Tiny Habits and Baby Steps

Hey, it’s a new year! Maybe you made a resolution that has to do with your creative craft, like write the script for your graphic novel or draw a page a day. A big goal, something to strive for! That’s the way to go, right?

Turns out 80% of new years resolutions fail by February.
There’s a better way to achieve your goals: Little habits, that can build skill and confidence over time. Small steps towards your big goal, instead of the big goal itself.
Making things a habit is a great way to get things done. Because a habit means it’s something you do without thinking about it. The more you rely on inspiration for your creativity, the less likely you are to be creative.
Being more creative is no different than trying to eat more healthy or getting fit. You need to make it super easy for yourself. Set the bar for success really low. Like “sit down at my desk and look at my comic every day for ten minutes.” You can do that, right? You don’t even have to work on it, just sit there. But I’ll bet you can’t helping doodling a little once you plant yourself in front of it. Maybe those ten minutes will turn into a good productive hour. Maybe not. The point is to set yourself up for success by lowering your expectations.
You also need to make it hard to fall into whatever traps you tend to fall into. I had a TV addiction once. I had this tiny little TV that fit inside my cupboard, so I coiled the antenna cable around it and put it in there. Every time I wanted to watch TV I had to pull it out from the cupboard, unwrangle the cable and plug it in. Bit of a hassle but totally doable. Here’s the thing; just making it a little harder to watch TV and putting the damn thing out of sight made me forget I had the option.
The same goes for Facebook. I deleted the app from my phone, so now I have to open the browser to check my feed. Again, totally doable. But you bet I go on Facebook a lot less since the app is no longer right there reminding me of it’s existence every time I look at my phone.
There are several apps for monitoring iPhone usage, I never tried any of them. I know the result would make me feel ashamed and miserable, even though my notifications are off and it’s always on silent. But we all check our phones more than we need to and it’s stealing precious time from us. Time we could spend flexing our creative muscles, even if just for a few minutes.
Waiting at the bus stop?
Instead of checking your phone, how about pulling out a small sketchbook and just draw what you see. Pick some small detail, like the window in the house across the street, the telephone pole or the old lady on the bench. Just look and notice the lines, understand the three dimensional object. Try to copy it on your notepad with as few lines as possible.
Bored on the train?
Draw one of your fellow passengers. Don’t judge your drawing, just make it. Then do another.
Standing in line at the post office?
Try to think of the main character in your story. What would he or she be thinking about right now, what would their posture be like, their look on the world around them.
There are many small things you can do that over time will move you towards your big goal. Try listing 3 things you can easily do, maybe a daily or a weekly thing. And then list 3 things you can easily stop doing, something that’s really taking you away from your goal. Commit to doing or not doing ONE of those things for a month, see if it sticks. If not, then maybe that strategy wasn’t built for you. You still have 5 other things to try out.

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