Surviving a 100 Day Project —What to Expect

You’re gonna need provisions on this journey.

Creative Journey map by Lena Umezawa / TheyDrawAndTravel.com

So you decided you want to do something every day for 100 days. (And if you’re curious as to WHY you or anyone would want to do this, click here.)

Awesome! Good for you! and at the same time, woopty-fricken-do. Life’s gonna happen. And I’m gonna try some scare tactics and to enjoy cooled corn tortillas for the 1000th time and we’re both gonna have a weird texture in our mouths.

No, but seriously, I lay these out ’cause it’s stuff no one told me when I embarked on my project, #100DaysOfCopyThat, and it would have been nice to know what to expect and ways to fight the Resistaaahnce (aka the forces that will inevitably try and derail your progress.) So below are the top 4 issues that will surface as you sketch superheroes / write cryptic anonymous love notes / make gluten-free food art / etc. (We’ll get into finding your 100-day-thing in Part 3).

No. 1: LOSING STEAM

SOUNDS LIKE: “Ummm…::staring at blank screen:: this is hard and idon’twanttodoitanymore.”

RESPONSE: Push through. Trust me. Or tweet me. I’m happy to help keep your creative engine running. ’Cause after around day 28, the inspo will START FLOWIN’ and you’ll start to find your groove.

You’re gonna get so sick of it you will have excuses (good ones even) why you can’t do it for a day or two or three. But if you’re like me and had ‘phone it in’ on speed-dial in the past then maybe JUST MAYBE you’re more fed up NOT doing than actually doing the work.

The Enthusiasm vs. Time Line Chart for a 100 Day Project

No. 2: DISTRACTION

SOUNDS LIKE: “Hmm Is that [Ex’s New Girlfriend’s Name] in those Maui pics? Is she a model?”

RESPONSE: Distraction-proof your time. Set a Log into the ‘guest’ account on your Mac if you have one or safe mode in PC. Put on Do Not Disturb. Block social media by using platforms like StayFocused (Google Chrome plugin) and SelfControl (developed fo’ free by Steve Lambert) which prevent you from logging into social sites at certain times.

A recent study by Digitrends puts checking social media feeds at more than once every hour (17x a day), so chances are that’s where a lot of your time is going.

Regardless where your attention is going, distractions will happen and this is where the provisions come in. I looked at old pre-project Instagram posts to use for material in case I got really lazy (I did), or hungover from the holidays (I was), or had a hot first date (several), or moved my entire life cross-state lines and couldn’t find my art supplies (twice…I just wrote on the boxes holding all my possessions.)

We can not prevent pitfalls or other peoples’ spills, we can not prevent fires and of course there ARE more important things than living a fully-activated creative life…like your kid’s health. (There are others, I just really can’t think of them right now.) What we can do is make the choice to continue to move forward and do what we can to protect us from our own proclivities towards self-destruction. (Which isn’t your fault, by the way; they are literally ingrained in our nature).

Oh, and no she’s not a model. She’s just really photogenic and clearly enlists friends to take her photo a lot. There’s no way that’s a selfie stick angle. And by the way, by the time you look through all of her vacation pics on Facebook you could have done a hand-rendered illustration of your dog.

No. 3. DELIVERING LESS THAN WHAT YOU DEEM QUALITY WORK

SOUNDS LIKE: “UGH. This sucks and it’s 11:49PM. I REALLY don’t want to use this.”

RESPONSE: Oooooh..yeah you’re right. Don’t put that out there.

Just kidding.

In the words of The Sheryl (Sandberg): “Done is better than perfect.” And hey, you waited until 11:45.

Not going to lie, I did this several times and my work was questionable at best, but that’s what you get for not doing it first thing in the AM. Many of my posts look like they were done by the original artist, just left-handed. (They were! But that’s actually my dominant hand…so…now it’s just awkward.) Some of the brightly colored ones held the same kind of fascination that a car accident does as you happen to pass by the wreckage on your way somewhere else. Still there were the written pieces that were coming along really nicely and they almost had the entire ensemble put together except you walked in on it as it was all dolled up and in a really compromising position pulling up its Spanx and you were all like “I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to enter!” and she’s all like “No you’re fine! Stay for a cocktail.” and proceeds to get you a highball glass in high heels and a shiny Basic ‘Thinsticts’ shorty leotard. These are the “show the process” kinds of shots where you get some of the paint smudges or the tools you’re working with in the frame of the photo. So even though it’s far from perfect, that’s what makes it interesting.

#100daysofcopythat / Day 27

Some artists even go as far as to make this their medium. The first example I ever saw of this was Cy Twombly at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Many of Twombly’s pieces are scrawlings of math problems, colorful chicken-scratched color tests, corner doodles of faces with haunting smeared expressions. I was not sure if was his original intention, but the entire process was his work. The pieces were enormous, raw, wrenching and beautiful, and the chaos within suggests clues to uncover narratives like coffee stains or punctures. I try to keep Cy’s work in mind as I’m creating knowing that there is a way to show the behind-the-scenes without it going in the direction of teen center craft night, but sometimes shit happens and you still gotta ship.

Think about it. When is the last time that you put something out there, work related or otherwise that was devoid of error, pristine, and exactly how you imagined it to be when it was coming together? Oooh, I bet I know! Never. there will always be the folly of time and human error.

OH, and important to note — no one’s looking at you. Very few will care about this (sorry). But you’re not doing it for them. You’re not even doing it for the niche little group of your biggest fan’s (you’re Rohn’s 5) or the people so fascinated by the whole thing that they log into instagram and like every single post. Which leads me to my next thought.

No. 4. NOT GETTING THE LOVE/SUPPORT YOU DESERVE

SOUNDS LIKE: “REALLY? 7 Likes? I just made the fricken Mona Lisa out of spaghetti!”

RESPONSE: Yes You did and it’s pasta-tively awesome. But before you go scratching your noodle about why you’re not receiving the kind of virtual love that your project deserves, JUSTSTOP. It doesn’t matter. You’re not doing it for them. You will keep making regardless of whatever hearts you receive. Hearts are not your fuel. And for God’s Sake, turn off the notifications.

BUT, #protip: Do add the appropriate hashtags, especially the #100daysof[projectname] so that you are searchable and so that you can keep track of what day you’re on.

I started #100DaysofCopy that in the midst of my typography class, and my instructor was badass book cover designer, Jason Heuer. For at least the first half of the project, Jason ‘hearted’ every single one of my daily posts.

Sometimes it takes just one person looking to help keep you accountable. That one little double-tap once a day did wonders for my confidence and resolve to continue.

Also, when you first begin and start talking about it, people will have either one of two reactions, “Oh hey, that’s cool.” Or “Good luck with THAT. I/person-I-know tried something like that before and lasted 2 weeks.” There will be resistance from the people you talk to. Because we are resistant to change. But a funny thing happens when you actually about 1/3rd of the way into it. At this point, you have proven that you’re surious, and have no plans to leave the race. Suddenly you start to accrue a little crew of cheerleaders that like what you got goin’ on and like to be a part of this evolving thing you have. Use this momentum.

No. 5. FIND YOUR HEROES

SOUNDS LIKE: “Wow, I had no idea that there was a dedicated Tumblr and community for farm team athletic logos…who IS this kickass person that started this thing?

RESPONSE: He’s your new internet crush. Doing a project for 100 days gives you a reason to get in touch with people that are doing the kinds of things you’re into for way longer. They have experienced the hills and valleys of their craft and have mastered the resistance in some form or another. Create a list on Twitter and keep tabs on them. Engage with them. Be useful to them, and you might find your future employer, client, or couch to crash on next time you’re in their city. Former living statue, musician, and author, Amanda Palmer notoriously has stayed in the apartments of her fans and throughout her chaotic creative career, has a furiously dedicated collective of fans that will carry her financially throughout whatever endeavor she pursues next.

Making things, asking the world what is next, taking notes, and then sharing is a great way to live. Give this gift and receive humility, confidence, and find like-minds near and far. So now that you know what to expect on this journey, where will you go?

[Note: this is Part 2 of a 3-part series for Polyama Project.

Part 1 — WHY You Need 100 Days Of

Part 2 — WHAT to Expect on Your 100 Days

Part 3 — HOW to Find Your #100DayProject

If you’re a multipassionate entrepreneur, sign up for the Polyama Project mailing list here and follow me on Medium for more of my posts.]

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