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5 Tips that Helped me Build an almost Daily Drawing Habit

For most of my life, I have struggled to stick to drawing for more than a few weeks at a time, even though it’s something that I’ve always known to bring me joy and satisfaction. Each time I tried to reignite my passion for drawing, I felt a short burst of motivation to see through the initial batch of bad drawings, only to find my enthusiasm dwindle before I could establish a drawing habit.

Inspired by the teachings of James Clear (I highly recommend you to read his book Atomic Habits by the way), this is the first time I have been able to draw consistently for an extended period. It’s been two years and counting 😊 and to give you some context the most I had previously drawn consistently was only about six months but that was over seven years ago.

So, in this post, I’ll share with you the five strategies that have helped me turn my occasional fling with drawing into a consistent habit, and I hope this helps you navigate the challenges you face in drawing more consistently.

5. Keep your sketchbook somewhere obvious so you’re reminded to draw throughout the day.

A great piece of advice I learned from “Atomic Habits” by James Clear to promote a positive habit is to make the action more obvious and attractive.

One way I apply this principle is to take out my sketchbook from my backpack and flip through to a spread that I like and lay it open on my work desk first thing in the morning.

Although it can seem trivial and inconsequential, but simple things like placing your sketchbook somewhere you won’t miss can help a lot in squeezing in a few sketches in between work, study, and spending time with your family because you’re constantly reminded to draw.

4 Minimize the effort it takes to just start drawing.

The first step is often the hardest to take and that’s especially true for drawing. Here are some things you can do to make it easier to start drawing and overcome procrastination:

  • Figure out a theme for what you’re going to draw for a week and save references in advance so you don’t talk yourself out of drawing while searching for the perfect reference on Pinterest.
  • Start drawing on a partly filled sketchbook page instead of a blank page.
  • Make your drawing supplies easily accessible.
  • If you’re a beginner, ease yourself into drawing and gradually increase the level of complexity of your drawings so you’re not daunted by the mental effort it would take to pull off a drawing. Opt for something that’s not overly complicated to draw, especially in the beginning.

3 Make drawing immediately satisfying.

One tried and tested way to boost the chances of taking up new habits is to make the action immediately satisfying.

As beginners, we may lack the skills to pull off drawings that we’re genuinely proud of that can be naturally satisfying, so it’s important to send some positive feedback to our brain during or immediately after drawing to encourage us to return to it later.

Here are some ideas for rewarding yourself for ‘showing up’ for drawing:

  • Listen to your favorite playlist while you’re drawing.
  • Have a cup of your favorite beverage ready when you start to sketch.
  • Add drawing to a habit tracker or your simple to-do list and mark it off when you’re done with a drawing session.
  • When you do end up with a drawing that you really like, take a moment to appreciate what you’ve made. There is nothing better than feeling proud about something you’ve drawn.

2 Stack your drawing habit after something you’re already used to doing consistently.

Another great insight I learned from James Clear is to leverage old habits to build new ones. So, in the context of drawing, instead of randomly adding drawing into your routine, it is more effective to stack it before or after an old habit.

For example, for the past year and a half, I have been writing almost every weekday from 10 am to about 4 pm (mostly for this blog), and once I’m done writing, I make it a point to draw immediately after. After a few weeks of doing this, drawing has become the default/automatic action for me after I’m done with writing. It definitely works!

1 Figure out what you will need to sacrifice to make time for drawing.

I think one of the biggest roadblocks in establishing a drawing routine is the apparent lack of free time. Relating from my own experience, even though I knew drawing was something I wanted to do more often, I had simply convinced myself that I just didn’t have the time for it alongside work, study, family, exercise, and sleep. For much of my life, drawing felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford at the time.

What ultimately helped me a couple of years ago was an honest assessment of how I spent my time for just one week and figuring out what I’m willing to sacrifice for the time being to give drawing a chance. For me, it meant trading most of the time I watched Netflix and consuming social media with drawing. Two years on, being more intentional in making time for drawing was the best decision I ever made!