Practice makes progress, and to make practice worthwhile, consistency is key! Making a point of doing daily practice is one of the best ways speed up your progress. If you can make drawing every single day -no matter how little- a habit, you will see results much faster than if you only do it once in a while. A little bit every day adds up to a lot more than occasional bursts of activity. So today let’s talk about how to draw every day and build a strong, consistent practice!
Make it a Habit
As hard as bad habits can be to break, good habits can be just as powerful. I’ve read about an effective, simple trick used by none other than Jerry Seinfeld to keep himself motivated and writing quality material. First he sets up a big calendar on a prominent wall that shows the whole year on one page. He then marks off a big X on each day that he writes. After a few days of making Xs, you’ll see a chain beginning to form. Once the chain starts to get going, it looks good and you won’t want to break it. “Don’t break the chain,” says Seinfeld.
If you do follow this trick and you happen to break the chain, make sure you do not give up! While I can appreciate having the whole year in front of you to really keep the pressure on, I myself keep a monthly calendar (more for practicality than anything else). The double-edged sword here is that while you can more easily forgive yourself for missing a day (“next month is a new month” after all), this can become a sneaky excuse (“I already missed a day, so this whole month is shot!”) if you don’t watch out for it. Try to think of this as a safety net “in case I miss a day” and do your very best to keep that chain going.
Make it an Appointment
If you’re the sort to keep a planner or agenda, this may be the ticket for you. Make a standing date with your sketchbook so that you always have a chance to spend some quality time with it. Might I suggest drawing a cute face on the front cover? 🙂 Maybe even give it a name? (What, that’s not weird… Is it?)
When you pencil in a specific time and treat it like an appointment, you may find that you’re more accountable. You can even jot down some notes in your agenda of what you practiced during that time, kind of like taking minutes for an important meeting. This is similar to what I’ve been doing, actually. I’ll just write generally what I worked on or what material I practiced with. For example, I might note something like “cross-hatching,” “dip pen,” or “hands practice.” These notes are fun to read later!
Make it Cosy
Create a space for yourself that’s full of the things you enjoy so you’ll want to spend time there. This goes hand-in-hand with my last tip about making an appointment with yourself. You could even call it having coffee with your sketchbook.
The key here is to make this time special and relaxing; treat it like self-care, as if you were meditating or practicing yoga, or reading a good book. Set up your space with things that inspire you. Fill up a playlist with music that makes you feel creative and confident. Pour yourself a nice drink, snuggle up with a blanket and maybe an art book or magazine, and have at’er! You’ll look forward to spending time in your special art space.
Make it Easy
If you don’t have space to designate specifically for drawing, make it accessible by keeping a sketchbook with you. When it’s readily available you’ll be far more likely to draw. I hate to admit it, but when I’m in a super lazy mood, even a sketchbook on the coffee table a couple of feet in front of me can seem like a far stretch, and I’m more likely to reach for it if it’s on the couch right beside me, or better yet, in my lap.
Even when you’re not feeling lazy, it might simply not occur to you that “Hey, I could be drawing right now!” Normally when I watch movies, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show. I’ll often see something that looks cool, and sometimes I’ll draw it later; if I remember. But I remember one time in particular that a movie that came on while I was already drawing. Before I knew it, I’d filled six pages with Star Wars sketches!
There’s no way I would have drawn all that stuff after the film had ended, and drawing from screen is almost as good as drawing from life; in fact, in some cases it’s even better because you can draw things in motion that you wouldn’t normally see (you know, like dragons!).
So always keep a sketchbook and pencil as close to you as possible. When inspiration strikes, you’ll be ready! 😀
Make it Rewarding!
This is a fun one! This gives you something to work toward, something to look forward to. For every month you get through without breaking the chain, for every week you meet your sketchbook for a daily coffee date, or perhaps for every sketchbook you fill -reward yourself!
Consider starting a Reward Jar. For each day you do your practice, put a dollar in the jar. After a few days, you could buy a new pen, maybe a fine liner marker or a brush pen. After a couple of weeks you can treat yourself to a new sketchbook (maybe you’ve been wanting to try out some watercolour or mixed media paper, for instance). After a whole month, you can splurge on something a bit fancier, perhaps a nice fountain pen.
Another idea (this one requires a bit of self-control) is to go ahead and buy some new art supplies. You can start small, for instance with a new marker that you’ll open when you reach a milestone. Or you could get a few items and put them in a “Prize Box.” Every time you reach a goal, pick something out of the prize box and set your next goal for yourself.
It’s easier to justify spending money on art supplies when you’ve worked for the reward and feel like you’ve earned it. That new pen, sketchbook, or pencil set will feel a lot more special, too, and this will help keep you inspired and motivated to keep on drawing! 😀
Here are some more reward ideas you can check out. 😉
Well guys, I sure hope this helps! I know it can be tough sticking with something every single day. My personal resolutions for 2019 are 1: Draw every day; 2: Read every day (gotta work through my art book collection!); and 3: Work on this blog every day. I’ll be honest; that’s the priority order as well. So far I have drawn each day; some days might just be a few simple doodles, while others see pages and pages filled. I have missed a few days of reading, but that’s okay.
As for the blog, well, I work on that through my drawing anyway (product testing, brainstorming, etc.), so that gets worked on automatically; I just make a point of doing the things that don’t get worked through my drawing, like typing and preparing imagery.
For me, Seinfeld’s chain trick is very effective and rewarding (and all you need is a calendar and a marker). I’ve also found that I draw a whole lot more by keeping a sketchbook and pen on me, and that I’ve been making better progress by making myself draw things I don’t really want to. The latter is thanks to a rule I’ve implemented for myself: if I think about drawing it, I have to draw it!
What do you think of these tips? Will you be trying any of them out? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Did you set any resolutions for yourself this year? How are you doing so far? If you haven’t, remember: it’s never too late to start! If you need some ideas about setting artistic resolutions for yourself, I might suggest giving this post a quick read. 🙂