It’s Not Too Late to Start
There are dates that may feel like they are particularly auspicious to start a new project on. New Year’s Day being the first example to spring to mind, others might include the “official” start of a challenge such as Inktober, NaNoWriMo, Making Art Everyday and The 100 Day Project or the first day of a new month or quarter.
For long term creative projects, it’s never too late too start.
Disappointed you missed day one of Making Art Everyday and feel like you’ve already failed? It doesn’t matter! Starting Inktober a week late? Who cares?
January 2nd (or any other day) is as good a day as any to dedicate yourself to a project. You don’t even have to “catch up”. Just dive right in and get started. I often find trying to catch up on daily projects leads to unnecessary stress. If you miss a day let it go and move on to the next prompt. You can always go back to a missed prompt if you have the time or can use it to replace a prompt you find uninspiring. Or tack it on at the end of the project.
Many of these projects are geared towards making time for and establishing a regular creative practice. That is the ultimate goal. The start dates are often chosen arbitrarily and don’t have any consequential significance.
Avoiding a challenge that could revolutionize your creativity simply because the start date isn’t “right” is a BS excuse your brain uses to prevent you from leaving your comfort zone.
Dedicating ourselves to our creative work is oftentimes accompanied by a lot of fear. Our brain perceives attempting and potentially failing at something so meaningful to us as a threat, so it stops us from trying altogether to keep us “safe”, even if the status quo in isn’t actually what we want.
In short: Missing the “right” start date is an excuse.
Once you’ve seen the incredible results of regular practice, you won’t care that you missed a few days here and there. Your future thriving artist self won’t care that you started Making Art Everyday on January 3rd or missed a week in June. The missed days pale in comparison if you spend hundreds of other days creating.
The goal of these challenges is to build a long-term and sustainable creative habit and make time for things you love. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do them.
Don’t let your brain cheat you out of your creative potential with its bullshit excuses. Change can be hard enough as it is and your brain will often try and derail you because it feels uncomfortable. Don’t let it be over a missed day, or even a missed week. You can always get back on the horse. Start anytime. Keep going anytime.
Drawing every day for any extended period of time is a big challenge. Chances are high that you will miss days, no matter what you do. You might get sick. You might break your wrist. You might need to grieve the death of a loved one. Life throws us curveballs. Even with the best of plans, sometimes things go awry.
What you can do when this happens is take any missed day as a lesson in what you need to watch out for or do better next time.
Do you need to prepare ideas in advance? Download reference and charge your power bank before heading off the grid? Get your drawing in earlier in the day? Make sure your iPad is charging the night before?
Every drawing will teach you something. But every missed day can teach you something valuable too.
Treat every day as an experiment and take away the lessons it has to teach you. Then use that information to help you avoid missed days in the future. You can never control all the things. But you can do what you can to improve the things you can control.
If you can do that, there are no “failed” days.
No effort is ever wasted.
And it’s never too late to start that process.