The bad news: It’s the oldest advice in the world of art because it’s simply the truest of all. You have to practice if you want to get better at drawing. There’s just no way around it. Now for the good news: I’ve discovered secrets to practicing that transforms it into something less unbearable and frustrating!
First a short story: I struggled to practice drawing for about 10 years. And it was because of one singular reason: I wasn’t any good at it. Have you ever noticed how things you aren’t good at are some of the least fun things to do? That’s because we want to succeed. When we have to practice something we’re terrible at, we’re essentially willingly walking into failure. And we KNOW it. (Failure isn’t always a bad thing, though. Read more about failure here.) So what’s the solution? For me, for a long time, it was “don’t try.” I wasn’t good at drawing, it wasn’t fun to practice BECAUSE I wasn’t good at it, so I didn’t practice. And hence, I continued to not be good at it in a never ending cycle of wishing I was better at drawing. Well, it wasn’t NEVER ending…
Fast forward ten years (my where has the time gone?). Somewhere along the way I changed what I wanted. Instead of wanting “To be good at drawing” I wanted “To be better at drawing.” That might not seem like a big difference, but it’s actually huge.
Secret to Practicing: Change what you want.
By changing, in your own mind, from wanting to be GOOD to just wanting to be BETTER, you essentially set yourself up for success. By drawing, you automatically get better with every sketch. Which means, after I made the change, by practicing I was achieving my goal from Day One. I didn’t look at a sketch after I was finished and think “Oh, this isn’t any good, I failed,” I thought “This is better than some of the earlier pages in this sketchbook; I’m achieving my goal!” What a difference that makes. So right now, before you do anything else, change your goal. From now on you don’t want to be “good,” you want to be better. Go ahead and say it out loud to yourself. Make the change and see the difference it makes.