Two years ago I stumbled upon the most effective, challenging, exciting way to really push my creativity. I was reading the wonderful book, “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” by Elle Luna. Her book talks about finding your true calling and passion, and designing your life to live that path to your highest potential. I was very inspired by the book and after reading did some research on the author.
In my research I discovered an amazing exercise in creativity called The 100 Day Project. (https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/elle-luna-100-day-project). It was a social media version of a grad school project conceived by Michael Bierut, a talented designer, writer, and teacher. For years, he led graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art in a workshop that he called “The 100 Day Project.” The premise for Michael Bierut’s class was simple: each student chose one action to repeat every day for 100 days.
It was a project that had just begun, ironically, that entailed committing to 100 days of any creative exercise of your choice. It was a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. You were instructed to follow these steps to participate:
100 days of making:
- Sign up for #The100DayProject newsletter for important announcements prior to and throughout the project.
- Follow Elle Luna and The Great Discontent on Instagram for project announcements, updates, and highlights.
- Choose your action – It could be anything, from cooking a new recipe, taking a photo of animals, to creating a painting… anything you enjoy to do, that you can do EVERY DAY for 100 days, and post something visually.
- Create an Instagram account.
- Select a unique hashtag for your project so all your instances of 100 can be viewed in one place. Include the hashtag with each of your posts (i.e. #100Daysof____ ).
- Announce your project on Instagram. Download an image and post it on Instagram, along with your project’s unique hashtag, to announce your project.
I was all in, I knew I wanted to participate but wasn’t sure what that subject matter would be for me. I didn’t want to choose something easy, like logo design, or anything graphic design related. So I challenged myself to think about a creative project unrelated to my career, that I REALLY loved. I had gone to graduate school for interior design, but never pursued that career because I was really successful in the graphic design world, and wasn’t brave enough to make a change. While in grad school for interior design I worked on a project to build a miniature version of a chair designed by an accomplished interior designer. I LOVED that project. I was so fun. I loved the entire process; researching designers, choosing the chair, and then building the chair! There is it was… I was going to design AND build a miniature chair every day for 100 days! I knew it was a lofty goal, but I knew i had it in me, and was excited to get going.
I was so inspired every day with a new idea, it was remarkable. I was inspired by all things around me. It might be a pattern I loved on a fabric, it might be a concept, such as graffiti, or a holiday. It was never an issue finding the concept. Once I found the concept, I just had to make the chair happen. Some days were better than others. Some days I had more time, some days I jut needed to get the chair done. That was OK. As long as I was accomplishing the task to which I had committed. I didn’t miss a day. Here is one aspect that was super crucial. I made the commitment to myself, but I also made myself accountable to every person following me on Instagram. After a few chairs, I was really gaining followers, and getting too much positive feedback. I could not let anyone down.I was almost shocked at how easy it was to design & produce a unique chair every day. It’s amazing where your creativity and imagination will take you when you challenge yourself to dig deeper. In college a design professor once said to me “Your first idea is never going to be your best idea.” At the time that was hard to accept. When starting a creative endeavor it’s exciting in the beginning and the ideas flow quickly. I usually can’t wait to get started and get my visions on paper, or on the computer, or built. But, what I have truly learned is that if you keep pushing yourself, you will almost certainly get better with each idea. If you make a commitment to not settle for your first, or second, or third plan, you might be surprised where your mind will take you.
Not only will this exercise drive your creativity, it will also instill greater consistency and discipline. Steady, unfailing commitment to work consistently on your business, or your art, or your fitness routine, is required to make progress and succeed in the long run. Great things don’t happen over night, it takes time, hustle and committal to achieve greatness.
Pick something you love and enjoy
Decide to commit to giving it attention every day for 100 days. It can be any sort of art, but it doesn’t have to be. If you love cooking, try a new recipe every day and take a photo of the completed dish. Or if you enjoy yoga, take a picture every day of you doing a different yoga pose. It really can be anything, just think of a way to document your activity and, ideally, post on your choice of social media.
It’s a little intimidating at first, but make the decision, dive in, and enjoy the process. I guarantee you will be amazed with your own creativity and feel a huge sense of accomplishment after the 100 days. You might even love the exercise so much you continue after those 100 days. I did and was sad when I stopped, I really missed my chairs every day! But I enjoy looking back at them all and being reminded how much I love using my blessing of creativity.
Check out this book that inspired my 100 Day Project: