In February 2017, I posted one lettering piece every day, and that amount of work that went into it was just insane. I joke that I tried to do the opposite of dying out of boredom on winter break by giving myself a lot of work, and well, I achieved just that. *mentally shudders at my horrible cycle of work, work, work over the winter breaks* If you check, the last post I published on the blog was the announcement post, and I even ended up taking a break from social media because I was so burnt out.
But I don’t regret working on the lettering series at all. Not only did I learn more about my limits and about the importance of setting up a proper work routine to have balance in my life, but I achieved what I wanted out of the series. At the same time, I made one big mistake: I underestimated the amount of work it would take.
At the beginning, I wanted to do the series for a number of reasons–doing something with my winter break, creating work to go on a portfolio, but the primary one was getting to be more proficient in Adobe Illustrator. That was why I decided that not only was I going to make this a lettering series with quotes about love from poetry, they were all going to be made in Illustrator.
It was a recipe for disaster. Remember, I wasn’t that good at Adobe Illustrator to begin with, and some of the quotes had even more than twenty words. I was thinking of doing 28 quotes, stroke by stroke, in Adobe Illustrator within a month. If that wasn’t enough, I even thought of sharing a nice, little reflection every day on my social media and an email newsletter. It really wasn’t a surprise that I wasn’t able to finish within a month and that I was so fatigued at the end.
And honestly, I could have prevented my burnout, if only I’d been faster to admit that I was wrong and adapt my direction. I had a non-negotiable deadline of February for the series, as I wanted it to coincide with Valentine’s, and I stubbornly thought that I could still do everything as I originally planned. It wasn’t only until the last week of January that I switched to inking them by hand and having Illustrator read the black and whites, instead of drawing them bit by bit in Illustrator.
And not only did I get to make that, but I learned a lot of lessons along the way that I intend to keep in mind for the future.
1. Planning the quotes that I want to letter beforehand is a time saver.
Whenever I finish a lettering piece, I would wonder what to do next, and that always takes up so much time. Either life would get in the way, or I just wouldn’t know what exactly to choose, and I realized just how much time I was wasting over that step during the series. I had chosen all the quotes before even starting to work on the first draft, and it kept me focused on the work. I’ve kept a list of quotes that I wanted to work on ever since.
2. I don’t need to achieve 100% perfect every time.
It’s ridiculous how some of the pieces that I thought looked the best weren’t the ones that got the most interaction, and it was confusing to me. But I have to accept that I can’t control what people think of my work, and the only thing I can do is make more, which I’m not going to do if I always get hung up on achieving perfection.
3. I can’t hustle all the time.
It’s not that I can’t work hard, it’s that when I keep working on just one thing in a row, I get burnt out, really quickly. Towards the end of the project, I was dreading to do the work that I needed to finish it all.
And at the beginning, I felt frustrated at myself for it. Why couldn’t I work as hard as everyone else? Was my determination just not strong enough? But once I recognized that I was at burnout, I had to be honest with myself and come to terms that how I work isn’t how everyone else works. I just can’t push through for long periods of time without harming myself, and that means I have to schedule some time for breaks when planning something else next time.
In fact, I already do have another series in mind. I’m still slowly fleshing it out, but I know more now, and I plan on keeping this one easier on myself. I hope I can share it soon!