It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop – Confucius
Some days are more important than others.
There are some days when it’s really important that you make the most of your time and draw.
Do you ever have those days when everything seems to go right, when you feel relaxed, confident and your drawing just seems to flow? Days when you’re full of confidence, you’re itching to draw and you feel inspired?
Every now and then, I’ll have one of these days. It feels like there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than drawing. If only there were more of them.
Do you have days like that sometimes?
Well, please don’t be too surprised when I tell you that those are not your most important days.
Actually, they are your least important days
Why? Because those days are easy
Your most important days are the hard ones
Your most important days are the ones when you really struggle, when you just can’t seem to get started, when the smallest thing feels like it takes a herculean effort.
On those days, you’re most at risk of failing. You’re most at risk of not drawing.
Perhaps you’re tired, you had a hard day yesterday. You’re feeling ill perhaps, run down. Or perhaps you’re just so busy that you might forget to make time for drawing.
So you miss a day.
Now it’s more likely that you’ll miss the next day, too.
Before you know it, a week has gone by and you haven’t opened your sketchpad.
That week can easily become a year.
So if you want to keep your drawing going, make sure you draw on your most important, your most difficult days.
How to keep a drawing habit going, even when it’s hard
Here’s a simple strategy you can try to make sure you do.
We have an exercise as part of Creative Triggers that everybody does when they first join. It’s called Just Open Your Sketchpad (JOYS for short). The only requirement for this exercise is that you open your sketchpad at the point in your day when you’ve decided to do your drawing habit.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually draw anything. I recommend you don’t. Equally, it’s fine if you do. The point is that by making the habit really, really small in the beginning, it’s easier for you to keep going long enough for you to get the habit established. Once it’s established, it will be much, much easier to keep going.
You can also use this approach if you’re having a difficult day. Just make sure you show up and do something really small and simple.
Just open your sketchpad.
It sounds trivial, pointless even. But it’s actually crucial, because even just turning up and opening your sketch pad strengthens the habit and embeds it a little more firmly into your day.
Missing it- even once – weakens it.
So just open your sketch pad.
Make a single mark.
Even just write the date, and the fact that you turned up. Like as not, once you’ve got over the initial hump and got started, you’ll keep going anyway.
But even if you don’t, even if all you manage to do is to open your sketch pad and write “practice completed” and the date, don’t feel bad.
Feel good. Be proud.
Because it’s not about this difficult day, about what you produce today. It’s about making sure that you still turn up tomorrow, and the next day. It’s making sure you don’t miss a year. Making sure that when tomorrow comes, and you feel inspired, you’re not sitting thinking about drawing, wondering where you last left your sketch pad.
You’re already drawing.
I hope this post helps you get started on your most difficult days.
If you feel like you could do with some help, I’ve built an online practice community called Creative Triggers that’s designed with this single goal in mind: To help you get a drawing habit established.
I know you think it should be easy, but it isn’t. If you’ve tried and failed (as most of us have at one time or another) then don’t feel bad about it. It’s perfectly normal. Changing your habits is hard, even if it’s something you enjoy.
I have an approach that I think can help you.
Download the “Just Open Your Sketchpad” Exercise
If you like the sound of the Just Open Your Sketch Pad exercise, and would like to try it, you can download a PDF describing it in more detail.
Everyone who signs up for the Creative Triggers Drawing Practice Programme starts off with this exercise. It’s not quite as effective trying to do it without the support of fellow artists, but it might help you even if you’re going it alone.
Best wishes and thanks for reading,