I spontaneously joined the 100 Day Project the day it started last year. Throughout the process, I learned a lot of little lessons that should make my 2019 project more effective. If you’re inclined to try your own long-term creative challenge, I hope my lessons learned can help you succeed.
How to Have a Successful 100 Day Project
About the 100 Day Project
The concept is simple: you commit to doing something consistently for 100 days straight while sharing it daily on Instagram with at least 2 hashtags: #the100DayProject and one unique one you create for yourself (like #EBHawks100MuseumWorthyArtPieces or something). The project is a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. It’s beautiful in its simplicity and flexibility allowing creators of all disciplines to participate. It produces incredible results, sometimes life-changing.
This year the community project starts April 2nd, 2019. Lindsay Jean Thomson is hosting. Go to the100DayProject website to sign up for the official newsletter or listen to the podcast.
Originally, the 100 Day Project was the brainchild of a Yale graphic design professor, Michael Bierut. From 2006-2011, he assigned his students to choose a design operation to repeat every day. The last day of the project, by which time they had done the operation one hundred times, each student had up to 15 minutes to present his or her one-hundred part project to the class. The only restrictions on the chosen operation were that it must be repeated in some form every day, and that every iteration must be documented for eventual presentation. The medium was open, as was the final form of the presentation on the 100th day. The results were amazing.
In 2013, Elle Luna and some of her friends took up the project and began to use Instagram as the presentation medium. They tagged their images with #The100DayProject and it began to spread. Each year it has become more and more popular. Currently, before the start of the 2019 project, there are over 1.1 million posts on Instagram.
Set Yourself Up for Success
You can start this project at any time. Preparation is not a requirement. In fact, no matter what day you’re reading this, you can start right now if you want. I began the project spontaneously last year, but I wasn’t in love with my finished product and I was literally in awe of some peoples. So, this year, I want to be in love with my project, with my end result, and this is how I plan to do that:
The most successful projects, in my opinion, have these parameters in common. The makers:
- Make it small.
- Make it fast. 10-15 minutes a day is a reasonable commitment. A daily commitment that takes 2 hours a day is not.
- Determine what will make your project cohesive. This is something I did not consider last year which led to some discontent in the end.
Make it simple and make it something you feel passionate about. You are committing to doing this for over 3 months. It’s unlikely that you will have extensive time every day of your life for the next 3 months to do a complex project. It’s also unlikely that you will complete the 100 days if you feel “meh” about it. To borrow from Marie Kondo, what will spark your joy? That’s what you want for your project!
To be clear, you don’t have to be a visual artist to participate. Bierut famously said if you brush your teeth daily, you’ve already participated in the 100 Day Project without realizing it. Elle distributed this graphic with some ideas to get your juices flowing:
So, as The Great Discontent asked, what will your action be? For 100 days, will you stand, speak, drive, study, drop, act, remove, repeat, examine, replace, introduce, perform, jump, pass, test, roll, kick, run, cook, thank, place, pick, save, throw, cover, shake, count, dance, break, walk, form, deliver, show, raise, reach, catch, sing, sort, develop, measure, discuss, draw, dress, write, meet, climb, take, look, climb, wish, shout, wash, decide, paint, collage, or something else?
Once you determine your project, make sure you have the materials you need. Also, consider if you will be traveling or home? Are your materials mobile? Do they need to be? I plan to set up an art caddy that I can take on the go. I know I will be traveling with my family during my kids’ Spring Break. I’m also very aware that as a mom of a busy family, I can not be sure that for 100 days I will be able to spend time in my art studio.
Set a Goal
What do you want to accomplish at the end of this project? You are more likely to succeed if you start with that in mind. I want a collective body of work that looks cool individually, but amazing as a set. You might have a more process oriented goal, and that’s awesome. Last year my goal was 100 days of creativity — my goal was literally to simply show up and create. What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want to write a book? Establish a daily art practice? Add to your portfolio or sell your work?
When you start, you’re excited and energized. You post and produce like crazy. Trust me that it will wear off. You might get bored doing the same repetitive process 100 times — that’s when you need to push through. That’s when your creativity must fill in the gaps and you might have a wonderfully unexpected turn or outcome. You might start to get overwhelmed because – well – life happens. Don’t give up on yourself. Keep your eye on your goal and know that you will feel satisfied and accomplished if you see it through. Download the tracker sheet I included at the beginning of this post to keep yourself on track.
Go Easy On Yourself
Again, life happens. Lots of people don’t finish the 100 Day Project in 100 days. If you skip a day, get back in the game the next day. When you post along the way, number your post 001/100, 002/100, etc… Be kind. You didn’t post today? Gasp! What will they say? Um. Nothing. So, as I tell my son often, be as kind to yourself as you are to other people.
Enjoy the Community
Lastly, enjoy the community. There are a lot of supportive people doing this project alongside you. Follow the hashtag on Instagram and bask in the fun and beauty. Post some supportive comments and hand out the likes. Other people will do the same for you and it’ll be fun! Also, if you’d like, sign up for the newsletter on the official website https://www.the100dayproject.org/. Additionally, the organizer of the project this year, Lindsay Jean Thomson, said there will be a podcast soon. I’ll keep you posted if I hear more.
Let’s Do This
Are you in? Please join me. It’s so much more fun to do together! My Instagram account is: https://www.instagram.com/artfulpursuits/. Come follow me as I create. Leave your project idea and your Instagram handle in the comments below. I’d love to follow you, too! Let’s support each other.