At a time when I was struggling as a creative, I made a single decision that changed my creative life. I committed to creating new artwork every day for 2-years and posting it online.
The decision came out of a frustration that I had flat-lined as an artist. Nothing had a spark, I was simply cranking out the same old projects I had cranked out for the past decade and was starting to genuinely wonder if there was even a creative bone in my body.
As I looked at other artists, basically stalking various social media feeds and websites, I determined that everyone else had figured “IT” out. They knew how to “hustle” and find their artistic voice, while I had clearly missed the boat. Of course it didn’t help that I’ve been a working designer for 20 years because that just compounded the message of “if you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s no hope.”
However, there was a small part of me that wouldn’t admit defeat. That part that would get stirred up every time I saw someone creating or doing “their thing”. It was as if being a witness to someone else using his or her gifts would cause that little voice to start jumping up and down saying, “you’ve got some of that too!” Channeling my frustration (and desperation), I decided if I was ever going to find my artistic voice I had to stop waiting for it to show up and needed to get more radical in how I went about looking for it.
It’s important to note that my journey of artistic self-discovery started out as “Creating Every Day for 30 Days.” I didn’t come right out of the gate gunning for “Creating Every Day for 730 Days.” Even my “go big or go home” attitude needed a little time to adjust to this idea before I could go all in.
The thought was after 30-days of creating every day I would know if this was really bringing value or was just busy work. However, once I hit day 30 I realized I had only scratched the surface and that creating every day was the single best decision I could have made as an artist.
Not only did it bring clarity to the kind of work I wanted to do, it all but silenced the tiny, nagging voice of my inner critic. That’s not to say I never suffer from self-doubt, but the chorus of “you aren’t a real artist” or “imposter syndrome” hasn’t played in my head ever since I started creating every day.
Creativity is a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. As a result of this daily use, I grew in confidence as an artist, opening up a floodgate of ideas.
When you commit to showing up consistently and doing the work, it is impossible to not get clarity over time. Sometimes it may be clarity about what you don’t want, but ultimately you will see something that sparks your interest.
Maybe it’s working with a particular type of medium or perhaps it is a certain topic that really piques your interest. Whatever that spark is, follow wherever it leads because it may take you places you hadn’t previously considered, which is when things really start to get interesting.
Tips When Starting a Create Every Day Journey
1. Be clear on what you want to achieve. Do you want to grow a specific skill? Get more comfortable with sharing your work? Find your artistic style? Along the way you WILL get discouraged or struggle, and if you are not clear about why you are doing it, the bumps along the way can take you down.
Also, when you have a specific goal you can have a benchmark and compare earlier posts with your current posts to see how you are progressing.
2. Create a simple format to follow. When you have a format to follow it helps to keep you focused on the priority. For me, I chose: Create new artwork every day and post it online.
Success for the day was defined by answering yes to these 2 questions:
1. Did I create something?
2. Did I share it online?
As the months went on, I would find myself getting distracted by other questions like; How many likes did a post get? How many more followers do I have? At that point, I would take myself back to my original questions and as long as I could answer yes to those two questions, I declared the day a victory.
3. Decide a time frame for your challenge. It’s important to have a period of time in mind. You can always extend it once you reach that goal, but it allows you to evaluate what is working and make adjustments if necessary.
Plus, when you set a window of time it gives opportunity to celebrate milestones along the way, which can really help when energy starts lagging. (half-way there…Woo Hoo!)
Takeaways from My Create Every Day Journey:
Risks become less risky
Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to the creative life you want. In this process, each time I faced a fear it either became less scary or in some cases I found something about it to enjoy.
You’ll see more opportunities
Once you start, you’ll see ideas everywhere. I walked through my day alert and expectant for inspiration to cross my path. I’d recommend keeping a notepad of ideas for future days when nothing catches your eye.
Sharing with others is essential
Aside from the accountability it provides, other people can offer encouragement and even contribute ideas along the way.
You’ll conquer your perfectionism
Even the most die-hard perfectionist will have to loosen their grip at some point. Sharing a few times and discovering your world didn’t implode after an “imperfect” post can be a game-changer.
It’s easier to experiment
Creating daily isn’t about making masterpieces. Be open to discovery along the way and give yourself the option to shake things up once in a while.
It’s OK to revisit an idea
Some days I would have just a kernel of an idea and after posting I could see there was more potential to explore. Flag those ideas and revisit them at a future time. You can even post the original and revised side-by-side to share the evolution of your idea.
Rebecca Gallagher is a lettering artist living in the suburbs of Chicago. Her commitment to create every day led her to develop a line of products designed to inspire and entertain. Follow Rebecca on Instagram