“If You Force Something, Readers Will Pick Up on That”: Garfield Creator Jim Davis Disagrees with Pretty Much Every Author’s Favorite Writing Advice

Almost all successful writers are prone to giving the same advice: whether what they produce is good or bad, one must write every day, in order to improve their craft. Garfield creator Jim Davis is one stand-out exception, once commenting: "if you have to force something, then the readers will pick up on that."

In an interview with the Independent celebrating Garfield's 40th anniversary, prolific Garfield writer and artist Jim Davis opened up about his own writing process, explaining the vital part inspiration plays in his creative work.

While emerging writers shouldn't forsake advice from writers such as Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury, who insist authors should hone their skills by producing pages every day, Davis' perspective offers a welcome counterbalance, a reminder that the surest path to great writing is a combination of dedication and inspiration.

Garfield Creator Jim Davies Emphasizes The Value Of Inspiration In Creative Work

"Fortunately, I have funny days," Jim Davis plainly told the Independent in 2018, looking back in retrospect on forty years of Garfield. "Some days you wake up, and you’re just not funny." Whatever their medium, all artists know this feeling. Most commonly called "writer's block," every type of artist is familiar with the panic-inducing feeling of being uninspired, of wanting to create, but not being able to. Writers, in particular, tend to advocate for pushing through this lack of inspiration, in order to find it on the page. Speaking from his own experience, Davis cautions against this.

"If you’re staring at the piece of paper, and you’ve got nothing," Jim Davis explained, "if you have to force something, then the readers will pick up on that in a nanosecond." As an alternative, Davis suggests storing up one's creative energy, until it can't help but flow out:

But if you wait for the funny days, when you get them, the gags just start flowing. Sometimes the ideas are coming so fast I can’t write them down fast enough before I forget them. On those sorts of days, I can get a good couple of weeks’ worth of work done.

Understandably, given the particular nature of Davis' work, this may not be the most viable method for all artists, particularly long-form prose writers – but nonetheless, it is a valuable reminder of inspiration's essential role in truly enduring creative works.

Innovative Creativity Comes From A Mix Of Work & Play

Garfield has endured as long as it has, in large part, because its creator followed his inspiration, trusting himself to produce material organically, rather than to inorganically "force" it to come at times when he, or the material, wasn't ready. Rather than suggesting that Jim Davis didn't work as hard as other famous writers, this indicates that he had a strong understanding of his own work patterns, and leaned into them accordingly. This is an admirable goal for all writers, who are often better off not putting pressure on themselves to meet artifical daily output goals.

See also  The Holdovers 2 Gets The National Lampoon Treatment In Imaginative Poster Art

Truly great art is a product of hard work, yes, but it also invariably involves a great deal of play. Though Jim Davis' quote on inspiration is particularly geared toward being funny, which was the central drive of his writing, it is an insightful reminder to writers, and artists, at all stages of their careers that there should be joy in their craft, that they should let the invisible hand of inspiration guide their work. For Davis, this method led to decades of success with Garfield, a character who remains an enduring, essential part of pop culture to this day.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Related Posts

OG Jumanji Star Reveals Whether They’ve Been Approached For New Sequels

Original Jumanji star David Alan Grier reveals whether they've been approached for new sequels. The 1995 film, based on Chris Van Allsburg's classic children's novels, follows Judy and Peter…

Harry Potter Show Gets Promising Progress Update In New Report

Warner Bros.’s plans for a Harry Potter television reboot have gotten a promising update courtesy of a new report. First announced in April last year, Warner Bros.’s Max streaming…

Marvel Just Set Up a Shocking Hero to Replace Kang as the MCU’s Next Big Bad

Marvel has just opened the door for a surprising candidate to replace Kang the Conqueror as the next Big Bad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the Master of Kung Fu…

The Holdovers 2 Gets The National Lampoon Treatment In Imaginative Poster Art

The Holdovers gets an imaginative poster for a hypothetical sequel parodying the style of National Lampoon's Vacation. Similar to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Holdovers has been labeled a Christmas classic. The…

Constantine’s Answer to the Batmobile Is Absolutely Perfect (& Needs to Be in Any Movie Reboot)

Usually, when John Constantine has to go somewhere, he simply calls upon his best friend Chas to drive him. Now that he's out of England and in a world…

Florence Pugh’s Dune 2 Role Is Even Improving On The Book, 59 Years Later

Florence Pugh is making her debut as Princess Irulan in Dune: Part Two, and it looks like the sequel will improve upon Frank Herbert's book character 59 years later….