The Year After

It has been over 60 days since I’ve finished the Year of the Creative and it still feels just as good as day 365. In case you don’t know what that might be: I created every single day of 2014 and posted about it on a blog. It was awesome. It was exhausting. It was incredibly rewarding. With every big personal project comes a reflection on the good, the bad, and all the in betweens. So here is mine!

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To begin, I’d like to talk about some of the struggles I had throughout the year. As you can imagine with a project as long as this one, there were some bumps along the way. Here are a few of the crappy ones:

Finishing things 
First of all, as I stated in my first article, I’ve always had a problem with starting projects and never finishing them. While I did finish my 365 days (without missing any days whatsoever, holy crap, HOW), there were definitely still projects within the year that I started doing and never got back to. There’s always a small amount of guilt that comes with that. Especially if I was initially excited about whatever I was creating and told people about it, but never followed through. Thankfully there weren’t too many projects that went unfinished, but it was still a struggle.

Creating when you feel like shit
There were some moments throughout the year that I thought it was over. I thought “dang, this is the day I ruin everything and I give up.” Everyone deals with shitty emotional and physical obstacles, and I had my fair share – bad anxiety, wisdom teeth removal, disgusting sickness, you know. There were days I wanted to drop it all because I felt nothing would be worse than attempting to create something – especially when my whole face hurt for a week due to GOSH DARN WISDOM TEETH. While I’m thankful I pushed through and did something on those days, it was one of the hardest parts of the challenge. Somedays are just not meant for creativity.

Coming up with new ideas
For the first half of the year, it was super easy to make my posts because I was still in school so I was automatically creating everyday for assignments. Once I graduated and had to create on my own, it became a tad bit harder. I didn’t have to think of something totally new every single day (thank god, props to the people that do), but somedays I would sit down to create and have no plan whatsoever. The first couple months of that were rough, and I ended up creating random things without much substance. As I learned, I began creating lists and ideas to fall back on when I had no plan which helped a lot.

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Alright, enough sadness. Now the best part – the positive parts of the challenge! I learned so many things from this year that it’s hard to pin point them all and form words, but I’ll do my best not to ramble on.

Sometimes you suck and that’s ok
Say it with me: “I’m not always going to create a masterpiece.” More often than not, I’m going to make something subpar, unless I spend a couple hours on it, and that was really hard to accept. Committing to something big like this, I wanted it to be the best it could be. But somedays (especially sick days), I made some really crappy things. I felt like a cop-out or a failure or a cheat. But if you want to succeed at a large challenge like this, or in a creative life at all, you need to learn that sometimes you’re going to make some shitty art and hey, that’s alright! Because guess what? Somedays you’re going to make something AMAZING, and it’ll make up for all those piles of crap you’ve tried to forget. Believe me. It’s okay to suck sometimes.

It’s okay to create for absolutely no reason whatsoever
I have no idea why, but I’ve always thought that I needed a reason or a plan to create something. It had to be for a gift, or a project, or an art show, or some sort of reason. I was so focused in school that I never created just for fun or for myself. When I graduated, I felt kind of lost. Maybe I’m the only one with this weird problem, but it’s a huge thing I learned with this challenge, so I’m going to share it anyway. Realizing that it was completely okay to make something for the sole reason of “I want to” changed me completely. Have an idea that has no real purpose other than to just exist and to make you happy? DO IT. DO IT NOW. Most of the things I made in my year were for my pure enjoyment and I was able to learn so much throughout that process. 

You can do ANYTHING if you really want to
I think every creative person doubts themselves sometimes. Am I capable of this task? Am I good enough to accomplish what I want to? Am I as good as all the others? Those things are natural to think, but don’t let it get to you. Once you realize that yes, you ARE capable and you ARE awesome and you ARE just as great as everyone else, you can do anything. This was the biggest thing I learned about myself and about being a creative person during this project. When I started the year, I didn’t question myself. I just dove head first into the challenge and didn’t look back. I worked hard and I pushed myself and I did it. After accomplishing my year, I feel like I have the confidence to do whatever I put my mind to.

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It’s been a couple months without having to create every day, and sometimes I miss it. I still challenge myself to create more, to finish things and to take chances, but not on the same scale as last year. The Year of the Creative is in my past, but I will take this experience with me throughout my career and life as a designer. I’ve learned an incredible amount and am so proud of myself for completing what I never imagined I could.

I encourage ANYONE to take on a creative challenge. Whether it be once a month, once a week or every damn day, it all counts and it’s all worth something. Do something without many boundaries like I did, and just create whatever you can. Or do something more specific like strictly photography, knitting, illustration, lettering, ANY type of creative area you can think of. Do what you can commit to. Don’t put a crazy amount of pressure on yourself, but DO push yourself to get shit done. It’s an extremely rewarding thing to accomplish, and you’ll never regret it. If you’re looking for some inspiration to start your own year of creativity, you can find my completed project here or some other awesome ones here.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try something new. I believe in you and I hope my story has shown you that you can do it too. This incredible community believes in you, and we’re here to support you and cheer you on. You can do so many awesome things, you’ve just gotta start. So go! Make something amazing!

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