Action Has to Come Before Motivation

I see many discussions in art circles around finding motivation or getting inspired.

The more I draw and am learning to deal with the natural ups and downs of the creative cycle as well as the fickleness of inspiration and motivation, the more I’m feeling we have it all backwards.

I rarely feel motivated to draw. I’ve struggled a lot with my health in the past years and rarely feel „inspired“. Many days I haven’t even felt baseline good. If I waited until I did, I would pretty much never draw.

I’m finding that motivation is often the result of my actions, not a precursor.

I become motivated when I make interesting discoveries during my work. When I‘m experimenting and something clicks and I start to get excited about what I‘m working on. That‘s the moment I begin to feel motivated. I become inspired when I break through my own perceived limitations and take a piece to the next level.

Then there are days I do feel inspired because I’ve been having a good week and I sit down to draw and it goes well for about five minutes and then I hit the inevitable point where the drawing gets hard.

If I relied on motivation or inspiration to keep me going, that’s the point where the drawing would die. Because I‘m learning not to do so, I know that I have to sit out that discomfort and keep going. Often I hit another phase where things flip the other way and I get curious and fascinated and things get fun again. Often I don‘t and that’s also fine.

I‘m always proud when I keep going and finish the piece. That helps motivate me now. However, that motivation wasn‘t there when I started, the work had to come first.

When we work we generate ideas, we get excited, we get inspired, we get caught up in the process. And sometimes it‘s a hard slog through the whole drawing and the only satisfaction we get is that we didn’t quit and that helps motivate us next time. The knowledge that we can do hard things. That we are willing and able to struggle for the the things we love. And that the rewards on the other side are beyond anything we could have hoped for.

Action has to come before motivation. Motivation is the result, not the driving force.

You Can’t See the Road Ahead

When you start out you may look at other people’s art and wonder how you would even go about getting to that level of skill. You look at where you are now and where you want to go and all you see is a gap in skill that seems unbridgeable in your lifetime.

You haved to keep in mind that learning to draw is a long-term process and it’s hard to plan ahead. You don’t know what you don’t know until you start trying. You don’t know where you need to build knowledge or skill until you collide with your lack of it. You can’t determine your style without trying a million different things and then subconsciously curating them into something that is uniquely yours.

Learning is not linear. You may be stuck at one level of skill for weeks or even months. Then you take a surging, massive leap forward to a place you couldn’t even have imagined before.

As you keep showing up, observing the world and practicing, your brain is doing a lot of work behind the scenes. Then it finally goes “ta-daaaa” and presents you with something unexpected and new.

But to get to that place you have to keep showing up though doubt and uncertainty and trust the process.

You never know how long it will take you to reach a certain level. Sometimes it will take much longer and sometimes it will take much shorter than you expect.

You can’t plan ahead because you never know what the struggle of the day will be. All you can do is show up and meet it in the moment, over and over again.

The path will reveal itself one step at a time.

Your job is to keep taking those steps.

What if you Don’t Quit on the Bad Days?

Creativity is often sold to us as this wonderful, magical thing that is supposed to flow out of you with ease because you love doing it so much, and there seems to be a lot of people under the impression that if this is not the case for you, then you are somehow “doing creativity wrong” and you might as well not bother.

Reality check – this is not what my experience of creativity has looked like, pretty much ever.

Creativity is a form of problem solving and that can be frustrating.

Creativity means facing uncertainty in the form of the blank page, and to our primitive brain the uncertain is terrifying – because tigers.

Creativity means learning and growing and if you consider a child learning to walk you’ll see that learning and growing as an artist comes with the creative equivalent of frustration, bruised knees and falling flat on your face. A lot.

And that’s okay. There is a romanticized version of creativity that is oversold to us but rarely seen in reality. We stand in awe of the finished work, not realizing the sweat and blood that has been poured into a craft for many years for the artist to get to this level.

When you create regularly, you will inevitably hit a wall. You may hit it in every piece you create, you may go through weeks of blissful creating, but at some stage, you will hit the wall, and it will hurt. Sometimes you hit the wall over and over again for days or weeks or months and that’s what a lot of us call artist’s block. And that still doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, it just happens. It’s annoying, frustrating and totally, totally normal.

It’s how you deal with those difficult moments that matters. Do you gently calm the temper tantrum of your brain and keep going or throw in the towel and decide you’re obviously just not creative enough? Do you push yourself to the edge of your endurance a couple more times to see how much more you can actually give or do you immediately fold and Netflix binge instead? Do you show up even when you don’t feel like it and do your work, or do you buy into the myth that you have to be inspired or motivated to create and put off that day until someday never, because if you don’t use your creativity it just withers away.

People don’t quit during good times. They quit when things get hard. What if you decided to just not quit on those bad days? What might be possible if you just kept showing up?

You Don’t Need Any More Knowledge.

There comes a point where watching yet another tutorial on how to get better at drawing is no longer helpful.

Don’t get me wrong, tutorials are amazing and can be very helpful when you’re using them in a targeted manner. But if you’re watching tutorial after tutorial without actually picking up your pencil, chances are more information is not what you need.

For example: For getting started on ProCreate I’d say watch one quality tutorial on the basic functionality, and then start drawing. You don’t need to understand the whole programme or all the tools. You’ll learn most when you dive in and get to work.

You will never feel quite ready. You will never feel you know enough. You will not understand all the things you don’t know until you test your drawing skills in the wild.

All the preparation in the world will not save you from making mistakes. You will make many messy, crappy drawings until you learn enough to make better ones and that’s fine. That’s simply how it is. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

You have to work through the bad drawings to get to the good ones. Everyone does. You cannot cheat or shortcut the creative process.
More important than watching tons of tutorials is training your own skills of observation and translating what you see onto the page. Most important is that you pick up a pencil and actually put marks on a page. If you watch tutorial after tutorial you get good at watching tutorials. If you draw everyday, you actually get good at drawing.

If you watch loads of tutorials, but never draw, it is nothing more than inspiration porn. If it hasn’t worked already, watching more tutorials is not what will get you drawing.

Start before you feel ready. When you start, you’ll be able to figure out where your actual areas of struggle are and you can watch targeted tutorials to help you master those areas.

But if you’re not putting that knowledge into practice, it’s a waste of time. Time you could better spend drawing.

Feeling Your Work is “Never Good Enough”

No matter how good your work gets, you may feel it is never quite „good enough“.

Chances are, this is due to something called the perception gap. As you get better at your art, you develop good taste. You see what you like about the work of other artists and you begin to understand what makes a good piece. But your actual drawing skills take a while to catch up with your new level of perception.

When you reach a new level of skill, it‘s likely your perception will have evolved again. At each stage you become aware of new, more nuanced details that you can now focus on improving.

Because your perception of what makes good work keeps evolving as your skill does, the two never match up. This can lead to you feeling that your art is sub-standard and that you‘re not improving, even though you are.
Look back at your work from a few weeks, months or years ago. It might surprise you how far you‘ve come.

This perception gap is a normal and quite universal artistic experience. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Keep practicing. You will improve if you keep putting in the work.

And don‘t be too hard on yourself.

Don’t Quit on a Bad Day

It’s generally not the good days you have to worry about when you take on a long term commitment such as drawing everyday.

The good days are easy.
The bad days are the days that you need to mentally prepare for.

It’s the bad days that will trip you up and make you question why you’re even doing all of this.

You will not want to quit on the good days.
You will very much want to quit on the bad days.

I’ve found the best way for me to deal with this is to just not quit on the bad days. If I go for a long period and something isn’t working and I want to stop doing it even on my good days when I’m feeling reasonably emotionally neutral, maybe it’s time to consider if what I’m doing is worth pursuing. But if I just want to quit because I’m not feeling good or having a bad day, I don’t let myself.

We go through many ups and downs every single day, and every single day is different. Our emotions are not a reliable indicator of what we are capable of on that day.

Some of my best drawings were made on days I really didn’t want to draw. I’ve made terrible drawings on days I was highly motivated.

It’s worth showing up to the page with an open mind, no matter how you’re feeling. You might be surprised. And if a good day results in a bad drawing, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s nothing to worry about. It just happens.

Bad days are of course the days when you are most going to want to give up and throw in the towel. They are stressful, painful and you feel like nothing is worth it anymore. Those are the days you need to overcome. The good days are easy. It’s those bad days that will make or break you.

Don’t let yourself quit on those days. If you can survive the bad days, you can survive every other day too.

Don’t quit on a bad day.

Drawing Daily doesn’t Have to be a Big Deal

Drawing everyday can sound like a huge, insurmountable project. So big that the very thought of it is so overwhelming that we never even try.

But it doesn’t have to be the massive ordeal we often envision it to be. It doesn’t have to consume huge amounts of time or energy. It really doesn’t.
When I joined the Making Art Everyday Challenge, I started with a tiny commitment of 10 minutes a day. That’s all.

I could do more if I wanted and usually did, but my minimum investment to fall back on was 10 minutes. Whether I finished my sketch in that time was secondary.

By keeping my commitment small I disarmed my fear of starting, and of being uncomfortable.

I couldn’t create a masterpiece in 10 minutes, so that pressure was off. My drawing was rusty after years of creative inactivity, so I knew starting again would be hard and uncomfortable. But I knew I could stomach being uncomfortable for 10 minutes at a time, so it felt way less scary.
Now, 18 months into the project, I still fall back on that 10 minute rule when I’m struggling.

It’s better to uphold the habit with a tiny commitment, than break it because you decide you have to go big or it’s not worth doing at all. This all or nothing thinking prevents us from moving forward. Unless conditions are ideal and we have large blocks of free time we decide we “don’t have the time”, so we do nothing. But lots of small, imperfect blocks of time add up too.

Keeping my small daily commitment even on the worst days signals to my brain that I keep my promises to myself. That in turn strengthens my motivation to keep going in the long run.

When committing to a daily creative practice, we need to make sure the practice is sustainable for our energy levels and lifestyle.
It is so, SO important to start small and simple until you build up steam and start wanting to do more.

And you can usually start a lot smaller than you think. If you have five minutes a day to scroll your phone, you have five minutes in which you can make a tiny drawing instead. It can be a rough sketch. It doesn’t have to be a finished drawing. It doesn’t have to be good.

You can do a tiny sketch in five minutes, while waiting for your coffee. You can pick up your iPad or sketch pad instead of scrolling your phone. You can sketch for 20 minutes while re-watching your favourite show. You can doodle in your lunch-break (or during tedious meetings). You can doodle in ProCreate pocket on your phone while waiting for the bus.

Starting small allows you to engrain a habit and build momentum over time. This is much more effective than trying to willpower your way through a huge act of creation that will leave you exhausted and burnt out.

You’ll resist trying the same thing again anytime soon and that will raise your procrastination levels through the roof. It’s a vicious cycle.

Don’t sabotage yourself by thinking that drawing daily needs to be a huge commitment. Tiny commitments can grow into big things. Trying to go too big, too soon is a recipe for overwhelm and disappointment.

Start small. Even smaller. Let it be easy. And watch the magic unfold.

It’s Not Too Late to Start

There are dates that may feel like they are particularly auspicious to start a new project on. New Year’s Day being the first example to spring to mind, others might include the “official” start of a challenge such as Inktober, NaNoWriMo, Making Art Everyday and The 100 Day Project or the first day of a new month or quarter.

For long term creative projects, it’s never too late too start.

Disappointed you missed day one of Making Art Everyday and feel like you’ve already failed? It doesn’t matter! Starting Inktober a week late? Who cares?

January 2nd (or any other day) is as good a day as any to dedicate yourself to a project. You don’t even have to “catch up”. Just dive right in and get started. I often find trying to catch up on daily projects leads to unnecessary stress. If you miss a day let it go and move on to the next prompt. You can always go back to a missed prompt if you have the time or can use it to replace a prompt you find uninspiring. Or tack it on at the end of the project.

Many of these projects are geared towards making time for and establishing a regular creative practice. That is the ultimate goal. The start dates are often chosen arbitrarily and don’t have any consequential significance.

Avoiding a challenge that could revolutionize your creativity simply because the start date isn’t “right” is a BS excuse your brain uses to prevent you from leaving your comfort zone.

Dedicating ourselves to our creative work is oftentimes accompanied by a lot of fear. Our brain perceives attempting and potentially failing at something so meaningful to us as a threat, so it stops us from trying altogether to keep us “safe”, even if the status quo in isn’t actually what we want.

In short: Missing the “right” start date is an excuse.

Once you’ve seen the incredible results of regular practice, you won’t care that you missed a few days here and there. Your future thriving artist self won’t care that you started Making Art Everyday on January 3rd or missed a week in June. The missed days pale in comparison if you spend hundreds of other days creating.

The goal of these challenges is to build a long-term and sustainable creative habit and make time for things you love. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do them.

Don’t let your brain cheat you out of your creative potential with its bullshit excuses. Change can be hard enough as it is and your brain will often try and derail you because it feels uncomfortable. Don’t let it be over a missed day, or even a missed week. You can always get back on the horse. Start anytime. Keep going anytime.

Drawing every day for any extended period of time is a big challenge. Chances are high that you will miss days, no matter what you do. You might get sick. You might break your wrist. You might need to grieve the death of a loved one. Life throws us curveballs. Even with the best of plans, sometimes things go awry.

What you can do when this happens is take any missed day as a lesson in what you need to watch out for or do better next time.

Do you need to prepare ideas in advance? Download reference and charge your power bank before heading off the grid? Get your drawing in earlier in the day? Make sure your iPad is charging the night before?

Every drawing will teach you something. But every missed day can teach you something valuable too.

Treat every day as an experiment and take away the lessons it has to teach you. Then use that information to help you avoid missed days in the future. You can never control all the things. But you can do what you can to improve the things you can control.

If you can do that, there are no “failed” days.

No effort is ever wasted.

And it’s never too late to start that process.

Making Time for Art & Creativity – Half-Year Review & Lessons from #makingarteveryday

A while ago I wrote a post about the lessons I’ve learned over 100 consecutive days of drawing during the #makingarteveryday challenge, created by Lisa Bardot. I’m proud to say I’ve been keeping up my commitment to the daily challenge and have continued to create small, digital pieces on a daily basis.

I’m finding it somewhat mind-blowing that I’m already another 81 days into the challenge as of June 30th. Just shy of 3 weeks of another completed 100 day project. Half a year. 181 drawings.

I’m taking a moment to commemorate that event, celebrate and give myself a little pat on the back. This is the first time I’ve been so consistent about my drawing and this period of time has marked some of my biggest artistic growth ever, a complete new learning of the medium of digital drawing, and the most I have ever learned within a comparatively short period of time about my own creative process.

Interestingly enough, around the 100 day mark when I wrote that article, I experienced a big shift in my style, became very comfortable with the ProCreate app, and moved away from drawing mostly from reference to creating my own unique pieces and becoming playful about my art again. I wrote more about that in my post “Turning Points”.Around that time, I shifted to a very limited colour palette, honed in on some favourite brushes and started creating illustrations in a pretty consistent style.

Currently I feel I’m slowly shifting into a new period again. I’ve started opening up my palette to include new colours (yay, blue! – oh the possibilities!), and am starting to experiment with new, softer brushes.

I don’t feel I’ve learnt any particular new lessons about my creative process since that last post other than reaffirming what I’ve already learnt over and over again. Since then it’s been mostly pushing the boundaries of the colour palette I chose, to see how far I could take it, and getting more creative about interpreting the prompts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning a ton! But it’s more about how the colours interact with one another, what looks good together, playing with blend modes for subtly different effects and overall exploring different techniques and methods.

Instead of new insights, I thought today I’d talk a bit about some of the most crucial aspects of such a long project – making the time for drawing and staying consistent and motivated.

Before You Start

Before starting, it might be helpful to get clear on WHY you are committing to this project. Long term projects like this often build strongly on delayed gratification and incremental improvement over time, which can make it hard to stick to long term because results are not always immediate.They pay off big-time in the long run though as that incremental growth builds into something substantial.

What is the ultimate goal? What will you gain from the project? Will it make you happier? Will it benefit your work? Will it help you support a cause you’re passionate about? Are you working to improve in a certain area of your craft? Are you just curious to learn more about your creative process or want to make creating a daily habit? Keep that Why in mind as part of the bigger picture to keep yourself on track. You can even write out your thoughts and refer back to them to stay motivated on days you’re not feeling it.

For me I find journaling about the process often helps me reflect on what I’ve learnt overall and keeps reminding me of the big picture role of this project.

For me there are several long term goals:

  1. Learning digital drawing from scratch and becoming confident in creating in the ProCreate App.
  2. Pushing me to draw things outside my comfort zone on a regular basis.
  3. Building a daily habit of creating.
  4. Increase my overall skill level as an artist and illustrator.

Because this project is meant to push me out of my comfort zone and keep me trying new things, I am conscious that this means I’m not always having fun. That helps me weather the difficult days and do the work anyway. Which brings me to…

Getting into the Right Mindset

One thing I hear over and over again from struggling creatives is “I’m not inspired. I just don’t have any ideas.” So they don’t even sit down to do the work. As a designer and illustrator, I’ve had to learn to be creative on demand. This is totally possible, it’s a matter of training, and of practice. You don’t have to be inspired to create. You have to be willing to show up and do the work required to get to the finished piece, whether you’re inspired or not. Inspiration often only shows up when you’re actively engaged with your creative work.

Another thing is that people stop the process when “it’s not fun”. Sometimes, if that phase drags on it’s fine to accept that a project isn’t working for you and pull the plug. But oftentimes “it’s not fun” is just another way of saying “it’s too hard”. And while creativity is often playful and flowing, sometimes it’s just plain, annoying hard work. It means you’re pushing the limits of your skill or what you believe is possible. It means your brain is having to adapt to something new and that makes it uncomfortable. Your brain does not like being uncomfortable. So it tries to stop you doing what you’re doing. That does not however mean, that what you are trying to do is necessarily wrong. It just means you’re entering the stage where it becomes work, and often where you are about to learn something new.

Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. It is a natural part of the creative process to be uncomfortable some of the time. When you push through that discomfort and create anyway, the rewards are great on the other side. Be uncomfortable. Allow that critical voice in your head to natter away and tell you you’re useless, and then go do the work anyway. This is what separates the professional from the amateur.

Know that you will hit discomfort along the way, and talk yourself through it. Discomfort does not mean you’re doing it wrong. It often means you’re doing it right and that growth and learning are just around the corner.

When You Start, Start Small

If you start training to be a runner, you don’t start off with a marathon. (You know, unless you’re a nutcase like David Goggins.) A 365 day project is a gigantic undertaking, and that can be incredibly intimidating.

My advice would be to start reaaally small. Even smaller. Start with 5 – 10 minutes of drawing a day. Start with 3 minutes a day if you feel you cannot do more. Skip checking emails or social media first thing in the morning and do a quick little doodle instead. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to share it with anyone. You’re not being graded. Commit to those 5 – 10 minutes. No more. But try and get those minutes in, even if you’re not feeling it, even if you have to cram it in just before bedtime, even if you’re not inspired.

You can make that time, and when you show up to the page consistently, magic starts to happen. Gradually, as you strengthen the habit of daily drawing and start to get into the flow of things, you’ll likely find you’ll naturally start taking more and more time to draw for some, or even all pieces.

On days you’re totally not feeling it, go back to the 5 – 10 minutes. Commit to whatever your minimum is and on your worst days, go back to that minimum commitment.

The important thing is not to create great work every single time. The important thing is to build a consistent habit of daily creating. That means showing up even when you don’t really feel like it and affirming to yourself through your actions that this is the kind of person you are. Once that habit is established, it will often start to evolve and grow simply because you show up each day. When you show up, inspiration starts to show up too.


I am currently on a 1-year South East Asia trip with my boyfriend. We are moving to new places at least once, frequently several times a month, and doing a lot of sight-seeing and activities. On top of that, I’m still doing some work in my design business, so this isn’t just a holiday with tons of leisure time.

One of the absolute key ingredients for me has been planning. When the prompts come out, I copy them down into a list in my phone with little checkboxes beside them for me to tick off when each piece is done. I just use the notes app on my iPhone.

I read through the list, see if any of the prompts spark any immediate inspiration and take down notes. I try and gauge a little bit on which days I’ll have plenty of time, and on which days I’m going to be short on time. If I already have “big plans” for any of the prompts or I think I’ll take a long time to come up with a solid idea for one of them, I’ll do them on the days I have plenty of time. Prompts I have a fixed and easy idea in mind I’ll put on days where time is tight. Yep, I juggle my prompts around as I feel like it, I don’t stick to the exact timeline of the challenge. It’s more important to me to create daily, than it is to follow the schedule exactly.

If I know we’re heading off the grid for a few days or we’re set for a long flight or full day of travel, I make sure to download any reference material I might need in advance. That way if I’m stuck without internet, I have the reference saved to my iPad or phone, and am set to get drawing.

Check your schedule. What are difficult situations that might arise during the challenge? Vacations? Holidays? Relatives visiting? And how can you prepare so you can still complete the challenge despite those situations? Getting up early? Staying up later? Not watching tv one evening? Doing a quick doodle in the toilet while hiding from your kids?

It might also be an idea to plan to fail. If you absolutely, 100% think there is a day there is no way you can do the drawing, just let it go. Maybe you can plan to make up for it later along the line, or the days before and do multiple drawings in a day, but honestly I often find it’s easier to just move on to the next project and not play catchup, which leaves you feeling like you’re always behind. You can always try and catch up on a day you do have time. You can also put strategies in place for what you’re going to do if you do miss a day. It’s not the end of the world. It is quite important though to not miss two days in a row. If you jump right back in as though the missed day never happened, you reaffirm the habit of daily creating and that the missed day was just a blip. If you miss two days or more in a row, you start to weaken your habit and that can derail you really quickly. If you have to miss a longer period of time for any reason, it might make sense to actively schedule it in. Maybe you can miss the week, but tack that week on at the end of the challenge. But after that scheduled time is up, make sure you get back to the daily work.

Don’t fall off the bandwagon if you miss a day, commit to not letting things slide just because you broke your streak. Just jump right back in the next day. As you get used to creating daily, this gets so much easier, because the habit is already there and likely even something you look forward to a lot. It’s more important to build the daily habit than it is to complete each individual piece.

Schedule it In

Designate a fixed time for creating if possible. The best, as with many things, is often in the morning. For me on our travels this hasn’t really worked though, as we often set off to do travel activities in the morning and don’t get back until (late) afternoon. My drawing time is mostly the 1 – 2 hours before bedtime. And in this case, if I’m not done with my process, I’ll often stay up a little later to finish. Not ideal, but I am fiercely committed on this one. If you don’t manage to finish a piece, don’t worry. It’s okay. I have several pieces I didn’t finish, that just didn’t work out, and I let it go. I have no intention to finish them, but I still tried and learned something in the process. Some pieces are also more involved and I just cannot complete them in that time window, so I’ve even spread some pieces over several days, while giving priority to the prompt of that given day first. That way I don’t feel I’m lagging behind.

If you regularly don’t finish pieces that are well within the scope of your powers to complete, you may have a habit of not finishing. In that case, it might make sense to not let yourself off the hook and make yourself finish a few pieces even if you don’t love the results. Over time you’ll build the habit of finishing what you started, and you’ll get better at achieving results in a shorter time-frame.

Make it Visible, Collect Inspiration, Remove Roadblocks

Make sure your supplies and tools are ready to go. I find what helps me a lot is leaving my tools out where I can see them. I always charge my iPad overnight so it’s ready for the next day and make sure my apple pencil is charged as well.

If you’re working in traditional media, lay your tools out in the place you’re most likely to see them the night before and make sure they’re easily accessible. Leave your paints out, charge your devices, prepare your canvases in advance. Set reminders if you need them.

Keep a list of ideas. Carry a notebook, sketch out thumbnails and write down any ideas you have that will help you create pieces later to minimize the problem of “I don’t have any ideas”.

If you find other activities get in the way of creating, try making their triggers less visible. Do you slip into a Netflix binge instead of picking up your pencil? Put your laptop away after use and leave your art supplies in its place instead. Block websites that you default to to certain times a day using a website blocker so you don’t go browsing instead of opening Photoshop. If it helps your creative habit, leave it in a highly visible place. If it works against your habit, hide it or make it hard and annoying to reach.

Get Creative about your Art Time

Sometimes there just aren’t big blocks of time when you can relax at home with your drawing supplies. So get creative and make the most of odd minutes here and there.

Carry a notebook to jot down ideas while you’re out and about. Carry a sketchbook, or put ProCreate Pocket on your phone and doodle on your commute or when you would normally be checking social media. Maybe you can carry a tiny watercolour set and complete a small piece in your lunch break. Make art with your kids. Create all your pieces on post it notes during boring meetings. See what creative ways you can come up with to create your daily pieces, and let go of the idea that your challenge has to look a certain way.

Committing to guiding principles such as “Progress over Perfection” or “Create First”, might be helpful, rather than sticking to rigid rules such as “I have to create a finished 20” x 20” drawing every day and I’m only allowed to use a black fineliner”.

I know these challenges have rules and sometimes it can be beneficial to stick exactly to them, particularly if you want to refine a certain skill of yours, but if it’s more about building the creative habit, guiding principles may be more powerful than rules. Creativity has a habit of changing and evolving, and it’s great if your art can do that too while you’re working through the challenge.

Stay on track by having an accountability buddy or joining a community

This is one thing I love about the #makingarteveryday challenge! Lisa runs a really great facebook group for people in the challenge, and it can be a huge confidence boost to share your work and get feedback if you feel ready to share.

Either way, it can be nice to see others traveling on the same journey as you. If groups aren’t your thing, you could instead hook up with a friend and commit to the challenge together, then hold each other accountable. Maybe have a zoom date so you can both work together and keep an eye on each other to make sure you’re doing the work.

One thing to note – don’t compare your journey to anybody else’s. Everyone is at a different stage in their art journey, everyone has a different style, people might be going about the challenge differently, people have varying amounts of time to commit to the challenge. People who are already artists might have a lot less trouble committing to the challenge than someone who is a novice just beginning to draw. I have been drawing since I was a kid and sometimes draw for work, so I don’t have the added hurdle of having to learn drawing from scratch, which is a big challenge in itself. If this is you, don’t worry. Just do your best. Keep your eyes on your own page, and don’t judge the individual pieces. Instead, look back over your work every month or so, and you’ll likely see some big improvements. Value the journey and what you learn on each piece, rather than the pieces themselves, which are basically your training ground.

Develop a Default

This isn’t a must, but something I’ve found very helpful for myself. When I honestly have no idea where to start a drawing, I default to drawing monsters in some sort of interaction with the prompt. You might draw a witch. Or a dog. Or a mermaid.

Whatever it is, it should be something that is fun and easy for you to draw, something you can pull off reasonably confidently. Then try combining it with the prompt. That way you have an initial jumping off point even if you feel stuck on the prompt, and you might come up with some surprising results. And if you end up not drawing the prompt – hey, you’ll still have drawn something. Unless you’re doing paid work for a client, it doesn’t matter so much what you draw, it only matters that you draw.

Free Up Time

So many people state lack of time as the reason they don’t do something they want to do. Most people also waste a lot of time that they could be putting towards those things. Phones are a huge time-sink nowadays. Reclaim your time by installing the moment app and taking their challenge, or taking Kristen Kalp’s excellent email course “SPACE” to reduce your phone consumption. Consider ditching your TV/netflix/favourite game time during the course of the challenge. It might feel like a sacrifice, but lots of things in life require a tradeoff. Focus on creation over consumption.

Don’t wait for inspiration

It’s great if you feel inspired a lot and only draw when inspired. But ultimately, inspiration tends to show up later than you do. So if you find you’re lacking ideas, show up anyway. Start before you’re ready. Sit down and doodle until something happens and you get an idea. Never wait for inspiration to show up. Do the work, and inspiration will follow. Or not, but it doesn’t matter. You’ll have created something, and something is better than nothing. Something can be the starting point for a new attempt with the knowledge you gained from your first try. Nothing leaves you facing the blank page again with nothing new to show for it.


Creating daily is a marathon. It is a huge project, it can be very overwhelming and it’s so easy to feel like you’re falling behind. I hope some of these tips will help you get started, get motivated, and stay on track during your own process. Let me know if you have additional tips for fellow artists embarking on a long-term art project.

What creative project are you committing to? Was this post helpful to you at all or do you have any other concerns or questions you’d like to see addressed around this topic?

Turning Points

It wasn’t until around the 100 day mark of the #makingarteveryday challenge that I really started to feel comfortable drawing digitally and things started to get fun. Until this point, a lot of the images were just me copying existing pieces for practice and technical understanding, which is why I didn’t share any of the pieces online.

Around the 100 day mark I hit a turning point of sorts. Daily practice was starting to pay off and I’d gotten comfortable with using ProCreate, so I could just create drawings without thinking about it and focus entirely on the creative process. Habit at this stage also kicked in to help me overcome resistance and sitting down daily to draw became fun and fairly easy instead of a chore.

Around this time I also started getting creative and creating my own pieces again. I switched things up, I limited my colour palette, I started experimenting a lot more with the given themes and approaching them more playfully. Drawing started to feel fun again.

The past few years have been a dry spell for me in terms of personal creative work. For years I’ve suffered debilitating chronic fatigue, which it turns out were caused by my dental retainers. Outwardly I functioned pretty well, but on the inside I was dying and losing the energy for all the things I used to love. My creativity shriveled into non-existence. My work life tanked. All my tests came up beautifully, on paper I was healthy as could be. Doctors kept trying to refer me to a psychiatrist, but I had the persistent gut feeling that the problem was rooted in my body. I had my retainers removed in November while traveling in Thailand and things have been drastically and steadily improving ever since. The nightmare is over.

The #makingarteveryday challenge has helped me regain the creative joy I thought I’d lost during those years and for that I am incredibly thankful. I am fulfilling my life-long yearning to create everyday, and it has helped me unlock the new medium of digital art, making it so much easier to create while traveling. This is also a new string to my bow, as I can now also offer digital illustration for work as well. 

Building a daily habit of doing something you love is life-changing and healing. For years though, I didn’t even have that energy to build that habit because my body needed healing first. Sometimes the blocks are not just in your head. And sometimes they literally are.

Getting my braces out in November was the first turning point. Day 100 of the #makingarteveryday challenge was the second. Trial and error and finally trusting myself and my body finally led to the first, persistence and daily work made the second one possible.

Thank you to @lisabardot for creating a life-changing creative challenge at exactly the right time for me. And thank you to my Dad and boyfriend for the awesome art toy and daily travel companion that is my iPad Pro and to the creators of the @procreateapp for the app that is so beautifully designed with the artist in mind. To my boyfriend who was always there for me when I couldn‘t be. And to @kkalp, whose newsletter saved my life.

#makingarteveryday Day 101 – Cutting Board

The image at the top of this post was one of the first images where I started experimenting with this new illustration style and really pushed into the fun zone with digital drawing.