How do you know when a collaborator is expressing the natural concerns of cold feet and when they are actually trying to quit a project? Few people are capable of being direct and blunt without being nasty.

My personal motto when it comes to working with me or editing me or critiquing me is — “Be blunt and cruel, it saves time.” — but I know I am the except and not the rule.

You walk a delicate line when you sense a collaborator balking at making changes or not really committing to schedules or taking a long time to get back to you.

I believe in frequent temperature checking when I’m working with a new person throughout the initial preparation stages.

“How are you feeling about the show?”

“Anything bothering you about the process?”

“Can we make the deadlines?”

If you ever get vague or non-committal answers to those inquiries, you have an eventual Quitter on your hands.  If the answers to those questions are riddled with self-doubt and worry, you have a “Cold Feeter” as a collaborator.

There’s no saving the Quitter; kill them and cut them loose before they bleed you out.  The “Cold-Feeter” will take a lot of extra time and coddling, but going above and beyond might reap richer rewards in the end.  You can never know for certain how a Cold Feeter will turn out, so you rely on faith and experience to determine your ongoing involvement.

If I’m sensing any hesitation or perpetual weakness in my collaborator early in the process, I prefer to either find a new collaborator or remove myself from the project. 

I’ve been much too patient in the past with people who were not really
committed to a project — for whatever reason — most were unable or
unwilling to match my 18-hour-a-day Midwestern work ethic; and when my
experience senses are ignited, I already know how it will all end, and
a little pain now will save everyone everlasting heartache


  1. This happened to me with the comic I was trying to create with a friend of mine. He said he wanted to take a month break, but the month turned into two months, and finally I said that if he couldn’t have new comics to me by a certain deadline that the comic was over.
    So the comic ended. :/

  2. Well, in my regular job there is no luxury to fail a deadline while expansion…so it’s almost a 24 hrs “negotiation” or “temperature check” (read b*** kicking)for me with 5/6 different departments. If one fails, the entire project fails — performance pressure can be really draining at times. I have seen people quitting left and right.

  3. Setting a hard deadline is always the best way to snuff these people out, Gordon. They’ll either get it done or they won’t, and you’ll have your answer for action.

  4. High pressure situations will definitely smoke out the frightened and the undecided. They need to be identified and removed as quickly as possible.

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