Too Much Information at Once
As fun as it can be diving into a whole new world and discovering tools, materials and other options, it can also be overwhelming. Soon you’ll be at a point where you want to do it all at once and see instant results.
This won’t happen. You have to let it unfold and give yourself the time to learn a new skill. Practice one step at a time. Building skills takes time.
Invest the time into practice, not into skimming through Pinterest or Instagram stream. Inspiration is fine, and it’s probably what got you here, but if you want to learn how to do something, you’ll have to do it yourself. Inspiration does not replace practice, and especially with calligraphy, you’ll have to learn and be comfortable with the basic strokes and moves.
You can only get better by doing.
Consuming Content Can be a Time Sink
There is a lot of awesome content out there, especially on the internet, and it can become almost a profession in itself to read and think about how awesome all these skills you’re reading about are. Trust me, I know this, I used to spend entire afternoons with reading about topics, and guess what: I never moved a finger, except to click my mouse…
This in itself can feel like we’ve done so much because it puts us into a certain mindset („This is awesome, I want to do it all.“), but without taking action exactly nothing will happen. It’s like watching health videos while you’re sitting on your couch the whole day..
Everyone Has the Ability to Take Action
Think about the last time you were really enthusiastic about something. It didn’t feel hard to do it then, right? You have the potential in you, you just need to fight what’s keeping you from starting. This could be laziness, time, or money, or an insecurity or fear of failure.
You Will Fail
Yes, that’s right. If you start with something, you will without doubt fail. You can’t be perfect the first time you do something. It’s what you make of this failure that defines your approach. Notice how each time you fail (or make mistakes to put it more mildly) you can learn something. You make a new experience which shapes your way. This advice doesn’t stop at creativity, you can apply it to almost every life „failure“.
Don’t be discouraged because others are seemingly better at what you want to do and it seems to come naturally to them – it probably didn’t. They simply didn’t get discouraged by their failure and tried again until they became better and things started flowing more easily. You will get there – it’s just a matter of endurance and patience. For calligraphy, you have to be willing to show a lot of patience, especially in the beginning when the tools feel weird and your fine motor skills aren’t as developed yet.
Thinking and Acting
Another factor could be that you may be overthinking things. If you take all the time you spend thinking about what you want to do, but actually don’t do it, consider this:
The brain is an incredible machine, but it tends to think, and that’s often its downfall. You don’t even need to be a particularly „cerebral“ person – we all think ourselves in circles sometimes, and particularly when we’re unsure, or afraid of something new. The brain comes up with thoughts if you want it to or not, it’s just what it does. Again: Coming up with thoughts is just what the brain does. They aren’t even necessarily true. Once you’ve identified this – and it’s hard, you’ll have to practice being mindful and do it over and over again, you can step out of the circles. Stop indulging in your brain’s thoughts and take action! Your brain will catch on.
To-Do-Lists and Accountability Partners
If you’re unsure what to do, take a post-it note and jot down three concrete tasks that bring you closer to what you want to learn. In the case of learning calligraphy, it might be: dedicate an hour three times a week to practice, print out practice sheets, get your tools ready. If you’re prepared, all you have to do is show up and do it!
Sometimes you need a little extra push to take action. This can come from someone else, like an accountability partner who holds you accountable for what you do – or don’t do. It’s much easier to promise something to yourself and not follow through with it (think about how many times you’ve done that today), but when another person’s involved they will notice and put you back on track. You can also commit in public to something, you’ll be surprised at how effective this is.
Doing Doesn’t Stop Your Learning Process
As you’ll notice, taking action won’t stop the process of learning itself, on the contrary: it will actually deepen it. The two principles of theory and practice go hand in hand and form the knowledge of any skill, and it’s only by practicing that you can gain mastery.
Remember that list I talked about earlier? Start now, just start the first thing on your list today. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, to have a clean start or whatever you think you need. You don’t. Just do it now, get out those nibs and your pen holder and get started with your practice. It’s really that simple.