Tips for a successful (not stressful) 100 days project

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The 100 Days Project Scotland 2021, organised by the amazing Isla Munro, starts on 1 June. I am a huge 100 days project fan and I think everyone should give it a go, whether you already think of yourself as a creative person or not. The premise is really simple and there are only two rules:

  • Repeat a simple creative task every day for 100 days
  • Record each day’s effort

Your creative task can be absolutely anything – drawing, painting, knitting, pottery, dancing, collage, photography, writing… Anything goes! It’s totally free to take part and you can get a taste of some previous projects on the 100 Days Project Scotland website.

I’ve taken part in two 100 Days Projects now, so here’s my (very unofficial) advice for anyone thinking about joining in for the first time.

Watercolour drawing of tea cups from the 100 days project

1. Make it fun!

It might sound very obvious, but pick something you think you’ll enjoy! Yes, you would probably be very good at drawing feet if you did it for 100 days, but you’ll probably give up in disgust by day 5 which is not the idea at all. It’s fine to pick something challenging, but make sure it’s a challenge you’re excited about rather than one you’re already dreading.

Watercolour drawing of tea cups

2. Be realistic about your time

I don’t know about you, but I always underestimate how long something creative will take me. Even if the actual pen to paper time is only 10 or 15 minutes, on an average day I might also spend:

  • 2 minutes making an essential cup of tea (tea = creativity fuel) and rummaging through the fridge in search of interesting snacks.
  • 3 minutes fishing out brushes that have fallen down the back of my desk
  • 4 minutes staring blankly into space
  • 5 minutes waiting for a big wet splodge of ink to dry
  • 856 minutes scrolling through Instagram…

For the 100 days project, you also need to factor in time for the ‘record your effort’ part. Photographing and scanning can be really quick but when you’re doing it every day it does add up, especially if you’re picky about lighting or editing. If you choose to share your daily efforts on social media (there’s a truly lovely community on Instagram!) then you’ll need to factor in time for that too. 

So, don’t let all that put you off, but do have a proper think about what’s realistic for you alongside everything else in your life. Things like making an animation or illustrating a map might sound amazing, but do you really have time to do one every single day? (If you do then go for it and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!)

Watercolour drawing of tea cups

3. Do as much preparation as you can

Preparation can help SO MUCH! It’s waaay easier to squeeze in a creative activity on a busy day if you’ve already got all your ducks in a row.

Are you planning to draw a different bird for 100 days? Write your list of birds now. Want to carve a spoon every day? Get your wood blocks all ready to go. Going to make abstract collages? Make sure you’ve got a big pile of interesting paper to hand. 

For me, the two big things are preparing paper and finding reference photos. I like each day’s drawing to have a consistent format, which means cutting stacks of paper into identical squares. It’s just as boring and time consuming as it sounds. And I prefer to have some kind of reference to draw from, so collecting a bank of relevant photos in advance saves lots of frantic late night googling once the project starts. 

Watercolour drawing of tea cups

4. Don’t panic if you fall behind

You can always catch up again if you fall behind by a few days. Or you can complete your 100 days non-consecutively if it all gets a bit too much – no one minds if it takes you a wee bit longer to finish. I quite like to bank a day or two when things are quiet so that I can take a day off if I need to without feeling like the days are starting to pile up. 

And if all else fails then 23 (or 56 or 77) days of creativity is still a huge achievement and probably a lot more than you would have done otherwise.

So, what are you waiting for?

Head on over the website and sign up for the 100 Days Project Scotland 2021. See you on 1st June!

A selection of mug drawings from the 100 days project scotland