At the beginning of March 2014, I had released the fifth and final issue of my self-published magazine, and shared my reason for moving on. It was only two days later when I decided to begin a project to create a lettering piece everyday for 365 days, or Project 365, and post them on my Instagram account.
When I began Project 365, I had only dabbled with lettering a little while before and I wanted to get better at it. So, I worked every single day until I reached today.
Today was the 365th day.
This project has been the most difficult and rewarding project I have ever undertaken. I have some lessons from this past year that I want to share, but first, let me set the stage.
Watch my journey from start to finish in the following recap video:
The 36.5 Things I’ve Learned from This Past Year:
1. You shouldn’t wait for the “perfect moment” to start. You’re always going to wish you had started sooner.
2. Ship at 90% perfect. Don’t let perfectionism keep you from putting your work out there.
3. Comparison is the thief of joy. Just do your best and be happy with what you’re able to do.
4. Try to divorce the idea of being creative from being adored; they’re not the same.
5. You’ll never truly get away from failures. However, as you progress, your batting average will increase.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself – If you’re really trying to do good work, you’re already doing better than most. Keep that in mind when you’re feeling down on what you create.
7. It’s about depth, not width. It’s more important to create work that deeply engages with the few people who really care than it is to pander to the masses – If you try to please everyone, it’s guaranteed that you will please no one.
8. Introverts can make great leaders, but only if they decide to speak up. (“The Power of Introverts” TED Talk by Susan Cain)
9. Listening to podcasts will jump-start your productivity.
10. Collaborations are great for creating relationships, developing appreciation for different industries, and helping you learn new things that you can apply to your own work.
11. Even doing things that you love to do can be exhausting. Be mindful of your long-term goals and take breaks so you don’t burn out.
12. You can call yourself an artist all you want, but as Steve Jobs famously said, “Real artists ship.”
13. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talented or not; talent doesn’t concern you. Everything is a skill that can be improved, and talent is only a multiplier of the work you put in.
14. Limitations boost creativity, rather than hinder it.
15. If you’re confused on what your next move is, you’re probably not producing enough. Simply showing up regularly will answer 90% of your questions and give you clarity on the last 10% of your questions.
16. Iterate in public. Show your progression, successes, and failures publicly. Your work will show others that improvement isn’t magic, but rather achieved through practice.
17. At the end of the day, when you’re physically and mentally exhausted is the worst time to begin creative work. The earlier you begin, the less of a struggle it’ll be.
18. Putting yourself out there is really scary. However, you can be comforted in knowing that “they can’t eat you.” – Merlin Mann, Webstock 2011 video
19. Don’t get too romantic with ideas – It’s all about the execution of those ideas.
20. “You will not be doing great work, in any field, unless you can say to people, ‘You’re right. It’s not for you.'” – Seth Godin, Keep Making A Ruckus
21. At the end of the day, no one really cares who you are. Be kind, engage with others, and share knowledge freely.
22. Tools Do Not A Craftsman Make.
23. Change is inevitable and necessary. Don’t be afraid to allow your work to evolve. If you’re not excited with your work, don’t expect anyone else to be either.
24. Treating your work professionally will lead others to respect it as well.
25. Be human. When it comes to connecting with people through your art and content, EQ is often more important than IQ.
26. To avoid creative block, implement creative constraints. Also, catalog your ideas throughout the day and pick one to work on when you sit down to work.
27. Listen for opportunities. Help people with the concerns they’re voicing to you.
28. Consistency, curation, and finding your niche will help increase the exposure of your work online.
29. Large commitments require accountability and infrastructure to be successful.
30. Be about one thing for right now. You can’t do lettering, kinetic typography, and photography all at the same time and expect to get better at any one of them. (Just take my word for it on this one…)
31. If creating hasn’t become a habit for you, you’re probably putting yourself through unnecessary resistance.
32. The ability to have fun and to make a fool of yourself is one of the most powerful assets you have.
33. Procrastination isn’t the cause; It’s an effect of temporarily forgetting who you are, or who you want to be.
34. If you’re not constantly failing at new things, you’re not trying hard enough, or you’re getting too comfortable.
35. Open yourself up to the world, and you’ll be surprised by how the world will open itself up to you.
36. Don’t give up – Continuously remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place.
36.5. Seriously…don’t give up. Adapt if you have to, but stay on track. Staying committed to showing up on the days you really, really don’t want to is exactly the type of tenacity it takes to be a real artist. No one said it would be easy, but it sure is worth it.
You don’t need to start your own 365 project to begin putting out work, but I want to encourage you to show up. Show up regularly. Show up everyday if you can. Showing up is step zero to getting where you want to be.
If this has been helpful or inspiring to you, could you do me a favor and please share this with your creative friends who would benefit from this? I thank you for it, and I know they will too! :)[feather_share]
See the Chronological Archive of Project 365: