One thing I’ve noticed about creative challenges is that everyone starts strong and keen. But then gradually some people drop out as life gets in the way, or that initial burst of enthusiasm fades. But if you’ve made the decision to start a challenge, shouldn’t you make sure you see it through? Even if that means missing the odd day or finishing late?
I think the answer is, ‘it depends’. I’m answering this through recent personal experience. First, you need to work out why you picked the challenge in the first place. Was it for fun, to improve your skills, to build a portfolio or other reasons? Whatever it was, try and work out why your enthusiasm for it has now dwindled.
Time/other things getting in the way
Sometimes when life gets busy, your creative time might be the thing that you drop. Work out if there is a way to make your challenge easier. Could you leave your materials all out ready, could you make time in your lunch hour or during a commute? Could you just spend 10 minutes each day on your project instead of the 30 mins or hour you planned?
You Chose the wrong challenge – to narrow, too broad, too difficult
Perhaps you’ve chosen a challenge that is too limiting for you creatively. For example, imagine you had set yourself a challenge to paint a bird each day, but after a week found yourself getting bored of the subject. Could you change the challenge to be animals instead to give yourself more scope?
Maybe your challenge is too broad which leads you to indecision. For example, you may have decided to draw outside every day. You then can’t decide what you should draw, there are so many options. In this case, you might want to limit yourself to trees, or buildings or whatever your favourite subject is.
Another possibility is that the challenge is too difficult for your current level. Maybe you’ve set yourself a challenge to paint with acrylics every day, but trying to paint a full picture with your lack of experience is proving difficult. In this case, maybe it would be better to take a step back, watch a few tutorials and work on one or two paintings over the month rather than one a day
You’re not happy with the work you’re creating
If you’re not happy with the work you are creating, you need to look at why. If it’s because you are comparing yourself to more experienced artists, remember that they were once where you are now and the only way to get better, is to keep practising. If it’s because it’s a new medium or subject to you, it could be a case of just sticking with it while you’re in beginner phase. Everyone has to go through this phase. Like I mentioned above it could be a case of taking a step back, producing slightly less, but following some tutorials over the challenge.
You’re just feeling lazy
We’ve all been there, sometimes Netflix and the sofa is far more appealing than working on your creative challenge. I remember taking part in the 100-day project. Some days the last thing I felt like doing was creating another cartoon. But I knew there was no real reason, I was just feeling lazy and couldn’t be bothered. This is the time to push through and create something. It may not be your best work, but you’ve kept that chain of creating going. If you do fall off the wagon and miss a day, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a bit like a diet, if you eat something bad one day, just forgive yourself, and carry one eating well the next.
You’re just not enjoying it
There are times when you may find you are just not enjoying your challenge. This could be for any of the reasons I have already mentioned. When you feel like this push on and try the next day, just to make sure it’s not just an off day. If you keep getting the feeling that you SHOULD be creating, rather than you want to be creating it might be time to take a short break and then come back fresh and ready to work on a new challenge that you’ll enjoy more.
I recently went through this with our Out and About October Challenge. Not only had I set myself the task to draw outside or in public every day, but also that I would video myself every day too. After only a few days I started to dread it, Not only do I find drawing in public a little awkward, but I then had to video myself too. I was worried that I should be setting an example, and so shouldn’t quit. After creating a bad drawing that I did as quickly as possible to get it done, I realised there was no point in continuing. I might have ended up sending myself into another art block. People in our Facebook Group were supportive too. So I quit and I felt much better. I will be drawing again soon though.
I hope you don’t have to quit your creative challenge, but don’t feel pressured. Only do something that makes you happy. That’s what art and creativity should be all about. So just have fun and if you can’t complete one of the challenges, then just feel good that you have created more than you would have normally.