Inktober has been a blast so far. For those of you who don’t know what Inktober is, it was a hashtag for ink drawings during October that caught on. I participated in it last year and I’m doing it again this year. You can follow me on Instagram and/or Twitter to see my offerings so far, where I’ve settled into a series that follows a former priest of a dream god in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle stories. Like I said, it’s been a lot of fun and very good for my heart, but it’s also bringing up some insecurities I’ve always had with my own artwork.
I’ve always been confident that, when I sat down to draw comics, my artwork could effectively tell the story I wanted to tell and I understood the visual medium of comics. I know how to pace a page, I know how to deliver dramatic moments or punchlines, I know how to construct a panel to get a reader to look where I want them to look. But I never really considered my artwork, on its own, very good. Self-esteem issues combined with a nasty case of impostor syndrome made me “Mr. Self-Doubt,” as a friend once called me. And when I compared my work to the art of literally everyone around me in the webcomics world, all that self-doubt was magnified a thousandfold.
It’s happening again in Inktober this year. This informal art holiday continues to gain popularity and is drawing the attention (no pun intended) of supremely talented artists. These people are creating sketchbook masterpieces and are rightfully showcasing their skill to the fullest extent. Those levels of quality are not only inspirational, but also intimidating. I’ll see a beautifully haunting witch or a frightful monster and think, “Wow, that’s amazing! I should apply myself and try to do something like that!” And then I sit down, do my very best, and look at the results while thinking, “This is chicken-scratch and if I display this everyone will finally see me for the fraud that I am!” Impostor syndrome is a bitch.
But I’ve figured out a way to beat that self-doubt and impostor syndrome. It’s the same method I’ve used to keep myself making comics over these past fifteen years: kick those stupid doubts in their stupid teeth, face your fear like you were trained by the bene gesserit, and just fucking do it. That is how you conquer insecurities when they resurface. That is how you keep practicing so you improve. Comparing yourself to others will only slow you down. Work at your own pace and make what you want, but make sure you keep creating no matter what. Even on those darkest days when you think you’re not good enough or other such nonsense, the act of making something (even if you hate it) is more helpful than you realize.
Even though I don’t draw regularly any more, there are still people who enjoy my work. That by itself is a blessing, and a victory over the inner doubts that threaten to chip away at my confidence. The act of creation is maintenance and repair for my soul.