9 no-fail tips to help you succeed at the 100 day project

On this episode of the Art with Soul podcast, I share some tips and ideas to help you plan for a successful 100 day project. If you’re tempted to give the challenge a try but aren’t sure you will be to able to successfully see the 100 days through, these suggestions will help to set you up for success! You’ll find a written transcript of the episode {edited for readability} + additional links and resources below.

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The 100 day project is perhaps one of the most popular and long running challenges around the interwebs. Although it isn’t exclusively for artists, there is a huge artists community that participates in the challenge every year. And for good reason.

A 100 day project is an excellent way to create a daily practice, something I touched on briefly in the third episode of the podcast. As it attracts a huge community of artists from around the world, it generates quite an excitement and buzz, which can be just the kickstart your art practice may need! It’s also a great way to develop a particular artistic skill or hone your style.

9 no-fail tips to succeed at the 100 day project

It can, however, be quite challenging when you think about having to create something every day for 100 days! So here are 9 tips, ideas, and suggestions for how you can approach the 100 day project and complete it successfully, minus the stress, while kickstarting your creativity in the process!

1. 100 finished pieces or a working project?

First things first, decide if you want to produce a finished piece of art every day, or if you want to work on a particular technique for 100 days.

For example, my first successful 100 day project was 100 days of painting intuitively. My objective was to work on the technique for 100 days, I was less concerned about having 100 finished intuitive paintings.

Approaching the 100 day project from this perspective is an excellent way to deepen and improve a particular style or technique. 100 days is roughly 3 months, which is a good amount of time to focus on something and actually see improvements, and also develop a style.

You can also decide to create 100 finished pieces of art – indeed, many artists do just that. A scroll through the hashtag stream for the 100 day project on Instagram will give you many ideas for the kinds of projects you can work on.

2. Keep it small

This is particularly relevant if you want to produce a finished piece of art every day for 100 days. Working small makes it less overwhelming, and typically requires comparatively less of a time commitment, than working on larger paintings.

If you’re doing a work in progress 100 day project, this is less relevant. For my 100 days of painting intuitively, for example, I primarily worked on 11.5×15.5 inch sized paper.

3. Follow your curiosity

woman sitting surrounded by paintings for the 100 day project

When you’re planning your 100 day project, pick a subject that you’re really curious about or have been considering taking a deep dive on. This will make it much easier to commit to your project and see it through to the end.

If you pick a project hoping that you may start to enjoy it by the end of the challenge, well, that may not actually work. For example, if you decide to do 100 days of sketching, hoping that will make you start to enjoy the process, there’s a 50-50 chance of success. You may find that you enjoy it, in which case it could become a life-long practice. But if you realize that you really do not like to sketch, you’re less likely to stick to it for 30 days, let alone 100 days!

A much better way for that kind of experimentation is to set yourself a shorter challenge – let’s say 15 or perhaps 30 days of sketching?

Need some ideas for choosing a 100 day project? Here you go!

4. Decide on the parameters of your 100 day project

Once you’ve decided on your project, determine the parameters of how you will achieve it. Do you plan to stick to certain mediums or materials, a particular style of exploration?

For example, let’s say you decide to do 100 days of portraiture. Have a think about whether these will be pencil sketches or drawings? Do you want to use pencil shading? Graphite, charcoal, or pastels? Or do you want to paint 100 faces? Will you stick to a particular medium or would you rather do a mix of pencil sketches and paintings?

Determining these things in advance helps you to prepare better and removes some of the uncertainty over what you do once you show up at the painty table.

Allow for flexibility too – 100 days is a long time, and you may decide to shake things up in the middle of the challenge, which is perfectly fine, of course!

5. Prep up + set up for success

set up your art table and organize your paint brushes and inks to help you succeed at the 100 day project

Once you have your idea planned out for your project, do a bit of prep work. Decide on your materials – for example, you may decide to buy a sketchbook for your project, or perhaps you may need to cut down paper to size.

For my 100 days of painting intuitively, for example, I decided to use a large A3 size journal. It allowed me to paint big and to save space – an important consideration, especially if you have a tiny studio or art table like I do!

Also consider setting up your space. Prop up your easel or tape down your paper, have your paints in easy reach, your brushes clean and ready, your pencils sharpened. When you have everything ready to go, you waste less time looking around for materials or setting up your space, and can begin creating as soon as you enter the studio.

6. Give yourself some grace

When it comes to keeping up with the 100 day challenge and completing it successfully, I am a big believer in giving yourself some grace. You don’t have to finish 100 pieces of art in 100 days or paint for 100 days at a stretch. Life happens, and when you’re mentally prepared for that and are willing to give yourself some grace, it makes it easier to come back to the challenge even if – or should I say when – you miss out a couple of days.

No one is keeping score of your 100 day project, so plan it in a way that is supportive of your life and schedule!

7. Paint in multiples

You don’t really have to stop at one painting a day! If you miss a couple of days, but then have a block of extra time on a weekend, for example, you can work on multiple pieces at the same time. This tip is much more relevant if you’re doing 100 pieces of art, of course.

Working in this manner may just help you to successfully finish your 100 day project in…well…100 days…if that is something that is important to you!

8. Give yourself permission to fail

Sounds counter-intuitive on an article that’s all about completing a 100 day project successfully, doesn’t it? But this is an important tip, so hear me out. It is important to give yourself permission to abandon the 100 day challenge if it isn’t working for you – without beating yourself up for it!

Sometimes we think we may enjoy a project and find that we don’t, or we may just find it’s too much of a time commitment when we’d rather be spending our time on other areas of interest. And that’s perfectly all right!

Just spend some time reflecting on why you abandoned your 100 day project so you can keep that in mind if you decide to do another 100 day challenge. That’s how I finally completed my 100 days of painting intuitively successfully – I had a few past failed 100 day projects, all of which taught me different things, and all of which I kept in mind when planning my own 100 day project!

9. Past successes are not a guarantee of success

Another counter-intuitive tip, but equally important to remember: successfully completing a 100 day project one year does not guarantee that you will stick to it next time.

Case in point, I jumped into the 100 day project in 2020 and abandoned it within a few weeks. It was an idea that sounded interesting in my head – 100 days of creative explorations – and it was a widely open challenge into which I could fit almost any kind of artistic/creative project.

But my priorities changed – I ended up spending most of my time last year focusing on abstracts, as a result of which that 100 day project just fell to the wayside. The other problem? It was too wide a project, which can lead to analysis-paralysis. Which is why tips 4 and 5 are important – just saying!

Remember, it’s totally ok to fall off the 100 day project – or any challenge – and that falling off a challenge is not a personal reflection on you!

There you have it. My top tips on how you can have a successful 100 day project, all drawn from my own hits and misses when participating in this challenge.

Also read: Some lessons from my first 100 day project

Are you in?

Then please join me, as I explore 100 days of soul fueled abstracts. Follow me as I create on Instagram at moderngypsy.in. And drop your 100 day project hashtag and Instagram account in the comments below so I can cheer you on, too! It’s so much more fun to do this challenge together!

Posted in The Art with Soul Podcast.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?

10 Comments

  1. this is a great warm welcome to anyone starting the 100 day project this year.I love what you share here.thank you so much for doing a podcast on this topic as I can share it with all my friends that are curious about the 100 day project.I hope to keep my project small this year. see you in the 100 day project dear creative friend

  2. These are great tips. I have wondered how people do 100 days challenge. ‘Paint in multiples’ is the tip which has given me ideas. If I take up a 100 day challenge someday it would be crocheting100 various pattern of granny squares.

  3. What a coincidence! I was planning to do a month long painting marathon in February. In my A5 Sketchbook. Maybe If I enjoy doing that I can continue and complete the 100 days! Do I dare to attempt it. OMG! Thank you for the tips. I shall come back and refer to this one again soon.

  4. I like the point about giving myself permission to fail else it adds much stress to the whole process. I did start this challenge once but was not able to complete.. I’ll give this a try again and hopefully I will have atleast 1 completed piece .Thank you for these tips.

    • You’re very welcome, Raj! I’ve also had a few years when I started the project and failed – all those failures eventually help you find your winning formula! 😉

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