When I first left my full-time job back in July, I knew I needed to rest and spend time with family, but I also knew that I just had to revive my creativity. After a lot of aimless journaling and randomly taking Skillshare classes (both useful in their own right), I decided to take on a structured creative activity by way of #The100DayProject. In case you don’t know what #The100DayProject is, here’s a helpful little summary from the website:
#The100DayProject is a free art project that takes place online. […]The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.”
For my project, I chose to write short, free form poetry, at least four lines each day, but never longer than what would fit on an Instagram story. I would like to make it very clear here that I am not a poet. I took a few poetry classes in college in the mid 2000s, and that’s the extent of it. But I wanted a challenge, and to do something outside of my comfort zone, so poetry it was! Officially, #The100DayProject usually takes place in the spring, but I’m doing mine now, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to bust out of a creative rut or stretch themselves a little. Now that I’m about halfway through my project, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned so far:
Sometimes you have to just shove your ideas out into the world. When people talk about deciding to have kids, veteran parents always say, “you’ll never really feel ready.” I agree with this, but I think it applies to so many other things as well, including starting a business or announcing to the world that you’re just trying something new. One of the things that drew me to doing #The100DayProject was the fact that you had to share your project. With other people. Publicly. Even if you didn’t feel ready. Eek.
Sharing my work is what I struggle with most and the hurdle I knew I needed to overcome if I was ever going to put anything else creative out into the ether. I had essays and ideas I was really proud of, but I felt like I could continue tweaking them forever. I knew if I never got over my fear of sharing with the world, for people to praise or criticize or completely ignore, those things I had written would never see the light of day, and would likely just end up edited to death. So I chose my project as a low-stakes way of getting over this hurdle. As I introduced my project, I let everyone know that I wasn’t taking myself too seriously, and I knew I was not a poet, but I was going to just try something. And after the first poem I posted, it got easier from there, and I stopped worrying so much about whether what I was writing was “ready.”
Sometimes what you create won’t be good, and it might even be pretty bad. I agonized as I was posting my first poem. This is so terrible. Why did I ever think I should punish the world with my messy attempts at poetry? But then a lot of friends told me they thought it was a cool idea, and they admired what I was trying to do, even if they didn’t exactly praise the poem itself. Then, a few poems later people even told me they really liked a couple! And then, other times… no one said anything. Which was fine. Literally no one (so far) has said, “Boo, you suck, what are you even trying to do?” Maybe they’ve thought it, but almost 50 poems in, it doesn’t really matter anymore.
You care more than anyone else. See point #2. I could leave it at that, but seriously, no one cares that you’re trying to do something new and creative, even if it’s an utter failure, unless what you’re doing is harmful to someone else. People might think that what you’re doing is dumb or a waste of time or self-involved, but they will never care as much about your idea or project as you do. Even if they say something mean, they will probably move on with their day, and not think about it again. I took forever to even start posting my poems because I worried about how to format it just so, and how to introduce it, and I just overthought it in general, so much so that my poetry writing was about two weeks ahead of my actual posting. But then, I realized that no one cared, and I just started throwing my poems out there. And the worst that has happened is that I don’t like the poem and no one comments and we all move on.
Consistency is key. You know how I said sometimes, the work you do just won’t be good? Well if you keep at it, sometimes what you create might just be OK, or even kinda great! I don’t think my poetry, for the most part, is even close to good, but I have had a few poems that I will admit I’m a little proud of. Poems that I thought about throughout the day or that just struck me or that were inspired by something I was really feeling in the moment. But I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t been writing something every single day because of this project. For every good thing I write, there are probably 10 (or 100) terrible ones, but I was able to get to a few poems I liked because I kept stumbling my way through.
Have you done #The100DayProject? Tell me about your project!
If you’re interested in checking out my project for #The100DayProject and my very amateur poetry, check out my Instagram highlights on my Insta page.