Top 10 (bad) reasons not to draw
You probably all know the many excuses for not drawing as much as you should be (or would like to). These are mainly from my own experience. I have collected them to remind myself, but also maybe this could be helpful to artists starting out on their journey or struggling with motivation, so I thought I'd share this.
tl;dr the solution to most art related problems is actually to draw more.
1) I'm not good enough/afraid that the result will be bad
You feel that you are not good enough to get what you have in your head on the canvas. Actually the only way to get to the point of where you are more comfortable with your results is to draw a lot, so get drawing! There are no shortcuts.
Remember that you are doing this for yourself because you want to improve. Don't care about the result before you have been drawing for a while and are properly warmed up. If the result really isn't up to your own standards, remember that you will have to do lots of bad drawings to get better. After a while you will look back at your work from years ago and recognize the improvement and why it was necessary to make these drawings to arrive at where you are now.
2) I need to do the dishes/vacuum the floor
You discover that there are very important things to get done, just when what you actually wanted to do or should be doing is drawing. This is just procrastination. Chores that you actually don't really want to do and aren't that interesting to begin with do suddenly seem more appealing than things that may be more challenging, but also will be more rewarding. It may be a good idea to get up and do something you have to do once in a while, but keep it in a healthy relation to what you actually intend to do to progress as an artist.
3) I need to play this video game/watch Netflix/view images on DeviantArt/Artstation/Instagram for inspiration
Sometimes you have to get inspiration, it's true. But make sure the relation of getting inspiration versus actually acting upon that inspiration stays healthy. i.e. 10:1 or something like that. Don't forget to translate your inspiration into art. Also it may be the case that looking at other people's work distracts you from what your original goal was, or makes you feel bad about where you are as an artist. Be careful not to go too far in that direction, if looking at your "inspiration" makes you feel bad, you should probably avoid it for a while and focus on your own work.
4) I don't know how to draw what I want to draw
In that case, you still need to draw. Maybe it is too daunting to start drawing what you have in mind. Then do lots of studies of the subject you want to get better at drawing instead. It is a mistake to think that you should be able to draw anything from scratch. Yes, in your dreams, you may be able to visualize almost anything perfectly. But don't forget that art is a craft as well. Your brain still needs to learn how to translate whatever you have envisioned in your mind onto the canvas, and this just takes lots of practice, doing the same thing over and over again. It also includes failing a lot. This is how you learned everything you know or are good at. It's how children learn and unlike adults, they don't have a problem with that. Go back to this approach and learn to not have an issue with trying things out and failing and keep doing them until you have mastered those skills.
5) I don't feel like drawing
Why have you started to draw in the first place? It's sometimes hard not to lose focus when you start to take art more seriously, get into studies and the part of it that seems more like work. But it still should be fun. If you feel like drawing isn't fun anymore, take a step back, look at what made you start drawing in the first place and draw what you love for some time.
If you have been drawing a lot (and I mean a lot) then maybe it is time to take a break. Even when you are longing to get better and make progress as fast as possible, you need to take breaks and relax occasionally and keep yourself from trying too hard.
6) I'm not making any progress
There is the possibility that you are just being lazy and haven't put in the effort to make any noticeable progress. Doing maybe a drawing every couple of days and then taking the time off to finish that video game you have been trying to play through won't result in much success on your artistic path of course. You need to put in the effort and get the mileage. It is what all the amazing artists you admire have done, no exceptions.
On the other hand, if you feel like you aren't making any progress even after practicing a lot, doing lots of studies or learning a new software, remember that our brains are not computers in which you just load up some software and poof, everything works perfectly. Your brain needs time to make the new connections for whatever it is you are learning. It is necessary to take a break sometimes and focus on something else. When you return to the other thing after some time, you will be surprised what huge step you have taken in the direction you are headed for!
7) I don't know what to draw/don't feel inspired
Ideas don't come from thin air. They have to be nurtured and refined. Sometimes you need to fire shots into the dark. Visual exploration is a perfectly fine way of arriving at ideas. So take your pen and start doodling. You'd be amazed what you come up with after you really focus on developing ideas for a few hours. More often than not, what you arrive by will be much better than anything you could have come up with from scratch.
Sometimes you actually do need some inspiration from external sources. You won't get many good ideas by staring at your screen or looking at heaps of your own drawings. You need to go outside, experience life and yes, look at what other people are coming up with. Watching movies and playing games sometimes help getting a better perspective on what direction you want to take your art to. Also traveling and visiting other countries and experiencing other cultures will do wonders! Apart from having a good time, you will also be amazed to see first hand for yourself what other artists are inspired by.
8) I don't know where to start
If you have fear of a blank page (like a lot of artists seem to have), just draw anything. Sometimes lines, shapes and boxes will do. Or you could draw something within your comfort zone and then move on to whatever you wanted to draw once you have warmed up. It is also a good idea when working digitally to not start with a new image from scratch, but continuing on an image which already has some drawngs on it, just like the case would be when working with a sketchbook.
9) This image is taking forever to finish/doesn't turn out the way you envisioned it
So you have this epic work in your mind that has everything you ever wanted to do in it and will take weeks of dedicated work to finish. Maybe you discover along the way that you actually don't have the skill yet to arrive at the intended result. Don't despair. Having a finished work will reward you with a sense of accomplishment. You will learn that finishing things is a good thing. After you have finished your piece, you will have a clearer understanding of what areas you need to improve in. And finally, if the task seems to daunting, just chip away at it, put one foot in front of the other, and ultimately you will finish the piece, just as long as you don't give up. This actually goes for a lot of problems in life that seem hard when you set out.
10) I don't get the recognition for my work I feel I should be getting
So you finished this very cool piece that took you days and was a pain to push through, and now it doesn't get as many likes on DA and Instagram as you hoped for. You start feeling depressed and wonder whether you should quit. Remind yourself that you are not doing this to impress others, but for yourself. Especially if you have just started out, you may also not yet be able to judge the quality of your work as accurately. Don't feel bad. Becoming an artist is a journey and the most important thing is to never give up, do what you love and enjoy the process. Recognition by others will then take care of itself with time.
What are your top reasons why you don't draw as much as you want to, and what are your strategies to overcome those? Tell me what you think!
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