Taking 10 Minutes A Day to Become a Better Artist (or Anything)

I recently did a short interview for The Balanced Life (the interview will be out later this Spring) to talk about what I’ve been through with my genetic disorder and what physical and mental obstacles I’ve overcome to get where I am today. I realized as I was answering these questions that the biggest obstacles were a) figuring out where to start and b) building consistent habits. The interview deals primarily with how I overcame those obstacles in terms of exercising, but the same strategy I used to build a consistent pilates/yoga/running practice is also how I became a better artist.

When I decided that I wanted to pursue art  it was a very liberating and daunting feeling. On the one hand it felt good to say “fuck it” and throw myself into the unknown…but then you still have to pay the bills right? So while I was excited to be living my journey, I was also terrified of failing and that held me back from being the best possible artist I could be. Whenever I sat down to start a new project I would instantly go into insane critical mode where each single line or dot of paint felt wrong to me. I would finish a painting and want to throw it out the window, convinced no one in their right mind would ever want to purchase it. Which lead to me painting and drawing less, and worrying more until eventually I wanted to give up.

It was around that point a very wise woman in my life, my mother in law who is an artist as well, said that the key was getting in the studio every day. Even if all I did was sit and clean brushes or reorganize shelves, I had to be in there. Creative inspiration wasn’t going to strike while I paced my living room terrified of failure.

“Keyblade” by Chelsea S. Walker 2017

I didn’t realize it then, but part of what held me back, was I hadn’t thought about where to start or how to build consistent habits, before I gave into the fear. So, I hit restart mode in January of 2016 and decided I would complete one project each week for the entire year to share on this blog. It didn’t matter how good I thought it was, the focus was I needed to face my fears and start working.

Now, I can’t take full credit for the “10 Minutes A Day” approach, it is something I learned about by being apart of The Balanced Life Sisterhood, but because it had helped me so much, I decided to combine the advice from Robin (the woman behind TBL) and my mother in law. So each day I would go into my studio space, and tell myself to spend just 10 minutes at least, doing something to help me complete my weekly project.

I would wake up and ask myself, “what can I do today, even if it’s small, to help me achieve my goal”?

Some days all I did was a few sketches, maybe play with paint a little bit. Other days all I did was clean, but overtime I started to see a change. 10 minutes quickly became 20, then 45 and then an hour, until it was whole days. One project a week turned into three or four projects a week and they were starting to look better and better. This was because I finally built the habit, by starting out small, of being in the studio and working each day. In order to become a better artist, I needed to commit my time to learning and growing, which means making mistakes and not giving up afterwards. I did that by starting with 10 minutes each day.

“Curioser and Curioser” by Chelsea S. Walker 2017

I know it might seem ridiculous, just 10 minutes really?

That is exactly the point though. 10 minutes is easy! There’s almost nothing you can’t do for at least 10 minutes. Once you start making that time for yourself, to do whatever it is you’re dreaming of, you’ll be amazed how far you can go. If I could give advice to any artist, new or old, who is feeling stuck it would be to start with 10 minutes a day. Spend 10 minutes a day sketching, without worrying how it looks. Spend 10 minutes a day studying artists you admire and learning their techniques. Or, like I did sometimes, spend 10 minutes a day at least holding your supplies and testing them out. But don’t let a day go by where you don’t do something, no matter how small. I strongly believe this approach works in most other areas of life as well.

Do you want to start exercising regularly? Start by doing something for 10 minutes each day. And I know this works, it’s part of what drew me to The Balanced Life Pilates group.

Do you want to learn a new skill? Then spend 10 minutes each day learning about or practicing said skill!

I’m applying this same strategy to my writing career and spending at least 10 minutes each day working on my novel and I’m sure I’ll be using this approach in other areas of life as well.

“Kairi” by Chelsea S. Walker 2017

Whatever your dream is, the first steps to success are figuring out where to start and building a consistent habit. Then everything else will start to fall into place. It won’t always be easy, being an artist sure the hell isn’t, but you have to believe you can succeed and the first step is showing yourself you can do it. <3

(Side note: The paintings in this post were all done in the last couple weeks as part of my Kingdom Hearts series, except for the one of Alice. I just love Alice.)

(Other side note: I’ve updated my Etsy shop so be sure to check it out!)

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