Tools of the Trade: Structure

I love structure. I need structure. I crave structure. But, in freelance life, it’s hard to come by.

My wife will tell you (as it can often be annoying) I like to eat lunch at 12 on the button. The reason? When I was 14 and started working in my first job (which ended when I was 27) I was asked to pick a lunch time, 12 or 1. Since my school lunch was at 12:15, I picked 12. I’ve carried my lunch hour with me from 1984 to present.

Having left a day job and now, sat at home, working and picking away at the hours when I can manage, I’ve really floundered – some times it’s easier and othertimes less so.
About two weeks ago, in the pursuit of a some sort of time management trick, I stumbled across “Pomodoro” – which sound absurd (even vaguely cult-like), but really, a pomodoro (or tomato) was the name of a kitchen timer, that can be used to time working activity at a task – 25 minutes at one task, 5 minute break, and repeat – every four tasks you take a 30 minute break. And it’s pretty hard to convey the difference it’s made, I’ve gone (last month) from struggling for two months to break the back of 8 pages, to producing, in the past three days, six pages – two pages per day.

Obviously, that won’t always happen, but the limiting factor is how much time I can get to draw – the pomodoro technique is just a way of making sure that, when I should be concentrating on drawing, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

There’s a bunch of apps for phones (iphone and otherwise) which you can use, the one I have keeps a log of how much time you spend per day, and I’ve averaged about 300 minutes (or 5 hours) per day. Which is more than enough to kill a full page and a bit of another.
Incidentally, this isn’t a new technique for comic artists, Steve Dillon use to sit and draw with a kitchen timer, in the days before you could lose hours on the internet. Just so you know.