After the first week of the 30-Day Drawing Challenge, a couple of surprises popped up.
1. A lot of friends – real life and Internet friends – joined me. I can think of 6 off the top of my head. Considering my recent realization that I do better with a creative community around me, this was huge.
2. I stuck with it.
Maybe this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, but I was expecting to at least have to double up on some drawings. There are a lot of things I’m trying to turn into daily habits: reading “The Power of Habit” every morning during my morning practice, actually doing my morning practice, EXERCISING, and eating real meals at regular times. So far, I haven’t managed to reinstate any of these into my daily routine.
Yet the drawing habit stuck. Here’s why I think I was able to successfully get through the first week.
Accountability and Community
By getting my friends involved and telling the whole world (or at least the part of the world I reach across three social media platforms) that I was doing this, I created a system of accountability. Andre (@andre_clarke_art on IG) texts me his drawings before he posts them. I shoot him my ideas when I’m thinking about what to draw. On Instagram, @myjentutu and @pabl0114 tag me on their drawings each day. @nicolablack gave me a shout out on her blog when she started, and is doing the challenge using a new drawing medium – a Wacom Bamboo Tablet. @embereye met me at a cafe for tea and drawing. And every day, after I post my #30daydrawingchallenge pic on IG, I click the hashtag and like the pics from other people doing the challenge.
By establishing a community, I also established an accountability system, and I’m way more likely to keep up with a challenge if I can talk about it with people. (And if they’ll poke me for falling behind.)
Normally I try to schedule habits. Morning practice: first thing in the morning. Gratitude journal: last thing before bed. Exercise: after morning practice but before breakfast and shower. (Maybe that’s why it never happens. I get hungry first.) Laundry: try to be the first one in the laundry room on a weekday morning.
With this drawing challenge, whenever it gets done is when it gets done. Day 4’s prompt was “Favorite Place.” I texted suggestions to Andre earlier in the day. Barcelona? Disneyland? But when I was pulling the blankets over me that night, I realized I’d completely forgotten about doing the drawing. So I got up again, grabbed a thicker Sakura ink pen, and did a 30 second drawing of my bed. In that moment, it was the only place I wanted to be, and therefore my favorite place.
I’m also not restricting myself to the exact prompts. “Day 5: Best Friend” had eight faces. “Day 7: Favorite Word” was a quote (by RuPaul).
Freedom and Silliness
From “Day 1: Yourself,” I allowed myself to be free and silly. Because I was using an old, messed up Micron pen, the very first line I drew swung in too much, giving me a very pointy chin. The temptation to start over – or even remove the whole page – was strong. But I reminded myself of the point of this whole thing: to draw every day. Not to draw a masterpiece every day. And yeah, people have pointed out that it doesn’t totally look like me. So what? I drew something. That’s all that matters.
The silliness has come out in my choice of subject matter. “Day 2: Favorite Animal:” a pegacorn, obviously. (That’s a unicorn with wings.) I had a lot of ideas for “Day 3: Favorite Food,” but I ended up drawing a bowl of Cheerios. For “Day 6: Favorite Book Character” I drew Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I included a quick sketch of Mr. Darcy in the background and at the last second gave him a cartoony top hat. The silliness keeps it fun.
I’m also taking it really easy on myself with this endeavor. The only requirement is that I draw something. And it’s reminding me that easing into habits is sometimes more successful than making an extreme lifestyle change. So maybe if I want to start exercising every day, I introduce one small thing at a time, instead of lying to myself and saying I’ll get up and exercise for half an hour tomorrow morning. (Yeah, right.) But maybe if I just say I’ll get up and do some push ups, I’ll actually do them. We’ll see.