“It’s vital to establish some rituals – automatic but decisive patterns of behaviour – at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way”
We’ve all done it.
Turned over a new leaf, decided that this time, we really are going to practice harder. We’re going to draw every day until we really see some improvement in our work.
So why is it so rare for these new leaves to stay turned? Why is it so difficult to keep up a regular practice routine?
It’s easier in the beginning, of course, when we’re full of enthusiasm for our new plan. But if there’s nothing but initial enthusiasm for fuel, we won’t keep running for very long.
Before long it will start to feel like a chore. Something we dread (and our art should never be that!) We’ll miss the odd day. Then a few days, then drop the practice altogether.
I know this is something a lot of you out there struggle with. So if you’re sitting there reading this, thinking “I do that!” and feeling bad about yourself – don’t. It’s not just you. It’s a lot more common than you think.
Why is it so hard to get started?
Well, I’ll tell you why I think it is.
Without knowing it, we make it really hard on ourselves.
There’s a crucial moment when you think about doing your practice. You can go eithe way – sit down and get started, or put it off. If you don’t have some powerful reason to drag yourself to your easel – open your sketch pad, whatever – and make a start, chances are you’ll end up putting it off sooner or later.
Maybe you’ll start wondering what you’re going to draw today. No matter how enthusiastically you start, trust me, at some point you’re going to run out of ideas for things to draw.
First road block.
Maybe you’ve still got enough enthusiasm left to make it through this one, but then…
Maybe you’ll start thinking about how disappointing your last few drawings have been. All those negative feelings can spiral into serious performance anxiety. What if you do another rubbish drawing?
Second road block.
Maybe you’ve been at work all day or looking after the kids or just busy and you’re too tired to get started right now. Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel more like doing it.
That’s it. Habit broken.
How to get started, every time
I’ve got some ideas about how you can make it much easier to make the right decision in that crucial moment and get yourself sitting down and making some marks.
It’s all about making it as easy as possible to start.
There are two things I believe will help you beat procrastination and get over that initial hump:
I’ve explained a little more about how these two things can help you get into a routine of practising every day in this video. I hope it helps you get started more often.
Have a watch tell me what you think.
If any of that made sense to you, and you want to give it a try, I’ve put those ideas into an exercise you can try for seven days to get yourself into a regular practice habit.
I call this exercise “Just Open Your Sketch Pad” (JOYS for short). If you want to give it a bash, click this link to download it in PDF format:
I’ve also decided to start posting my daily practice on Google Plus. The hashtag is #dailyartpractice. If you fancy having a go at this, why not join in? Just post your practice pics every day and add the hashtag. Please also connect with me on G+ and berate me if I miss any days 🙂
Good luck! And happy practising.
Posted: September 20th 2013
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