XKCD: How Randall Munroe Writes Comics Consistently

Randall Munroe, known on the internet as XKCD, has created a career from making witty comics.

This unique occupation was the result of a natural inclination to humor and a love of science; Randall worked at NASA before leaving to create comics full time and was an avid reader of many comics, including Calvin and Hobbs.

Without fail every Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is an updated comic on xkcd.com.

How has Randall maintained this publishing schedule for years?

Rolling back the tapes he recalls his days at university and the working style, or lack thereof, that he operated by to complete his assignment. First, he would estimate how long an assignment would take. Then he would start that assignment with approximately enough time to complete it before it was due, e.g. an assignment took 6 1/2 hours and was due at 8 so he’d start at 1:30.

Although many would argue there’s a better way to execute, without sacrificing your circadian rhythm, this was simply what worked best for Randall.

He knew how he worked and the effort to change was a greater cost than coping with the sleep-deprived status quo.

The lesson here is to know how you operate and play to that.

But what about writers’ block? That’s something he must have encountered once or twice over the years.

Although Randall does carry around a notebook where he jots down ideas, jokes, and interesting snippets he’ll reference and condense into comics, he says “…if I don’t do one [comic] every update day, if I ever get lax, the pressure is off completely. And then, you know, I’d do one comic a month.

Randall is a cartoonist not because he’s confident his jokes will land every time or that he’s a bottomless well of wit.

He is a cartoonist because he has committed to shipping three times a week, showing up, and drawing cartoons.

That’s it.

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