Developing concepts that solve complex problems has always been a specialty and hobby of mine.
Just recently, I went back to my planning book to see what it is I could be working on in my free time so as to better myself through learning or refining a new skill. I ended up deciding that in order to be successful in my long-term goals, the skill I need to be refining is not my ability to write, but my illustration skills. This step-by-step process really sees me taking leaps and bounds in life, and I hope it assists you as well.
Step 1: Choose an Obstacle
Surprisingly, step one seems to be the hardest for most individuals, and the same individuals who find it the hardest are the ones who don't realize this is the step they're getting stuck on! Too many people mull over a myriad of obstacles in their head, want to tackle every single one, realize they do not have the time for them all, then get discouraged that they can't be perfect like the people they see succeeding online or on reality television shows. Slow down, choose one obstacle with one end goal.
We'd all love to charge headlong into a tsunami of obstacles and overcome it with ease, but what those people succeeding online and on reality television don't show us are their many years of planning and practicing.
The obstacle I've chosen to overcome is improving my illustration skills and I'll be using this as an example throughout this article.
Step 2: Plan Your Approach
Very rarely is any worthwhile obstacle conquered without a solid plan. You wouldn't go out to the biggest mountain you can find, set a beeline straight to the top, and then start charging up said mountain. No, you'd first want to know what you need to climb the mountain, perhaps get someone experienced who could guide you, find a trailhead, and slowly test your ability to climb the mountain. Though not always, charging an obstacle without a solid plan is a sure-fire way to experience catastrophic failure.
In planning my approach to increasing my illustration skills, I went to the safest and cheapest place I could to get some professional tips on how to do so, Youtube. I found a wonderful Youtube channel called Jazza, which is hosted by a man who I think calls himself Jazza (I really can't stand his personality so I half-listen), and though I find his personality insufferable, he offers so many invaluable, easy to understand tips and tricks on improving your illustration abilities. On top of those tips and tricks, he also offers suggestions as to the tools I will need for improving.
Step 3: Gather Your Tools
Gathering your tools can be pretty daunting, not so much the act of it, but because of the financial aspect that a tool collection can require of you. Don't be discouraged by the dollar signs if you are taking on a pricey endeavor, this just means it is time to head back to step two and create a budget and timeline for yourself. In gathering your tools, I highly advise you stick to what you know and don't try using or buying equipment you aren't qualified for at top-dollar. Experts need refined, top-dollar equipment so as to be precise and near-perfect, and if you aren't to that point you don't need to be buying that six-thousand dollar, gas-powered thingamajig.
In my pursuit of higher illustration skills I went straight over to amazon and looked at all the available tools like shading pencils, charcoal sets, specialized sketching paper, stencils... I was overwhelmed quite quickly by all the choices and prices that ranged from a few bucks to thousands of dollars. Being skilled, but an amateur, I opted for simplicity with a low-end set of mechanical sketching pencils, and a very simple sketch pad. My most important consideration, aside from frugality, was that there was no need to break the bank for something I may give up on or lose interest in.
Step 4: Attack the Obstacle
This is probably the hardest step for those of us who have made it this far. We've spent all this time hyping ourselves up, we've made all these plans and formed expectations, and spent the money on the tools. Now is when we begin to think, "Oh God, what have I gotten myself into?!" and the thoughts of doubt start to creep in.
It is okay to doubt yourself, that is normal when you take on something difficult or new! Be realistic with yourself, set fair expectations, and don't demand expert production out of yourself after the first few attempts. The proper development of an outcome can take an entire lifetime, but the important thing is that you're attacking that obstacle while others are sitting on their lazy butts!
I'm currently attacking my illustration endeavors by, yes, illustrating! Within the first twenty minutes I was disinterested and uninspired, but that did not deter me from continuing. Youtube tutorials from the previously mentioned channel playing in the background, scribbling away, and though I'm bored, I'm already seeing improvement!
Step 5: Temporary Failure
Failure is an unavoidable component in every endeavor, but we need to take the time to recognize that most, if not all failures outside of your death, are temporary. The failure to succeed can be ultimately discouraging, but you need to stop being so hard on yourself and realize that failure is a step toward success, not away from it. Every failure is a chance to learn from your actions, and in learning that oft-harsh lesson you are now able to approach the obstacle with a newfound wisdom that will see you surpassing your last attempt more often than not.
My biggest failure in pursuing better illustration skill is my incessant need for perfection. If I don't feel like everything I do is gaining me progress by leaps and bounds, I start to hate myself and beat myself down. Taking the time to show myself some respect, self-love, and seeking support from others can really set me back on the right track in my own mind.
Final Step: Every Step Is Success
The last step is a step that you need to incorporate into every step that was listed previously, and could be safely called the most important step of them all. Realize that every step you take, whether it be forward or back, is overcoming an obstacle that you may not have even known was there. In recognizing these little obstacles, the obstacles that many never even reach so as to overcome them, these obstacles that you are setting yourself apart from the crowd by overcoming, you will quickly learn to self-motivate and self-love. It is within these moments of profound introspective realizations that inspiration will come easy, and you can create this inspiration at will if you so desire it.
Though it will take a lot of practice, a lot of time, and even more dedication on your part, I really hope to see and hear about you overcoming every obstacle that comes your way!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on April 06, 2020:
Something interesting I heard about the forums being so filled with negativity, is that since most negative comments on Hubs will get removed by the author or HubPages itself but the forums do not remove negative comments, that is where all the mean people congregate to sate their need for attention. Interesting little theory, and it makes sense to me.
Mitara N from South Africa on April 06, 2020:
I agree with your thoughts and value your words Kyler.
Unfortunate to say that the longstanding individual expertise extend very little to none, I have not seen any value that they add, only an indirect and bluntly direct forms of bullying, and the newbies entry point is being exposed to the dangerous forum of negativity.
To think those that reflect ill mannerisms can sleep at night.
You are a 100% correct, good and sincere can try and override as best as we can, and most importantly have each others back.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on April 05, 2020:
Absolutely, Ruby, jumping in head first is the fastest way to learn and you should never feel discouraged! Brushes, canvases, paints, they're cheap and easy to come by, and even easier is slapping the pain onto the canvas. You'll get better with every stroke of the brush, and so long as you stick to it you'll be painting wonderful pictures in no time!
Thanks for commenting, now get out there and start painting!
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 05, 2020:
When I first started writing on HP ten years ago, I was the most unprepared writer, yet I wanted to write, so I jumped in and made a lot of mistakes, but I stuck with it. I wanted to write poetry and I must say my first one was pitiful and was told so. Instead of quitting I tried harder. I have always wanted to paint beautiful pictures and I haven't a clue, but I just might buy some paint and brushes and give it a try. Thanks for the encouragement.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on April 05, 2020:
No, Mitara, your point is more than valid as it concerns overcoming obstacles. People can be some of the biggest and most seemingly-insurmountable obstacles, because secretly we'd all like recognition for our work from others. Whenever someone has something mean to say to me I have to think very careful as to whether they mean what they say, or they are simply trying to hurt me and make me doubt myself.
The forums are a dangerous place, I try to point out the rudeness and offer nothing but encouraging words. So long as we do that, and never take the cruelty there into our own hands and use it against the perpetrators, I think it will slowly be noticed by everyone and disappear.
Though, as you say, it tends to be longstanding members of prowess being cruel to newbies, nonetheless us newbies can stand at each other's backs! Thank you for your comment, Mitara!
Mitara N from South Africa on April 05, 2020:
funny enough taking HubPages for example, I was going through some feedback on some forums initiated for article improvement. Maybe it's not linked but I feel to a certain extent it is in direction to obstacle or failure, but found indirectly the support and guidance thats given when feedback is required. All people need is guidance from those considered longstanding, but how the topic is thrown way off, notice rudeness, ridicule and such a negative approach leading people to give up before they even started.
I don't understand how people find joy in seeing or initiating a sense of failure to another.
Be happy for another's success in order to see success.
I may be way off track, but I feel I could share what feels to be heavily weighted.
Always appreciate your articles, take care and be safe.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on April 04, 2020:
You never quite realize how uneducated you are in the arts than when you go to buy some pencils or paint and realize there are more than three types of each. You scroll through the hundreds of different types of paints and pencils, each one with some scary name you've never even heard of, and then you just go to WalMart and buy some cheap graphite mechanical pencils and two dollar paintbrushes, ahhahaha!
Thanks for the reference to the site, Shauna, I'll definitely be using it in the future for my bigger projects!
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 04, 2020:
Kyler, it's ironic that you and I have posted articles (on the same day) about a craft. Yours is about illustration, mine is about writing.
I posted an article not too long ago called, "Meet Dana Cook - Color-Blind Artist". His art is amazing and he's my brother.
A while back, I sent him some canvases (of which he's very picky) and acrylic paints, which is his preferred medium. I purchased them from Dick Blick. I learned of the site thru my son's father (first ex-husband) who did tattoos in his spare time. He bought all his inks and supplies from Dick Blick. But they sell more than that. We're not supposed to show links in the comments section, but you can either Google it or email me and I'll send you the link.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on April 04, 2020:
Thank you, Ivana, I tried to write this as if I was speaking to myself and to present the information the way I wanted to hear it. It is always nice to know that it will work for others as well!
Ivana Divac from Serbia on April 04, 2020:
This is so true. Every step means overcoming an obstacle or coming closer to overcoming it. What matters is that we try, and try again. This article is very important, well-written, and most of all, it comes with good advice. Thank you for sharing!