Can You Redefine „Letting Yourself Off the Hook”?
We all have bad days. It’s normal. We all have days we really don’t want to do what we said we were going to do.
We’re tired, we’re sick, we’re sad, we’re mad. The temptation is high to let ourselves off the hook and sometimes it’s the right thing to do. If you’re trying to build a consistent drawing habit though, missing one day makes it easier to miss another. In the same way if you keep going for one more day, it will make it easier to do so in future.
In the past I’ve given up on complete challenges because I missed a single day.
It’s silly and it’s unnecessary. It shows I lost sight of why the challenge was important to me, and it’s happened to me several times. With Making Art Everyday I was determined not to let that happen again. So I had to redefine letting myself off the hook.
On days where I feel terrible, have no time or just really don’t want to draw, I try and reduce the pressure anyway I can.
I fall back on my minimum goal of 10 minutes. I know I can be uncomfortable for that long. I fall back on colour palettes, tools and techniques that I know work. I go back to simple shapes and let myself play with texture. I’ll sketch. I’ll turn a sketch into a finished piece. I’ll reuse a background from another image. I’ll recycle an old image into something new. I’ll redraw an image.
I do everything I can to reduce expectation and pressure, to make the experience as easy as possible. But I still show up. The important thing is to keep building the habit until it feels weird to not draw.
If I let myself miss a day, my brain will register that it got to take the easy way out by having a tantrum. And it will throw a bigger tantrum next time. Because I don’t give in, my inner critic has gotten a quieter over time.
But the moment I miss a day it gets louder, as each “failure” confirms what it was saying all along: That I’m useless, a failure, that I never stick to anything. If I persist in making art despite its nasty voice, it fades into the background over time.
I’ve created some of my best drawings on days I didn’t want to draw at all, simply because I showed up anyway. If I hadn’t shown up, those pieces would never have happened.
So let yourself off the hook if you have to, but don’t let yourself quit.