Think, Live, December 2, 2018

What I Learnt From Drawing For 28 Days In A Row

Before the experiment started I was doing a bit of dabbling at home – drawing a few sketches of things I found online. We had a team of builders in our apartment at the time and I was sooo embarrassed to be drawing. Not because I’m a beginner – I really didn’t care what I produced, but because it felt indulgent, it felt like I was being a bit of a princess just sitting there with my sketch pad while they were working.

But that was before. At the time I didn’t really understand that having a daily creative outlet, like drawing, could be so important to stress levels, anxiety, confidence, mental clarity and just feeling good and happy, and at ease.

The 28 Days Of Drawing experiment was never about if I could learnt to draw “better” over the 28 days, but instead how the experience made me feel. It was about seeing if I could allow myself the space to find my own creative groove, see if I could better manage my inner negative self talk, see if it impacted my mindset, and determine if I could consider myself “creative”.

So What’s The Verdict?

After drawing everyday for 28 days I felt calmer, more in touch with what I really feel about a situation (stronger connection to my gut feeling), a sense of lightness and ease and yep, definitely happier.

The feeling isn’t dissimilar to after I meditated for 28 days in a row.

And, I also now see myself as a creative! Not a shit-hot one, not even a great one, and I wouldn’t even list creativity as one of my top 10 attributes, but the fact is we all have creativity in our soul and in our core, in our own very unique ways, and sometimes it’s just about allowing ourselves the space, and the time, to explore this, and allow it to open us up.

My 11 Most Significant Observations and Changes

  1. I found that as the experiment went on I was having more moments of complete calm – where I could easily sit and just be – observe and not fidget; be present and not run through to-do lists in my head. I wasn’t expecting this (I found this with 28 Days of Meditation as well) but there was something about sitting and drawing each day that made me really comfortable with just being.
  2. I’ve found that I’m now actively looking around for inspiration and things to draw which is a nice distraction from my constant internal dialogue.
  3. At the start of the experiment I wasn’t comfortable drawing with people around. This wasn’t because I was a beginner, it was more about the fact that drawing felt indulgent and I didn’t feel like I could ‘allow’ myself the time and space to draw. I understand the benefits so much more now and don’t feel this way at all.
  4. I found that after a couple of weeks I was able to get more into my flow state.
  5. I feel like it helped with stress relief.
  6. Making it fun and playful really does play an important role in creativity – drawing with my eyes closed, with my left hand or drawing really fast removed my expectations and the pressure that I was unconsciously applying to the task. Once it was fun, and free; and with less expectations, I enjoyed the experience so much more and was possibly more creative. Find your inner child, they are hiding in there somewhere!
  7. I found it really difficult to be ok with the imperfections. I don’t like mess and things being out of place or disorganised but this, I’ve realised, is where the creativity is lurking.
  8. Space is key – trying to approach creativity and drawing with an agenda, or pressure to perform or any sort of rigidity will result in something that feels fake. So how do we find this space? I think it’s unique for every person but for me drawing in the early morning, or very late at night was helpful…when everyone is asleep, the house is quiet and it’s dark outside.
  9. Consistency is key – each day it was easier to quickly jump back into my creative groove without giving it much thought, this wouldn’t have been the case if I was just going to drawing class once a week. Making something a habit is key to making a positive change in your life, whatever that change is.
  10. Expectations, rigidity, planning, speed, pressure all smoother creativity.
  11. With this experiment I planned and structured it way less than usual. This was because I working with the incredible Cath – (my mentor for the experiment who was in charge of the daily tasks.) This was really uncomfortable for me at the start, but I think the letting go, and being slightly less prepared each day, really benefited the experiment and journey.

And What Have I Learnt?

Doing something creative – ideally everyday – has a positive effect on mental health and general wellbeing. Making it a habit is key – you need to find a way to do it on a regular basis and adding a big chunk of fun and lightheartedness is super important. Most of the time we are only limited by what we believe to be true so get out of your head, pick up a pencil or paint brush or cookbook or camera and do something creative for you. I did something creative for me, for a whole 28 amazing, fun, beautiful days and it felt bloody great.

If you want to read about my journey, or see what I created over the 28 days – take a look here.

28 Days of Drawing
+ Show Comments