Everything you need to know!
Resources, tips & commonly asked questions
Here, as I’m undergoing my second bout of cancer treatment for leukemia, I’ve decided to do a 100-day creativity project beginning on April 1, 2022, and I’m inviting all you beautiful souls to join me.
This is my fourth go-round. To me, the 100-day project is so powerful, both the sense of creative possibility and the organizing principle it affords: your day becomes centered around one small creative act. I also love the element of community, drawing inspiration and a sense of accountability from others.
There are so many shapes such a project can take—from writing a daily childhood memory to collaging, piano playing, or walking in nature. It just needs to feel exciting, a little challenging, but most of all sustainable, so you’re able to keep it up over the course of 100 days.
As someone who feels pulled by the siren call of hyper-productivity, I want to make clear: the 100-day project is not that. The point is to get into a more liberated, playful creative flow state—not to reinforce the pressure of constant striving, or the compulsion to be productive, or the idea that creative activity needs to culminate in some kind of grand masterpiece.
This time around, the 100-day project will be mostly self-directed. For those who want an extra dose of accountability, paid subscribers will have the option of getting regular pep talks from me, along with check-ins and opportunities to have your work featured.
Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions and my answers—all with the caveat that this practice is for you. Make it your own. Let it take you where it will.
In love and creative solidarity,
Some frequently asked questions…
How do I get started?
It’s simple. Pick a creative act—something small and manageable, something you’re excited about, and most importantly, something that’s sustainable. Keep the barrier to entry low. Then start doing it once a day. If you want additional support, read this newsletter on how I approach getting started with a creative toolkit.
What qualifies as “a creative act”?
Anything that makes something from nothing. Anything that twists you out of your usual way of being, that promotes a different way of using your mind or body. Anything that stretches your imagination, that allows you to see things a little differently.
We’ve heard lots of great ideas from our community—you can find hundreds of them in the comments section here—from journaling to photography to taking nature walks to meditating to literally planting a seed every day for 100 days.
What if I’m not “an Artist”?
You don’t have to be a self-described “creative person” or a capital-A artist to take part in this project. At the Isolation Journals, we believe creativity is for everyone. As our friend Elizabeth Gilbert says, a creative life is an amplified life. Whatever your background, your creed, your profession, your walk of life, this project is for you.
It’s a long time—100 days. How do I stay motivated?
I agree. One of the biggest challenges for me is how to keep at it after the initial excitement wears off. I’ve found that the best way to stay motivated is to structure your project in a way that makes it easy to return to it.
Here are some ideas:
Choose a project that is manageable in scope and scale. That may mean having a time commitment of 5-10 minutes or undersetting a goal for the day—for example, just one sentence a day.
Make a checklist, calendar, or other visual reminder.
Build in some accountability. Invite friends or family to join you. And remember, this community will be here cheering you on and supporting you too.
Come up with contingencies—a necessary grace for when life inevitably intervenes.
For more insights on how to make your project stick, read this newsletter with a motivating exercise we call the creative contract.
Will you be sending out prompts for creative inspiration?
This time around, the 100-day project will be self-directed. However, if you do want prompts, we have no shortage of them. You can find our most recent prompts here. To access earlier prompts from our first 100-day project, browse our archive here.
Is the project free, or do I have to pay to join?
If you’d like additional support and guidance, paid subscribers to my newsletter will have the option of receiving periodic check-ins, pep talks, and opportunities to have their work featured publicly.
Paid subscriptions are $6 a month or $60 a year. If you want to take part but a paid subscription feels out of reach, just email me. No questions asked—we’ve got you.
How do I register for the project?
There’s no official registration, but to follow along and to stay in the loop, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter.
What if I miss the start date?
That’s totally okay! You can jump in whenever. (To paraphrase a Chinese proverb, the best time to join the 100-day project was on April 1. The second best time is today.)
Is there a specific platform where we can get information and share our work?
We’ll be communicating about the project in our free weekly newsletter. All posts will be archived in this special 100-day project section. And you can share you work on Facebook or by tagging us on Instagram and using #tij100dayproject and #theisolationjournals.
Is it okay to switch from painting to journaling to walking, etc., from day to day?
I believe in following our creative impulses where they lead, so it’s hard for me to say what you should or should not do. I can only offer what I have found to be most beneficial. In my experience, something interesting happens in repetition, in choosing a thing and boring into it.
Of course, if the idea you chose isn’t working, you can shift or add to it. But I wouldn’t recommend switching from painting to writing just because you don’t feel like painting one day. If you make a shift, especially between media, let it be intentional—so if you go from painting to journaling, maybe write about painting. Or if you go from journaling to walking, maybe take your phone and journal using voice notes. Let there be a cohesive thread and follow it.
The other problem with switching every day is the paradox of choice. Having to decide what to do each morning might become a barrier to entry in and of itself. In that case, it’s better to choose either the form or the content and stick with it.
Do I have to do my creative act at a specific time of day?
The short answer is no; the longer answer is... sort of?
I recommend scheduling a time in advance, especially if your days vary, like mine do. Otherwise, it’s easy for the day to slip away. Folding it into your routine—like writing while your coffee brews in the morning, or painting when you’ve finished work for the day—makes it more likely you’ll get to it.
What if I miss a day?
Obviously things happen, and it’s not something you should beat yourself up over. This project shouldn’t be a source of stress, but a source of joy, even if it is challenging.
That said, it’s always helpful for me to interrogate why I missed a day. Was it some unexpected, unavoidable rupture that kept me from the page? If so, I don’t sweat it. But if it was a question of poor scheduling or simply feeling unmotivated, I’ll rethink the time of day, or set a smaller task for myself.
As for times when you’re incredibly busy, or know you’ll be traveling—those are the times when it’s tempting to throw in the towel. But in almost every case, there’s a way to adapt your project. If you’ve committed to writing three pages in your journal every morning, maybe you just write one word. If you’re painting, you can do a napkin doodle in preparation for when you can get back to the canvas. When scaling back, I recommend trying to keep a thread of the original project, but of course, you should leave space to reorient when necessary.
I wrote about the necessary grace of allowing ourselves contingencies, which you can read about here.
So what happens at the end?
It’s an understandable question—and I promise it will feel like a celebratory achievement when the day comes—but for the moment, it’s one we’d like to put a pin in.
I believe that starting with the end in mind destroys the magic. Of course, something will come of your 100-day project. Whatever you choose, it will be useful in ways you can’t even begin to predict. But the 100-day project is a process, a journey sans predetermined destination.
How can I support the project?
Tell your friends and family about it, and ask them to join you. And if you have the means, consider becoming a paid subscriber—it’s the best way to support my work, and you get other great offerings too, like access to fun community discussion threads and my advice column, Dear Susu.
Other questions? Ideas for how to make this project better? For what would help you see it through?
I wanna know! Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org