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How to get good at a skill

In 2 years, I grew from nothing to over 100,000 followers on social media.

Is this good? Not bad.

How did I get here? It started off with sporadic book summary blog posts, followed by a commitment to a weekly newsletter, and then a dedication to publish one illustration a day for 90 days.

And Campbell Walker explained my experience perfectly - with additional advice on how you can get started, get good - and better than I am - in this 10-minute video. You'll find out how you can get wildly good at a skill and change your life.

Prefer to read instead? I've summarised the lessons below the video.

Notes from the video

(Edited for reading pleasure, but retaining Campbell Walker's voice).

I really liked Marc Shatner. I was really impressed with the fact that he managed to make art his full-time gig. One time I said "how many days a week do you make art?" and he responded without even thinking it was weird. He goes "all of them."

It wouldn't blow my mind now because now I know what it's like to find something that you love enough to do seven days a week where it doesn't even feel like work. It feels like a day's wasted if you haven't done it.

He gave me a bit of tough love and said, "Campbell you know what your problem is? One day you write a song, the next day you write a poem, and then the third day you do a drawing. And none of it adds up to anything. All you're doing is laying a single brick of a million different houses and expecting that one day it'll magically become a mansion. It's not gonna happen."

He'd identified the problem perfectly: I was scattered.

You can do 10 things to like the first degree or you can do one thing to the 10th degree.

Naturally my next question was, "Alright Marc, we know what's wrong with me. How do I fix it?" 

He just said, "Draw the same thing every single day. You've got so many mediums, I'll pick one for you - it's gonna be drawing. And what you're gonna do is just draw the exact same thing every single day. Just try it for a year and then we'll reassess."

(Campbell decided to draw an ibis every day.)

The brilliance of Marc Shatner's advice wasn't to draw an ibis. He was just telling me to start because once I start, only then will I find the thing that I'm looking for. But I would never have got there if I hadn't drawn the ibis every single day.

Why is it so good? 4 reasons.

#1: Quantity leads to quality.

It's the reason that my videos are now gonna be 70% instead of 100% perfect.

#2: It promotes constraints for creativity.

The blank page is one of the most freakishly intimidating things.

We've all been there - we've all stared at it, we've all tapped it with our pens. It's very very annoying but compare a blank page with a blank page that says draw an ibis or a blank page that says draw a robot or a flying horse or any kind of tight brief, and immediately having a constraint lets you know exactly what you're going to be doing.

#3: Action comes before motivation.

It's not the other way around. There's this myth that motivation leads to action, that you've gotta wait for some sort of moment of inspiration that strikes you like lightning from the gods, but it's the other way around.

You need to act and only then will you find your motivation. So for me I needed to draw every single day and I needed to build up that habit before I could probably be motivated to draw what I actually felt like drawing.

#4: I was using thinking as a form of procrastination.

There's a story about a donkey who wants some hay and want some water but the donkey doesn't know which one to go to first. So the donkey looks at the hay, looks at the water, looks at the hay, looks at the water, thinking, "Am I hungry or am I thirsty?" And eventually the donkey dies of dehydration. What a dumb donkey! 

I was the donkey. I was like "Should I make this? Should I make that?" I didn't start but I felt productive because I was thinking about it.

But thinking about stuff is not doing stuff. It's the complete opposite of doing stuff and I was in a trap with deliberating and pondering and questioning and thinking and strategising and debating. They all felt like they were moving me forward but they weren't!

And Marc Shatner's advice of just draw one thing every day got me out of that.