For the longest time, I got nervous when I hadn’t drawn for a day because I thought I had to draw every day.
The thing is, I have also programmed a lot in the past, and I think I became good at it, but I remember that there were periods when I didn’t program.
Now, programming and drawing are different because, with drawing, you have skill development that you don’t have with programming. When programming, you type keys on a keyboard, but that’s not the same as drawing, where you have to make beautiful marks by moving your arm and your hands, and maybe your muscles become stiff if you don’t practice for a few days.
This is true, but that is why you have warm-up exercises! You should do drawing warm-ups before you start to draw anyway. You think of a warm-up exercise, and then you do it for ten or twenty minutes, or even longer.When you are in the relaxed flow state, you tend to feel when you are ready to start drawing.
Another possible reason that you should draw every day is so that you have a daily creative habit.
This is a valid reason also. Because the thing about habits is that they are automatic, and you just do them every day, like brushing your teeth every morning or evening, which is something you automatically do because it’s a habit.
But if you break a habit, then it isn’t easy to get back into it. And that is the same with drawing: if you stop drawing for a while, it can be tough to get back into the habit of regularly drawing again.
However, what you can do, is you can maintain a creative habit, where you don’t necessarily always draw, but maybe write, or play a musical instrument, or program, or sculpt. As long as you create anything every day, you have a daily creative habit that you can return to, which becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth. That makes it easier to maintain a routine because you can always switch from doing one thing to another.
It tends to work well if you have periods where you do one thing and periods where you do other things. For example, you can draw for days in a row, and then maybe write or play music or program for a few days in a row. For example, if you are working on your website, work on your website for a couple of days.
If you have that daily creative habit, it becomes that much easier to switch back to drawing.
And! There are also good reasons NOT to maintain a daily drawing habit!
You do have to have days off. You need to rest. You need to create moments—maybe the weekends—where you have time off to do some fun stuff with your friends or family or to work out.
It’s crucial to take breaks because rest is an important part of your creative process. Sleeping well is even more critical. There might be days that you are better off resting. But it can mean that you don’t draw during the day.
And sometimes, life happens. Sometimes, you just don’t have the time to draw. Maybe you are moving to another apartment, and it takes all day. Or perhaps you are traveling that day from early in the morning to late in the evening.
When that happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. Life happens. Be kind to yourself, and pick up the creative habit again when you can.
There’s this story about Seinfeld, about how he had this calendar, and each day he had written, he would mark with a red cross on that day. It became a matter of making a red cross mark every day and not breaking the chain.
While this approach gamifies keeping a daily habit, it is not a good idea to do this. Imagine if you have a long streak, and suddenly, one day, you can not draw because you’re ill, or moving apartments, or some other reason. You are forced not to draw on that one day, and you lose the entire streak. It means you get a severe punishment for something you might not have had under your control. I found that this was demotivating and demoralizing, and I found myself avoiding the process of putting red marks on a calendar.
So that’s why I don’t think it’s a particularly good way to motivate yourself.
It’s okay if you miss a day. Just pick yourself up the next day, and continue.
To summarize: you don’t have to draw every day, rest is more important, sometimes life happens, and you can’t do anything about it so don’t beat yourself up over it, it doesn’t hamper your growth because you can always warm up before starting and get your hand dexterity back to old levels again, it might take you some time but not the years it took to get you where you are now. A few hours at most, and then you’re back. And if you don’t feel like drawing, do something else creative instead like writing, music-making, programming, et cetera, and try to maintain a creative habit because it is hard to get back into a creative habit if you stop.
Previous article: #26 - Creating Art With Social Media In Mind?