I hate ruts. They’re terrible things. When I first started designing I felt like I had my hands tied. I knew how to handle a few of the tools in Illustrator, but I felt completely incompetent. I was in a rut. I had enough skill to know I was lacking, but I didn’t have a solid enough base to build my craft on.
I wanted to get to the expert level – where I was being paid to do quality work – the work I knew I could do if I could only broaden my skill set. So I did the the one thing my mom always told me to do when I was taking piano lessons as a kid.
I hated the thought of sitting down and practicing. Especially when I wanted to be anywhere else but there. Because who seriously wants to sit stare at something they haven’t been able to master thus far. Not me back then. Not me now.
Just like the piano, it didn’t take long and I found myself moving in the direction I wanted with my Illustrator skills. Well played, mom… well played.
In grad school, I read a lot of books about talent and training. One of the many that I absoultely devoured was Outliers. I was completely into the idea of these phenomenal success stories and the idea that there were building blocks to get there. And of course, Gladwell mentioned a great idea called the 10,000 hour rule and practice. (Guess Malcolm and my mom ran into each other somewhere and shared ideas.)
It seems completely juvenile – like I’m turning in my elementary school homework. To be deliberate and sit and practice every day. But I’ll tell you one thing. There is no faster way to build your craft and produce a bulk of work as a creative than to practice. Every time I find myself in that “rut” I know I need to “practice” again. And this concept isn’t just for the creative – it’s effective in every area of life.
Lately, I’ve found myself busy with the work rather than the creative of a small business. Not a bad thing for sure, but it’s been putting me in another rut that I know I need to get out of.
Time to practice. This round, I’m working to build a bulk of work and exercise that creative muscle. Lots of patterns. Lots of new designs. Lots of stretching that creative muscle and pushing the envelope. If it involves Illustrator and my creativity, it’s fair game.
By happy accident, I happened upon another source that confirms my thoughts on practice. #the100dayproject. The rules to this project help add some structure and accountability to my practicing – so I’ll be sharing my practice here in it’s various forms.
Do you want to join me on #the100dayproject?