how to draw foreshortening

Making It Stick: How to Keep Up a Creative Habit


Around this time of year, we start thinking about what New Year’s Resolutions we might want to make (after all the good holiday meals are over, of course). And we probably remember all the resolutions we’ve made in past years that, by the time February rolled around, had fallen flat. So how do you make a good habit stick?

Sketchbook Skool co-founders Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene have been giving this a lot of thought. In this blog, Danny wrote about habits—how we form them, and how they can begin to shape us. Whether it’s a dog like Tim Gregory the Dachshund getting stirred up every time the trash chute opens, or the nail biting that comes with sitting in morning traffic, habits can be pesky and extremely hard to break. We talk about habits a lot, but much of the talk is about bad ones.

At Sketchbook Skool, we want to re-think habits. We want to switch the focus to good habits, one in particular: drawing. Very specifically, starting and keeping the good, very positive habit of a drawing a day.

Good habits like this can be inspiring. Making a drawing a day can lead to more creative thinking. It can relax you and help you shed some of that stress (which could even lead you to shed extra pounds, as Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, has credited creative habits with doing). This good habit could lead to some amazing growth over time.

So how can you start the new habit drawing every day? You can dabble in some Pavlovian training and kindle and maintain a creative habit on your own. Here are the three key parts of establishing a good habit:

The Spark. This is whatever triggers the habit to begin, like your cue. It could be a certain time of day, like the minute you wake up, or when you shut off your phone for the night, or the time of a certain activity (like waiting for a meeting to start, or whenever you sit down to read the paper or watch TV).

The Habit. This is the behavior that follows the spark. When you wake up, you probably want coffee or tea, ASAP; it’s your morning habit. Now think of your habit as something creative, like drawing. It doesn’t need to be fancy or feel like work; it can be as simple as having a ballpoint pen and a small sketchbook handy.

The Reward. The “yay!” part, that great sense of accomplishment. This is the result of your habit that makes you excited and happy. It’s that good feeling you get at the end of a Yoga class or a run, or a finished sketch, or a completed sketchbook full of drawings that you made.

How can these elements help you with your habit? Think of the three steps: Spark, Habit, Reward. Set up a cue that will prompt you to draw every day. Danny suggests that every time you’re waiting for the coffee or tea water to boil, or every time you sit down to read the paper, make a little sketch. Do this a every day for a week, not thinking long term, just today. Then, do it again. This is what establishes the second part, the Habit. And the habit will be reinforced by the Reward—seeing that you made a sketch. Yay!

The best part of this is, you don’t have to wait until January to start. You can begin today. Set up your Spark, get into your Habit, and show us your Rewards. Add the hashtag #sbsdrawingaday so we can find it. Happy habits!

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