How to improve at just about anything

jsut show up2 Do you ever wish you could be better at your art? I know I do. Even when I produce good art, that inner critic can be a tough nut to crack!

But there is one thing that you can do right now to improve your creative efforts - in fact, we could all probably do more of it.

Show up.

That means showing up daily.

Practising our art consistently.

I found this to be the single most important predictor of success in any area of my life. Whether I'm  learning yoga or drawing or writing, this has been the most important predictor of success in my life. Never giving up, and showing up to do what's needed Every. Single. Day.

For making art, it doesn't matter whether we're in the mood or not.

It doesn't matter whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling.

It doesn't matter whether we're inspired or filled with fear.

It doesn't even matter if we don't know how to do something. Read that again, and let it sink in. It doesn't matter if we don't know how to do something, because we always know how to take one step.

We might not know how to write a novel, or even have a good idea for one, but we can write a sentence. We can write, "I don't know what to write today." Even that's showing up. Because one sentence will always lead to another.

I'm currently working on an acrylic canvas for my youngest daughter. Acrylic is not my thing, and I feel completely inadequate when I use it. In fact, it took me weeks to even get started on this project. But then, one day, I decided it was time to show up and get it done. (And I was getting tired of, "When are you going to paint my canvas Mom? You said you would...")

I committed to taking one step every day, even though I didn't really how to do it. But I knew I would start with a collage background and do a mixed media style picture. So I collaged on Day 1. On Day 2, I was still baffled, but I showed up for my art by browsing the internet looking for various examples to inspire me while sketching them in my sketchbook, trying different variations.

By Day 3, I was still no closer to my idea, but I knew I would apply some paint over the collage, which I did. I won't bore you with every day's tasks, but I showed up daily, and the canvas is now nearly complete - I only have to paint the fairy's dress. And you know what? I still feel like I don't know what to or how to do it, and yet, a beautiful canvas has somehow been created. That's the power of simply showing up and taking whatever steps we can, every day.

Every morning I get up at 5am to write. I'm working on a novel, which I outlined up to a point. I feel like this is the point where I must let the story take over. And every morning when I sit down to write my allotted 1000 words, I have no idea what I'm going to write. But, after half an hour or so, my 1000 words are written. I stopped writing according to my outline 7000 words ago already. Which means that, if I'd waited to know exactly what to write, the last 7000 words would not be there. And neither will tomorrow's 1000;-)

The only thing that matters is showing up, daily, to practise. Your art, however you choose to express it, will improve in leaps and bounds if you do this one simple thing. You can create wonderful pieces, I know you can, that's why you've been called to do this work. You might not believe that in yourself right now, but a daily practice will help you to feel the confidence and certainty that you crave.

By the time I had my first short story published in a magazine, I had been writing for a few years already. On and off, when the mood felt right and when I thought I had something to say. I'd done courses in Creative Writing, Journalism and even Advanced Journalism. But they only took me so far.

One day, while on holiday, I was reading a trashy beach novel and when I couldn't take it anymore, I chucked it in the bin and decided that I could certainly cobble together a better story.

So I set my mind to it, because I might not have known much about writing yet, but I already knew a lot about the importance of mindset, and I started showing up every day to write. Within a couple of weeks the idea for my first story, which I'd already decided would be a crime based one, came to me. Writing it was simply a matter of showing up with pen in hand every day until the story revealed itself on the page. It was the first piece of writing that I ever got paid for;-)

Your takeaway from this article

Showing up daily to practice your art is the fastest way to improve your skill. Adopt a "no excuses" attitude and start making art consistently. Within a few days, you'll start noticing the changes already.

Before you go:

Click here to receive my 21 Day Creative Prompt Challenge. For 3 weeks, you'll receive a short illustrated prompt in your inbox. Use it to fuel your creativity and to show up daily.