Updated: Nov 14, 2019
You probably know all too well how it is: You get the itch to get back into drawing, start a new project, or maybe to start drawing for the first time ever.
You're all fired up and decide it’s time to snap to it. You get your first drawing session in, maybe even the second one, too, but before you know it a million things conspire to get you off track: your dog needs a walk right now; your friend from out of town happens to be visiting; Netflix finally released the new season of (insert your guilty pleasure show here)...and there you are, bummed out that yet again you fell off the wagon.
This really sucks because chances are that you really feel the need to draw more, to be more creative and to actually do something that is just you, something that connects you to yourself and your own ideas.
So first of all I want to tell you that you falling off the wagon isn’t ALL you. Humans are creatures of habit and until you’ve made your creativity a habit, too, all your other automatic behaviors, like flopping on the couch to watch Netflix after dinner, are going to outcompete your higher creative aspirations. The things we do habitually are easy because we’ve literally ingrained them into our system.
So here are 8 things that’ll help you ingrain your drawing practice into an automatic routine:
Set trigger goals; Trigger goals are part-way goals that get you a small step closer to your end goal. e.g. "Whenever I have a coffee I’ll set my sketchbook next to me", or "After I get home from work I set my sketchbook on the couch", "After I’m done putting the dishes away I'll sit at my drawing desk for 3 minutes."
2. Create easy access to your arting station. If we first have to clear off tables and go rummaging around for our drawing tools it feels too complicated, and we likely won’t begin. Prepare an easy to use kit or a small nook in your place that’s always ready for you to sit down in.
3. Identify several potential time windows and schedule (he)art time. Treat drawing just as importantly as you treat other non-negotiable in your life. Let google remind you 10 minutes ahead so you don’t get sidetracked by thinking about what else to do.
4. Set improvement goals: Rather than having a broad "I want to draw more goal" set either quality goals such as improving your proportions, or quantity goal i.e. 10 full sketchbook pages after 10 days
5. Gather a tribe. It's easier when we have others next to us who are pulling in the same direction. Participate in art challenges like Inktober, join sketch groups, start a sketch group, or sign up for a class. Your tribe will help you stay inspired and keep you accountable.
6. Script your setbacks; We all have things that derail our best intentions. Knowing yours and being prepared for them will help. What will you do when Netflix looks really good? What will you tell yourself so you won't give in. More importantly what will it feel like if I do give in? How about that moment when your realize that your drawing looks ugly? Ask yourself how you'll feel at that point? What could you tell yourself then that'll help you stay in the game rather than check out?
On that note, new routines will feel uncomfortable for quite a while as your brain has to re-wire itself to accommodate the new activity. Don't misinterpret this discomfort to mean that you shouldn't be drawing. Art takes concentration and slowing down. If you haven’t done that in a while it’ll make you twitchy.
7. It’s a practice. Not everything you create has to be "Art". The less your put that pressure on your creativity the more you are actually going to improve and enjoy the process. Commit to growth not perfection! Commit to NOT judging your outcome.You can analyze, but not judge.
8. Recognize the enjoyment
Take a second to pause while you are having fun to savor the moment. Doing this will help you remember the feeling of joy when you get ready to draw again next time around.
Now it's your turn. If you read this far it's probably time to get your own practice back on track. First, come up with your own trigger goal. Second, pull out your calendar app and log the amount of sketch times you want to commit yourself to. Third, set a reminder for 2-3 weeks from now to asses your progress. Then hit repeat.