Friday, February 28, 2014

Reflections on My 365-Day Creating Challenge

Two months ago I completed a 365-Day Creating Challenge that lasted all of 2013. This Challenge taught me so many lessons! Now that I've had time to reflect since concluding the daily creating commitment, I'd like to share some thoughts that may help you if you are considering a Creating Challenge of your own:

  • A Creating Challenge can begin at any time of year and be any length of time. I don't usually set goals nor do I make New Year's resolutions. I tend to fail at both. The beginning of my 365-Day Creating Challenge just happened to coincide with the New Year. But it could have begun at any time. And it could have been any other set time period. 
  • A Creating Challenge can morph over time. What I envisioned on the first day of my challenge did not stand the test of time. I had intended to create something and blog about it daily. I found that I drank in the creating part, but blogging so regularly felt like a chore. So, as time went by I did not pressure myself to do that. I indulged in the creating, then would write blog posts in a block or include multiple creations in one blog post. Though I did not complete my Challenge as originally designed, that first vision motivated me to begin and informed the rest of my challenge. You've probably heard that it's easier to steer a moving car. Same with a Creating Challenge: it's easier to get those creative juices flowing and shift the challenge as your energy shifts than to create the "perfect" challenge out of the chute. The journey is definitely more than any finished product.
  • A Creating Challenge must draw you into it. Frequently people undertake challenges such as this just so they can say they've done them. This doesn't provide enough motivation to continue for the long haul. It's about process, not performance. Instead, ask yourself "What wants to be created through me?" My Creating Challenge began when I considered the idea of sketching each day for a year. The thought just went in and out of my brain. Then, when Wendy Balman, my Creating Challenge partner-in-crime, mentioned the idea of doing something everyday for a year, the sketch-a-day-for-a-year thought returned to me. I felt that, while it would force me to improve my sketching abilities, it lacked the breadth of interest that I require. So I tweaked the idea to creating something everyday for a year, and that worked.
  • A Creating Challenge requires rest and feeding. I ran a creative marathon. I needed to rest at times. When I honored my exhaustion, my creative output increased over time. I frequently took those times to input energy into my creativity. I'd watch a video about painting. I'd read a book about lettering. All of that empowered me to keep going.
  • A Creating Challenge is way more fun when shared with others! I not only had Wendy Balman doing her own Creating Challenge at the same time, I had so many amazing people come out of the woodwork to cheer me on. Some of them also began to create, and this encouraged me too. I learned that I not only am an artist, I am also an inspirer of others into their creating. That is an unintended but much cherished impact I and my Creating Challenge have had on people. What a blessing!
  • Your relationship with a Creating Challenge changes over time. In his book Creating, Robert Fritz describes a creating cycle that applies to bringing something into the world: conception, vision, current reality, take action, adjust-learn-evaluate-adjust, building momentum, always have a place to go, completion, and living with your creating. I feel the ideas are similar for an entire Creating Challenge, which truly is a creation of its own. I feel it particularly now that I am releasing the Creating Challenge. Just as with a completed artwork, I need to release the Creating Challenge and change my relationship with it. It is now something I have done, not something I'm doing. I felt that keenly simply in typing my title for this blog post--today's entry was the first in over a year that didn't begin with the words "Creating Challenge." That seems like a tiny shift, but it felt huge.
  • A Creating Challenge bears more treasures than you can possibly imagine at the start. Not only do I have many finished products at my disposal, I've gained internal gold. I've finally adopted the truth that I am an artist because I lived it every single day of last year. I also advanced my skills as an artist. I easily become bored, so creating everyday pushed me to go broader and deeper in my abilities. As well, this creativity expanded to other areas of my life. I found myself expressing creative thoughts and improvising more than ever. And most priceless, I learned that I am not only a creator, I inspire others into their creating. As I shared my work, others joined in, finding their creative voices and expressing them.