In this post, we'll take a short break from our usual fundamental study to talk a bit about how you get yourself to actually draw and practice all these fundamentals. I know how it's hard to actually start drawing, let alone do it daily. So, I wanted to make this post to help anyone who's struggling to maintain the habit of drawing.
I also have a video on this same topic if you'd rather watch! I talk about the same things in that video, so feel free to choose whichever is best for you.
Motivation is that feeling that actually moves you to go and do something. It seems to appear out of nowhere or maybe when you watch something inspiring, but it's still overall difficult to evoke it. But is motivation necessary to actually do something? And does it really come out of nowhere? We're used to short-term motivation because it's what we know best. This is the motivation that appears out of nothing or when we watch a motivational video or read a self-help book. However, as the name suggests, it lasts for a very short while and is, thus, unreliable as the main source of willpower to get us to do the things we need to do.
Long-term motivation, on the other hand, is much more stable and is exactly what we need. It doesn’t come out of nothing, it is a muscle that needs to be exercised. It's not a feeling that suddenly arrives and then you can draw. Just like how I tell you in every video to study smart by being an active learner, you must also be proactive about keeping your motivation.
When you’re already moving, it's much easier to keep going. That's why it's important to start even if you don't feel motivated. But isn't that the whole problem? You can't draw because you don't feel like doing it. So let's think for a bit about why it's so hard to just start.
Tell me if any of this sounds familiar. You get upset with yourself for not drawing as much as you think you should. You think "I have to draw", and when you do draw you think "I have to draw more", so you force yourself to do more than you can and that makes it tiring and exhausting. You're afraid of failing because you want to draw things perfectly, in a way you can't do yet, so you start feeling demotivated to draw.
If it does sound familiar, then you're constantly attaching negative feelings to drawing. It's really no wonder you don't feel like doing it. Not only that, but we're also great at making things seem worse than they are. Our brains keep telling us that it's going to be so hard, that it's super difficult and boring and tiring that we lose any will we might've had. So, how do we fight that?
If it's showing up everyday that is going to help us bring in the motivation, that means we need to build a habit of drawing everyday to make sure it is a part of our routine. After a while of keeping the habit, it should practically become automatic to draw. You don't even need to think about it, so you're not going to have to worry about motivation. You just go and do it because after you wake up, you make some tea and you start doing gesture drawings. Then, you draw until a certain time and after that you stop no matter how much you accomplished or if you think you should do more.
This is exactly my routine and I know it might sound like a very simple solution, but I swear it works wonders if you know how to build your routine properly. Did you notice the key things I implemented into this routine? I pair it with another habit (making tea), I start with something that is very easy and that I know I can do with my eyes closed (gesture), and then I do it for a certain period of time. So let's talk about each step to see how to build a successful habit.
I wake up, go to the bathroom, take my meds, make some tea, sit down, and pick my pencil. That's just what I do, it's not something I need motivation to do. True, somedays I don't feel like doing any of it and stay in bed, and that's fine. Overall, I'm showing up nearly every day. So try to build a sequence of easy habits that lead you into drawing.
Maybe it's something like: you get home from work, take a shower, change into your pajamas, and pick a pencil. Maybe after breakfast, you check Instagram for inspiration, and then sit down and pick your tablet. Whatever suits you best. This works well because going to the bathroom requires zero motivation, taking my meds requires zero motivation, making tea requires zero motivation, and then drawing, by association, requires zero or little motivation also.
Try having the first drawing task of the day be something very simple that you know you can do. In my case it's gesture drawing, for you it might be doodling, or drawing a portrait in a specific position. We all have our comfort zones and start with just that. Then, after you've already started drawing, you can go for the more difficult stuff. But be careful not to overwhelm yourself.
Being ambitious and having high goals is, generally, a good thing. However, in the beginning, specially when you’re trying to find the motivation, have tiny goals. If it's too difficult, you're going to lose all motivation because the task is going to seem too daunting, if it's too easy you don't feel challenged enough. Find that sweet spot. That's why I always tell you to study in cycles, increasings the difficulty in each step or cycle little by little. You can learn more about studying in cycles here.