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I may be a quitter but I’m not a loser

Posted by Koosje Koene in ArtJournal, Draw Tip, sketchbook on May 11, 2018

Permission to quit

I was just two weeks into the 100 day project (#the100dayproject), when I gave myself permission to quit.  

I wish I loved working on my project. I like to be challenged and thought I’d love being committed to one theme for a hundred days in a row. I was envisioning the outcome of having gained insights and skills, and a big fat sketchbook full of drawings. But at day 15, Danny asked me ‘are you enjoying your project?’ and it was the first time I even really thought about the enjoyable part of it, and hated to admit that no, I was not enjoying it.  

Maybe it’s the sketchbook that I didn’t love the paper of. It may be too small in size as well. Maybe it’s the theme I gave myself for the project: wheels. I thought it was a great idea to challenge myself to draw something with wheels every day, so that I would get a daily exercise to get better at drawing cars, and at drawing anything else with wheels. Wheels are everywhere – I could draw them whenever I wanted to and wherever I was! Right? 

But now that I was actually looking for something with wheels every day, it felt a bit like a chore. The drawings I was making weren’t that interesting; maybe if I would plough on, I might be starting to see progress, but did I really want to spend time on this? 

I’d rather spend time drawing in my usual sketchbook, instead of spending time making those mediocre sketches of random wheels.

Why even pursue?

I don’t like quitting. I like finishing things from start to finish and then give myself a well-deserved gold star. But what’s the gold star’s value when the process isn’t fun?
So there was just one way to go – I quit. There.  

After deciding to quit, I felt relieved. I am so happy to focus back into my daily sketchbook and experiment there. And I’ll probably do a few drawings of things with wheels in there – but only when I feel like it.
I feel liberated and I feel excited again about drawing whatever I want! 

What’s the conclusion?

When you’re working on a project that at first you feel committed to, but then feel like you’re losing interest and lack the initial enthusiasm – assess your project. Can you bend the rules you set for yourself? Maybe try a different tool or sketchbook to change things up? Can you be more creative around the theme? Maybe you can keep on going by refreshing your project that way. Maybe you just put it aside and come back to it later. But if you just don’t feel the joy of the whole process anymore, nobody is going to give you a hard time about not finishing it. The only one who is most likely tocriticize your decision, is you. So give yourself permission to quit, and then give yourself that gold star for ignoring your inner critic!

Koosje Koene

Hi I'm Koosje. I'm an illustrator and art teacher in Amsterdam, where I was born and raised. I went to school to study graphic design, then worked for ten years as an award-winning professional photographer. But eventually my love of drawing and painting took over and I became an illustrator. My illustrations have been published in many Dutch magazines and in 2011, I began blogging and started developing and teaching online art classes. In 2014 I founded Sketchbook Skool, which is a flourishing community of artists from around the world of all skill levels.