2021 will be here before you know it, and January 1st offers a blank slate for us to learn new skills (or improve on current skills). In this article, we’ll talk about ways to stay motivated as you endeavor to improve your calligraphy! From collecting calligraphy-focused books to passing up worksheets, there are lots of…
As the New Year comes closer, many of us are starting to ponder our 2021 goals. As a goals junkie, I can tell you that you’ll experience the most success if you can stay motivated! If learning calligraphy (or improving your calligraphy) is one of your 2021 resolutions, look to the reasons on this list to keep yourself inspired and driven.
1. Create Calligraphy Consistently
The secret to improving any skill is to do it consistently! In the case of calligraphy, try devoting 1-3 days per week to your practice. Make sure each practice session is 20 minutes or more, and ensure that the practice is something that you look forward to. It’s a good idea to enhance your work environment with your favorite podcast or music, a beloved candle, and a delicious non-caffeinated beverage!
I will never forget picking up Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe for the first time. I couldn’t even get through the book in one sitting … that’s how inspired I was to try out new writing techniques and make projects! On days when I’m feeling a little stuck, I flip through Molly’s book and the other calligraphy books in my collection. By the time I put the books back on the shelf, I’m giddy with a project idea.
Here are my current favorite calligraphy books and magazines:
Pinterest boards present an inexpensive (free, really) way to collect your favorite calligraphy examples. If you see something you like while surfing the internet, you can “pin” the image to your calligraphy inspiration board! I have a board called “Font Fascination”, where all of my favorite calligraphy images live. If I need an idea or some motivation, that board is one of the first places I look!
4. Step Away From the Worksheets
Calligraphy worksheets are enormously helpful when it comes to learning calligraphy or improving your calligraphy skills. As valuable as they are, though, worksheets can get boring. It’s important to spice up your calligraphy creation by making actual projects every so often! Any project that you make adds to your repertoire of calligraphy skills, and you’ll likely find the challenge invigorating.
I keep a running list of “real life” calligraphy projects that you can make — projects that you might use as gifts or home décor. You can find that list by clicking here.
5. Keep a Sketchbook
Sketchbooks offer a safe space to practice new dip pen techniques; no one ever has to see your work if you’re a bit shy about sharing it! Additionally, all those white pages offer a great motivation to keep on going, filling up your sketchbook page by page. My favorite sketchbook is manufactured by Shinola; the paper inside is a great texture for the dip pen, and ink never bleeds.
You might use your sketchbook strictly for calligraphy, or you can branch out and do some illustration/lettering work. For inspiration, see the Sharing My Sketchbook So Far article!
6. Treat Yourself to a New Supply
Calligraphy is a basic activity: you really only need a pen, nib, ink, and good paper to do it. That said, there are so many supplies out there that you can use to “uplevel” your writing and infuse excitement into your practice! The first time I tried the Finetec Golds palette, I stayed up until 2:00 AM writing in gold on any scrap of paper I could find. I was that giddy about the brilliant gold calligraphy I could now make!
If you’re not sure which supplies to introduce into your calligraphy creation, see the Seven “Special Treat” Calligraphy Supplies article. It’s nice to build up your collection one indulgence at a time to reward yourself as you develop your calligraphy skills!
7. Walk Away If You’re Not Feeling It Today
Everyone has “off” days, regardless of skill level. If you’re having one of those days with a lot of spattered or spilled ink, letterforms that make you cringe, layouts that just aren’t cutting it, or whatever it is: just walk away. Remember, your calligraphy creation is supposed to be enjoyable. If your calligraphy is frustrating you, it’s not fulfilling its purpose today. Give your dip pen a rest for a few hours or days, and you’ll be amazed at how fresh you feel next time you sit down at your desk.
If you’re reading this article, that already says a lot about your determination to learn. Remember that you’re human, and humans make mistakes. Mistakes are precisely why you’re learning calligraphy: it’s impossible to churn out perfect letters every time like a computer, which is why people love handwritten words. Be proud of your willingness to expand your horizons and challenge yourself, which adds to your happiness. Give it some time, and you’ll love the results of your calligraphy efforts!