How to Improve Your Comics Work: Daily Practice

For this month’s challenge, we’re focusing on a daily practice that supports your creativity as a writer or artist. Whether it’s sketching, scripting, or even meditating, choosing one habit to cultivate every day can make a big difference in your work.

Why Develop a Daily Habit?

Consistent daily practice does more than just accumulate work. It helps you:

  • Improve your skills: The more you write or draw, the better you get.
  • Increase your speed: Regular practice can help you work faster, making it easier to meet deadlines.
  • Simplify your style: Over time, you’ll find the most efficient ways to express yourself. (Comics creation definitely benefits from efficiency!!)
  • Generate ideas: Engaging daily with your creative work keeps your brain generating new ideas and helps you avoid writer’s block.
  • Build a professional routine: When creativity is your job, treating it like one helps you stay disciplined and start to build an identity as a writer or artist.

Developing a daily habit is like building a muscle; it takes consistency, commitment, and a bit of strategy. It’s also like building a muscle in that it’s very hard in the beginning! It often starts off feeling uncomfortable and it’s easy to give up.

That’s why understanding how to build positive habits effectively is important. That’s also why starting small is important. Do not try to work on multiple habits at a time. Just pick one, and make sure it’s doable.

The Process of Developing a Habit

Scientists have been studying habits for years, and have very clearly identified the process whereby people develop habits.

Creating a habit can be broken down into three parts: cue, routine, and reward. This is called “the habit loop.”

Before you jump into “practicing every day,” consider each of these parts carefully and be specific about what they’ll be for you.

  1. Cue: Identify a trigger that will start your habit. It could be a specific time of day, a particular setting, or an action that tells your brain it’s time to engage in your habit.
    (Example: “Once I’ve made my morning coffee, that’s my cue to get my sketchbook and sit at my drawing desk.”)
  2. Routine: This is the habit itself. Whether it’s writing a page or sketching a scene, the routine should be clear and repeatable. It should also be small and doable. Make it so simple to do that it almost seems too little.
    (Example: “I will draw in my sketchbook for 20 minutes. If I can’t think of what to draw, I will scribble or doodle. Whatever I do is fine as long as my hand is moving.”)
  3. Reward: Give yourself a small reward after completing your routine. This could be something like a cup of coffee, a short walk, or simply a few minutes of relaxation. This reward helps your brain link pleasure to the habit, reinforcing the behavior. Don’t underestimate the importance of training your brain to link pleasure to the habit!
    (Example: “Once I’ve finished my drawing routine, I’ll make a smiley face in my calendar to pat myself on the back. Seeing one smiley face after another will help me not break the chain.”)

Some great books to read if you’re trying to build new positive habits include Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way delves into one specific habit — morning pages — that has transformed many creators’ work.

What Habits to Consider?

Here are a few habits that could make a big difference for you as a creator:

  • Sketching or free writing for 20-30 minutes daily: Dedicate a set time each day for this practice to develop consistency.
  • Practicing new techniques or styles: Challenge yourself by practicing a new technique you’ve been wanting to incorporate into your work. This can help expand your skills and prevent creative stagnation.
  • Exercise: Being physically active can boost your mental health and creative thinking.
  • Meditation: Meditation can improve focus and decrease stress. Self-care is immensely important for your creative practice!
  • Reading books: Carve out some time each day to read graphic novels that inspire you.

The Challenge!

This month, pick one of these habits or any other you think will support your growth. Think for a bit: what will be your cue, your routine, and your reward?

Now post in the comments below: what is the habit you’re going to work on? And what’s the “habit loop” you’ve clarified?

Use this month to build a positive habit that enhances your creativity and work. Here’s to a productive and creative rest of the year!

About Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is the founder of Kids Comics Unite and a literary agent who specializes in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her publishing career at Scholastic, where she was one of the co-founders of the Graphix imprint. She then became director of the Kids Group for Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, and helped launch Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. In addition to her background in publishing, she has worked as an associate producer for documentary films, and as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten and a teacher in a high school for teens in the juvenile justice system. She later launched and ran the NYC Department of Education’s “NYC Reads 365” literacy initiative.

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