Discipline Building Strategies

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PatrickGaumond's avatar
Hey everyone! 

It's 2015, and I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on building discipline and improving your work ethic. It's quite a long text but i hope it's worth the read. Right at the beginning of 2014 I read an article that seriously helped me build up a stronger work ethic than I've ever had before, and over the year I've accumulated more knowledge that has helped push it further. I want everyone to have a super productive year, and hopefully maintain that work ethic for the rest of your life, so here is what I know about discipline. Everything here is collected from listening to other people, be they artists, business people, scientists, or comedians. And they've all helped me in varying degrees. Also, this is mostly aimed at people just starting out who may have problems working consistently but don't know how to overcome that, as I had in the past. But if you're a solid worker already, I hope some of this echoes your own experience or helps you anyways. 

Keep in mind this isn't doctrine, just tactics and strategies to incorporate in your life as you see fit. I don't claim to be the most intense worker (there are many who devote much much more time art exclusively than I), but they have helped me gain substantially more discipline than I naturally have or have ever had, and since adopting these ideas I've been more productive in my life in general. I hope they help you as well!

First I want to talk about discipline vs motivation, and why you need to stop relying on motivation to GET SHIT DONE. Motivation is a fleeting feeling. It comes almost as fast as it goes which rarely lasts for more than one project. If you want to build a strong work ethic, you need to ditch motivation as the primary source. It's unreliable, and if it's unreliable, it has little place in your arsenal to be as productive as you can. Discipline, on the other hand, is something you train for and cultivate. It's something that you can rely on in hard times when you're really struggling with your work. Motivation will sometimes be your emancipator, but most likely it will fail you when you need it most; if you have trained yourself to be a disciplined worker, however, you can always draw on it to push through.. Here's one of my favourite quotes on this:

Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day - if you live long enough - most people get what they deserve.
— Charlie Munger

That said, if you do find yourself motivated to do something, take advantage of it. It's icing on the cake of discipline. But it's dangerous to rely on that on it's own

So in no particular order here are some of my favorite ways to build discipline. They all work alone with different levels of success, but they are most successful in tandem with each other

1. Learn how to say no so you can properly say yes

    I think everyone has been in what I think of as the "perpetual maybe". It's that situation when you think you feel like producing, but at the same time you're mind is telling you you're too tired to work, or you're afraid you'll fail, or you think that there's no point since you're not getting better anyways etc etc. Whatever the excuse is, you get stuck in limbo, where your heart is saying yes but your body and mind are saying no. One way to deal with this is to sometimes say a definitive NO. If you find yourself stuck between two worlds, give one of them an answer. Some days you won't feel like working, and that's ok. You don't need to force yourself to work if you don't have to, but don't turn it into a habit. If you can give a very solid NO, you will be more able to give a very certain YES in the future, when you're more prepared. You will waste so much more time staying there than if you just learn to give an absolute no from time to time, because the no is finite, while the maybe is potentially infinite. You can always do something else productive in the mean time. Keep this one in mind for later, it will come up again

2. The Rule of thirds

    No this is not the composition rule, although it borrows the name from it. What is meant by this is how you divide your time between the people you hang out with. How many hours did you spend yesterday learning from someone 10 or even 20 years ahead of where you are? With someone who's just a beginner? Where you're at? The idea behind this is to spend 1/3 of your time with someone at your level so you can potentially see the mistakes you're making currently and so you have a bit of friendly competition to push you forward. 1/3 of your time should be spent with someone less skilled than you, so you can teach them and help them get better. As the saying goes, the best way to learn is to teach. Make good use of it: even the lowliest of beginners will be able to teach you something, and they are always good to keep your humility in check. And 1/3 of your time should be spent around a master or someone that you want to be like. They can share their expertise, steer you clear of potentially disatrous mistakes and give you some of the best and most thoughtful critiques of your work. Trial and error is good, but trial takes a long time, and errors can be fatal.

The advantage of going to a school is that it often forces you into a community that has all three of these by default. If you're not at a school of some sort, you must seek it out on your own. Communities on facebook and other websites aren't necessarily ideal, but they do satisfy the conditions to some extent. If you find someone willing to critique you or wanting to learn from you, EMBRACE IT and keep in touch with them if possible. Watching tutorials, listening to podcasts and videos on youtube, and reading good books are also all good ways of satisfying the last third of the rule at least. Often people recommend watching some videos related to your skill to get motivated. Why not make this part of your work routine so you have a consistent flow of ideas and expertise flowing your way, rather than a one and done deal? Over time you'll not only absorb their knowledge and skills, but some of their work ethic will likely rub off on you as well. Between all the different media and the people you can encounter, there's more than enough to keep you busy for a long while

3. The seinfeld strategy

    I got this from the article I mentioned earlier that helped me out so much. It's a dead simple strategy that I can't believe isn't more commonplace than it is. Here's what you need to do: Go out and buy a big, single sheet 12 month calendar (a regular flip one is good too, but seeing all 12 months is a cool visual way to see your progress), and a big red marker. Your only job is to put a big red X for everyday that you do work. It can be 10 minutes or 10 hours, it doesn't matter; as long you did some work that day that's leading towards your goal. The important thing is DON'T BREAK THE CHAIN; This doesn't work if you don't keep the combo going.

It actually feeds a lot of the first strategy. If you try to force yourself to do 10 minutes of work, you'll be challenging your inner wimp, the one that's trying to stop you from producing, the one that says "Oh I don't feel like it" or "Oh I'm too tired to work" or "Oh I' did good work yesterday so I can do none today". If you challenge him and try to work for that 10 minutes, 95 times out of 100 you'll find that it was a complete illusion. You weren't tired. You did want to work. You could be doing more. Maybe you'll discover that on a day you thought you would do no work, that you wound up doing 10 hours. The idea is to try doing a bit everyday. If you find after 10-15 mins that you still don't want to work, then you can say a definite NO and do something else. But you can say that you did some work yesterday, and, like Munger said earlier, inch by inch you slug it out, building discipline for the times you need it most. Also understand that work isn't strictly mechanical; though in a highly technical field such as art you should be doing physical drawing everyday, studying theory and analyzing other people's work, in my opinion, should also count as "work". But still make sure to practice the mechanical side everyday. Eventually, if you keep at this long enough and don't break the chain it will become habitual to feel a need to work everyday. Dan Luvisi often says "everyday that you don't work, someone else who wants it more is getting ahead," and I think this strategy helps build that consistency. I personally don't think you need to work insane hours every day unless its absolutely necessary for you, but that will come up later. The idea with this is to form a habit, and have a visual way of tracking it and simple goals to get you started every day.

4. Just do it

    If you have an idea for a project that you're really excited about, start it that same day. Don't wait till tomorrow. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to actually act on that. I don't care if you don't think you're not good enough to execute the project, you won't learn anything except how to procrastinate by not doing it and putting it off. If you start it now, there's a very high likelihood you'll gain a spurt of motivation/inspiration and will pull off something really interesting, relative to your skill level at least. If you put it off til tomorrow (sounds a lot like that perpetual maybe doesn't it?), you gain nothing and potentially run the risk of never doing it. If you start it and realize it was a shitty idea, then you know for sure and can safely stop doing it, moving on to other things. Diving in when you have an idea will help you develop the ability to start working when you want to. It will help you overcome the procrastination that so many of us face everyday.

5. Have exercises to fall back on in times of mental fog

    Every so often your brain just doesn't work. It's not easy to predict or solve, but in times like those you need something to do to keep the ball rolling. If you're an artist, for example, that works a lot off the imagination (which is great to do btw), but are going through a period of stagnation, that's likely a sign to switch things up. Study photographs for a while. Do some still lives. Analyze some master paintings. Whatever method of study you like. If it's a mechanical block and you're having trouble executing your good ideas (ie drawing them, bringing them to life), take a break for a few hours and brush up on theory, whether in books, videos or in person. The inverse works too (ie studies not good? Do some work from imagination). Again, over time this becomes a habit. You'll begin to vary your activities more and gain a hunger for knowledge and work. Sometimes, however, it does happen that nothing works, and you just don't feel like working. If you have tried working, have tried switching things up and its still not working then....

6. Cultivate other parts of your life

    Some top tier professionals will have you believe that if you're not living off of 2 hours of sleep a day and you're not constantly working then you're not working hard enough. If you're that kind of person that can focus intensely and can sit and be productive for that long and that consistently, then more power to you. There's nothing wrong with that if its a natural tendency or if you want to make that your work habit. But in my personal opinion and experience, it's equally beneficial to develop other aspects of yourself as a human being. Spending less time than someone else in terms of raw hours working might mean you don't achieve the 10000 hour rule as fast as them, and unless you absolutely need to achieve that degree of success in such a short amount of time, then I don't see a good reason to force yourself to do that if it's not a natural inclination. There is great value in being intensely focused for a period of time, as that per se builds raw discipline. But if half of that time is spent noodling or repeating the same tired old mistakes over and over again, if you've been trying that for a while and you're not improving, then stop. Jaime Jones said once he'd rather spend 20 minutes painting thoughtfully than an hour noodling around, or something to that effect. Don't understimate the value of rest, both physical and mental. There's a really interesting Ted Talk about what the brain does while you sleep, which I recommend you watch here


To sum it up, all throughout the day you're brain is slowly creating a mess of information. It can't clean it up and organize itself because it's constantly using it do other things. So it waits until the end of the day when you go to sleep, puts the rest of the body on low function and sorts itself out. So sleep is important, and how much you need will vary from person to person. But I've also found that developing other skills, even if they're not directly related to your field, also builds discipline in the long run. Not necessarily because you build raw discipline, but because you give yourself a break from the activity you're so focused on and develop other pathways in your brain. I enjoy reading books and articles and watching vidoes about the different aspects of the humanities (religion, politics, self-help, social psychology), more recently I've taken interest in cooking, and I've also been studying a bit of game design here and there. I think the long term benefits of doing other activities, investing in other parts of your brain and developing a skillset other than art and social skills is highly underrated. If you balance things right, you can almost eliminate the need for recreation entirely, or do it in such a way that it's a win win and not a waste of time. 

I used to have only have one interest when I was younger, which was video games, and I never had anything else to do or talk about with people. It's only in the last year or two that I've expanded my sphere of influence to include other things and I'm glad I did; I'm much happier than I've ever been, I'm usually occupied most of the day and I'm wasting far less time that I used to.

The discipline here is, when you are faced with adversity in light of your chosen skill and are having trouble working, that you learn to develop other parts of yourself as an individual and keep growing, rather than stagnating and wasting time.

7. The Death Ground Strategy

    I took this from a book I'm reading, The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. It looks throughout military history at different strategies that the great military leaders used or failed to use and tries to apply them to everyday life. The Death Ground refers to a place where you have no other option but to fight. There's no plan b, there's no safety net, there's no running away. You can only stay and fight, win or die. If you are really having trouble building discipline on your own, even with these other strategies, put yourself in such a situation. The degree is up to you to choose, but find a way that suits you. It sounds scary but having a backup plan can make you work less than you potentially could be. Although the saying that you can be whatever you want is a bit of a cliche at this point, there is truth to it. Most people will give up on something that they're passionate about because they're not seeing the results, or so many people tell them they can't do it for whatever reason. But I think if you slug it out and stick by your guns you'll get there sooner or later. Not everyone has the same path, some will get there later than others, but from what I've gathered from listening to successful people of all stripes is that if you stick with something you love long enough it pays out in the end. Putting yourself in a place where you have almost no choice but to stay with it, again, sounds scary and daunting, but it has value. We're so often told to have a backup plan in case things go sour, or that comfort is good. But I think too much comfort and too safe of a plan breeds complacency and laziness. Try it out, see what happens. But be smart about it.

8. Stop if something gets painful

    I haven't been involved in art or art communities all that long, but in my brief time in it I've seen many potential artists quit or do severely reduced work for physical or emotional reasons. Often times they're some of the most passionate among us, but they have trouble controlling their passion and because of advice like working 16 hour days straight (which some will push as the best way to work), and not taking care of yourself they wind up in pain and can't continue. They may recover physiologically, but the psychological battle is hard to overcome. The thought of experiencing that same pain again is frightening and can cause them to avoid pursuing their passion, sometimes permanently. In my opinion there's two ways to overcome this: One is to be proactive and stop working if you feel pain, change your diet/sleep pattern if you feel like shit and incorporate more exercise, different activities and breaks into your work. The other is taken from Greene's book again:

"Do Not Fight The Last War: The Guerrila-War-Of-The-Mind Strategy:
What most often weighs you down and brings you misery is the past. You must consciously wage war against the past and force yourself to react to the present moment. Be Ruthless on yourself; do not repeat the same tired methods. Wage guerilla war on your mind, allowing no static lines of defense - make everything fluid and mobile"

Which is basically an elaborate way of saying learn to focus on where you are, and always change your strategies to suit the moment. How does this build discipline exactly? Discipline isn't only the art of working consistently and at will; discipline is also the mental capability to overcome doubt and fear at will. Many of our doubts and fears revolve around past mistakes, and we turn to inaction because we fear making them again. But greene argues that's the exact opposite of what you should do. Think about your failures, analyze them and use them as tools. But when you are in the moment and are faced with adversity in the future, you must focus on the now, adapt your strategies and use those tools to help you rather than hinder you. If you have been in a position where you could not work for health reasons, but you've recovered, I sure hope you don't get back up on that horse and ride it the same way. If you're currently unable to work, start overcoming that fear and depression now. Use this time to regroup and become stronger rather than waste time and wallow in your fear. If you feel you're on the verge of injury, again, be proactive and take a break. Don't be pennywise; does it make more sense to take a few hours off or even a day to rest so you can come back and keep working consistently and dutifully, or would you rather work intensely, injure yourself and potentially waste weeks or even months recovering, consequently lagging behind and regressing somewhat in your development? That's entirely up to you

Those are my thoughts on discipline and how to gain it. As I said earlier, all of this is accumulated from listening to others, something I highly recommend everyone incorporate into their schedule at some point or another. All the answers to your life struggles are out there, either in books, videos or directly from other people. All you need to do is look. One last quote before you go, if you're still reading this :)

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
― André Gide

Do you have any techniques? If so, share them in the comments. i'd love to hear them! Also if you read all this and enjoyed it I'd appreciate if you passed it around and favourited it! 
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projecchick's avatar
Thank you for this post! Haven't been on DA for a while but came across it from a search I did and ended up on Crimson Daggers...very insightful, the comments as well like the negative voices that pop up giving me some excuse as to why I shouldn't try...I'm trying to break into the field of character design but because I don't work in the field at all (my background is Economics...urgh!) it's pretty hard staying focussed even though this is something I have always wanted to do..as the years go by you just kinda get comfortable and slowly kill the dream..but like foxfire 1345 said I try to remember daily that fear of not achieving that goal and being a nobody...I do the tedtalks and other videos, but I think I should try the law of thirds...I'm just kinda shy about showing my stuff and talking to others, but I'll get over it! Crimson Daggers looks like a cool place to learn and grow as well!:D (Big Grin) 
PatrickGaumond's avatar
hey thanks, glad you liked it!

Sorry for the late reply by the way, I haven't been checking my notifications lately

Yea it can be tough switching jobs like that, especially when they're not so related. But there are loads of really talented artists out there who did the same thing and made it happen! If you really want it you'll find a way. It might take a few years of sacrificing some parts of your life but it's a long term plan and it will pay off in the end
horse1313's avatar
Great list of strategies! I will try them out and see what fits for me. Since this past October or so I have really been trying to find ways to actively improve myself and my artwork after letting my art just rot on the vine so to speak for many many months. I have found that switching strategies once they have gotten stagnant to be very helpful and as it so happens it's time for a new set. Thanks for the perfect timing :) Oh and first saw the link to these on Crimson Daggers :)
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Hey thanks! Hope they work out for you :) It's good that you're always looking for new ways to improve yourself, but you can also recycle dormant strategies if you're not finding anything new or you've exhausted everything else

Also I recognized your name from the forum btw
horse1313's avatar
I had not thought about revisiting older techniques. That's a good idea. I need to put all of them in one place and figure out whats working and whats not and move from there. 

And glad I was a little recognizable. Been trying to get more involved in both forums, but I'm still trying to get it sorted out. This DA account id old but I only really started using it late last year. 
Sagittarius-A-star's avatar
Hey man, great tips, thanks for sharing! :) I actually read the whole thing, ha ha.  The death ground strategy sounds kind of interesting... I'd like to find ways to apply that, maybe by participating in a challenge on an art forum or something.

Another aspect of building discipline, I think, is turning off those negative tapes that run in our heads (or at least in my head). :D One of the reasons I have not focused my time on art in the way I want to has been because every time I contemplate working, some negative voice pipes up with some discouraging thought.  "I need to do some drawings today... but what if they turn out bad?  I'd like to work at getting better, but I can't make the time, and I don't feel like I'm improving.  I'd like to participate in an art forum but I'm not a REAL artist yet am I?  This sketchbook is not legit 'cause I'm not good..." and so on.  If every positive initiative you make is battered down by a wall of little negative thoughts, it is very easy to cave in on yourself and get stuck in that perpetual maybe.

Just forcing yourself to work will overcome that inner wimp for a while, but I think it is also important to build healthy mental habits inside your skull.  It's going to be a lot easier to be disciplined if you replace "Aaaah, I'm no good its going to suck I'm wasting my time" with "I'm going to be awesome, I'm going to learn a lot and come away with an elevated skill level,", right? :)

I don't know if that counts as a technique. :D
PatrickGaumond's avatar
The idea isn't to force yourself to work, it's to give yourself an honest attempt at working everyday for at least 5-10minutes to see if those negative thoughts are either going to become reality or if they have any weight at all. I'm not much of a believer in needless positive thinking. In fact, I think it's harmful to think in either of those extremes; postivity because it gives you a false sense of hope and negativity because it can seriously destroy a good work ethic. For a short term work ethic, I don't think there's a balance to be struck, I think they should replaced with realistic thoughts based on experience. For a long term goal, then it's probably not a bad idea to think positively, because day to day things will be uncertain. "Win the war, not the battles" as the saying goes.

For example, as I wrote in the post, it's possible you don't feel like drawing or making art on a certain day. Are you going to force yourself to work with positive thinking and potentially make bad art (basically living up to any negative thoughts you had, despite thinking positively about it) or should you attempt working, realize it's not going well and stop to do something else more effectively, whether it's a different exercise or just something else altogether? It's better and more reliable to constantly be in a state of experimentation, to give things an honest chance and to move on if they don't work, than to stick by your convictions and try to work for the sake of it. Save that mentality for when you absolutely need it (say if you're on a deadline) rather than trying to use it all the time.

obviously if you have a deadline to meet it's unrealistic do something else if you're pressed for time, unless you're sure that you can pull it off later in less time and more effectively. There's actually a good story about this in the war strategies book about the production of the movie "The awful truth", in which the director appeared to be wasting a lot of time but came out 2 months ahead of schedule and 200k under budget, and made one of the most highly regarded comedies of all time. He basically waited to be at his peak and only worked when he had good ideas, but was constantly thinking about the movie and what he would do with it. 
Sagittarius-A-star's avatar
Just starting is a very good technique- very often, if I challenge myself to work on something for ten minutes, I will find that I am happy working and will continue on for an hour or maybe several hours. :D

If you by excess positive thinking you mean making EXPECTATIONS over short-term outcomes which, if you fail to meet, you beat yourself up over, then you are quite right.  However, I don't consider that a positive mental outlook!  If you say "I will succeed with this drawing today!", be default you are also implying that if you do not live up to your expectations, your effort was wasted.  What happens if I just set myself a goal I am not yet capable of completing?  Is that the end of my drawing career?  No, of course not... I consider a positive mental outlook one that maintains a balanced and grounded attitude towards all the work I do.  That means putting both the successes and failures in their place.  A lot of learning is simply making mistakes and learning from what you did wrong.  Setting yourself up with the expectation that you must make no mistakes from the get-go is just stupid.

In my experience, when you practice a skill, you improve- even if you REALLY struggle with it to begin with.  It is good to step back and realize that a failure is a call to figure out what you are doing wrong, figure out how to fix it, and practice that.  This is what I consider a positive attitude.  A positive attitude is based on actions, not on specific outcomes.  Big goals take a lot of work to achieve.  You won't get there if you question and undermine your effort every step of the way.

If you really don't feel like drawing or painting one day, saying a definite no so that you can focus your effort on something else is certainly a good idea.  I recently realized that setting out when I was NOT going to draw or paint makes it easy set out the time when I WILL draw or paint.  Perhaps I have work that cannot be ignored, or I want to spend time with my family, or I just want to read a book instead.  It doesn't really matter.  Once you learn to be definite in how you use your time, it is much easier to use your time to your best advantage.

I recently read about a study some researchers did into the lives of violin students.  They asked the teachers who were the most skilled- the ones who they think will end up on Broadway or wherever.  Then they asked who were the least skilled.  They asked each group to track how they used their time.  Most of us, at this point, are expecting to hear that the skilled group practiced with the violin every hour of the day.  It turned out this was not the case.  The skilled group, in fact, spent the same amount of time practicing as the less skilled group.  However, the way they used their time was different.  They practiced at a definite time of the day for a specific amount of time, putting all their effort into it when they felt at their peak.  Then, they spent the rest of their time with their friends or whatever and didn't think about the violin much at all.  The less skilled group put in as many hours.  However, they did so in a much more haphazard way.  Ultimately, they suffered much more stress and were the ones always trying to get better at the violin.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling comment. XD But I think the point here is not to get sucked down in negativity, not to set yourself up to get sucked down in negativity by letting Expectations go wild, and focus on your art-making in specific blocks of time when you can devote all your energy to it.  It is important to appraise your work realistically, and it is equally important to realize that, realistically, you will improve with practice. :) That way you can remain positive and grounded in reality at the same time.

Oh, and ha ha, I'd love to be the kind of artist that has deadlines to meet someday- that implies that I'd be good enough for people to want me to work with them. :P If I had to deal with such things right now, my approach to meeting those deadlines would undoubtedly be entirely different from how I approach a long term goal like learning digital painting.
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Please, don't apologise for writing a lot. Do you know how hard it is to find people who like discussing things? d:

I feel like we're essentially saying the same thing honestly! My definition of what positive thinking is falls more in line with the standard definition is, ie if you just think happy thoughts you'll be less stressed and if you avoid the negative things all the time you're more likely to succeed; always believe you'll succeed or make progress even in spite of any past history. From what I understand you've chosen to redefine what positive thinking means to you, which is totally cool by the way, but I've chosen a different word because the common usage of positive or negative thinking is already defined, and I personally don't want to have to explain my redefinition every time I bring it up. It's a matter of pragmatics and practicality really, but I understand what you're saying and agree with it since it seems like we're saying the same things. By realistic thinking based on experience I just meant you should set your expectations and thought process to line up with how you've accomplished or failed in the past, and use that information to make predictions about the future while taking into account any new information you've come across and also trying new approaches. If you've spent 6 years drawing somewhat consistently and haven't improved, it's unrealistic to project 6 years ahead with the same gameplan and expect different results, even if you think positively about it. If instead you learn something new, and decide to add that to your workflow and adapt to a changing mindset, it's much more reasonable to expect some sort of improvement, or if not you will have a basis for what does NOT work for you. Most of the artists I see who don't improve or don't seem to have any breakthroughs despite mountains of work all have the same thing in common: that is, they do the same thing over and over and expect different results, because they think positively/negatively about the future rather than realistically. Sounds fairly similar to me, maybe I've misunderstood your point, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong

I definitely agree that if you practice you will get better, and there are innumerable examples to prove that both anecdotally and scientifically(ish). I have also noticed that someone's natural interest in the subject is a big factor in how far they will get with that skill, generally people who are dispassionnate about something either tend to give up earlier or never tend to devote enough time to really get ahead. For instance, I tried to get good at several sports (never happened), I tried to get good at maths (i became competent but never more), but both times I basically just couldn't have cared less about pursuing them, I tended to lose interest extremely quickly. This is also true from what I understand and have learned about entrepreneurs; what makes one startup beat out another one, even if they are similarly skilled/funded etc? In most cases it's not been luck, but mostly passion and a deep connection with the company's USP. I think anyone can get a certain degree of confidence and competence in anything as you've said, but it ends there unless that deep love for it is also present. 

That's interesting about the violins, I've never heard that one before! There definitely seems to be a massive benefit in being consistent and balancing your life out, mentally and in terms of production. It's unfortunate that the american ideal of being a workaholic is sort of in vogue in the art community at the moment. I guess that's part of the reason I wrote this :) Not to say there's no benefit to mileage, as I wrote in the post, but i think it's harmful to think that way all the time, personally at least.

And I've only ever had 2 deadlines so far, both from the same client so I'm not really in the best position to start throwing that around, it's mostly theoretical and hearsay from me on that end. I hope to start getting actual work soon once I actually have a decent folio to show! You'll get there eventually man, as long as you keep pushing boundaries and getting feedback you'll get there. My advice is stay away from facebook for good critiques, but if you find someone you think is available to help you or you think would be good for regular advice keep in touch with them, and also listen to other people's crits. Just cause it's directed at someone else doesn't mean it's not applicable to your work too! 
Sagittarius-A-star's avatar
Sorry for the super-late reply. D: I was busy with RL for a while.  I love discussing things too, though, so here I am again! ;)

Yes, I think we are essentially saying the same thing, just in different words.  Merely thinking positive thoughts won't fix a workflow that is not giving you results.  No, what I am talking about is exactly the realistic thinking you are talking about.  The term "positive thinking" means something a bit different to me 'cause most of my negative thinking is not realistic. d:

Yeah, we will not reach that next level of skill if are not truly passionate about what we are doing.  Probably most people can reach a level of competence at a skill they work at for a while.  But, if they don't really care for that skill, they will lost interest after a while. 

Now, I love drawing when I actually have the pencil (or stylus) in my hand and I'm doing it.  But if I give my mind time to "spin its wheels" I'll come up with a list of reasons why I can't learn to draw well- most of which are pure BS.  I don't seem to be the only one who has felt this way based on what Sycra said on some of his streams.  I just need to get my momentum going and stop worrying so much. :D

All you need is a good folio to break in, keep working on filling it up with awesome stuff!!  And I'll try to just get a folio started. :DDD Thanks for the encouragement and advice!  I have some pretty good friends on Permanoobs with whom I trade feedback.  I'm not on FB so no worries there.  I need to start a SB on Crimson Daggers soon so I can start interacting with people there too. :)
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Yea man just get it started asap! I actually have a "complete" folio at the moment and I've sent out to a few places and posted it on a few websites. No responses yet but as I see it that's just a good indicator that I need to keep pushing!
ForgottenDemigod's avatar

How did it go? Are you doing art for living now?

foxfire1345's avatar
yo actually read through all of it. thanks so much for sharing what you have been able to  accumulate about this subject. as i have been experiencing it myself the last months.
its really interesting that a discipline can be so hard to cultivate for other people, 
for me its an on or off thing. theres certain situations that i dont have energy to do something. 
after that distractions and procrastination starts going in to the point that the fire stops to burn. 
what keeps me going though is fear. fear of being a nobody , fear of being on a job that i dont enjoy. 
with art i see it as a ticket to a good and fulfilling life. it gives me purpose. doing whatever it takes to be at a reasonable level.
this has just occurred to me after im done playing video games all the time. if only i had realized this when i was a kid. so much time couldve been saved. 
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Its a mysterious thing discipline. I always find it amazing how easy it is to lose it if you're not careful, or if you think you actually have it how fast you can be proven wrong. I don't mean to sound conceited but I feel like these techniques that I've found help a lot in being consistent with it. Fear definitely helps, and the "death ground" strategy is a big part of using that in a meaningful way. A lot of times when I'm feeling lethargic or in ditch it helps to watch someone else you look up to work, or flip through a sketchbook or watch a tutorial 

And, Yea I feel ya. I pretty much spent the majority of my free time from around 6 yrs old til I was about 16 on video games. I wouldn't call it a complete waste of time personally (though some would), as it set the foundation for the rest of my life, but it definitely could have been better divided. I think the best place to be at as a gamer is to still play them if you genuinely like them, but to be analytical about them, use them to feed your work and your discipline rather than see them as a distraction.. If you're Playing games that require a lot of thinking about strategies or that develop parts of your brain, rather than things like farmville which are massive waste of time, then I don't think there's any problem with playing games. We like to think they're a complete waste of time but there have been studies done showing they increase certain hand-eye functions, ability to project into the future, ability to think in 3d and so on, which are all useful skills to have, especially as an artist.

 I also just watched something today that said that people who have a weekly communal activity of some sort, like having a get together and playing cards for instance, on average have the same number of years added to their lives as someone who quits smoking a pack of cigs a day. So maybe you could incorporate it like that instead of seeing it as a waste of time. I guarantee you if you stop looking at it like its a time sink or like its procrastination then you can keep enjoying it and make it a part of your work schedule in a way thats meaningful, and instead of spending 12 hours playing skyrim or whatever you can spend maybe 3 or 4 and learn something from it rather than look at it like escapism. That's part of what I meant when I said I study game design. Yea I read theory but I also play games and think about how things work together or don't and why I do or don't like the way certain things work. Something i like doing also is saving it for the end of the day, that way you're less likely to A) spend a ton of time playing and B) you wont potentially waste the rest of the day
foxfire1345's avatar
i actually dont think that my time spent playing video games was a complete waste of time. 
as i can see the benefits of playing games for this long on myself, what i wished that i have found out sooner though is this industry of art thats let me say , buzzing and its still in good form. it couldve been awesome as i was so inspired by all these amazing video games that it might have had influence me as an artist. though i still get inspired by some of the games ive played like for example the old games like , crash bandicoot , final fantasy X earthworm jim etc. but not so much from the games of this generation, maybe its an age thing. but its safe to say i  really enjoyed playing games on my younger years than today. i still play games from time to time. especially with friends. what does game design look like? i heard its but ass hard! well to some its not if their enjoying it.
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Good on you then! I also wish I had discovered I could make art or discovered I was interested in it sooner than I had so I could get a head start, but then I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now I suppose.

To be clear I've never actually designed a game or tried to, I do want to in the future at some point, but theres a lot of other things I want to do first. When I say I study game design, 90% of that means either playing games and trying to understand at least the core pillars of what its trying to do and how its delivering on that in the final product, while also looking for new and interesting ways to make a game, or just listening to people critique games and hear what they think. At the moment I'm not so much interested in the technical aspects (all the numbers and and math behind the game) but the things the players experience moment to moment in the game and the broader scope they occupy

 I've read a bit of design theory but not much. I have so many other books stacked up at the moment that I havent finished that I think its kind of silly to pick another one up and start it as well!
JaikArt's avatar
Ah, this is great. I picked up quite a few good tips. Will go get a calender tomorrow and probably buy that book. It sounds interesting!
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Thanks! Glad you liked it
M0nkeyBread's avatar
Great tips in there man. Nicely done. I am currently indulging in a little death ground strategy myself. :)
PatrickGaumond's avatar
Thanks! How is that working out so far? From your portfolio and what you've posted recently I was surprised you weren't already getting consistent work
M0nkeyBread's avatar
Haha, well I step out onto the "killing field" as I like to think of it in exactly 6 days. I'll let you know. So far only got:
1. no response
2. we'll keep you on file
3. will you work for nothing and a wink from our hairy bearded developer guy?

The usual freelancer mix really, just none of that paying stuff just yet.  :)
magdali-na's avatar
thank you for sharing this, I find it very useful :)) I'm going to try the 3rd thing with the calendar..
PatrickGaumond's avatar
No problem, glad you liked it! It's probably my favourite on the list, pretty easy to do and in my experience gives consistent results
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