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Lessons From A Cartoon Aardvark

November 24th, 2015

Surprise, you stink!

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Now, before we go any further, a disclaimer. I hate this video. It disgusts me. Well, to clarify, it will soon disgust me. Right now I’m of the opinion that it’s fantastic.But inevitably, I’ll soon look back at this one with disgust. (What do I do? Inspirational videos. Why do you ask?)

But as with all the other dilemmas I encounter in my life, I blame someone else. In this case, I blame a cartoon aardvark. Specifically, Cerebus the aardvark from the comic book of the same name, published by Dave Sim from 1977 to 2004. Over the course of the comic’s 300 issues, you could see see the evolution of Mr. Sim’s art and storytelling. And he noticed it too. During the comic’s run, he published several essays with his thoughts on the creative process. One of the concepts that he introduced in those essays is that every comic book artists has 2,000 bad pages in them. You may think they’re great, but no, those first 2,000 pages you draw? They stink.

He concluded that the complete those 2,000 bad pages is the only way for an artist to improve. His opinion was, instead of procrastinating by trying and make the work perfect, just complete it and continue moving moving forward by producing more mistakes that you can learn from.

The concept can be applied to content creators in other mediums too. Have you published 2,000 bad pages of blog posts, 2,000 bad podcast episodes, or 2,000 bad hours of video yet?

The thought of persevering through the production of 2,000 units of bad content is certainly daunting, to say the least. But creating content is an ongoing learning process. After you start to accumulate a body of work, you’ll look back on the old content you used to be proud of and you’ll be discover that, surprise, it’s not as polished, not as funny, not as wonderful as you remembered! 

That’s another reason why it’s so important to push through those 2,000 bad units. Because, until you do, you won’t have the luxury of hindsight to realize what you’ve learned and what improvements you’ve made.

A suggestion from another of Dave Sim’s essays on the subject is to record what you accomplish each day on a calendar. And not just partially completing something, but completely finishing a page, post, video or episode. Soon after being confronted with a wall of blank days staring back at him, he realized that he had to work a lot harder, and a lot more consistently, to complete enough content to keep his publication going. A lot harder.

Creating content requires not only having something to say, but also having the discipline to put in the work to say it. And that requires perseverance and dedication. Everyone’s 2,000 units of bad content aren’t going to produce themselves, and the only way to get passed them is to develop, deliver, and repeat.

And helping your production persevere is our sponsor PodPledge, the crowdfunding website for content creators. Whether you’re developing a one-time feature, or producing multiple seasons of a blog, vlog, podcast, YouTube channel, or website for collectors of USB connectors, PodPledge helps you crowdfund it by empowering your backers to support you with either one-time donations or subscriptions, which automatically continue from one season of your production to the next, helping finance it for years to come. 

Get started gaining backers for the media that you make by creating a crowdfunding project on PodPledge’s website today! Because receiving support from your fans is a great way to Stay Inspired.

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