Usually, the 100-day project begins on 7th April each year – a date as random as the start of the British tax year (6th April anyone??). In 2021 however, the project started on 31st January. Why? We all had a pretty stressful 2020. And so far, 2021 has not exactly started low stress either. People living in the Northern hemisphere will be in the depth of winter. For many this means lockdown, reduced social connections, worries about Covid… the community around #the100dayproject simply wanted something to look forward to.
What better than a creative project and one that helps us practice the concept of creativity as a habit, as something we simply show up for without any pressure to create a daily masterpiece.
In short, #the100dayproject is a free, global art project, based on a simple idea: “choose a creative project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process online.”
The originator of this project is Michael Bierut, who taught a workshop for the graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art. It was brought into the world of Instagram by Ella Luna in 2014.
2021 will be the 8th year of people discovering, deepening, stretching and nourishing their creativity.
It is a practical way of befriending your creativity.
Just like making new friends in real life, these are a few steps you might navigate:
Find out what holds your curiosity
Your project must excite you enough to engage with it for 100 days. Just like when you decide who to approach at a conference, or who in your yoga/art/cooking class is someone you could get on with… In 2019, I did 100-days of sensemaking emotions. I explored 100 different emotions, each with a collage and a found poem. I noticed I was drawn to emotions because they play a key role in my work as a therapist and coach. And it was a way of expanding my emotional vocabulary and explore visual associations of emotions.
Show up consistently
Just as you would when you invest in nurturing a new friendship. Sometimes, a coffee catch-up might feel like effort, but without this commitment, especially in the early stages of a friendship, you won’t be getting very close.
Be open to experiment and change
This is also a useful principle when it comes to friendship in real life, because nothing stays as it is. We relocate, marry, have children, change careers… Any creative project will go through a few iterations, but the intention at its core remains. Possible adjustments might be needed on other parameters. Maybe it’s the amount of time you can spend on it. Maybe you play with different materials…
Incorporate play and fun into your creations
This is a big one for me. I can get a bit serious and ambitious with creations which will inevitably end up with aborting the mission. A friendship that doesn’t allow us to be silly or talk about some light-hearted stuff can easily get a bit too heavy and serious.
My advice for other high achievers: when committing to 100 days, not every day can be deep and meaningful. Being playful brings a lightness, and with that we often make new discoveries of what we enjoy. I discovered my love for found poetry in my 100 days of emotions and they have now become a building block of my creativity.
Build a ritual or routine
Routine can sustain us in moments of wavering, when we don’t know why we bother or simply get bored of 100 repetitive creative acts. This is a good experiment in loyalty and commitment. It acknowledges that we are humans in a busy and distracting world. It’s easy to get distracted, when we are bombarded by news and media, navigate pandemics and life as such.
You can explore what may serve you as an anchor and later apply this to other creative endeavours, areas in life or work.
- Is it a time of day?
- Is it linked to a ritual like lighting a candle, putting a specific piece of music on?
- Is it linked to place – do you best create when you are in the same spot and how can you stick with routine when you need to move around more or even travel? Not that this is currently on the cards or most of us…
Focus on the process
The process is the goal, not the outcome. If you need an upfront definition of what success looks like: showing up consistently for 100 days.
‘Process over product’ is also a mantra in art therapy and creative coaching. The creation might be important and something to keep, but often we learn more by consistently showing up and noticing micro steps in the process.
Practicing how we pick up again after a creative hiatus is an important part of a creative life. And of life in general. Just like getting in touch again with a friend after a busy period or a time when it might have felt that we were on different trajectories. Explore whether you feel the need to catch up, do you need all 100 days to be complete, or are you ok with skipping and having a few gaps. In the end, you make the rules about your creative process.
- Notice what helps in showing up.
- Which guardrails are useful?
- When might they become too rigid?
- What do you need to hold yourself accountable?
- Do you need external accountability or is the agreement you make with yourself enough? Posting about your project online can help but shouldn’t become something you dread. Share with joy and be gentle if you don’t share on certain days (or at all, depending on your social media use).
For 2021, I have decided to be working in a small format. To make it manageable and to practice reduction, not everything has to be big, complex and multi-layered. Sometimes, small and simple is what I need.
To leave a lot of room for experiments, my project is simply called # 100 days of responding randomly and I’ll share – randomly, not daily – on my Instagram (have a loog for the specific #).
So far, sources of inspiration have been: a podcast I listened to, my clients, my own reflective and coaching work, a sense of stuckness with ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic. I’m curious what else will show up….
I have written about my completed 2019 project here.
What will you pick? Which leap of faith will you take?
It’s not too late to start!
Find out more about my work at Sensemaking Space