Consistent Practice Builds Skills
On the games programming course I did there was only myself and one other that had come from a creative background. Everybody else had taken maths and science courses prior to starting. This knocked my confidence as I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. However, there were definitely some areas where my different mindset was a benefit. Some of our classes required us to create animations. I got a fair bit of attention for my work as only a few of us had the skills to give it a good go. Something that I heard a lot of was, ‘I could never draw like you do. I’m not creative at all.’ I appreciate the compliment, but it’s a bit of an odd thing to say when you think about it, considering that it was coming from people that hadn’t even tried to draw. If you don’t try to draw, well of course you’re never going to be good at it.
Art is often talked about like it’s a natural talent. It’s as if some are born with the ability to draw, but in actuality it takes a lot of practice. The others on my course taught themselves programming by memorising the syntax, just like we’re often told to memorise facts for tests at school. I approached it like a craft. Reading a few books on syntax isn’t enough to become a good programmer, it’s a skill that requires regular practice just like drawing does. It surprised a few of my friends to find out that I was putting in extra work during my spare time. We can learn new techniques for immediate improvement, but even then we still need to keep using them until it becomes second nature.
Art taught me the importance of practice and also patience. It’s really fun looking back at old sketchbooks to see just how much you’ve improved. Most of us only share the work we’re proud of, so it’s not apparent how lengthy the process was that led us to being able to produce that. My sketchbook is mostly filled with rough studies and nothing worthy of showing anybody. I try to search for the secret that good artists have, but I know the truth is that there isn’t any right answer. Anybody that is really good at what they do probably dedicated lots of time to be there. There is no shortcut to experience. Many of my art books claim that the most important thing is to believe you can get there and not to stress too much if it goes wrong. Claiming that we can never do something is only restricting ourselves. If we keep doing the same thing every day we’re bound to get better at it.
To learn any skill well requires hard work. We might not always enjoy the work either. To keep at something can have its tedious moments no matter how much we enjoy it the rest of the time. Those that succeed keep going even when they don’t feel like it or things don’t go according to plan. It’s also incredibly fulfilling to pursue a skill and so worthwhile. I’m not as skilled at anything as I’d like to be, but neither have I kept up with anything consistently; As such to compare myself to others that have produced more work than me would be silly. Over the past few weeks I’ve pushed myself to be consistent and drawn every day. I have noticed a considerable improvement from this. Comparing ourselves to others can bring us down, but if being good at something means a lot to you it’s not impossible so long as you keep practising.