I dragged around for years with my pencils. Didn't ever progress at the rate I wanted, and I knew it was all my fault. I always preferred mechanical pencils; they just felt so direct and dramatic.
Which meant I also loved abstraction. You have to be abstract if you're trying to describe form with lines. So, I didn't devote much of my studies to value and edge definition, and that kinda funnelled me down a specific path, and I didn't like inking so, it was penciling for me.
But, it wasn't ink. The unique thing about the pencil is that it uses value, even just when drawing with lines. All that value is determined solely by the pressure you apply with your hand. It's subtle, and made a world of a difference when I paid attention to it.
But, I didn't know any of this. Not then. So, I just floated.
Now, with all the studying I'm doing, from atmospheric perspective, environment design and color theroy to composition, contrast and chaos-to-control, I have begun to see things differently.
The most amazingly helpful thing I've learned so far has changed everything for me: If you just focus on rendering the way light falls on things, you will always have a good looking image. It's really that simple.
Everything we see is just a representation of the light bouncing around and reaching our eyes. That's it. Nothing else. Work on that, and everything begins to change.