Thoughts On My (Mostly Failed) 30-Day Challenge To Make Myself More Creative & Focused

Damn you guys, isn’t that floral watercolor artwork above so beautiful?! Well, I didn’t do it, but watercolor work was sure on my list of things to do during my 30-day creative challenge that I wrote about a few weeks back here. And, I’m here to tell you today that my mission for that challenge was WAY more difficult to follow through on than I expected. I honestly feel like a bit of a failure because in roughly 30 days I managed to only make about 11 entries into my sketchbook. YIKES. (I actually asked the team if I should speedily cram in a few more entries at the last minute to make up for it until I was reminded that that would definitely be defeating the purpose of the challenge! Eeep.)

Anyway, I know 11 isn’t nothing, and I’m proud of the work I did do, but I found myself really struggling to carve out time each day to sit down and put pen to paper. That felt frustrating — why couldn’t I dig deep and pull out the inner creative force of my youth who had enough drive to keep on creating shit after classes and homework?? You see, this challenge was originally inspired by my college-self, and while I still admire the creative work I did during that time, I found that my life has moved on and become filled with so many other things I love to do. Churning out that level of extra material is just not feasible for me at this point, and that’s OK!! I used to have a ton of extra time in school, and so I was naturally able to produce more.

Throughout the challenge, I found the extra time I had to myself each day was very precious, and I struggled to balance all the things I wanted/needed to do, like cooking, running, seeing friends, watching Netflix (duh), cleaning the apartment, etc. I have a home that I care for now, and while those responsibilities are definitely not an excuse to let go of my favorite hobbies that make me feel good, now I feel a lot more driven to work on skills that will directly benefit what I do for work. (That means less hand-lettering, and more online classes where I get to dive into animation and web design, which is equally cool too!)

Anyway, below are just a few shots of different pages from my sketchbook that I completed during the self-initiated 30-day challenge:

(Cut out some magazine illustrations, pasted them, and then drew over it.)

(Cut out a magazine illustration, pasted it, and then drew over it)

(One if my favorite things to do is find lettering examples online and copying it for practice.)

(For this one, I cut out an example of watercolor artwork and drew simple swirls over it.)

(More found lettering practice.)

(Embellished drop cap practiced, but never got around to filling it in with micronpen!)

(Experimenting with brush script micronpens by copying a simple quote.)

(Dabbling in a bit of colored pencil work + simple line illustrations.)

(Random scribbling and hand-lettering practice)

(More found hand-lettering practice)

Not bad, eh??! But, they could have been better. While I do feel like a failure in some ways with this challenge, I have to remember to be kind to myself, not to beat myself up, and focus on the positive and the good that this challenge did for me. And, as Holly reminded me, “It’s 11 more sketches than you had before!” So true.

I remember at the beginning of the challenge, I wrote this: “What I crave more than anything is quality time throughout the week where I can get off the computer…..and, as I thought about what I really miss doing most, my thoughts turned to my old creative college sketchbook.” And, that’s exactly what I was able to do over the last month more so than usual. In the times where I made myself a cup of tea, sat down with my sketchbook, and actually drew something, I felt incredible. I vividly remembered those days in college where I furiously sketched simply because it felt so good to do so. I experimented with colored pencils again — which I haven’t done in years — and even did a bit of collaging where I cut stuff out of magazines and drew stuff around them (<– a favorite technique of mine.) All in all, I did feel connected to the techniques and processes that made me fall in love with art and design in the first place, and it’s always nice to go back to basics with actual pencils, markers, and collages. Overall, I learned to stop measuring my former self against who I am now, and turn my focus to the ways in which I’m growing and evolving as a professional designer that make me feel like a more complete person.

Image via Unsplash

  • JessB

    This was really interesting! I have started scheduling in crafts- I do mine on Monday nights. That’s a night I always want to relax, and recapture a bit of the weekend, and it’s a great night of television at the moment, so I put the TV on, re-heat my dinner (which I usually prepare on Sunday), and get out my cross stitch or my colouring.
    I don’t get around to it every Monday, but like you, making it an aim means I get to it more often than if it wasn’t a priority at all.

    • nancxpants

      Making TV/Netflix time also craft time has helped me get SO many more projects done, plus I feel like I’m still using the time productively!

  • Lauren

    I would 100% buy Lauren hand lettered prints if they’re in the TFD store, just FYI 😉