When I decided to make writing a serious project and then finally set off with the 33 Left Hand Stories, I had already another project going on. As you may be aware, I recently got back on drawing because games inspired me and because I decided to become a game developer to put my ideas into practice. That said, I have two point-and-click adventure games in the oven, being written, drawn and thought of everyday. However, the project I am talking about now is different from those, and it is more related to willpower than anything: 100 days ago (111, to be more precise), I decided I would submit a drawing daily to /r/SketchDaily, and here I am. Basically, taking part on this subreddit has helped me build a varied portfolio and made me believe that I can pull stuff off.
Simply put: there is not choice. /r/SketchDaily has a bot keeping track of your total submissions and your streak – your submission combo. This counter goes back to zero every time you miss a day. The higher your streak, the hotter the color on your user name. You start off as a measly gray, than you go to blue, green, yellow, orange and then red, when you are basically on fire. This color feature was implemented only last year. Once you start rolling, you just don’t want to stop. You can’t lose your sweet, sweet streak.
“We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.”
Rudyard Kipling, author (1865–1936), “The Lesson”, the Times, July 1901
As if you were playing a game which gives you no extra lives.
Miss one day, and you are back to zero. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the topic.
When I first started visiting the community I wasn’t too interested. I made some drawings here and there, and commented very scarcely throughout the days. Some topics simply didn’t interest me. Harry Potter, dinosaurs, turkeys… I didn’t want to draw that, right? I mean, why do I have to draw turkeys? I’ll never need to draw this in my life, right?
Well, that is one way to put it. The other is to think that drawing that might give you an idea to put in your game, a chance to train unchallenged skills, an opportunity to grow your knowledge or simply a moment for you to feel not so narrow-minded about life (accepting others’ ideas).
There is yet another way to put it: drawing everyday is something you do. Just like going to bed, taking a shower, or playing with your cat. Drawing is part of your routine, and you live that way. Everyday you visit /r/Sketchdaily and you draw something related to the theme. Period.
It doesn’t matter that other users have more talent than you do. It doesn’t matter that you had only 5 minutes to make a sketch when it seems that everyone had two or three hours. It doesn’t matter that your drawing was not upvoted the way you wanted. What matters is that drawing is a part of your life, and you do it with no excuses.
And then there are no more zero days in your artistic life.
When you take on a habit for sometime in your life you can tell stories.
You can look at your SketchDaily portfolio and remember the ideas you had that day. You realize that people talk to you, and that you talk to people, and then suddenly you have friends. Just like taking a bus everyday: you enter the bus, there are always people who take that very bus everyday with you – and you know some of their habits. In my case, I’ve got to know other user’s styles. Take for instance:
- izzimorrel, whose lines are always done quickly and whose bird drawings are the best of all;
- XingLoong, who draws cute bunnies everyday;
- 7oDiamonds, whose style is utterly remarkable and is always trying to help everyone;
- MeatyElbow, the awesome watercolor guy
Although I can’t call myself the best observer out there, I know those people; I have even stalked some of them (I meant most of them. I meant all of them).
I felt so much a part of that community that I even offered to color other user’s drawings. Also, it made me willing to broaden my horizons and actually start studying drawing as I’ve never had. I decided to try new pieces software, to buy new materials (I really like buying and testing stuff also ), and to test new techniques. As of today, I have a new iPad stylus and I am getting acquainted to Procreate. I even started a new project!
““Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Samuel Beckett, playwright (1906–89, pictured above. Oh yeah!)
Maybe what struck me so hard about /r/SketchDaily is the fact that I can see in it clearly the lose-lose situation life is.
The fact that one day actually means something, and that it just doesn’t amount to a bunch of hours that won’t result in anything. While for quite some time in my life I was just going with the flow watching the days go by without really caring about wasted hours and ideas, now I have a small amount of anticipation for the next day, curious to know the next theme, and I am as careful as I can be with my schedule do I have time to draw my daily submission. I also feel like that with my other projects, which had been almost neglected due to the fact that I simply didn’t pay attention to how short a day is. Not anymore!
While /r/SketchDaily has taught me that losing is not an option, it has told me that making mistakes is fine, and even expected.
It is not everyday that I’ll be able to draw a piece of art; someday I can barely think properly of what I am going to draw. Take the Miley Cyrus theme for instance (oh boy). I went for the realistic portrait, and as I am not used to both Procreate and realistic drawings, the result was not exactly what I expected. So what? I have to draw the next day, and the next, and the next. I am not allowed in to let my mistake do me over. I may have not gotten far with my drawing skills, but I haven’t abandoned the ability I struggled so much to acquire.
Some may say that 100 days are not enough for me to be bragging like this. Some may say that 10 days are already an achievement. No matter. 100 days told me many things, enough for me to come here and share with you those things. And I’ll be here for the next 100. And the next. I’ll be around after the community ceases to exist.
I’m giving myself the privilege of aiming high. Then higher. Up to eleven, and beyond!
Thank you for all the fish!
- 33 Left Hand Stories in 33 Days
- What you need to know about willpower
- How writing a 1000 words a day changed my life
- Jot Touch 4: awesome, the perfect touch pen
- Paint Tool SAI: 10/10 would buy again
- Procreate: the perfect drawing app
- Paper by 53: the perfect sketching app
PS.: In case you’re wondering about the results and benefits of drawing every single day, this Chinese proverb may clarify:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”