I can’t express this enough: I love process.

While my fanaticism about process could be a side effect of my job as a CompRhet instructor, it’s a fascination that existed long before I found my vocation.

Many artists have some sort of hangup that acts as a gate between dreaming and doing. It’s akin to hitting some sort of wall, one you didn’t see but, until that point, you were running full speed with inspiration, ability, and focus. But then, on a dime, it goes away and you’re left feeling rudderless in the sea of creativity.

As a young creative person, I was full of ideas. In hindsight, they were mostly derivative and not very interesting, but I was bursting with creativity and content. I wanted to tell my own stories, I wanted to put my voice out there and see where it fell. I started a lot of stories, but beyond the first scene or two, it eventually sputtered out and died in a ditch next to the road.

What I turned to in those listless moments was process. I knew I was creative. I knew I had ideas. I knew (to an extent) I had talent. So, what must be stopping me is that I don’t know how to do this correctly. So, I searched for process. How does this artist do it? How does that artist do it? Show me examples. Give me templates. Give me anything.

Part of the problem was that this was happening to me in either the pre- or nascent days of the internet. Information was limited to interviews in magazines and extra content in the backs of trade paperback collections which were rarely printed. But what I could find I devoured and mimicked and tried to make my own.

While the threat of stagnation is still out there, I found my own ways out of the mire. Mostly it was about self-motivation and learning how to say “it’s done” and move on. But whenever I pause and look back on my work, I tend to dig up the stages of the process that I can find. I take a lot of pictures and scan things when I can to preserve the intermediate stages of creation. I don’t know if there’s value in it, but I like to see it.

The funny thing is that compiling my own stages of process energizes me (at this point) as any snippet of process I could find of creators I idolized as a kid. Part of it may be that I’m just a sucker for any recording of process (I legitimately find all process fascinating) but there may also be a strange validation I find when I look back at my own steps of creation.

I’m not saying I’m as good or better than any of the professional storytellers that I still look up to. But seeing these steps shows me the level of thought I put into my work that, even if I still have room to grow, I can see how much work I put into each and every panel in the first place. To an extent, recording my own process really helped my confidence. There’s the nagging self-doubt that demands I’m just making lucky choices and it’s a miracle it came together at all. But I have proof that says otherwise. I can look at these stages and clearly see that I know what I’m doing and I’m good at it, even though it’s within the boundaries of my ability. If anything, being fascinated by process has given me my confidence and moves those walls that I could hit––and used to hit––off the road completely.