process.
Writer of Teen Titans GO!, True Patriot, Power Lunch
I work from home at least five days a week. My day usually starts once the family is out the door for work and school. It generally ends when everyone comes home at the end of the day but depending on what I’m working on, how things are going, when my deadline is, I might keep working until dinner time or go back to it when everyone else goes to bed. I’m usually juggling two to three projects at a time, sometimes more, but I try to spread things out and focus on a couple of things per week. Every other week, I’m working outside my home office for a day. Sometimes it’s an artist’s studio, the library, my publisher’s office, etc. But mostly I work from home and that’s why my schedule revolves mostly around the family.
Artist of Wonder Woman, Human Target, Green Arrow/Black Canary
10-12 hours a day, about 8 on the weekends. I’m usually working on interior pages for most of the week, and possibly a cover or two during the month. It can be difficult to multitask, but I find that scheduling things with long lead times helps. You can slowly chip away at other work on a light day. I’m trying to keep myself to a strict schedule of 1 page of pencils and inks a day, but it’s easy to slip.
Writer/artist of Wuvable Oaf
I do something every single day, whether it’s draw, print/assemble comics, fill orders, write scripts, do interviews, talk with my publisher. But I also teach, so three days out of the week during the semester, I’m still doing comics…it’s just with other people in an academic capacity. On non-school days, I pretty much don’t go outside, as I try and cram in as much Oaf work as possible. Some weeks, I don’t even know what day it is, as I’ve been hunched over the computer for hours on end, singin’ and drawn’.
I’m still in the early stages of my career, so I need to take more additional work. Once I get in pages I’ll flat half myself and send half to a flatter, so that’s about 10-20 hours. Coloring the book is 22-66 hours. Accounting, correspondence, research usually take 10 hours a week. On good weeks I usually work 40 hours, but that is rare, like many colorists I work 60-90 hours a week on a regular basis. I take one or two days off a month. I try to exercise & eat well, but on bad weeks it can get challenging.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been trying to be open and honest about this topic lately because everyone I know pretty much works harder than me. The going average seems to be a minimum of 50 hours a week for most creators I’ve talked to and I’m lucky if I’m in the 50 hour range. Before and after conventions it’s always crazy and I’m working upwards to 90 hours a week. However, January and February normally give me a little down time in the year where I’m working 40 hour work weeks and I get a bunch of days off. I’m honestly looking for balance (so I can see the sun and exercise. ha ha), but it’s hard when you love your work! There’s also so so much I haven’t colored that I want to get my hand on, you know? The reason why this is difficult to talk about is because people judge you on not working enough or working too much. Some people also think you are complaining or bragging or whatever, but this is just the reality of the job. I joke I’m married to my career because I rarely leave my apartment (sometimes less than once a week). It can definitely be a relationship killer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love working in comics.
Writer/artist of Titan
After completing a couple commercial projects I am taking the summer to draw the next issue of my comic Titan. I just arrived in Montréal so many schedule has been disrupted, but I guess I try and alternate creative work with chores and reactive tasks, like responding to mails. Im still definitely figuring out my schedule to be honest! Maybe some of the other respondents will have some good advice for me!
Writer/artist of The Wrenchies, It Will All Hurt
I am terrible at setting work schedules. I am just working on main project these days but it seems like the business of being a commercial artist eats up way too much of creative time.
Writer of Sabretooth Swordsman
Completely random and chaotic. I’m always mulling over half a dozen projects in my head so when I sit down I can poop the ideas out mostly formed, any hour or day of the week. This is probably not a good way to work!??!?!!?
I do one project at a time, but I also have a full time job. On a deadline I tend to do nothing but draw when I get home from work. I give myself about an hour to sit down, eat some food, then I’ll usually draw from 6-7pm to 1-3am(I wake up at 6am during the week, I’m ridiculous). Weekends, I’ll spend a morning or afternoon with my wife for one of the days, and then grind for the remaining day and a half.
Writer/artist of Baggywrinkles, Grand Adventure
Hoo boy. This changes constantly. Not only because my work lineup is always different, but because I’m always fiddling to try and optimize my work schedule. Generally I try to keep regular hours at Periscope Studio in downtown Portland—it gets me out of the house and puts me around other humans who are also drawing comics all day, which is key to not going mad talking to myself while drawing at home. I usually work Monday-Friday and take the weekends off if I can manage it.
On an average day I wake up at 6:30, eat breakfast, crank out a page in my journal, and bike the four miles to Periscope. From 8:30 to noon I try to just do brain-intensive drawing stuff like thumbnails and penciling—no email allowed. I’ll break for lunch around noon and then dive into administrative stuff like answering email questions, updating my blog, sharing process shots on social media, accounting, shipping orders from my online store, and so on. I try to head home around 5, but often it ends up being more like 6 if I get pulled back into drawing.
As far as what’s on my plate, I’ve currently got two anthology pieces, a new issue of my minicomic, a book Kickstarter, and several small tattoo design commissions all jostling for space. My current goal is to keep moving forward on all of them, even if it’s just a little bit every day—I’m finding this works better for quelling feelings of panic than doing each one start-to-finish in one go. Freedom to schedule your time as you please is the blessing and the curse of freelance life. It’s an endless game trying to figure out what works best.
Artist of Jem And The Holograms, Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Not counting hours I spend napping or procrastinating or doing emails, I work probably 10 hours every day, although there are some days where I don’t manage to do much work at all. It varies.
Writer of D4VE, Tiger Lawyer, Sons of Anarchy, Letterer
I work from home now, freelancing full time, so I am typically a complete and utter hermit. I’ll usually tackle a couple lettering projects, a script or two, and work on several pitches a week. My days are pretty typical: I’ll usually start around 9 in the morning and drown myself in coffee until I can barely function; I’ll take little micro-breaks of 15 minutes here and there until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Then I’ll shift gears onto another project, to keep my mind fresh, unless I have to letter all day. I’ll most likely take a dinner break around 6 or 7, then work another few hours until 11 or 12 at night. It’s not unusual at all that I will work until 2 or 3 in the morning, it just depends on the week, and what else is happening. I never go to the movies, and I’ll typically run errands once a week at best, and am social maybe once a week if at all. So reality is I spend the vast majority of my waking hours working in front of the computer (also, I’m a lifelong insomniac, high-functioning on about 4 hours sleep tops).
Writer/artist of Hack/Slash, Revival, Grayson, Batman Eternal
I usually begin the week breaking down an outline and writing notes for an issue. Then by Tuesday I start typing. Usually I’m finished with a script by early Thursday, and then go back through and proof it. If I can get the script in by Thursday night, I’ll either do some brainstorming for another book or draw a cover. OR both. Then, on weekends, I either do a Con to earn some extra bread or I plot out existing series or work on some new ones.
Writer/artist of Secret Life of D.B. Cooper, Hellbreak, Big Trouble In Little China
I’m usually spinning a few plates and work 50-60 hours a week.
Writer/artist of Digestate, publisher of Birdcage Bottom Books
Since having kids, my schedule has radically changed. My wife and I share parenting duties equally during the day, so I only have about five hours to work each day. Less on weekends, because we try to have time together as a whole family then. I’ve shifted my focus from drawing and promoting my own comics to publishing, distributing & promoting other artists’ work. I still do the occasional anthology piece here and there, but for now most of my energy is in Birdcage Bottom Books.
Writer of Vampirella
It depends on what I’ve got going on. Bear in mind, I have to do things like cook, clean, do laundry, run errands, and walk my dog. That said, I average at least 2-3 hours a day checking and answering email, handling interview questions, proof-reading, researching, etc. That’s not counting hours actually spent writing. When I work on a script, it usually takes 3-4 hours a night, spread out over 3-4 days. I try to handle one project at a time, so I don’t get my story lines confused. I also have to spend at least a hour or two a day maintaining a ‘social networking presence’ via Facebook and Twitter, something that is expected from creators nowadays.
Writer of HIT, Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios
I’m a little different from the norm in that I have a dedicated career “day job” that I’m just as invested in as my creative pursuits so my writing work week looks a lot like sunrises and sunsets. Notes and general thinking happens all the time — there’s no stopping that — but when it comes to sitting down and putting words on the page, I’m waking up early and putting in 2-3 hours before I go in to the office. I try to avoid writing at night after I get home but don’t shy away from it when I’m inspired or have a deadline. 2-6 hours is about where I max out on my creative work, which is on top of an 8-12 hour workday. Because of those constraints, I can only ever work on 1-2 projects at a time.
Writer/artist of Trekker
These days, I’m usually juggling three or four projects over any given week. As a freelancer, there’s a good degree of security in having a range of clients. It requires me to keep a sharp eye on deadlines and work flow for each job. I put in probably 10-12 hours at the board most days. That was a much higher number when I was less experienced. I’ve figured out a few ways to work a bit more efficiently over the years, thank goodness. I also divide my week up between working from my home studio and working at Periscope Studio, where I’m surrounded by an incredible group of talented, imaginative and generous fellow cartoonists. I like that mix of some solo work days with days where I have a lot of interaction and inspiration from a lot of other artists. It’s a pretty sweet set up and I’m at least smart enough to know it.
Artist of Drifter, Dancer
I only work on one project at a time. I’ve tried to multi-project and I cant do it very well. I like spending my time on one thing. Its usually 7 days a week, between 8-14 hours daily, depending on workload.
Writer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strange Nation, Orc Girl
I work a day job, in local government. I’m at the day job from 8 a.m. to anywhere from 5-7 p.m. Then I come home and work on comics, usually until midnight to two a.m., though I’ve been trying to knock off earlier, lately. On weekends, I usually work about 12-14 hour days on comics. That’s when the bulk of my writing gets done; weekdays, since I’m so mentally exhausted from work, I tend to do lettering, marketing, some outlining and revisions, and only a few pages of scripting. Weekends, I roll hard on scripting. I also work on comics over my lunch hour at the day job. Any time I can carve out.
I’m not sure how many projects I have, right now. I’m working on like four that have publishers, and several more that do not.