On 30 Days of Drawing

For the month of September I gave myself the challenge of drawing every day. I wanted to learn sketching and try using my iPad pro and Apple Pencil to see if that was something I could use for designs in the future.

How was it?

Educational on more than one level.

Honestly, it was a bit embarrassing. I felt like I was publicly learning violin and people could hear me practice my screeching scales. I had never done this before. But with time I got used to it and the accountability definitely kept me at it. And I actually learnt something, even just in the last couple days.

Here’s an overview of all my sketches:

The 30 Sketches of September 2016 The 30 Sketches of September 2016

It feels really good looking back at this, however uncomfortable it was at the time. I learnt something and can now do something with a degree of confidence completely foreign to me only 30 days ago.

If anyone is on the fence about starting to draw (or do any other creative pursuit) I can only encourage you. Go for it. Try something new. You don’t have to publicise it right away, but do at least something every day. Small improvements add up.

Start Small – Little Lessons Learnt

If I want to make exercising a habit I should start with doing one push up a day because no matter how late I am, I always have time for one push up.

This works. I mentioned it in passing in a conversation with a friend. A couple months later I find out he actually did it. He was at 40 push ups a day.

Too often I get bogged down in trying to find the perfect system for or getting the right tools to do some grand task. These can be organization workflows or productivity iPhone apps. I think big because I don’t want to half-ass it. No one wants to be mediocre.

The ironic thing is, in aiming so high, I completely miss the target. I’ve learnt that I am a person who finds comfort in a system. This can be to my detriment though, as I come to rely on a system to get started.

Too often the energy in pursuit of systems is wasted, as the system is never completed or I change my mind and want to pursue a different goal. Just getting started would have shown me that much faster.

Having learnt this I now try to start with small actions immediately and do the “preparation” as I go. Starting small but immediately has several benefits:

  • provides a fast feedback loop
  • motivates as progress is made
  • makes it easier to pick up & stay disciplined
  • eases letting go of misplaced goals (no sunk cost fallacy)
  • small steps compound to substantial progress

Breadcrumbs 04 & 05

The next two episodes have now been added to the project page:

04: I Am a Clipboard Guy

Aug 26, 2016

Sean and EJ talk about productivity – from their physical workspaces to how they use their iPads Pro and Macs.

05: I Put It on the Table and It Automatically Gets Done

Sep 2, 2016

In this sequel to the productivity episode, Sean and EJ talk about task management, covering Getting Things Done and other systems they have used. Things get heated when the topic of snoozing email comes up.

These two episodes kind of go together. We talk about how we use technology to get work done. Perhaps surprisingly, both of us tech nerds have been using analogue systems recently.

Starting Daily – A 10 minute Daily Habit on a Monthly Cycle

Day one of my new challenge. This is as far as I got in 10 min. First sketch tomorrow. #dailysept16 Day one of my new challenge. This is as far as I got in 10 min. First sketch tomorrow. #dailysept16

Today I’m starting what I alluded to at the end of my last 30 day challenge post. I’m starting creating something small everyday that takes me about 10 minutes to put out.

These will be posted on my social media and not here. This is an experiment and the idea is to try this for the remaining four month this year, with a different topic each month. This first month I’ll be posting over on Instagram.

In September I’ll be sketching on my iPad. 10 min isn’t long enough to do a full drawing or design sketch, but I’ll post whatever I do each day. Maybe by the end of the month I’ll be doing some original designs. At the beginning I’m focusing more on getting to know the app (Concepts by TopHatch) and learning the basics of drawing & sketching.

To help with the latter I’ve got the book “How to Draw” by Scott Robertson. I started it about 6 months ago but never got very far. I even did draw everyday for a while, but didn’t keep it up. That’s why I’m making it my first daily.

How do I pick what I do each month? Well, ideally it’s something I want to do/learn anyway and can simply use the accountability of the internet as extra motivation to get to it. On top of that, it should be something shareable and easy to break into 10 minute pieces.

Besides that I also don’t want any friction in the whole process. It needs to be a simple task that I can pick up and simply do, no prep required. That’s why I’m sticking to one drawing method (digital) with one app (concepts) rather than using this month to be testing a bunch of drawing apps.

Why digital? From a conceptual standpoint, I see great benefit in being able to do my designing digitally. I know it’s not ideal on many levels, but think the potential upsides make it worth giving a shot. Several months ago I set myself the goal of going paperless within the year and haven’t really gotten anywhere yet. So in this too I can use this first daily to try something new.

Who knows, maybe I’ll find iPad drawing and designing just doesn’t work for me and be happily working analogue in the end, but this is the best way to find out.