Got a bad habit to be late to the life you want to create? Make a habit of the behavior you'd like to emulate. Start by doing something small to progress every day and you will be well on your way to being the writer/author/speaker/teacher/genius that you already are.
Want to hear more about Why 100 Days Matter? Read this. Otherwise, let's get to it. Maybe you want to start drawing again. Or write everyday. Well, let me be the first to congratulate you for committing. Now commit this to memory-- you're gonna want to quit. The following are 5 tips to keep you IN IT when the shit hits the fan.
I tell you the facts that no one told me when I embarked on my project, #100DaysOfCopyThat. It would have been nice to know what to expect and find ways to not fight but dance with Resistance. Resistance is the force that will always show up whenever you attempt to level up in life. Pursuits in creativity, education, health, and career will undoubtedly stir up resistance, i.e., fear. So let's not stumble over the hurdles that it as well as life throws down, let's RUMBLE.
No. 1: LOSING STEAM
SOUNDS LIKE: “Ummm…::staring at blank screen:: this is hard and I think I have last night's dishes to clean...
YOUR MOVE: 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 it WILL feel great.
Unlike toilet paper when the need is most severe, you will never run out of excuses why you can’t do your 'thing', m'dear. But if you’re like me and had ‘phone it in’ on speed-dial in the past then maybe JUST MAYBE you’re finally fed up with NOT getting anywhere than actually putting in the miles.
No. 2: DISTRACTION
SOUNDS LIKE: “Hmm Is that [Insert Ex’s New Girlfriend’s Name] in those Maui pics? Is she a model?” Click, click click.
YOUR MOVE: Distraction-proof to prove you mean business. If you are writing, log into the ‘Guest’ account on your Mac if you have one or 'safe mode' in PC. Your attention is expensive--do not give it away for free. If you're social media prone, block it by using StayFocusd--a plugin for Google Chrome. A recent study by Digitrends puts checking social media feeds 17 times a day or more--so that's where a lot of our time is going--in my case, I have an Instagram 'bedtime' for sure. At 10PM nightly, my alarm persists--stop flipping through Stories and give it a rest!
We can not prevent pitfalls or other peoples’ spills, we can not prevent fires--unless they're the forest-kind. Some we will always have to put out, although try and wait and let someone else use their water spout. What I'm saying is, when new habits emerge, they take time and energy and let's be real--there are VERY FEW REAL EMERGENCIES.
There are, of course, more important things in life than having a fully-activated creative mind. …like the health of your kid. I don't deny that and there may be legitimate reasons why you can't do it one time--just don't commit Habit treason. Miss a day? Add one on to the end, friend. And don't dawdle or worry...BTW your ex's new gf is not really a model. And by the way, by the time you look through all of her vacation pics on Facebook you could have been head down authoring the footnotes for your fabulous book.
No. 3. DELIVERING LESS THAN WHAT YOU DEEM QUALITY WORK
SOUNDS LIKE: “UGH. It's 11:49PM my work sucks and I'm pissed. I AM NOT putting this out into the world--not like this!”
Oooooh..yeah you’re right. Don’t put that out there. Blank stare...
JUST KIDDING. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg: “Done is better than perfect.” Done will always be better--it's sustainable. Perfection is less than realistic--it's downright unattainable.
During my 100-day project, I copied something--with credit given--or added copywriting to an image for 100 days. Sometimes my posts looked like they were copied left-handed late at night. They were, except that's my dominant hand. I just couldn't get it down right. Others show the smudges, the trenches, the stenches of work-in-process. Even though it’s far from pristine, that’s what makes it interesting.
Some artists even go as far as to make the journey their end product. Cy Twombly's work is seen internationally, but I first saw it 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 loud, and the coffee stains and punctures are narratives that rupture throughout. 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 it.
Think about it. When is the last time that you put something out there, work related or otherwise that was devoid of error, and pristine, the output exactly as you had imagined it? Yeah, that was likely a dream. There will always be the folly of time and human error, so might as well bare it.
OH, and important to note — no one’s looking at you. Very few will care (sorry). But you’re not doing it for them, nor likes hearts or shares. Which leads me to number four:
No. 4. NOT GETTING THE LOVE/SUPPORT YOU DESERVE
SOUNDS LIKE: “REALLY? SEVEN Likes? I just made the fricken Mona Lisa out of spaghetti!”
YOUR MOVE: 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 should get, JUSTSTOP and keep going. You will keep making regardless. Hearts are not your fuel. And for God’s Sake, turn off the notification pop-ups--it's just cruel.
BUT, #protip: Do add the appropriate hashtags, especially the #100daysof[projectname] so that you are searchable and so that you can keep daily track of the game.
There is an exception to the silly-hearts rule and it's rooted in accountability. 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 project's posts. Sometimes it takes just one person looking to help you through. 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.” Yes, but they were weak--that isn't you. There will be resistance from the people you talk to. We as a species are resistant to change. But a funny thing happens when you are 1/3rd of the way in...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--sometimes and only including your mom--that really like what you got goin’ on. Use the momentum.
No. 5. FIND YOUR HEROES
SOUNDS LIKE: “No way--there's an IG for farm-team athletic mascots? Jackpot.
YOUR MOVE: 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 battled resistance and made it back intact. 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 town. Former living statue, musician, and author, Amanda Palmer notoriously has stayed in the homes of her fans while on tour. Throughout her chaotic creative career she has furiously dedicated devotees that will finance whatever endeavor she pursues next and will always open their doors.
Make things, ask the universe what is next, take notes, and share. This 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 is par for the course, where will you go?
This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Series:
Part 2 — WHAT to Expect on Your 100 Days
Part 3 — HOW to Find Your #100DayProject