I was raised with a fixed mindset. I didn’t know this then. But I do now.
As a father, with access to tons more research than my parents had (partially due to 35 plus years of science, and partially because the internet brings that research within reach) I’ve learned that I wish I didn’t. Instead of a fixed mindset, I’m trying to raise my daughter to have a growth mindset.
Let me back up. Do you know the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset? If not, let me try to boil it down. Not for you. You can probably understand the jargon, I need it for myself.
Someone with a fixed mindset believes they are born with gifts. Those gifts are to be honed into skills. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this part of the fixed mindset. The problem comes with the second part. Not gifted in an area? You need to stop wasting your time with it. Go onto the things you are gifted at and succeed there.
A person with a growth mindset believes that they can conquer any challenge with enough practice.
Studies have shown most people successful in life have a growth mindset. They are willing to put in the extra effort when things get hard. They revel in moving from weak at something to strong at it.
A person who struggles with math with a fixed mindset takes mostly literature and history in college (and finds a simple Intro to Computers course to satisfy their math requirement), instead of buckling down and working through their struggles. If that example feels true, it is. It’s what I did. Worked out, ok. I mean, I graduated. But did I learn as much as I could have by staying within my comfort zone? Definitely not. I was always a fan of Astronomy and my fear of math meant I didn’t take a course in it in college.
A person with a growth mindset knows that it isn’t lack of talent, that makes them bad at math. It’s lack of practice.
I have a fixed mindset. I’d prefer to have a growth mindset. So what do I do about that?
I think I try to work my way from the first to the second.
Math is not the only thing I stink at.
I can not draw.
This is not a secret. In fact:
Since I’ve spent 42 years of my life with a fixed mindset I’ve done nothing about it.
I think 2017 is the year I grow. I will probably not come out of the year as a writer/artist. But if I stick with my plan, I will be able to draw at this time next year.
I’m calling it my 5×52 challenge. One hour a day, five days a week, I will do something artistic. Part of that hour will probably be watching youtube lessons. The other part will be putting those lessons into practice. And the last 15 to 20 minutes will be my best effort to draw one of the characters I write. By the end of the year, I expect to be able to draw a nice representation of them for people who ask. Not Ludo, or Jessi, or David, or Chris nice… but nice.
Oh, I’m also adding an experiment to the challenge. I’m practicing with both my right and left hand.
I’m one hour in. Want to hear how it went?
I hopped onto youtube. Searched illustration tutorial and found a few that seemed to be more about painting than pencilling, so I refined my search. Finally ending on this one:
This worked for me. Seemed like a cool enough guy. And I think I ended up drawing a better circle than I ever have before. Baby steps : )
I plan on having a ball as I grow out of the “Disgustingly Crappy” art category and into the “Barely Competent” category, so don’t feel bad if some of my early stuff makes you laugh. I’m laughing, too.
Any way this is the page I sketched on:
As you can see it was mostly just playing with shapes. I was also experimenting with grips. My hands are so inflexible I’m hoping that holding the pencil in a different way will eventually lead to better results.
Here was an effort to sketch my wife as she sat on the floor shredding paperwork.
Note the Loki shirt. No that’s not Marvin the Martian. Though you’ll just have to trust me on that.
And my first two efforts at one of my characters. I’m not at all displeased with either. Surprisingly, I think I’m better left handed than right?
Well, maybe not better. But it’s much closer than it probably should be.
The interesting question to me is, will my left hand, after a few months practice (the first in its life) rapidly outpace my right hand? Or will my right hand become more dexterous with the practice and the four decade lead it has on holding a pencil show itself? Either way, I’m doing both hands for a bonus. I figure if I work both sides of my brain it might open up my writing mind to more avenues than I usually get to travel.
Will 5×52 turn me into a great artist. No.
At least not in the sense of drawing my own publishable comic book. But will I grow? Yes. You’re darn right, I will. I hope on December 31st, 2017 to be able to hold up that days illustration next to today’s and not believe the same person did them. I think that’s how it will be.
Now… who’s with me. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to learn (Piano, knitting, Baking?) that you can find one hour, five days a week* to do?
If so, please let me know. We can discuss it here, but instead, let’s talk about it on twitter under the hastag #5×52.
* There will be days we miss, but I think for this to really work, we’ve got to commit to making them up on the weekend, or doubling up asap to stay on target. I almost called this the 365 challenged, but realized I was setting us up for failure if I did.