There are tons of "30-day" artistic challenges out there. So many that there are even some that have a specific theme for the month, like the month of May when there is a mermaid challenge called "Mermay.” There are sketch book challenges where a group comes up with 30 words and artists create something on each page of the sketchbook for each word for the month. There are famous challenges that inspire people around the world, like the "Inktober" challenge, where millions of artists participate creating projects throughout the month of October using ink. These are just to name a few but there are thousands of challenges going on all the time that help artists stay inspired throughout the year. If you have participated in any of these challenges, then you know first-hand how these challenges can be stressful. The start of each challenge is exciting, and the ideas are flowing like a faucet. Then after a while obstacles will start to trip you up and either slow you down or stop you in your tracks where you do not finish the grand plan you had in the beginning. Let me share with you a few things I have learned that can help you in the next challenge you take on to help you stay focused and make it to the end of the 30 days feeling successful.
First thing before starting any challenge you need to ask yourself a few questions. "What do I want to get out of the challenge”, “How much time each day do I have to work on a daily project", and "How comfortable am I in sharing my projects on social media". It’s very important to be honest with yourself when answering these questions. These challenges can drive both your anxiety and stress to extreme levels if you do not set yourself up to be prepared for pitfalls over the duration of a 30-day challenge. Think about this from the perspective of a marathon runner. It takes planning to be able to keep running for 26.2 miles without stopping. In those 26.2 miles there will be hills and sharp turns and weather conditions that will impact your journey. You will need to ensure you are prepared to handle any obstacle that comes along the way. The same thought process comes into play with preparing for a 30-day challenge. Asking yourself the previous questions you will know if this is the right 30-day challenge for you.
Then it’s time to choose the challenge that works for your lifestyle right now and for the next 30 days. When you ask yourself how much time do you have to spend on a project each day and you determine that you may not be able to spend enough time to finish a project a day then you will need to find a challenge that is not strict about completing something every day. There are plenty of challenges that are "work at your own pace". The issue is if you know you don't have time to produce a finished project everyday then you need to make decisions what is the pace you will stick to. A project a week or maybe you decide you will do 10 projects over the 30 days. Setting a plan up front will keep you focused on your plan and not get so anxious when you see a lot of people posting completed projects every day.
Set up an area to work in that is inviting and comfortable. Have the media (your supplies) you plan on working in set up ready to go so all you have to do is sit down and enjoy the process. This place you set up should not be in your living room in front of the television. This should be a place where you can focus on your project. You want to have bright light to see your project clearly. You also want to have a nice comfortable chair. If you plan is to spend an hour a day on your project you will need a comfortable chair to support your body properly. You do not want your fun time to be a painful experience when you try to get up. A bad chair will make it difficult for you to want to sit down again and get to work.
The most important thing to do while participating in these 30-day challenges is to be good to yourself. What I mean is that there are so many things that can feed into self-talk that can lead you down a bad path of thinking you are not good enough if you don't keep up or you don’t think your work is worthy of sharing, etc. Don't let your negative self-talk take over your thoughts. There are so many great things these challenges can do but the flip side is the anxiety it also can create. The positive thing of these challenges is getting such great inspiration from seeing what other people do. With some of the very popular challenges you might see thousands of projects that people post daily. This is awesome inspiration when you see people trying things that you have never seen or tried before, but now it inspires you to try it too. You also get the opportunity to meet some amazing artists and talk to them about their project. It is a great place to socialize with others and talk about the thing you love too... creating art. The opposite of this is allowing your negative talk to creep in and spin you into comparing yourself to others and making you feel small and unworthy. Don't let this keep you from engaging because if you spin down this bad path you will be missing all the good things you can get out of it.
Finally, I will say that there are so many challenges going on every day. You will find plenty of value any any one of them has the potential to help you improve your art and/or find new friends along the way. Before jumping on the challenge bus be sure you are very clear with what you want and enjoy the process. If it stops being fun for you then find a new way to get the same experience, like joining a creative community that fits the needs you have. It is ok jump in on these once or twice a year or do them every month - do what is right for you and keeps you enjoying your creativity the way you want. Challenges are fun ways to keep your creative spark going and build a set of projects you will be proud of in the end.
What's happening in the Corner . . .
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, we are surrounded by more and more shiny things. So, do you want to learn how to add shine to the objects you color. Join us all month as we learn what and how to make something shine.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Shiny Things here.
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