October is almost here, which means it’s time to get ready for Inktober. In 2018, I was busy putting a house on the market and moving in October, and I still managed to draw every day thanks to Inktober. Here are my seven tips for anyone worried about failure.

A drawing from last year’s Inktober. Sketch by Kit Dunsmore.

Draw for ten minutes a day. Or five. Or one. Set a time limit that you feel sure you could meet every single day, no matter how busy you are, and commit to drawing for that long. While you will probably wind up drawing for a longer time most days, it’s nice to be able to succeed without trying too hard. Ten minutes can feel like a lot when you are really busy.

Give yourself permission to make small drawings. A drawing is a drawing. It doesn’t have to be huge to count. You might even pick a smallish sketchbook to keep yourself from getting overextended (see Decide what materials to draw with ahead of time below.)

Keeping it simple for Inktober: a sketchbook that’s easy to carry and a ballpoint pen.

Give yourself permission to doodle. This is for anyone who feels pressured to make amazing art. The goal is to draw, but no one said you had to be da Vinci. Doodles totally count as drawings, and might even lead you somewhere unexpected.

Give yourself permission to post your drawings when you want to, even if it’s never. The original Inktober challenge includes posting your drawings daily, but that’s more than I can handle. So I let myself post once a week. That way I’m not as worried if a drawing isn’t successful. I don’t have to show it to anyone if I don’t want to.

Decide what materials to draw with ahead of time. I’ve picked out my pens and sketchbook for this month and put them out where I will see them. Not having to decide which materials I will be using every time I sit down saves time and makes it easier to get started.

Decide what subjects to draw ahead of time. You have several options to help you with this. One is to use the official Inktober 2019 prompt list (or a list from a previous year). Another is to make your own list of subjects you like to draw. Last year, I used my hands, feet, and pet dog, because they were always right there when I sat down to draw. You can also pick a theme, like I did back in February when I drew orchids daily. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, as long as you decide. It will keep you from wasting time figuring out what to draw and make it easier to get started.

Sketch of an orchid flower done with ballpoint pen by Kit Dunsmore.
One of my daily orchid drawings from February 2019. Drawing by Kit Dunsmore

Decide when during the day you will draw. This doesn’t have to be the same time every day, nor do you have to decide very far in advance. But do decide either the night before or when you get up in the morning when you will be drawing during the day, or you’ll wind up like me, drawing just before bed when you are exhausted, and making awful drawings in the process.

These tips really worked for me last year, and I’m using them again this year. Here’s my commitment for Inktober 2019:

  • I will draw in ink for ten minutes a day with pens and a sketchbook I’ve already chosen (see photo above).
  • I am allowed to draw anything I want to (doodles for example), but my subjects when I don’t know what to draw will be: my model dinosaurs, my dog Dory, or my shoes.
  • I will schedule my drawing time each day.
  • I will post one picture a week.

What are your strategies for Inktober? Do you have rules that are different from those Jake Parker came up with? What do you like about this challenge?

8 thoughts on “Seven Tips for Crushing Inktober 2019”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your strategy, Kit. Having tried a theme for Inktober last year – drawing cats from a photo album of my feline companions – planning ahead of time reduces the stress and doubles the fun!

    1. Cool that a theme worked for you. I did an orchid-theme last February and that worked for me as well. I did have “not again” days, but mostly it took all the decision-making out of the process so I didn’t waste any time figuring out what to draw. Have a great Inktober!

  2. Hello Kit! Thank you for reminding me of Inktober; using real ink on real paper used to be my main thing but i hardly ever do it any more, so thanks for putting the idear back into my skull. Last year i managed to come up with 31 little (and big) sketches by the end of the month — not working daily, but doing a few pieces every few days — and they are all in my devArt gallery now.
    This year my plan is to use up a bunch of markers i’ve had laying around unused for several years now; dried-up markers can give a cool brush-like effect if they’re not too dried-up. Plus fat markers should keep me from getting too hung up on detail, keep it loose. But my main ambition this year is to just use my left hand (i am very right-handed). i’ve done it before, years ago on a job where i needed to keep my right hand ready on a keyboard for instant action, but had lots of downtime waiting, so i drew left-handed. It’s great for rethinking or rediscovering the whole process, like learning to draw all over again — same brain, new hand…

    1. What a great plan! I love the idea of drawing with your non-dominant hand. I’ve done it before, and while the images are wavy, they have great energy. I also love the idea of using up nearly dead markers. Have a fun Inktober!

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