Saturday, March 4, 2023

A Quiet 100 Day Project


I have quietly begun the annual 100 Day Project. By “quietly,” I mean that I didn’t announce my intentions on social media on Day 1 and join the initial enthusiasm when a hashtagged challenge begins. Indeed, I didn’t even commit to it myself until the morning of the first day (which was a day later than last year – an impulsive beginning).

The lack of fanfare was due to my strong recollection of last year’s grueling challenge when I committed to drawing from memory and imagination for 100 consecutive days. I learned much and made a significant breakthrough even as I felt like quitting, and ultimately I was very pleased and satisfied with the project. It was exhausting, though, and this year I was feeling too lazy and unambitious to participate again.

I also couldn’t come up with an idea to challenge myself with. I could have done 100 days of portraits, but I’ve been doing nearly-daily portraits for five months – I didn’t see the point in giving an external hashtag to something I’m already doing.

The goal behind the 100 Day Project kept niggling at me, though: “Choose a creative project, do it every single day for 100 days.” It doesn’t demand that the project be particularly challenging or even with the intention of building an ongoing habit. Just do it for 100 days – it’s simple and straightforward.

I started thinking about things I had intended to do but had stopped doing after a short time. Since the pandemic began, I have been filling too many journal pages with writing from inside my own head, which is usually neither productive nor interesting to read. To counteract that about a year ago, I began my “whatever” journal with the goal of writing more observations from outside my head. Unlike the internal brain dumps, I enjoy writing and re-reading observations about things I see or experience externally – and yet I had stopped doing it after a short while. I wanted to get back to that, if only for a hundred days.

At the same time, I started thinking about how I wasn’t drawing much from imagination or memory anymore. I still make some small doodles from imagination in my ongoing scribble journal to visually represent things I did that day, but not as much as I used to when I began that journal. (Why not? Because it doesn’t come as easily as drawing from observation. Falling back to the status quo is always the easiest.)

Finishing my breakfast coffee on the morning of Feb. 22, the official first day of the 100 Day Project, I made the commitment: Write one sentence a day making an observation from outside my head. As a counterbalance, make any kind of doodle as long as it was not from observation. The words and the visuals did not necessarily have to relate to each other, or they could.

All of that is wide open – the visual could be a sketch from memory, imagination or an abstract scribble. I would even allow using a sticker or other ephemera if it was somehow meaningful (or my related written observation made it meaningful). Per the project’s suggestions, all of that can be done in less than five minutes per day. It requires so little time and energy that I can do it half-asleep when I’m about to drop into bed.

To cut myself further slack, I decided I wouldn’t necessarily share the daily entries on social media. It can be fun and motivating for challenge participants to see what others are doing and to encourage each other, and peer pressure can be useful. But I know that I’m self-motivated enough not to need social pressure, and sometimes the mechanics of sharing daily just add to the burden. I would share if I felt like it – or not.

I admit I fantasized about the physical form of my project. I have long admired sketchers who use the grid of a monthly calendar to draw and write a daily cartoon (one of my favorites is Goro Yokoyama, and just recently Mike Daikubara has taken up that format). Maybe I should do something like that! And surely I would need to choose specific colored pencils or pens for the project! In fact, maybe I need to buy new pencils just for this project!

Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Snoopy are cheering me on!

I allowed that nonsense only for a few minutes, though. The only mechanical structure I am using is a rolling date stamp that I had reviewed at the Well-Appointed Desk a few years ago. Then I simply picked out a Field Notes notebook from my vast stash and opened it to the first page. Shortly after my morning walk, I made the Day 1 entry. Done. Ninety-nine to go.

In accordance with the laziness of the rest of this project, I may or may not share all the entries here on my blog. I’ll see how I feel (yawn). (Shocked by my lack of strict rules and requirements? So am I! And it feels great!)


  1. Tina, your text for 1/100, "Big, wet flakes…" is a small and perfect poem. Thank you — in the midst of our next snowstorm I will think of flying through stars. (Here in Saskatchewan we're not through with winter –nor winter with us– yet.)

    ~ David

    1. Thanks so much, David! I can tell you already that not all of my entries are so poetic ;-) , but I appreciate your comments!

  2. I'm glad to see you have figured out a way of doing this for 100 days that shouldn't stress you out. Looks like you have a plan. I plan to not participate.


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