The 100 Day Project: Jump Right In!

“You can still start,” I told my painter and writer friend Margaret.

Yes, I was talking again about The 100 Day Project.

Last year, when I first participated, I was telling EVERYONE about it, inviting them in: people I knew, like my younger sister, a talented but ambivalent painter; and random people I met, like the owner of Sellers Books & Fine Arts, a wonderful bookshop in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, when visiting friends there before my college reunion.

I’d pull up the cool invitation on my phone screen: “WHAT COULD YOU DO WITH 100 DAYS OF MAKING?” and proceed to read as many of the inspiring ideas around it as seemed appropriate:

Create 100 patterns
Learn about 100 new typefaces
Learn 100 new techniques
Write a 100 page book
Go on 100 dates
Make a song 100 lines long
Create 100 recipes
Volunteer 100 hours
Learn 100 new things
Take 100 photos
Sing in the shower for 100 days
Make a dance video with 100 moves
Meet 100 new people
Make 100 posters
Doodle on 100 Post-its
Draw your dreams for 100 days [Elle Luna, the popularizer of The 100 Day Project, painted hers last year]

Margaret had heard of the 100 Day Project I worked on last year. I shared with her some pointers that helped me.

1) Think small. Then maybe smaller still. Remember that battle fatigue will set in as the 100 Days continue. The grand(iose) task you can do enthusiastically for a few days may quickly become overwhelming, and then be dropped. Better to do a little, faithfully and successfully, over time, instead of a lot, but for too short a stretch to make an impact.

A year ago, for example, Chizarom wanted to draw multiple animation frames a day. I wondered if it wouldn’t be wiser for her to aim to complete one frame only, and add more only if this became comfortable.

2) Post publicly for accountability. I hadn’t been on Instagram before last year’s 100 Day Project (and haven’t been much on it since). Initially, I was going to do my writing project without posting anywhere. Good thing I changed my mind! I don’t know if I’d have lasted a week if I hadn’t publicly tracked what I was doing. I had maybe five followers (friends from the Creativity church group where I’d heard about The 100 Day Project), but the daily posting helped keep me faithful.

This year, I’m blogging rather than posting on Instagram for my 100 Days. You may choose to publicly post your progress on a website, Instagram, or even your bedroom door or cubicle wall for housemates or co-workers to see. But let someone know what you’re doing, to create for yourself the beneficial expectation of a daily fresh feed.

3) Commit to dailyness. Was it M. J. Ryan in This Year I Will… ? Or Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project) in one of her books?, who wrote that it can be easier to perform an activity daily than, say, three times a week. In the latter scenario, you argue with yourself about WHICH days to work, are tempted to skip some days, and may fall behind. Whereas when something is daily, you don’t waste energy negotiating with yourself about whether you’ll do it or not. You just go at it.

For myself, as this year’s project is more ambitious (writing, reading, becoming), I’m giving myself Sundays off, to have a full day to recharge. Then I’ll likely keep going a while longer to reach my 100 Days.

4) Start anytime. Don’t worry if the official start date was a few days (or weeks, or months) ago. Just start. AND,

5) Keep going. If/when you drop the ball—just bend down, pick it up, forgive yourself, and keep going. If you were overly ambitious to start with, you can scale back and redefine the project. Also, decide how you’ll handle any “drops:”

Maybe, if you miss a day, you make it up the next day.
Or you keep going extra days until you make it to the end of YOUR 100 Days.
Or (while pushing hard to keep along) you decide to be thrilled by whatever you accomplish on your project, knowing it’s more than you’d have done if you hadn’t started at all.

Either way, I cheer you along. So what WILL you do with your 100 Days of Making?