Undertaking a daily creativity project can be one of the best things you do for your artist skills and your creative soul. Today I’m sharing 5 of my best tips for starting a daily creative challenge so you can get underway and build a daily artist’s practice!
It’s that time of year again – the time of year where I embark on yet another edition of The 100 Day Project. This is year four for me of Elle Luna’s long running annual daily creativity challenge that resides mainly on Instagram and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Undertaking a daily creativity challenge has proven to be one of the most beneficial growth tools for me as an artist. But, as the name implies, it’s also one of the most challenging!
The sheer effort to commit to doing something every single day is sometimes the biggest roadblock to completing the challenge. Some days you’ll have to just grind it out even when you don’t feel like it or when it’s 11:50 pm. But it is so worth it in the long run.
A daily creative challenge is a wonderful way to… to be blunt… get over yourself.
There’s no time to be precious about your work and you don’t get to be a perfectionist. Those are good things (and often big creativity roadblocks)
If you choose to embark on a challenge that requires you put your work out to the world, you open yourself up to criticism but you also open yourself up to praise – and creating fans and a community around your work. And that is awesome and wonderful.
To be honest, I’ve found that very few people are critical – most actually like to cheer you on, which is really great! But constructive criticism can be a gift – so don’t ignore it or let it bring you down. It’s rarely mean-spirited and it’s meant to be helpful. (ignore troll criticism… that’s just a negative side effect of the internet and those people don’t deserve any of your precious time or energy wasted on them).
Daily challenges are also a way to improve your skills. Every one I’ve done… from my first 365 Photo A Day challenge way back in 2005 (I think!) to my most recent 100 Day Project has been a huge experience in skill building and creative growth.
Everyone is creative. But hardly any of us are born with artistic SKILLS. Those are learned and refined through practice (in my case… A LOT of practice). Doing something every day builds up your motor skills, your muscle memory, your ability to master new tools and your creative flow – creativity begets creativity!.
This year was especially important to me because, like so many, I didn’t finish last year’s 100 Day Project challenge (but I did complete my first and second challenges in 2015 and 2016 so… yay). Life got overwhelming about half way through and I abandoned it – I still regret it.
Completing a daily creativity challenge is immensely satisfying for so many reasons:
- just knowing you pushed through and finished something is always satisfying. Never underestimate how the feeling of completing a big project can make you feel very happy and fulfilled!
- to complete a daily challenge means you have to get over perfectionism and that’s a big road block for so many of us
- it helps you learn how to be creative every day – that’s a skill in it’s own right. Inspiration is great but some days, you just have to do the work.
- being able to look back on it years later is a wonderful way to remind yourself of how much you’ve grown as a creative
- it gives you a body of completed work!
5 Tips For Undertaking A Daily Creativity Challenge
Despite not finishing last year, I thought that after completing 5 other challenges (two 365 photo challenges, one NaNoWriMo and two 100 Day Projects) and making it through 1/3 of this years 100 Day Project so far, I might be able to offer some tips for those who want to undertake their own daily creativity challenge!
1. You Can Start Your Daily Challenge Anytime
You don’t need to start your challenge on January 1st or wait for a long standing group challenge like NaNoWriMo or The 100 Day Project to start. You can start any time you’re ready or need a creative boost.
100 days in a row is 100 days in row no matter when you begin. So just begin.
2. You Don’t Need to Do 100 Days
There’s no set number of days in a row that you have to complete to make it a daily challenge. (well ok.. you have to do more than one day – otherwise it’s just a “day” challenge!). Start with 7 or 10 if that seems more manageable. Personally, I would try to do at least 30 just because I find that’s how long it takes for me to really start to see some results in terms of growth, skill and tool mastery and finding my groove/style.
My first project was a 365 photography project and surprisingly, I really enjoyed it despite the length.
3. Don’t Be Too Ambitious With Your Time Or Level of Complexity
The worst thing you can do to derail yourself is pick something too ambitious. Be realistic about how much time you can give to this each day. My first 100 Day Project was a 10 minute doodle challenge. I had to complete a new doodle each day in 10 minutes. I figured anyone can find a 10 minute window in their day, and I was right. Both of my subsequent 100 Day Projects had 10 minute time limits on them as well. Some days that meant I had a finished product that I was not at all proud of… but that’s part of the process. Accept it.
You also don’t want to pick something that’s very complex or 10 grades above your current skill level. You’ll struggle to finish, you’ll be frustrated with yourself and you likely won’t complete many finished pieces of art.
Doing this is meant to be a challenge for sure – you want to pick something that will push you to better your skills but at the same time, if it’s so difficult or time consuming that you can’t finish, you’ll abandon the project and you won’t experience any growth (and you’ll likely feel lousy about yourself).
Bonus Tip: Consider coming up with a theme – it can make it easier to come up with something to do each day. My drawing projects all have themes. My photography ones didn’t but I would give myself weekly themes – like all my photos for that week had to include red in them. It helps keep it interesting and makes it easier to zero in on something to creative. Sometimes limitations are the biggest inspirations!
4. Don’t Freak Out If You Miss A Day!
Sometimes, stuff happens. If you miss a day, don’t panic. It’s not a big deal. Just pick up again the next day. I don’t think I’ve done a single daily creativity challenge where I haven’t missed at least one day. Yes, it makes me irritated with myself but, quitting because I missed one day would irritate me even more and would, frankly, be a big mistake. I’d miss out on so much if I quit because of a couple of random bad days.
5. Put Your Work Out There (or not)
Almost all of my daily creative challenges have been public. My first 365 challenge was on flickr. Another was done on Live Journal. All of my 100 Day Projects have been on Instagram and recapped here on my blog. NaNoWriMo was not shared (except with a couple of very close friends who got to read the completed manuscript) but I did do it with a group of others – which also has benefits.
For me, putting my project on line does a few things that are really beneficial for me:
- it keeps me accountable – once I got going on each project, people liked seeing them and I didn’t want to disappoint them
- it forces me to be ok with something that I’m less than happy with. I’ve posted a lot of photos and finished pieces that were less than stellar and some that were down right awful. But you know what? Nobody cared but me. In fact some of the things I was really unhappy with were things others really liked. Art is subjective. Remember that.
- it helps me build a community around my art and it helps me participate in other art communities. And I find art communities to be some of the most inclusive and encouraging on the internet and that’s been very helpful to me.
If putting your art on-line really stresses you out, then don’t. Or you can simply choose to share a collection of content every few days or weeks – either on social media or your own blog.
The important thing is the project itself so if your biggest roadblock is sharing publicly, then don’t do it.
Bonus Tip: Never Underestimate the Power Of Community
One of the benefits of doing a 365 challenge that starts on January 1st or doing the 100 Day Project with its set start date is that a built in community comes with it. But even if you start on a random Tuesday in May, you can still find on-line communities where you can connect with other artists and the support can be wonderful.
Instagram is a great platform for sharing your work and it’s easy to find other artists by using hashtags. #the100dayproject hashtag gets used all year round so that’s an easy one but there are loads more – just do some quick searching with words like:
- daily practice
When you find people whose work you like, see what hashtags they’re using and then check them out and see if the work there appeals to you.
My 2018 100 Day Project
This year I left Miss Doodle behind and decided to take on something more challenging – food illustration. My food stylist friend Lisa had been egging me on to try food illustration for a while – sending me instagram accounts and websites for inspiration and it seemed like a good thing to try. An Instagram follower, onlymekimberly suggested I call them Foodles (food doodles)and I loved the idea. The other add on to the challenge that I gave myself this year is doing them with Copic markers (or other alcohol based markers) which is an entirely new medium for me – but one that I am fast falling in love with!
I accidentally fell into an alphabet theme but that’s worked out quite well in helping me figure out what to draw each day. When I get stuck, I offer up my instagram followers a poll with two options and I let them vote. Whichever they choose is what I draw.
The Foodles are a little more complex than my 10 minute doodles of past challenges so my goal is to complete one every two days – but I still work on them each day and post progress updates on my Instagram stories. The finished images go in my Instagram feed. On the days where I’m travelling during the challenge, I do small food sketches that I can complete quickly and with the bare minimum of tools (my sketchbook, a pencil, a pigment liner and a few quick swipes of colour) which is an entirely different way to look at the challenge.
So… do you think you’ll start a daily creative challenge of your own? Would you enjoy taking part in one if I were to start one just for readers and followers? Let me know in the comments!