G’day Tutorial Tuesday!
This week I’m going to share my personal strategy on how to work under the impending doom of a cosplay convention deadline!
We’ve ALL been there. Your local (or not local and you just love pain) event is coming up something ridiculous like THIS WEEKEND and you realised your the costume progress is woefully behind… or worse not even started maybe because you been procrastinating with Kingdom Hearts 3…
Here are my personal process during a con crunch written up into a
CON CRUNCH SURVIVAL PLAN:
As soon are you realise you’re heading into crunch time, stop ALL progress for a second to take a step back and look at your upcoming crunch as a whole.
Answer these questions: How much time do I have left? What components of each costume do I have left to make? How fast am I working? How well am I working? How nice does this costume need to be?
2. RANK YOUR CHILDREN
If you have multiple costumes planned (eg. them crazy American cosplayers with over 3 costumes per day per convention like are they immortal), look through your lineup and rank them from most important to least important.
It’s up to you how you prioritise.
Eg. by how close to finished each costume is, by how much you want each costume done, how much each means to you, by who you’re cosplaying with, by competition. Whatever floats your goat. Yes goat.
3. MAKE FOCUSED PROGRESS
Once you’ve ranked your projects, list out all incomplete components for each costume and sort them into task groups like machine sewing, hand sewing, wood work, casting, painting etc.
Then focus all your effort on getting ONE TASK GROUP DONE AT A TIME.
eg. style EVERYONE’S wigs, then do ALL the sewn components across your line-up, then paint EVERYONE’S props and so on.
This way, you can set up a specialised workstation with all the relevant tools and the mindset for a single focused task ahead. It also means you can also PUT SHIT AWAY FOR GOOD after you’re done with each step and set up the next work station rather than skipping back and forth between set ups and end up with an explosion of random tools and supplies that eventually disappear into the abyss of your con crunch mess.
This approach is pretty ‘all or nothing’. Because you’re simultaneously progressing on multiple projects, there’s also the risk of all the projects simultaneously not making it.
This is where that ranking earlier comes in.
4. SYSTEMATICALLY GIVE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILD MORE LOVE
Yes. Fuck the other children.
We say “do everyone’s sewing, make everyone’s wigs”. But what we really mean is “do everyone’s sewing but sew your top ranked project first, then work down the rankings if you can be fucked keeping everyone”.
i.e. Try to avoid making one character’s wig first when you style everyone’s wigs, then another character’s sewing first when you’re doing everyone’s sewing. Use your ranking to stay consistent in who you work on first during each task so you can maximise the chance of getting SOMEONE done.
5. EAT, DRINK AND REST
Put. Food. And. Water. Inside. Your. Body. And. Let. It. Be. Unconscious.
When a deadline is approaching quick, it’s so easy to feel “if I stop for anything I’m wasting what little time I have”. If that thought starts crossing your mind, it’s time to put everything down, grab a bit to eat, take a shit and have a shower because that’s panic.
You’re already putting your body and mind under a lot of stress by even getting into a con crunch. The worst thing you can do is to bake it in that stress by starving and fatiguing it! Don’t feel bad for needing to rest.
Set an alarm for a 20-30 minute shut-eye or at least just sit down and do nothing once every couple of hours.
A quick meal doesn’t take long. 15 minutes tops. It’s not a feast with a toast to the family.
A quick shower is even shorter. 10 minutes tops. You’re not contemplating the universe in there.
You’ll find that regular brief resets will do your energy level, focus and productivity wonders even though on paper you are spending time not making progress.
Besides, realistically speaking, what significantly groundbreaking amount of progress are you possibly making in 15 minutes that it can’t possibly wait?
ABSOLUTE JACK SHIT. That’s what.
Go eat something. Come back when you’re less of a mess.
6. WORKING FAST vs RUSHING
The key to producing quality work under time pressure is to work fast without rushing. Many people think “but working fast IS rushing” but they’re quite different.
The differences between working fast and rushing is procedure and mental awareness.
Working fast is:
– result of practice
– Taking a second to plan then execute the plan.
– Taking the care to go through each necessary step of a method but doing each step quickly
– Realising the current method might be time consuming for the approaching deadline and switching to a faster alternative that can be followed through and finished properly
– Multitasking to keep production moving (eg. sewing while paint on a prop is drying)
– Result of panic
– Going in without a plan and making blind progress
– Skipping steps to for the sake of shortening production time
– Sticking to a time consuming methods for the method itself but shortening each step because there’s no time to do it properly
– Doing whatever comes to mind at the moment
Ironically, the best way to work quickly is to take your time.
7. PAUSE 2
3 or 4 days before leaving for the event, do another drop-everything stop.
Note: This is 3 or 4 days before leaving your house to travel to the event and NOT 3 or 4 days before convention Day 1!
Ask the same questions as before during this pause.
Then add this question:
Do I need to cut any projects out of my line-up?
NEED. Not WANT.
8. KNOWING WHEN TO CALL IT OFF
It’s really hard to let go of the grand expectations you might’ve had for your cosplay plan, especially if you’re just crunching one new costume for an event.
But sometimes it simply is not worth pushing.
I can promise you the disappointment of missing half the convention because you’ve been holed up the very hotel room that you paid money to enjoy being in just to barely finish something that’s you know is not up to your standard then going out to show it off late, tired and not happy is INFINITELY more devastating than the disappointment of not having something new to wear.
For each cosplay that don’t involve competition or work, I ask myself the following questions 2-3 days before the convention:
Is this costume absolutely necessary particularly for this convention?
Will I be okay with this costume being rushed?
Will I have a good time at the event as a result of pushing for this costume?
For a competition costume I ask myself 5 days before competition:
Is this particular competition so important that it’s “now or never”?
For promotional cosplay work where I need to make a new costume, I ask myself at before accepting the work:
Are they paying me?
Is the deadline achievable for me?
Does the budget allow and/or motivate me to make something quality?
If I answer “no” to ANY of the questions… then con crunch for that project is CANCELLED.
Don’t be ashamed of calling off a cosplay. It takes courage to step back, admit defeat for now and pick up the project for a later deadline.
Besides, it’s simply common sense to put your well-being over a mere costume.
9. FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS
Bless all friends and helpers and handlers out there who keep us crazy masochists known as cosplayers alive.
Always show them your appreciation for supporting you whether they’re spending hours putting you into costume or coming to your house to make sure you drank water, or just messaging you to say “you got this”.
Just because you’re the one dressed up in the spotlight on the day, don’t ever forget everyone who got you there in the first place.
10. Lastly and most effectively…DON’T GET INTO CON CRUNCH!
This last one is just common sense but somehow genetically incapable of accomplishing.
– Make costume plans for deadlines that are achievable for your skill level and working speed.
– Start costumes early. Once you start, do whatever you can to make sure your project never gets to a stand still. It doesn’t matter how tiny, make some sort of progress every single day. It could be a small as applying a single rhinestone or as abstract as merely thinking about a skit.
– Avoid “leaving it for a day” because leaving it for a day usually leads to 2 days leads to a week to a month and then suddenly the convention is this weekend.
THAT’S ALL I GOT!
Remember that none of the above are RULES. They’re simply how I work best and how I’ve managed to keep meeting deadlines for over a decade.
I only hope my con crunching approach will help you tackle your own deadlines!
Thank you for reading another one of my #TutorialTuesday blogs.
If you appreciate my work please consider becoming a Patreon supporter or purchasing a book from my Store.Happy crafting and REPEAT TIL CRY!