5 min read

Learning Habit Building with Pixel Art, Part One: Identity

Hello there! I'm Brennan Davis, the creator of CreaDev Labs, a place of learning and experimentation on productivity, creativity, and personal knowledge management. If you're new around here, be sure to check out my archive of previous newsletter editions. If you enjoy this newsletter, please consider sharing with a friend!

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Happy New Year, and welcome back to CreaDev Labs! I took the last couple weeks off to enjoy the Christmas season with my family, and now I'm back and excited to take on new challenges in the coming year.

I've been reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, and have been looking for ways to apply the many great lessons I'm learning from the book. One of those lessons is tying your habits to your identity. What kind of person do you want to become? What habits can you start now that will help you to become that kind of person? In other words, what kinds of things does the person I want to be do?

I've long wanted to be the kind of creative person who can take the ideas in their head and make them a reality. For example, I really enjoy drawing, and I'm pretty good at looking at someone else's drawing and reproducing it. However, when it comes to drawing things out of my own imagination, I struggle tremendously. I'd like to get to a point where I can take an idea of something I'd like to draw, and actually make it happen on the page.

An art form I've really enjoyed over the past year or so is that of Pixel Art. As I often do when starting something new, I jumped right into large and complex projects, and very quickly ended up in over my head. I have managed to produce some Pixel Art I like and am proud of, but I feel it was much harder to get to the end result due to me not having the basics down. In order to be the kind of person who can produce art from their own imagination, I need to start with the right tools, which for Pixel Art is understanding the importance of a single pixel. So, as I begin the new year, I've decided to reset my Pixel Art learning process by doing a simple 30 Day Pixel Art challenge.

I found this particular challenge in a video on YouTube, which actually came out a few years ago. I watched it long enough to get the prompts, then stopped watching because I don't want to be influenced by the artist's designs. The Pixel Art is to be done on 16x16 pixel canvases using only black and white for coloring. The small canvas size and limited color palette will make it easy to spend a few minutes each day creating Pixel Art, which will help me to improve my skills a little bit each day (which is the whole idea behind Atomic Habits: small improvements compounding over time and leading to big changes).

I started the challenge last week, so I already have the first week's results:

I'll be sharing my results each week in the next few newsletters so you can see my progress. My hope is this will not only help me improve my Pixel Art skills, but also improve my ability to create lasting, positive habits.

What habits are you hoping to build in the coming year? Please share with me by sending an email to brennan@creadevlabs.com, or if you're viewing this on the website please share in the comments section below.


Things I'm working on to improve my productivity and personal knowledge management practices

A little follow up to a [previously mentioned experiment]: I was testing out a new read later app, Matter, to possibly replace my current read later app, Pocket. It turns out Matter didn't really provide me anything more than Pocket does, so I decided to stick with it rather than moving everything over to a new app. Another reason for sticking with Pocket is Matter vaguely hinting that they're updating their pricing model, so it doesn't seem the best time to move to an app when I have no idea what the service will cost.

What I'm Reading / Watching / Listening to:

Resources and ideas from others to explore

Article: Plans vs Goals vs Resolutions vs Intentions
This article provided a nice breakdown between the often interchangeable terms of Plans, Goals, Resolutions, and Intentions. The definitions of each of these terms according to the author are:

  • Resolution = Commitment to an outcome
  • Goal = Definition of an outcome
  • Plan = Definition of a process
  • Intention = Commitment to a process

The reason why these distinctions are important are explained in the article, and I highly recommend you give it a read. It's been a big help to me as I've thought about what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year.

Article: 3-2-1: Inspiration, getting started, and the power of cumulative action
A couple of quotes from James Clear's latest newsletter really stuck out to me:

"Just start. Start slow if you have to. Start small if you have to. Start privately if you have to. Just start."
"If you're searching for more time this year, start with a clean slate and choose what to add to your days rather than starting with a full schedule and trying to figure out what to eliminate."

Latest Book Chapter Summary

Sketchnoted chapter summaries of books I'm currently reading

As I've been creating Sketchnote summaries of every chapter of the book [Atomic Habits], I found I wasn't able to enjoy the experience of reading the book. I found myself specifically looking for things that would be easy to Sketchnote, which would make reading the book stressful rather than pleasant. I've decided to put an indefinite pause on these Sketchnote summaries and come up with a different way to share my notes. I'll most likely still do an overall Sketchnote for the entire book when I'm finished, but it wasn't sustainable trying to do it for every chapter. Stayed tuned to see what I end up doing with this section of the newsletter!

Questions or comments?

  • If viewing this newsletter in your email, please send your question or comment to brennan@creadevlabs.com
  • If viewing this newsletter on the website, please post your question or comment in the discussion section below