How to Develop that Drawing Habit

How to Develop that Drawing Habit

Or any good habit to be honest

I have been drawing now for self improvement for the last decade and a half. I dabbled with drawing as a teenager, as most do. I even dreamed of working on Star Wars up at Lucas Film. The only issue was I was put off by the very formal way of learning at High School, for example this happened in art class:

“this week we are doing cubism… No Joseph you are doing cubism wrong!”  ~My Art Teacher

So that was the end of that, I went off to college I did sciences and mathematics and nothing creative in sight. I did well at College and got into a top university, studied hard but kept feeling unfulfilled. I was bored out of my mind so one day when I was supposed to be heading to the lab, I packed a bag with my essentials, got on a train and left that town and travelled back to my home town.


Back in my home town I signed up to do a technical illustration course. Entering the world of art and illustration I didn’t feel like a confident writer, science like maths is very formulaic, this therefore and so on. So I started writing poetry, pretty much furiously. I wrote over one thousand poems in my first year of writing poetry.

Yeah but what does all this have to do with drawing?

Well you see writing poetry was the way I learnt how to develop a habit! From the basis of this everything else follows the same pattern, from drawing, to pottery, to any hands on skill I have learnt and I have taught myself quite a few to date.

You have to be excited about doing it

Things work best if you are doing something you enjoy, that isn’t to say it won’t be frustrating at times, it will be. But start simple, don’t be a critic of your own work, put that aside for now, just enjoy the process.

Don’t use expensive materials

In the the early stages of learning you aren’t going to want to spend £20 to £40 on a sketchbook, you will be too scared of making a mistake and ruining it. A ream of printer paper or a ream Seawhite CupCycling™ Cartridge Paper with a stapler and some card you can easily make a sketchbook for day to day carry. As a tool I would grab something like a Lamy Safari with a medium nib, yes it is not erasable but we are going to be bold.

Always carry some materials with you

As a poet I would always have a cheap note pad with me, and just play with words what ever chance I had, sat on the bus or sat in class waiting for the tutor to show up.

Get off your phone at lunch

When I was a student Art teacher I didn’t have much time to draw, once I got home I had a four year old and a baby, so I would make dinner, spend time with them, read stories. Then it would be lesson plans, work on my University work and then off to bed. Mornings were concerned with getting them ready for the day ahead. Lunch time was my time to get out of the staff room walk over to the pond and there were 360 degree views where no one could see me sketch.

From 2016 till 2020 I would do the same thing, either I would spend my lunch break on the beach sketchbook in head away from the noise of work and anyone asking me what I was doing. And just sit on the beach and draw the coastline, again and again, letting the air fill my lungs.

It doesn’t have to be every day but it does have to be regularly

Look some people will tell you it has to be every day, it doesn’t. Currently I do draw, and write everyday but that’s because I want to and I enjoy doing it every day. It makes me feel like me, and I don’t share everything I make, I just share the bits I really like. Even if it is just an escape and time to yourself like it has been for me at times.

Google street view is an amazing tool

I prefer to sketch from life, but I can’t always get out and about due to other things happening. And over the years often my time for drawing as  been 5am in the middle of winter, and at 53 degrees north there isn’t a lot to see at that time.

~Just Keep Going~

What I show online is only 1% of what I produce. I have painted thousands of paintings and there are stacks waiting to be repainted in my office.

Honestly this is the hardest part of developing the drawing habit, if you don’t feel like it, just do it for two minutes and once you have started you may just want to finish that sketch, or do another one. Look this is fun if all you want to do on a day is grab a newspaper, grab a newspaper, some scissors, cut things out, create new captions, cut the people out and draw them in new situations. It doesn’t matter just keep your hands busy.

You are a human, humans are meant to create with their hands, so create be free, and don’t worry about whether its good or bad or sharing it, you can, or you can stick it on your fridge or your bedroom wall! Develop that drawing habit for you.

Explore, be free, just be you.

Don’t worry about it being wrong, what you are doing isn’t wrong.


Post Script: if you want to draw people this is a good tool:






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