Last week marked the finish of my 100 day project. While it may be cliché, I have mixed feelings about it; I’m glad I did it, and glad it’s over. Overall, I would call the project a success as I completed 100 cards, I had fun, and I learned more about myself and how I best work in the process. Below are some lessons that I learned that may be applicable to you as well.
Having a consistent creative prompt (the headline) helped me focus on the goal of the project – to practice the discipline of drawing and enjoy the creative process. As a designer, much of my day is spent on the computer, and while I do enjoy it, nothing can replace the deep satisfaction of creating something with your own hands – just look at the recent surge in popularity of the DIY movement. This project gave me an opportunity to get back to making tangible artwork – artwork I can hold and feel and smudge chocolate on (Day 90).
I was surprised by how it never seemed to get easier. I attributed my aversion to sketching to being out of practice, but regardless of whether day 7 or day 77, every day I faced that blank postcard and experienced that moment of Blank Canvas Paralysis.
“Whenever you are about to start something new, you risk the inability to get started. It is frightening, frustrating and causes you to doubt yourself, but once recognized for what it is, it loses some of its power and you can find ways to deal with it.
Here is what Van Gogh had to say about it:
‘You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas, which says to the painter, “You can’t do a thing”. […] but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of “you can’t” once and for all.’”
Taken from: themodernnomad.com
Instagram – my best Frenemy
I decided to post all of my postcards on Instagram – to see what others thought of it (motivation), and keep my butt in gear (accountability). It’s harder than you would think putting your raw unpolished work out there. Since this was more art (personal) than design, I had a greater attachment to these pieces, and had to fight my natural instinct to keep my personal life private. I had to be ok with opening my work (myself) up to the critics. When I made the switch from a private account to a public one, it allowed anyone in the world to look at my work. It was unsettling. However, without external accountability, this project would have flopped.
When setting goals – be they creative, financial, fitness, or something else entirely – having an accountability partner(s) could be the difference between succeeding and failing. Accountability isn’t just about having someone to chew you out if you mess up – it’s about encouragement too. Getting encouragement from someone who has walked alongside you in your journey means so much more than it would from an outsider. Why do you think there are people lined up along the entire route of a marathon and not just at the finish line?
It was humorous to me to see which cards got notice on Instagram and which ones were not popular. Let’s just say there’s no accounting for taste, and the majority vote is not what you should be catering to. In the words of Miley Cyrus, “forget the haters cause somebody loves ya”. Don’t worry about what’s popular, just keep doing your thing. Here are my two top-liked cards: Day 27 and day 8 respectively.
Letting go of perfect
If you’re a perfectionist like I am, this project would be perfect (albeit difficult) for you (pun intended). When creating with pen (and not allowing yourself do-overs) it’s a guarantee that mistakes will happen. I had to accept my mistakes and work through them. This forced me to be creative in new ways and took many of my pieces in a different direction than originally intended. While it’s frustrating in the moment, to have things not go according to plan, it’s also a truer test of your creativity. How adaptable are you to change? Can you take a mistake and use it to your advantage to create something even better than what you had originally envisioned? One of my favorite examples of this deviation was day 94. The mistake started with a misspelled word, but in the end, created something, ahem, special.
Top takeaway: there’s always tomorrow
Never stop aiming for perfection, but don’t be so harsh on yourself when you don’t reach it. Mistakes provide opportunities. No matter how badly today went, tomorrow you’ll face new challenges and the show will go on. To quote one of my favorite verses, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34. That’s a comfort and a promise we all can count on.
A big shout out to the Siloam Springs Herald Leader. Thanks for all of the wonderful newspaper headlines. I couldn’t have done it without you. Go Eagles!
If you liked my work, or if you hated it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line in the comments below or on Instagram.