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Reflective articles on lettering, creativity and life.

Re-BOOT Your Creative Muscles

If you're like me, you hate going to the gym.

I've hated it ever since I was 13 years old, when my tennis coach began forcing my team to work out three times a week. This was also right around the time when I fell in love with a more expressive sport. You guessed it — skateboarding.

I didn't see the point in spending my precious free time and energy in the gym. It wasn't fun at all, and it made my legs so sore that I couldn't skate! So I quit the tennis team and instead put all that time into learning skateboarding.

Free time + energy = opportunity

Let me remind you that this was my first year of skating. I knew approximately zero tricks. I could barely ride the damn thing! All of my friends were better than me and they would poke fun at my lack of skills.

This didn't keep me from showing up to practice though. I put in hours and hours every day, determined to learn the most basic tricks. When it was rainy or cold outside I would skate in the garage. Some nights I would stay in there past midnight just attempting the same tricks over and over and over.

Eventually winter rolled around and it got so cold that I couldn't even be in there for more than a few minutes. So I took a break from skating for a couple months.

When I got back on the board in spring, I was incredibly rusty. I had forgotten how to do almost everything! I spent over a month just re-learning all the tricks I used to do easily.

The reason I wanted to share this story is because I believe creativity works the same way. The longer you spend away from the work, the more difficult it becomes to execute your ideas. The resistance also gets stronger the more you procrastinate.

If you don't consistently exercise your creative muscles, your skills will atrophy.

Lately I've been feeling this atrophy in the literal, physical sense. It's been 11 weeks since my surgery, and my left leg looks like a wimpy hot dog inside a recovery boot. There's no doubt that I'll have to once again relearn almost everything once I'm ready to get back to skating.

 

In the meantime I have been channeling that energy into my artwork. I figured if I can't skate, I'll just draw about it until I'm recovered.

As one muscle fades, another grows.

What I didn't expect was that this injury would force me to change my whole process. I have been drawing almost exclusively on the iPad Pro (I'll write another post about this soon). I've also been combining more illustration with my lettering through the daily Inktober challenge. It's a skill that I haven't deliberately practiced in years, but I'm already starting to see growth.

Maybe you're reading this and thinking about that project you've been putting off or that skill you want to learn. I want to encourage you to start building that muscle memory today, tomorrow and the next day. It's not gonna get any easier, and if it's something you truly want to improve, it's going to take blood, sweat and tears. (Well, hopefully not too many tears.)

Action step: What's one thing you can do to exercise your creativity today for your own personal growth?

Take one small step today, even if it's just a quick doodle on your coffee break. When you challenge yourself, you might be surprised how quickly you can turn into a mega pumped up beefcake designer. I mean, you might see some improvement. Yeah, let's go with that.

Eric Friedensohn