If you have a skill, whether it be art-related, or any life skill that you want to improve, the best way to level it up is purposeful learning.
By setting time aside each week to practice that specific skill, you will get better at it. There is no downside.
The progress we make towards mastery of a skill is often invisible to us. We will continue along steadily unable to see the change from one week to the next. But if we can keep a record and look back, if we have made a commitment to work on our skill in a deliberate, purposeful way then there is almost always an improvement.
We exercise to stretch our muscles and likewise, our creative skills need to be stretched as well. By incorporating a weekly or even a monthly skill-building session where we deliberately practice a new skill or work on a technique that may be a bit advanced we will slowly grow to new levels.
What should I do during my weekly skill building session?
There are a few ways we can accomplish deliberate learning and here are some ideas:
- Work through a book on craft, for instance, “Rendering in Pen and Ink” if you want to improve sketching. Set aside time to practice the skills in the book each week and try techniques you have not used before.
- Find video tutorials online to practice along to. These are a great option because you can stop and start them at your own pace, and the process of how the technique is clearly presented.
- Join a challenge group. There are many groups on Instagram that throw out a challenge and have a community of people posting their art or writing. Everyone in the group tends to support each other and you have the bonus of not having to come up with prompts on your own.
- Plan out your own projects to stretch your skill and set aside space each week to work on them at a specific time. Again, using sketching as an example, take a credit card and trace around it. Pick a theme and each week for six months draw another “credit card” sketch based on the same theme. In 6 months you will have made 24 sketches and be able to look back on your progress.
- Reverse engineer. Find someone who exemplifies who you want to be. Study them to see what skills you need to work on to get to that level. Make a plan for yourself to learn those skills and follow it.
- Take an online class, such as those offered on Skillshare or Masterclass.
If there is no improvement over months or years, you may want to examine why. Do you really want to be doing this thing? Often, if we look deep inside, the answer is no. This is not a bad thing, sometimes we fool ourselves into doing things we really don’t want to do. Figuring that out we are going in the wrong direction is a blessing. This gives us back the energy that we need to move on to things we really do want to do!
Keep track of your progress!
Record keeping is important no matter which weekly skill-building method you choose. In order to see how far you have come, you need to keep track of your progress. If you do this, your future self will thank you. Journaling is one of the best ways to do this. If you are interested, you can read more about that here: Journaling for Clarity.
Progress is a funny thing. While we are working it seems like what we are doing isn’t enough. We should be working more, doing it better and faster. But, if we keep a slow consistent effort, looking back, we have really come so far and done so much. Be proud of your efforts big or small. If you feel you aren’t doing enough, you can start today. Be glad you have the opportunity to work, when so many people do not, or never will have the chance to grow and learn. We are so lucky just to be alive. You are enough just as you are, anything extra is a bonus.