Planning for Inktober
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How to Plan for a Daily Art Challenge

Planning for Inktober

Tips to Stay on Track with your Daily Drawing Practice

Are you up for a challenge?     Want to improve your drawing skills in the process?     

I’m a sucker for a challenge and totally obsessed with all things art, so when my friend told me about the Inktober challenge a few years ago, my interest was piqued.

What is Inktober?

If you are unfamiliar, Inktober is an annual drawing challenge that takes place each October where participants complete an ink drawing Every. Single. Day.   Does that sound as overwhelming to you as it does to me?      With my style of realism, a single drawing can take as much as 40 hours.   And ink isn’t even a medium I’m familiar with using.   How on earth could this even be possible for me?

Yet still, the idea wormed its way onto my bucket list.    So I pondered the possibilities for the past several years, but never took action.    But, this year is different.    This year  I’m determined.  This year I’m motivated.   This year I’m crazy?     And now, as October is quickly approaching and the challenge will soon be starting, I’m plotting out a strategy to stick to it for 31 days in a row.        Read on for ideas and a strategy to keep on track throughout a daily drawing challenge.    

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone

Tip #1  Know your Why and Set a Goal

Setting out to do a daily art challenge feels like a huge undertaking.   And it is.   This calls for a big dose of dedication to put forth the effort and time needed to complete a drawing every day.      More to the point, I’m going to need a compelling reason to choose drawing over other activities for the next month.      I need to figure out my “why”.     Why will I set aside other things to focus on this challenge?  

Your why would likely be different than mine.   It will be personal to you, your needs and your desires for your art.     For me there are a couple things I want to accomplish with this challenge.     First on my list is to get faster at completing my drawings.      I tend to get bogged down in details and trying to be exact when I create art.    I don’t necessarily want to lose that, but I do want to learn how to loosen up a little and stop second guessing every mark.    I think moving faster will help me do that.   

Second on my list is that I want to explore ink as a medium.     I have collected some ink supplies over the years, but never really put them to use.     I want to learn how to use them and how to incorporate them with the mediums I already use.      Who knows, using the ink just might help me loosen up.    After all, I can’t erase ink and try again, so I must work around or with any mistakes that I make.   

So, this leads me to my goal.     Given my reasons for wanting to do this challenge, my goal will be to complete a drawing every day in 2 hours or less using a different combination of materials (including ink) and/or techniques each day.    This goal is specific and measurable and will help guide me through the challenge, coming out at the other end better off than I am today.      At least that’s the plan!

Tip #2   Schedule and Commit Time



For me, and I suspect for a lot of you, the biggest hurdle when it comes to a daily drawing challenge is going to be time.     Life can be pretty hectic, and there are a lot of demands on our time, so how do you manage to fit a daily drawing into a busy lifestyle?       I for one am going to need a little structure and consistency – I need a routine.   


With my goal in mind, I already know that I want to spend 2 hours or less, but now I need to figure out when I’m going to actually do it.    Since I have a full time day job, I know that my only real options are to get up way early, or to plan to do it in the evenings.     I have never been much of a morning person and don’t trust myself to get up early, so that leaves evenings.    Easy, right?    Well, not so fast.     That is also when I do everything else besides work and sleep.     Spending time with my husband, working out, other art projects, working on my website, getting together with friends, reading, scrolling through social media pages, etc.     Something has to give.    


So, prioritization, compromise and sacrifice are going to be key.    What can I live without?   What can I cut back on?     What can I leave for someone else to do instead?     What is non-negotiable?     I need to evaluate all of the things I spend my time on and figure out what I can change to carve out the time needed to accommodate this challenge.         For me, I can eliminate browsing through social media, I can do shorter workouts, I can put my website revamp on hold, ask my husband to run a few errands for me, and if necessary, go to bed a little later. 

Tip #3:     Prep ahead for a daily challenge

Since time is an issue for me, I know I can’t waste precious drawing time trying to figure out what to draw.   So before I start, I need to plan out what I intend to draw each day.     I need to gather up  the objects or photos I want to draw from so that they are ready for me on the day I need them.      Just having that pool of subjects handy will take away that stress so I can get right to the drawing.       

As I’m planning for my drawing challenge, I also need to consider the size of my drawings.     Not to state the obvious, but if they are too big, I’ll have a hard time getting them done.   So I have to think small.    Additionally, now is not the time to create whole, complex scenes.     I need to hone in on a single subject and limit the actual size of the drawing to something that is going to be manageable within my 2 hour time frame.  

Another thing I can do ahead is gather up the different papers and surfaces I want to try out and cut them to size.     That way, during the challenge, I can just reach for my reference, an already prepared paper, my inks and other materials and get going.        No decisions, no prep work, no delay.


 Inktober comes with a list of official prompts for each day.    While it isn’t a requirement to follow these prompts, I think it will help me plan this out and take away some of the decision making.    Now, all I need to do is use these prompts as inspiration when picking my references.

Tip #4:     Hold yourself accountable

Well, some people are better at the whole self-discipline thing than others.     In the past, I have found it helpful when trying to stick to something new to write things down.    I keep a small calendar with me and write down each day what I accomplished.      I hate to see a day with nothing written down.   This “self-shames” me into taking action.       

For this challenge I intend to write down what I drew each day, what materials I used and what I learned about the process.        This will also help me keep track of how I’m going with my goal.    That way my reason for doing the challenge in the first place will remain fresh in my mind every day and motivate me to keep going.     Plus, I’ll have a log of what materials and techniques work best together as well as what to avoid in the future. 

If journaling is just not going to work for you, then why not enlist the help of others?   Team up with a buddy or a group of people that want to participate in the challenge as well.     You can hold each other accountable.     Or if you have a following on social media, let your fans know that you are doing a challenge and are going to be posting your work on a daily basis.       You can’t let them down, right?        


Another part of the Inktober challenge that I find useful is that you are encouraged to share your work on social media using the official hashtag:  #Inktober.     I plan to post my daily drawings on my Instagram and Facebook pages each day.     This will give me a little added fire to keep going so I have something to post.     Not to mention the peer pressure and (hopefully) the anticipation of my followers.

So, there you have it.     The tips and strategies I’m using as I’m getting ready to dive into my very first art challenge:   Inktober 2019!        If you have been thinking of joining the challenge, I hope that you do!       Whether you do or don’t – follow along with me on my social media pages as I post my daily progress.    


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