I talk about daily drawing a lot. And I don't mean to be redundant, but it truly is the key to seeing real improvement in your art. I mentioned in my last post that the biggest takeaway from my yearlong illustrator mentorship was that if you want to improve, you have to make art every day. Maybe you already agree and you want to start doing it, but you are finding that it is easier to talk about drawing every day than it is to actually do it. Getting into the habit of doing something daily can take years of trying. I know this because I tried for years, unsuccessfully, to develop a daily drawing habit.
Why Do We Stop Drawing As Adults?
I used to draw constantly and then somewhere along the way, maybe after college, I stopped doing it. What changed? I got busy with other things and developed other interests. I started a career in graphic design where I worked primarily on the computer and found it really difficult to switch back to analog mode (pencil and paper). Eventually my hands lost muscle memory and I let fear creep in.
Finally, this year, after hearing it straight from a published illustrator – my lovely mentor Marsha – it was time to get serious. I was going to start taking time each day to work on my craft. I wanted drawing to be as non-negotiable as coffee in the morning. I knew that the reason I was not drawing was because at any given moment I could think of ten different reasons why I couldn't draw right then. This was my pattern and old patterns are hard to break.
The Best Way to Develop New Habits
In the past when I have had success with intentionally developing habits in other parts of my life, it has been because I made small incremental changes, slowly over long periods of time. The same concept seems to apply when it comes to breaking old patterns, especially when your patterns are rooted in fear and self doubt. Sometimes you can't just squash them and be done. You have to deconstruct them piece by piece, a little at a time, and make a plan of action so that you won't fall back into your old patterns when things get tough.
That's why I wanted to write an ongoing series of blog posts to share some of the excuses I have made for myself in the past as well as some actionable tips for shutting down the inner monologue so you can start drawing. My plan is to start posting these on Mondays, but we will see how that goes. Regular blogging is another habit I am working on developing :)
Already in the habit of drawing daily?
I hope these posts will also be helpful to people who are already making art every day, but maybe have hit a bump in the road and need to get back on track. This past month I struggled to start a new piece after finishing my mermaids. Every time I started sketching a new idea it just seemed like nothing was working and I began to feel like I would never finish another piece again. No one is perfect and we all occasionally need some encouragement to get going again.
What are some reasons that you avoid drawing? What problems do you have with drawing that you would like to see discussed here? I would love for you to email me or share your own struggles or tips in the comments. Check back in soon for the first post in the series!