Tuesday, April 7, marks the start of a very exciting time of year -- day 1 of another 100 Day Project!
Here's what it is: The #100DayProject is a free, worldwide art project. It's super simple. You show up every day for 100 days and explore your creativity, typically under a theme that lasts for the whole project (think: 100 days of drawing dogs; 100 days of painting mandalas).
Last year was the first in four attempts that I completed the whole project. My theme was “100 Days of Feeling My Feelings.” The project began after a tough breakup and complete life change, so I decided to channel my many emotions into daily words and paintings.
Your project doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as that, though. (Honestly, I don’t think I could do it again!) Some people do line drawings of their favorite animal, photograph the sunrise, take daily selfies, write just one line of prose… the ideas are endless.
If you’re considering starting your own project this year, here are a few notes and reflections from my past four projects that I hope can be helpful.
1. Do it for you. Not for Instagram. Not for a potential book deal. Not for art sales. Just for you.
This is the most important. When I started #100daysoffeelingmyfeelings I truly did not assume or count on it resonating with anyone else. I remember literally thinking, “This might be annoying for people to see every day, but I don’t care.” I did it because I truly wanted to.
In past projects, I chose a theme that suited my “brand” as an artist. Like many creatives and entrepreneurs, I’m a dreamer. I couldn’t help but see how the project might turn into a book or product. There’s nothing wrong with that, but 100 days of creativity is a big commitment. It’s most rewarding and do-able if you’re pulled toward the process rather than pushing through for an end result.
Not so surprisingly, the only project I started purely for myself was the one I completed.
2. Do choose a theme. And then make it even simpler.
Painting and writing from my feelings every day for 100 days was hugely rewarding, but I won’t lie. It was tough. It took everything from my creative well and I was burnt out after the project for a solid 4-5 months. That’s right. Almost half a year of creative rest.
If I decide to jump in again this year, for my own sanity, I will: Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. The only caveat I see here is if you are truly ready to commit to the 100 Day Project being one of your sole creative endeavors. If that is your approach, a more in-depth and time-consuming project might work for you.
3. Do follow a formula.
For example: "I'm going to draw every day" is vague and can be overwhelming, especially later in the project when you start to run out of initial ideas.
But: "I'm going to draw my breakfast every day" is a formula that doesn’t require much idea generation. This kind of specificity may help you, especially if you have fairly full days (ie: having a family or working 9-to-5) and not a ton of time to dedicate to your project.
4. Do find an accountability outlet.
I’ve gone back and forth about sharing my project on Instagram daily, but last year it was one of the only things that made me keep going, especially when people began to expect to see my work.
You don’t necessarily have to share on Instagram, though. You can simply text a photo of your work to a loved one or accountability partner. You can post to your blog. Share on Facebook. Show your roommate or partner.
Having some kind of accountability really helps on the days that feel like a slog.
1. Don't force yourself.
If at any time in the project it feels, deep in your bones, like force... just stop. There's no shame in that. Sometimes these projects can take a big mental toll and it's never worth your mental health.
2. Don't do it because you feel like you have to keep up with other creatives.
The project is great for exploring your creativity and maybe even getting new eyes on your work, but there's plenty of time to grow and reach new eyes with your work. Go where it flows for you.
3. Don't be hard on yourself if you miss a day, or 10.
There's no need to rigidly stick to the timeline. You can start on day 10 or 30, and you can take a week off mid-project and come back anytime. You make the rules!
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So, what do you say? Will you be attempting a 100 Day Project this year? I’m still weighing my options, but given that we are almost under lockdown in our tiny apartment complex because of COVID-19, I’m leaning towards YES.
I’d love to hear the themes you’re considering or if you have any other thoughts or questions. Feel free to comment below.
If you'd like to find more direction, community, and interviews to inspire your project, check out the100dayproject.org.