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7 Tips for Drawing When You Have No Motivation

When you’re just starting your journey to learn how to draw, it’s easy to feel excited about what you’ll draw next. But then, every once in a while, your motivation to draw takes a nosedive. You get caught up in life, you get sick, and the weather doesn’t seem particularly nice – life happens, right?

If you find yourself stuck in an art block, it can be a real struggle to muster the energy to pick up your sketchbook and start drawing again, even if deep down, you still yearn to create art. I can totally relate to that dreadful feeling.

Last year, after getting back into drawing, I found myself constantly juggling between periods of high energy and bouts of zero motivation to create art. However, I eventually stumbled upon a drawing routine that worked for me, and creating art became a part of my daily life. So in this post, I’m sharing my top 7 tips that helped me to draw consistently during phases of low motivation, and I genuinely hope it inspires some of you to pick up your drawing pencils soon.

7. Find a bigger purpose to draw.

For most of my life, I inconsistently pursued drawing as a hobby. If inspiration struck, I’d draw for a few days, then go months or even years without touching my sketchbook. The turning point for me was when I decided to start this art blog to share my love for drawing and connect with others who share my passion.

From my experience, I believe that having a bigger purpose, like working on an art project that you’re passionate about, can be a game-changer for sustaining motivation to draw in the long run.

The key to making it work though is to find something that you’re genuinely passionate about. Here are some ideas for art projects that can reignite the creative spark you need to draw again:

  • Build an art portfolio to pursue a career as an artist in a game studio.
  • Start a new sketchbook with a specific theme to create a series of drawings.
  • Create an Instagram art page to share your progress, tips, and challenges.
  • Participate in an art challenge with fellow artists, all drawing the same prompt.

6. Tell someone about your plan to draw.

Last year, I told my wife that I wanted to get back to drawing regularly with the ultimate goal of becoming an independent artist in a few years. Even though she is not artistically inclined, letting her know about my short-term and long-term art plans helped me to be more disciplined about drawing.

I know everyone’s wired differently, but many people find it helpful to share their plans with someone to hold themselves accountable and circumvent their procrastination.

If you have an art buddy, that’s perfect for mutual motivation. But even if you don’t, you can always share your plans about drawing with anyone whose perception of you matters to you, or you can simply use the power of social media to get yourself to draw by letting the online community hold you accountable.

For instance, I’ve seen beginners use Instagram to commit to posting their drawings daily until they reach a milestone like 1000 followers. If that sounds like too much, just post on Facebook or Instagram that you’re going to draw something today and will share your progress later – it can work wonders.

5. Lower the bar.

As a procrastination expert, I know that avoiding important tasks, like drawing, often happens because the task seems daunting.

What often helps me is to aim to draw something familiar that I feel confident about like a 20-minute warm-up portrait at an angle I’m comfortable with. Once I’ve taken that initial step, I usually find myself easing into longer drawing sessions in which I tackle more complicated subjects.

So, the next time you’re fighting the temptation to slack off from your drawing routine, start small. Say to yourself, “I’ll just draw for 10 or 20 minutes.” Once you’re in the flow, you’ll probably end up drawing for longer than you expected.

4. Break the monotony.

I am obsessed with drawing faces but even though that’s my favorite art subject, it can feel monotonous to draw the same thing over and over.

Sometimes, stepping away from your usual routine and trying something completely new can reignite your creative energy. For example, if drawing faces bores you, try:

  • drawing portraits with a different medium (e.g., watercolor, ink and wash, color pencils),
  • draw something entirely different like flowers or fashion illustrations,
  • consider sculpting, painting, gardening, or anything else that excites you,
  • and return to drawing portraits when you feel creatively charged.

From my experience, actively pursuing things that you’re genuinely curious about can revitalize your motivation to draw what you love. As Derek Sivers said, “Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.”

3. Shop for some new art supplies.

Sometimes, all it takes to rekindle your drawing excitement is to treat yourself to new art supplies.

However, I’d only recommend this if you’re not a serial art supply collector like me, who habitually collects art tools that remain forever unused.

2. Listen to familiar music that you find uplifting.

If your inner critic is stopping you from drawing, one of the best ways to silence it is to listen to your favorite music. From my experience, playing music can help you get into the mood for drawing, maintain your focus throughout the drawing session, and fade away any negative self-talk that might distract you from creating art.

However, not all types of background music are created equal when it comes to improving your focus. According to a Harvard Neuroscientist, the best music for concentration is familiar music that you enjoy, regardless of the genre.

1. Stop relying on motivation to draw.

Motivation can be fickle. It comes and goes. The fact is that instead of simply relying on your willpower to get better at drawing, it’s more reliable to build a routine, establish habits, and structure your life in a way that supports your art goals. Waiting for inspiration to strike may not lead to consistent progress.

After reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, I gained some important insights about the importance of routines and habits. After 20 months of drawing fairly consistently, it’s much easier for me to start drawing now compared to when I had no drawing routine even when I’m not feeling as excited about drawing on certain days because it’s a part of my daily routine.

Here are three tips inspired by “Atomic Habits” to help you establish a drawing habit:

  • Pair your drawing habit with something you do daily at the same time, like having a shower or dinner. This rewires your brain to expect a drawing ritual right after your usual activity, making it easier to incorporate into your daily routine.
  • Remove physical and mental barriers to drawing. If you plan to draw in the morning, set up your sketchbook and art supplies the night before, along with any references you need, to make the actual drawing as effortless as possible. If you feel like you don’t have the time to draw, identify and eliminate unproductive time from your day to carve out some time for drawing and block it out in your daily planner.
  • Reward yourself after drawing to reinforce positive behavior. If you create something you’re proud of, enjoy the satisfaction of your work. If not, treat yourself to your favorite blend of coffee or chai to signal positivity to your brain.

By incorporating these tips, I hope you can overcome those motivation slumps and keep your creative juices flowing. So, grab your pencils and start drawing – you’ve got this!