Did you ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers? Nope? Yeah me neither, but I have listened to Macklemore’s song Ten Thousand Hours more times then I’d like to admit. From what the Internet tells me, throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the 10,000 rule, claiming that the key to success is a matter of practicing a specific task for at least 10,000 hours. Macklemore sums up the sentiment with the lyric, “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great cause they paint a lot.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the sentence, “Id like to be more creative but I just don’t know where to start.” The idea of creativity is a trap. There is no starting point. There is just starting. So Lets Start.
Starting something new is scary. I get it. However there is something even more scary than that: not starting. Every 10,000 hours begins with a single minute. Once you wrap your head around that, the rest is a breeze.
So you’re not the best drawer in the world. Maybe you’re not the best colourer-inner either. Maybe you’re frozen with self-doubt or maybe you’re disgustingly hungover or possibly still drunk… the paper doesn’t mind.
Make friends with your materials. They aren’t there to judge you. They aren’t scary.
The pencil doesn’t care that you’re still carrying that extra 10 kgs from Christmas 6 years ago. It doesn’t care what you’re wearing, or who you drunkenly pashed last weekend. It doesn’t judge you. It wants to hear your stories. It wants to help you work shit out. Trust in it. Let your skills grow with you and celebrate your imperfections. They are what makes you special. Embrace them, yo!
Once you commit, your sketchbook will be the best friend that you never knew you were lacking. It will keep your secrets and give you great advice. Think about it, it’s an extension of you, and you’re totally great.
Don’t sit down expecting to draw the greatest thing ever. Just sit down knowing that you will draw, and that no matter how terrible you think it is, it will get better. I promise. Start with small tasks. Stop thinking about the final product and start thinking about the page in front of you.
It really doesn’t matter what you draw. I cant stress this enough. Just start. Draw what you can see, draw how you feel, draw the lyrics to the song that your listening to, or the pen that you’re using. Draw something that amuses you.
Still struggling? Set yourself a task. If you lack the drive to draw daily then make it a long term task. The first few days or even weeks may suck, but eventually you will get so good at drawing the same things that they will become second nature to you.
Every day I draw D.R.E.A.M P.H.O.N.E. Its a totally silly project but it amuses me. It also forces me to interact with my experience of the day.
If you’re stuck for ideas, why don’t you start by drawing everything you ate today? Or what’s in your bag? What are you wearing right now? Draw the covers of your favourite books or records. Open the fridge and draw everything inside of it. Or the chair that your sitting on… Everything is a starting point, and everything has its own visual merit.
Much like a job interview, sitting down to draw is about believing in yourself whilst lying through your teeth. In both instances honesty can feel like a revolutionary act. Try being honest with your sketchbook.
And start… like right now.