Drawing is really about learning how to see light and dark shadows and the edges of things, contour lines. Most people never pay attention to these things preferring to use their symbols conjured up in there minds.
When I taught adults art, who were beginners and did not have time to go through four years of art college and learn technique, I would teach them to see and think like an artist instead. Often times they were able to draw a decent self-portrait after eight lessons, instead of four years of school.
Why you ask? Because they learned how to really see what was there.
One of my exercises was to have them view a white bland coffee mug for ten minutes without thinking about anything else, a sort of mindfulness meditation. At first they struggled due to an overactive mundane mind, thinking to themselves “how boring, I came to learn to draw faces, not white mugs.” But with encouragement they overcame their resistance and started to become involved in the seeing itself. One of the reasons they struggled is because they were used to being primarily in their left brain with the kinds of activities demanded of them in their everyday life. The extreme left side of the brain functions in a very fast way, needing more and more stimulation and being easily bored, needing constant novelty. Thus the technological fast-paced age is born, feeding that need.
To help my students pop over more to the right side of their brain, they needed to stay with their feelings of boredom until the left side gave up (apparently it gives up only in times of boredom or shock and I could not bring a gun to class) and the right side to take over a more leadership function.
Things would suddenly change and people began to get excited about the activity and find meaning in it. People who insist we always use both sides of the brain maybe are correct but we need to understand that the brain is vast and unexplored and it is useful to talk about the continuum line, where activities are placed, to understand how we can have more control of the brain. There is a lot of research on this topic I won't go into, just share my own experience of how to move people from an uncreative way of perceiving the world to a creative one.
What happened next astonished them. All of a sudden they began to enjoy what they were doing and were able to see more and more of what the cup actually represented, in other words they saw more than just the cup, plus the cup as is, and they felt wonderful doing it.
I used to tell them if they actually looked at their partners and children and pets in the same way, life would be nothing but adventure and a miracle for them. Unfortunately after the initial honeymoon we start imagining we know our partners inside out, have a shortcut version of them in our minds and actually stop seeing them at all.
Out of touch with our senses, imprisoned in our conceptual mind we also stop feeling and need more and more stimulation to know we are alive. It is no wonder porn is big business.
The adults in my classes did not necessarily become professional artists but their lives started to change, they learned to enjoy and appreciate every moment of their existence, they become more tolerant, less judgemental and saw the world as mostly beautiful. That is what really seeing will do for you.