A little bit each day + repetition = new skill!

There’s a short clip of an interview with David Bowie that I love and have tried to keep in mind through all of my creative endeavors. I turned this into a comic just a few weeks ago. Recently I finished Atomic Habits by James Clear and there were several sections inside that reminded me of it:

Pushing a little out of your depth, where your feet aren’t quite touching the ground. That’s where something great can happen. That’s how I feel about animating. I feel intimidated, out of my depth. That’s how some people, I imagine, feel about monthly drawing challenges as a whole. I’ve danced around the edges, almost touching it but never quite engaging because of my fear and the safety of the water I’m currently in. Then I remember my Inktober 2015, and the ones that have followed, and how I ALWAYS come out of those 31 days feeling CHANGE. Feeling like I’ve really learned something by forcing myself out of my normal depth.

So, armed with those thoughts, I started. I dusted off my books, I devoted an entire livestream to figuring out my first animation, because without that audience, I knew I would chicken out. I’d say, ‘some other day,’ which would turn into next week, next month, and then never as it always has in the past. I picked something small, a tiny gif animation, with a simple entrance, exit and movement.

And I got it done! And it didn’t look too bad. And most important of all, it got me hungry to make more.

And just like that, I’m tackling (and winning against!) a fear that has always held me back from trying to make what I have enjoyed since I was little. This is something that can be applied anywhere, from skills you want to build, to exercise and any other area of life where you want to see change. Start small, and repeat. Don’t break the chain. Even if it’s one push up a day, it’s one more than nothing, and most importantly, it’s evidence for yourself that you’re a person who wants this change. Get a little out of your depth. Feel the reward of learning something new and let it propel you onward. I followed these steps without knowing what they were when I started my daily paintings in 2015. Now I’m 1400+ days in, and am adding another chain to strengthen my skills.