For the month of July I've been doing an Icon a Day challenge. As the name suggests, the goal is to create one icon every day while going through the whole design process, from sketch to PNG. Also, to share with the world no matter how "imperfect" I think a particular design may be.
It's been a very valuable experience so far. My work is reaching a wider audience, and I've received some of the best and most honest feedback I've ever had. All this is just a bonus after the daily practice I'm getting, which is something I wasn't really doing before on a consistent basis.
Practice really has been the main goal of this challenge. I only decided to share the results of my daily practice for accountability, as well as getting over feeling self-consious about my work. The fact is I'm not as good as I want to be. I want to be consistently improving so my work can be that much better, and I can provide more value for clients. The only way I'm going to get there is to dedicate time for practice.
Perhaps the most important thing I've learned over these last few weeks is that improvement does not happen along a linear path. Maybe today's practice won't be as good as yesterday's, but it's going to be better than the practice a few days ago. You have to look at what you didn't do so well today, and learn from it so you can try again tomorrow.
Choosing to create something new everyday can seem overwhelming. It's usually not the kind of thing you can knock out in 5 minutes, at least if you really want to create something high quality enough that provides meaningful practice. I've personally been putting in around 15-20 hours a week into creating my icons, and that's not an insignificant amount of time to dedicate. However, I feel that the more time you can dedicate the more valuable your practice will be.
So whatever creative endeavor you want to improve in, challenge yourself to create something every day. It doesn't have to be for a month, you can first try a week and start yourself off slow. Or maybe you want to go longer than a month. Break it up however you want, but don't stop just because you met your goal. When you're done, set a new goal. No matter how good you get, you can always improve.