I always longed to be the type of person that carried a sketchbook and made time to draw in it every day. But even after rediscovering the joy of drawing some years ago, I’ve failed time and time again in my attempts to make this a consistent creative habit… never mind reaching 100 days of drawing in a row. So often I would get inspired to draw and begin carrying my sketchbook with me for a few days in a row, or even a week. But life would always seem to get in the way and my sketchbook would soon go back to sitting on the desk… again.
However, recently I was able to reach 100 straight days of drawing, something I’ve never done before in my life. What changed to allow me to finally establish this creative habit after so many failed attempts?
A painful reality hit me when I flipped back through the pages of my sketchbook and I realized that seven years had passed and I still hadn’t filled the pages of this one book. I then began recounting all of the times my daughter Chloe, who loves when I draw, and is my biggest fan, tried so hard to encourage me to draw more often. This painful realization is what finally drove me to get serious about not only filling up the sketchbook I was holding but many more after that. Along my journey to 100 straight days of drawing, there were a few lessons I learned and would love to share.
Drawing Daily Requires a Commitment
When I look back at my past failed attempts to draw consistently, it became clear that I never really made a serious commitment to myself to draw every day. Instead, I just set out to draw more often. I was a dabbler. This would result in a few pages of drawings the first week, maybe a couple more the second week, and soon after that… none. This changed when I made a real commitment to myself to draw every day. It’s no secret that establishing any new habit requires commitment. I already knew this when it came to exercise, but for some reason, I never applied this to drawing… until now. I can confidently say that I’m no longer a dabbler.
Drawing Doesn’t Require a Lot of Time
For some reason, I held this false belief that I needed a lot of time to draw. This would often cause me to not even consider drawing unless I had an hour or more to devote to the process. I finally admitted to myself that this was a ridiculous excuse. I intended to draw something every day, not to create a masterpiece every day. It was fine to tackle complex scenes when I had the luxury of time. But over 100 days, there were many occasions where I almost went to bed only to realize that I hadn’t drawn anything yet. On those occasions, I could be found in the kitchen drawing a utensil like a spatula or a potato peeler in less than fifteen minutes.
There are No Bad Drawings
In the book “The Creative License,” (my favorite drawing book of all time) author Danny Gregory writes:
There are no bad drawings. Drawings are experiences. The more you draw, the more experienced you’ll get. In fact, you’ll learn more from bad or unpredictable or weird experiences than those that go exactly as you’d hoped and planned. So let it go. Release your ego’s desire for perfection. Take risks. Stretch. Grow. Create as much as you can, whenever you can.”— Danny Gregory
I tend to be a perfectionist so this has always been a struggle for me. But a not-so-good drawing is ten times better than no drawing at all. Throughout this streak, there were many occasions where I wanted to give up on a sketch that I was working on. Instead, I forced myself to stick with it and kept adding more detail. More often than not, I found myself happy with the result. Of course, sometimes a drawing wouldn’t turn out so well no matter how much detail I added. That was okay too… frustrating, but still okay.
Don’t Fall Into the Comparison Trap
I follow a lot of talented artists on Instagram and see examples of amazing work daily. This certainly provides me with lots of inspiration. But sometimes I find it hard not to compare my drawings with theirs. However, I realized that falling into this trap would only cause me frustration and possibly derail my efforts. While I haven’t let this get in the way of my current drawing streak, this still gets in the way when it comes to sharing my work on Instagram. That’s the reason it has taken me so long to share some of my most recent drawings.
100 Days of Drawing and Beyond
My drawing streak is up to 120 days and counting at the time of this writing. I filled up my first sketchbook and now I’m very close to finishing a second. I continue to carry a sketchbook with me every day. I draw in the morning or during my lunch break or in the evening before I go to sleep. I’ve noticed that I’m not only increasing my skill, but I’m also starting to develop a bit of a style. I’m even experimenting with fountain pens and watercolors. Exploring new tools provides me with new challenges which in turn give me even more incentive to keep my drawing streak going.
From Sad to Happy
I’m happy to report that I’ve finally become the type of person that carries a sketchbook and makes time to draw in it every day. It’s so rewarding to pick up one of my sketchbooks and flip through the pages now. Looking back at days, weeks, and months of past drawings… even the not-so-good ones bring back memories and give me a feeling of satisfaction. But nothing makes me happier than to see the expression on my daughter Chloe’s face when I share one of my latest drawings with her.