We Kick-Started 2017: Insights from 31 Days of Creativity

Kudos to everyone who joined us in January, with the goal of making something every day. We chatted with a few of the creatives who participated to learn from their experiences: Wolf (modern visual art in mixed media), Barbara (writing a novel that could be turned into a screenplay), and Benjamin (lego mosaics of iconic images).

Here’s a summary of the challenge’s goals and some wisdom we gleaned.

What We Learned

  • Goal: Jump start the year by making a habit of creating.
    Lesson: The key is to have manageable portions, intentional space, and/or a strategy.

    Benjamin learned that he had to start small in order to create every day. “I didn’t have a lot of time to do each design,” he shared. “It’s helped me to think smaller at the start, and I’m learning to pace myself.”

    Wolf already had the goal of wanting to be in the studio much more this year than last year. “I always like to do something at the beginning of the year to set the tone for the year,” she said. “This challenge helped me implement my goal of actually being in the studio every day and creating.”

    For Barbara, the key was coming up with a plan, breaking the month into 2 parts. During the first 11 days she focused on revising and promoting the manuscript for her first book. During the rest of the month she focused on writing the manuscript for her second book.
  • Goal: Provide accountability and self-discipline in developing a craft.
    Lesson: This provides momentum for creative energy that snowballs into reaching your goals.

    Barbara was having trouble getting momentum going on her second book. “This was the perfect way to kick-start it!” she exclaimed. “It was good for me to know that someone was waiting at the end of the day to hear what I’d accomplished. That provided the motivation and accountability, especially to face a challenge I might fail at.”

    Wolf on the other hand, usually doesn’t have problems staying motivated to create. “I’m always happy creating, and I can make art in big spurts, like 18 hours a day.” She faces another challenge, however. “The other responsibilities I have at home take away the fervor and intensity I want in my artwork. So this challenge has helped me maintain momentum.”

    Benjamin also acknowledged, “The accountability helped me discipline myself to work on something every day.”
  • Goal: Get through the full creative process every day (have an idea, implement it, publish it).
    Lesson: Repeating the creative cycle for consecutive days can lead to new skills, a variety of work, and a greater understanding of the process.

    Benjamin had been interested in trying lego mosaics for a while. The challenge gave him an opportunity to develop new creative skills with lego building techniques and color mixing. He learned how to work within limits, such as having a set amount of supplies, or trying to represent curves in a square-based grid.

    Wolf has 8 different stations in her studio. She paints, draws, and sculpts; she also makes jewelry, collages, and mixed media art. She’s challenging herself to a variety of artwork. Each station is always ready to go, with something already in process. Her inspiration comes from her emotions. “I don’t decide what to do. I just go with what I feel.” The work from January reflects her feelings and reactions toward the responsibilities she has.

    Barbara has been learning to overcome self-judgment as she writes. “It’s just the first draft,” she reminds herself. She realized that everything she writes is useful for the process, even if it doesn’t make it into the final product.
  • Goal: Have fun!
    Lesson: It’s fun and rewarding to create and share with others.

    “It’s a fun process,” shared Wolf. “If you don’t let life responsibilities overwhelm you, the creating flows pretty easily.”

    “You can have fun while you’re creating,” said Benjamin. “You have a new start every day, and you can think about it in between sessions.”

    “The first part of the month was more about administrative and clerical tasks,” commented Barbara. “Now that I’m writing, I’m in the fun part of what I like to do.”

What’s Next

After experiencing the month-long challenge, our creatives are learning what is most beneficial and sustainable for them.

“It’s been really good to get my feelings out on a daily basis and see the product,” said Wolf. “I’m hoping to continue at this pace if possible, even after the challenge is over.”

For the rest of the year, Barbara plans to alternate a month of intense writing with a month off. This will help her stay productive at a sustainable pace.

They encourage us all to get creating as well. “Just put yourself in the studio and actually use the materials,” advised Wolf. “Sometimes it’s not easy to think about it. But address it on a daily basis. Keep momentum going.”

So, you’ve heard from our representative creatives how productive and enjoyable the challenge was for them. Why don’t you start your own creative habit now?

If you are interested in joining us, mark your schedule for next January when we’ll do it again.

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