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Jan Eliot’s writing ritual

From Stone Soup creator Jan Eliot who writes about her writing process.

Having secured two acceptable notebooks, I headed over to my favorite cafe. The requirements are this:

1) Not too quiet. Background noise helps me concentrate. If it’s too quiet my mind wanders away from the task at hand. College crowds are good ones- they text rather than talk on their phones, they have laptops and ear buds. They sit for hours with just coffee…and I go unnoticed.

2) Needs to be a place where I put in my order at a counter and pick it up when ready. No wait staff asking me every 10 minutes if I need something else.

3) Must have a small table in a corner that I can occupy for hours and not feel like I’m putting someone out.

4) Must serve breakfast all day.

Always interesting to read about other’s rituals.

Community Comments

#1 RYAN BROWN
December/14/2011
@ 12:20 pm

Always very interesting to find out the different methods on how cartoonists write their material. Stone Soup is one of my favorite strips to read and I think it’s one of the most well executed strips out there. Everyone has different writing methods. Personally, I don’t like a lot of background noise because sometimes clutter my ideas. A quieter atmosphere works a little better for me because it helps me concentrate on the gag a lot sharper. But that’s just me. But anyway, good stuff Alan!

#2 Paul Fell
December/14/2011
@ 1:22 pm

I usually come up with my editorial cartoon ideas in the evening. During the day is when I do my reading and listening to news along with working on whatever’s on my drawing board that day. After supper I go back downstairs to my studio area and put on some music and doodle around in search of inspiration for the next day’s cartoon.

Another method that works for me is to spend a short period (say 30 minutes or so) thinking hard about whatever kind of cartoon or humorous illustration I need to do. Then, I put it aside and work on a completely different project. While I’m doing that, the first assignment is percolating in my subconscious. This method seems to work a lot less painfully than just grinding away to find a solution to the problem or assignment.

#3 RYAN BROWN
December/14/2011
@ 1:59 pm

Very interesting,Paul. As an aspiring cartoonist like myself, I?m always intrigued at how established or syndicated cartoonists create their ideas. I?ve found my ideas generally come in three ways:

1. A gag just quickly pops into my mind and I immediately go write it down so I won?t forget it.
2. The gag comes only after I?ve already started writing and planning the situation. Sometimes a gag can just birth itself right out of an idea or storyline that I?ve already begun writing to.
3. Painfully sitting in front of a notebook or laptop and feeling my brain contort and burn while trying to come up with an idea.

The third usually happens more often than the others.

#4 B.J. Dewey
December/14/2011
@ 7:00 pm

The cafe she describes is exactly what I’ve been looking for in the last year as an alternative to my home studio. Such places are not easy to find, especially the part where you can stay for hours without feeling you’re putting somebody out or having a waitress constantly ask if you want something more. Maybe they know she’s Jan Eliot the Stone Soup creator?

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