100 days of simple sketching: Finding value in a personal project

Do something for yourself. It’s not selfish to bring a little bit of pure joy to your day. Personal happiness can increase the positive impact you have on others, so making personal development a priority is a valuable practice. There are many ways to accomplish this, but I chose to experiment with a 100 days project. I focused on creating a simple sketch every morning for 100 days.

I was first introduced to the concept of the 100 days project at the 99U Conference.

The 99U Conference is hosted by Adobe. This annual conference brings the creative community together, opening up avenues for inspiration and collaboration. I’m sure that the 100 days exercise has origins elsewhere, but listening to a talk about it was inspirational enough for me to try it.

A flower in full bloom
Simple beauty of a flower in bloom

Why did I decide to try my hand at sketching?

I’m not a great artist, but I enjoy the creative process and would like to improve what skills I have. To me, the flaws in the technical work personalize the outcome. I had been thinking about getting back into drawing but was struggling to act upon the desire, so this exercise provided the kick I needed to get going.

At first, there was not an intended subject matter, but as time passed, it was obvious that the natural world provided the majority of my inspiration. Being out in nature has always been when I feel most myself. I have been searching for opportunities to help bring more balance between the natural world and humanity because the environment needs to thrive for life as we know it to function best. Lately, I haven’t been experiencing nearly enough real nature, so these daily drawings provided an outlet to help the natural world be part of my daily life.

There were many challenges during this experiment.

I’m the biggest obstacle to everything that I do. The goal behind this experiment was to both gain new drawing skills and to get better at sharing what I do with a wider community. Knowing that I could use some polishing made this even more of a challenge.

100 days, although short in the scheme of things, feels like an eternity. Having shiny object syndrome makes it difficult to maintain inspiration that long. To get through the hardest moments, I reminded myself that although the experiment was one project, each piece had a life of its own.

A sleepy sloth hugging a pillow to its chest
I was extra sleepy the morning I drew this.

The good outweighed the negative.

Before beginning this project, guilt washed over me every time I opened my craft closet. Many neglected sketchbooks were taking up space and everything that doesn’t provide some sort of function can be considered waste.

This project renewed the purpose of my art supplies and provided me with a daily creative outlet. This increased flow and motivation each day, no matter what else had to be tackled.

A fox gazing at the sky as leaves fall
Appreciating the beginning of Autumn

Guidelines for my project

Given how little time I had been devoting to drawing, this project was tackled casually. It was entirely about production, not perfection. This is a particular challenge for me, so I had to create pretty strict rules. I only allowed 10 minutes of my day to be spent on each sketch and I had to share the outcome, no matter how I felt about it. To make sure of my success, I built the practice into my morning routine.

Personal projects have a variety of benefits.

Since a personal project is all for you, you have complete creative control. It allows you to explore your passion freely and provides evidence of what makes you, you. Doing something for yourself can:

  1. relieve stress.
  2. renew a passion.
  3. increase self-confidence.

My hopes for the project

Although they are simple sketches, I hope that they help inspire positive thoughts about a thriving natural world and provide inspiration for your own creations.

I am seeking inspiration for my next project to share. Please leave your ideas in the comments!

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