Interview with Comics Mastermind™ founder Julie Ditrich
By Anthony N. Castle
Does any of this sound familiar? You sit down to begin writing, and many hours later you’re still staring at a blank screen or page. You pull out your sketchbook to rough out some illustrations or sequential art, but start focusing on the housework instead. You’ve received praise for your first published book, but enter a state of inertia because you have absolutely NO idea what your second one is going to be about. If this sounds like you, then know you’re not alone….
Writer’s block can get in the way of any project. Often there are larger factors at work than simple procrastination or distraction. The Comics Mastermind™ service aims to address these challenges with a new masterclass at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre. We spoke with Julie Ditrich, CEO and founder of the Comics Mastermind™ service, about the upcoming masterclass that aims to unblock creativity and manage the perils of writer’s block…
Where did the Comics Mastermind service come from?
Comics Mastermind™ was born as an answer to the obstacles that previous generations of Australian comikers faced when they began working in comics. Firstly, the comics medium wasn’t taken seriously and was looked down upon. Secondly, there were little or no resources, professional feedback, or courses available. Thirdly, there was no instrument to help comics creators develop or advance in their careers—the original players had to make it up on the fly.
There seems to be a cottage industry that has sprung up around the question of ‘how-to’ write/publish/succeed. As a writer with a professional background, how do you seek to distinguish the Comics Mastermind™ service from the others out there?
The “how-to” movement exploded with the advent and evolution of the Internet, as people discovered their expertise in various niches and connected to like-minded individuals seeking to learn or to up-skill. There’s a saying in the business world that “success leaves clues”. One of the “clues” or common threads that I’ve found amongst accomplished, internationally renowned comics professionals (Italian graphic novelist Thomas Campi being amongst them) is that they learned much of their craft by working with mentors or alongside master practitioners in their studios. The over-riding consensus from all the pros I talked to is that if someone is serious about their work and about making comics their career then they have to learn from people who are better than they are; they have to learn from the masters rather than their peers.
So what distinguishes Comics Mastermind™ is that this is a wholly Australian enterprise that completely understands the comics niche and can be there to support the Aussie comics creator’s journey. How this translates to our clients’ experience is that ultimately you can be assured that Comics Mastermind™ is a safe place to get confidential detailed feedback on your works in progress. We understand your comics goals and ambitions, because we’ve all been there.
The upcoming masterclass “Unblock your Creative Block” (22 October 2016 in Melbourne) essentially seems to deal with writer’s block. Is that too simplistic of an observation or is the creative process a major obstacle for professional and emerging creators alike?
At its base, you can have what I call the “blank” or “empty page syndrome”, which means that after hours of creative struggle you pretty much have either nothing or very little low quality content on your computer screen or sketchbook. Conversely, you might be great at generating content in a genre you are completely comfortable in, but when challenged to go outside their comfort zone you freeze or fly.
The masterclass aims to educate you on how your creativity operates from within. To do that you need to understand the differences between the conscious and subconscious minds, the inner resources you have available, and the laws governing the subconscious mind that you might not be aware of.
Outside of working in comics as a writer and editor, not many people know that I have a background as a clinical hypnotherapist. I’m also the editor of The Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis. The origins of this masterclass lie in the fact that I had writer’s block many years ago when I was in university, studying for my BA in Professional Writing. To combat it, I began experimenting with several subconscious mind techniques that led me to make friends with my creative mind, which is a strange thing to say, but all will be explained during the session. Needless to say, I never suffered from writers’ block again.
What pragmatic assistance can attendees hope to gain from the upcoming masterclass?
The masterclass will be part theoretical and part experiential. It will be related to the theme of self-development, of helping participants access, activate and orient internal resources that have either been lying dormant or been under-utilised. The last part of the masterclass will include various exercises where participants get to construct their own internal Imaginarium, which they can tap into over and over again whenever they sit down to write or draw. That, in itself, is a powerful takeaway proposition and tool. The only way to learn this is to participate in person in this face-to-face session, as the information is dynamic and cannot be recorded and therefore cannot be distributed via other means.
The ‘Unblock Your Creative Block’ 2.5 hour Comics Mastermind™ masterclass will be in Melbourne on Saturday 22 October 2016 at The Wheeler Centre. For more info, check out comicsmastermind.com.
Subscribe to THE COMICS VOICE ezine for more on the service.