How to unplug and recharge

Today was a rough day. Getting hammered by anxiety is a poor way to enjoy an afternoon. Sliding into depressive behaviours is a lousy way to spend a month.
But hey, you know what’s better than feeling bad? Feeling good. Let’s aim for feeling good.

Surely it’s far better to focus on the people you love, and to focus on why you love doing the things you love doing?

It’s come to my attention that my brain is not in a happy place at the moment. It hasn’t been for a few weeks now. A full-on yet utterly pointless anxiety attack at work this afternoon was a real wake-up call.

There are lots of small to medium stresses in my life right now, and I’m pushing myself to work (both professionally and extra-curricular) throughout my waking hours. None of the stresses alone, or even together, should have been enough to cause today’s anxiety, at least not based on my past levels of resilience.

Long story short, I don’t do a great job of recharging. My now-ex-partner was definitely correct that it takes a lot of work and effort - and it’s almost arcane in discovering how - to reliably recharge my mental/emotional batteries.


A dear friend often points out how Life throws challenges at us because they’re the challenges we need to learn from; and we’ll keep facing those same challenges until we master them. I need to recharge better. It might be time to take up boxing-fitness classes again after PAX this weekend.

Conscious-thinking writer and breath-taking human Tammy Strobel posted this list of 11 Creative Ways to Avoid Becoming a Workaholic on ZenHabits. One of them particularly piqued my interest:

Constantly question your goals and life purpose. It’s important to continually reevaluate your goals, life purpose and behaviors. For example if you constantly stay late at the office, sacrifice personal relationships because of work, or check your email obsessively, ask yourself:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What is the end goal?
  • Are my behaviors healthy?

They’re great questions to ask. Especially when your passion benefits from consuming as many hours as comic-making does. Feeling good about making comics encourages you to spend more time making comics.


Why do I make comics?
Because I enjoy telling escapist stories. Kunghur stories really get me excited. Shell - especially the current story, #2 - is hard work. It was exhilarating when the first book was finished and I could see people reading it.

Which bits of making comics do I enjoy?
There’s an unusual amount of pleasure which comes from turning a written script into panels and dialogue. (Note: I typically do this step before drawing any thumbnails). Roughing out the characters “acting” is fun. Writing new Kunghur stories is exciting, even if writing dialogue is still a bit scary.

What is the end goal?
Depends on the book. If Shell was picked up by a publisher, I’d be over the moon.
If Kunghur supported me to the point of producing a monthly-ish comic, that’d be grand. If it was licensed and merchandised and turned into a cultural phenomenon, that’d be okay.

Ultimately my point-of-success for comics, as for my career in web design, is to get good enough to be invited to travel and speak at industry conferences / conventions.

Are my behaviours healthy?
According to Strobel’s article, my basic behaviours are okay. I sleep well, eat well, usually exercise a few times a week. Socialisation is okay, but I have doubts about its efficacy thanks to bad brain chemistry lately.

  • Am I spending too much time on comics for the amount getting finished? Probably definitely yes.
  • Am I doing enough rigourous professional development work, like warm-up exercises or classes? Hell to the no. Finding a teacher for inking and/or digital art is part of the allure of moving to Japan next year.
  • Am I developing with intention? Interesting question… the answer is no.
  • Am I working fast enough to feel like I can afford time to ingest other people’s media? Definitely not. My comics reading is waaaaaay down.Haven’t been to the movies in ages. I did binge on the first season of Weeds the other day - that was good.

So what am I going to do about it all? I’m gonna set some goals.

Short term

  1. Hobby: Join a boxing fitness (or similar) class near work. Two sessions per week, as soon as practical after November 1.
  2. Development: Attend life drawing classes, preferrably with tuition, once a fortnight to alternate with Drink and Draw.
  3. Media: At least one cinema movie a month, and at least six comic single issues (or one trade collection) a month.
  4. Personal: Be content that I’m a fucking fantastic human being. It’s nice when people compliment me as such, but it’s gotta start with loving yourself. Note to self: Find ways to do more of the things you already love doing.

Longer term

  1. Hobby: Anticipating a June departure for Japan, that should mean I can cycle 2000km around Brisbane in those six months.
  2. Personal: Reverse my mentality about dating; be more confident in myself. “Be the person who attracts people; not the person who has to chase”
  3. Development: Get the time to complete a page of pencils or a page of inks down below eight hours per page. Six hours would be nice.

And if I was sensible, I’d turn the accountability for these goals into the basis of a monthly newsletter.

This feels good - to set goals for helping myself feel better.
Please, over the next month, please ask how I’m doing. Check in on me.

Recognition to Kim for posting the motivational images throughout this post.