5 things I learnt from The 100 Day Project.
Firstly, what is The 100 Day Project?
It is a challenge aimed to help you build your creative habit through small daily acts.
The idea is to commit to doing something for 100 consecutive days. You can choose to do whatever you like, such as a poem, animation or drawing faces, something that you want to get better at is a good idea. It’s the showing up, doing the work and sharing with the community through the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram that counts.
You can find out more at www.the100dayproject.com.
This is my third year and I chose to concentrate on small abstract paintings because it was something I wanted to up-skill in. At the start of the project I gave myself a goal doing at least 5 days out of 7 days; if I did 7 out of 7 days it was a bonus. I managed 80 artworks out of the 100 days, which I'm happy with and after all, rules are only guidelines.
So, here are some things I've learnt over the last three years of doing The 100 Day Project.
1. Just start!
As doing is far more satisfying than just thinking about it. I can assure you.
Three years ago I was stuck. I couldn’t even sit at my desk for 30 seconds as the creative anxiety was too great. I was a digital artist and going freehand was scary; there was no undo or delete button if I made a mistake.
What got me started? My desire to paint became greater than the fear of doing it. I wanted to do what I was envious of seeing others do and frustrated with myself for not getting on with it. That’s when I came across The 100 Day Project on Instagram and I jumped right in with the spirit of the challenge.
No project is completed without your full commitment and it is much easier to do it if you understand your ’why’ you are doing it in the first place.
Spontaneity can get you so far, maybe for a few days or even weeks, but for a long-term project of 3.5months, you need to remember your ’why’. Your 'why' for when things get a bit repetitive. Your 'why' for when your inspiration dries up. Your 'why' for when you forget why on earth you started in the first place.
These are some of my why's:
I LOVE being creative.
I like the mindfulness of the act of painting; switching off the overthinking, doer part of my brain and tap into the more intuitive, being mode.
I wanted to grow in confidence as an artist.
There were many times that I re-read my 'whys' to get back on track.
3. Get The Creative Habit.
Art like anything else needs practice. It's an illusion to think that artists are just born that way, some may have a brain that is more naturally geared towards creativity but for most of us, it’s the daily practising that gets results.
Habits are formed by consistent repetition. At first, we need to be reminded to do them but after a time they become automatic, usually around 4-6 weeks. To keep going long term we need a positive feedback from the action. For example, I know that painting helps to relax me and I always feel better for doing it, therefore my brain attributes the act of painting with pleasure.
4. Creative Mornings.
Being creative first thing in the morning was something I learnt from studying creativity coaching with America's foremost creativity coach, Eric Maisel. At that point, I said no way am I getting up extra early to do my artwork. But, now I get it and this is why.
It sets me up for the rest of the day with feel-good energy.
It reinforces that being creative is important to me and takes priority.
I know I'm more creative in the morning because I experimented to find out.
If I leave it till later it becomes more of a chore caught up in 'I have to/should/must do' rather than 'I want to'.
I don’t manage creative mornings all the time, but I try my best.
5. Deal with the obstacles that get in your way.
You know the ones like I don’t have time, I don’t have space, what if no-one likes what I make etc, etc, etc. These are all forms of procrastination, 'the what if's ...' and obsessing about the things that could go wrong.
Wouldn’t life be much easier if we obsessed about the things that could go right?
Look at those beliefs for what they really are, unhelpful! How does thinking you are going to fail help you? How does thinking no-one will like your work help you? It doesn’t, yet we believe these thoughts 100% and feel and act accordingly.
Be honest with yourself and recognise it for what it is ... fear and fear is just our imagination on overdrive. The world isn't going to end because you chose the wrong colour combination or you didn't get that many likes on your post. It keeps you small with a closed mindset.
Creativity is about being in a place of curiosity, exploration and encourages a growth-oriented and flexible mindset. It seems a contradiction to be creative and be in a closed mindset at the same time. It just creates tension and stops the inspiration from flowing.
Would I recommend taking part in The 100 Day Project?
A big yes! If I hadn't I would still be dreaming about it and feeling dissatisfied. Now I paint regularly and share my creations, which I wouldn't have been able to do without this challenge getting me started.
I would recomend choosing something simple and doable in your schedule, like to be creative for 25 minutes a day. Taking photos and posting on Iintstagram is a great way to record your progress and very satisfying to look back on.
Just start and see where it leads you, you never know where you will be in 6 months time.