I started a daily doodle project on my Instagram account in December last year, which I wanted to keep going for the whole of 2015. This isn't a new concept, many others have done this and other similar projects, but I thought I'd share with you why I'm actually doing it, because as you might imagine, it's quite a commitment to add onto an already busy schedule.
Constant improvement through daily practice
Generally, the more you do something, the better you get at it and the easier it becomes. So many of the podcasts and articles I read talk about this kind of daily practice and how beneficial it is if you really want to get better at something.
Making creativity a habit
When your work depends on creativity, you can't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Creativity needs to become a habit, almost a switch that you can flip. Sitting down and forcing myself to come up with something new every day helps me with that and keeps new ideas coming in. Creating a bit of a routine or ritual around it also helps your brain get into the right mode, for example have a set time when you do your daily project, sit at the same desk, prepare a nice cup of coffee beforehand, etc, or whatever suits your taste.
When you have to choose themes and come up with something new every single day, it requires a bit of thought that you otherwise wouldn't be doing. I mean sure, you're having to have ideas about your paid work, but it's kind of different isn't it? With that work there's a brief and client feedback, etc, that guides your ideas, whereas in your own project you have to come up with your own boundaries. I feel like this daily wracking of my brain for a new idea keeps things fresh and makes me more aware of things.
Opening up to vulnerability
Every day is different, some days with less drawing time than others, and sometimes this leads to a rushed piece of work that's not at the level I'd like it to be. But the commitment to posting daily means it needs to go up anyway, which means I have to swallow my pride and allow people to see work that I've created that I'm not necessarily completely proud. This helps to break down the procrastination tactic of not moving forward with work until it's "perfect" and helps me put out more work. I think a lot of fellow makers will relate to the idea that putting work up publicly is a bit like standing on stage in your underwear, every single time you do it. This helps makes that a little less scary.
“...putting work up publicly is a bit like standing on stage in your underwear...” - tweet this!
Build a community
People who follow on Instagram know that I post daily (most of the time :P), generally around the same time, and hopefully start looking forward to posts if they're enjoying that particular month's theme. I love the interactivity and feedback that people sometimes share, and if you're a follower, share more! Remember that thing I said about standing on stage in your underwear? Support is hugely appreciated :) And I usually respond to each comment.
Do you really do them each day or do you do a bunch in advance and just post them daily?
I do them each day, because doing them in a batch would defeat the above purposes of the project. I try to work a day in advance to reduce stress and in case I end up only working on a day's illustration too late to post, but life is busy and that doesn't always work out.
How do you manage to keep it going?
Truthfully, I don't always. I think I skipped May, because things just got too busy with "real" work, and this month hasn't been very consistent either for the same reason. Most of the time I try and make the time, I add it into my schedule, plan ahead and treat it like work. There've been times when I'm working in-office with a client for the day and then spend my lunch break getting it done, or sometimes they happen at 2am. I respect those that can manage to keep it up regardless of anything else going on, but if there are times where I feel like forcing myself to do it will compromise my work quality or health (in terms of lack of sleep or unnecessary excessive stress), then I allow myself to skip it and try to catch up if possible.
Start your own daily project
A daily project doesn't have to be illustration. You can create one from anything you enjoy but don't usually get time to do, or something you'd like to get better at. Here are some tips:
• Set aside a time and timeframe for it, like "work in the garden for half an hour a day before work".
• If there's preparation that needs to be done or things you need to get for it, make sure to organise that beforehand so that when you get to your allocated time you aren't wasting time setting up, you can just get straight into it.
• If you're a planner type, make a schedule for exactly what you'll be doing each day (on your Happiness is... free printable calendar! ;)
• You don't have to post it on social media, but if you do it can help with accountability and support to encourage you to keep going.
• Basically remove any barriers that might get in the way from you actually getting started, and just do it!
Hope you enjoyed this post! My new "quick post" decision will hopefully get me posting more often again, so stay tuned. If you have anything in mind that you'd like me to talk about in future, comment and let me know! Or comment anyway, just to say hi :)
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