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Cartoon artist struggling with the decision to draw characters or environments.

How To Decide What To Draw Before You Give Up Art for Good

Indecision on what to draw can paralyze you. Learn to be decisive before you quit art for good.

Consider this scenario: A person that's hungry and thirsty is placed midway between food and water. Unable to make any decision, they die of hunger and thirst. They can't make a rational decision between the food and water. In their paralysis, they fail to move in any direction.


When you can learn to draw anything, it’s no wonder you have a thousand and one things you’d like to draw. Making decisions is tough, but you have to start somewhere. The problem lies in the uncertainty of your decision. You don’t know if you're making the right choice and what the future will hold.


Rest assured, you can decide on what to draw and you can do it without feeling paralyzed by indecision. Even better than that, you can feel great about your decision as you pursue it.


There is no perfect decision

You’ll never know the alternative to the decision you made.There’s literally no way to know what would happen if you chose one decision over another. You’ll only know what you choose.


Not everyone loves Gary V and even I’ll admit he can be a bit much at times, but he does illustrate a good example. Say you choose to draw characters and pick it up really fast. You catch the eye of a big company in California, and they want to fly you out to visit the studio. Your plane lands, you catch a Lyft, and on your way to the studio you get into a car accident. After waking up in the hospital, you realize you lost your drawing hand in the accident.

There are not always such dire stakes, but you never know what can happen to you. One decision can cause a series of events that bring tragedy, a miracle, or more of the usual. There's no perfect decision, there’s just the choice you live with.

You can overcome indecision

You can still be thoughtful with your decisions. If you decide to be rude to people, you have a higher chance of upsetting the wrong person and dealing with serious consequences. If you choose to shower people with kindness, you might still upset some people, but your chances of detrimental consequences are a lot lower.

Most people get stuck with what’s called analysis paralysis – when you are literally frozen by indecision, in fear that you will make an unfavorable one. Much like our food and water example, if you're placed between two things you want, you overanalyze your possible decisions so much that no decision is made – no action is taken.

We’re going to stop that right now! Get out a piece of paper and pencil and write down everything you want to learn to draw. It could be a list of five things or a hundred things. Just get it all out there.


From that list, choose three that you enjoy the most. If you have trouble choosing, leave the list alone for a while. When you come back, try not to think too much and choose the three things that excite you the most.

And finally, from your chosen three, choose one that you can’t live without trying.

Your brain will reward you

If you’re struggling to make your final decision, or even have trouble choosing the list of 3 things you're excited to draw, there’s one last thing that may help.


In marketing, I was taught that people make purchasing decisions based on emotion and rationalize those decisions to themselves later. Turns out we do the same kind of thing when we’re faced with a decision between things of equal value. Studies suggest we update our preferences after our decision has been made so we feel more confident about it.


This study went further to hypothesize that you actively shape your preferences when faced with difficult decisions. So not only do you confirm your own decision, but you shape what you enjoy and what excites you in the moment, making later decisions less difficult.


Your brain doesn’t like to work hard, it’s lazy. It likes to work on repetition and repeated behaviors. If you bring something new to the table, like a difficult decision, it will find ways to make that decision easier the next time and make you feel great about it.


Deciding what to draw

If you’re having trouble deciding what to draw, just know that it doesn’t matter. Whatever you choose, you’ll never know the alternative and your brain will do it’s best to make you confident in your decision. All you need to do is decide on something.


Deciding also helps us realize what we don’t want. I tried doing commissions while I was learning to draw and realized it made me miserable. I stopped. Had I not made the decision to try it, I would still be living in a fantasy of enjoying commission work.


Decisions help you determine your interests. Being decisive allow you to learn more and move forward. Decide what you want to draw and discover where your interests lie.



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