Studying vs doing

I recently heard about someone who wants to be an illustrator. He doesn’t do much drawing now, but he’s decided to go to university to study the craft. The more I thought about this, the more bewildered I became. I began to ask myself a question: Does he want to study it or do it?

If it was my ambition to be an illustrator, do you know what I’d do? I’d buy a notebook—whatever I could afford—and start drawing. I’d draw anything and everything. I’d draw the things around me, and the things in my head. I’d grab a domain name, create a basic website using one of the done-for-you services (like Squarespace or Weebly) and put a drawing up every week. Or every day. I’d watch online tutorials and documentaries. I’d read articles and interviews. I’d go to art museums. I’d read comic books. I’d learn about visual design in videogames. I’d find other illustrators whose work I admire and study it. I might even reach out to them asking for recommended resources or specific advice.

All of the above can be done for free, or with just an internet connection. And maybe after I’d done it for a year or two, if I felt it was necessary, I’d consider going to university. But by that point, maybe I wouldn’t need to…

It’s the same for most other professions. If I want to be a writer, it’s simple. All I have to do is read a lot, write a lot, and publish some of what I write, somewhere. If I want to be an entrepreneur, fine. I can start coming up with ideas. I could aim for ten a day. Or I could try and fill out one business model canvas each week. Or I could study and dissect existing businesses, and imagine how I would improve them.

The options are limited only by your imagination and the willingness to explore. But the point is, studying a thing and doing a thing are not the same. And ideally, you want to be doing the thing for a long time before you commit several years of your life to studying it. 

If someone, if you, really want to do something, there’s only one thing in the way: yourself. There’s no reason why you can’t do what you want, right now. Or maybe you can’t do it in full, but you can definitely do it in part. And in the beginning, that’s enough. Because early on your primary objective is to keep the fire burning, and so giving it a chance to swell and grow into something bigger.