As the new year approaches, a lot of creative people including me are thinking about new projects and new goals. I hear a lot about how there's so many things and how do I choose??? So I thought I'd put in my 2 cents on the topic.
When I began a year of creative habits three years ago I started by drawing. That was a strange choice really. Drawing wasn't something I enjoyed (and some days I still don't.) Instead drawing was a fear. It scared me. But drawing was something I felt I should do if I was going to be an artist. I spent a whole year on this fear and on busting my own myth that artists have to draw and keep sketchbooks.
In general, choosing something just because you feel like you SHOULD is not a good idea. But in my case it worked. I think the reason why is that I had to prove to myself that I could do this. I needed to prove my inner critic wrong––wrong that I couldn't draw and wrong that artists HAVE to draw, also wrong that all artists keep sketchbooks. This fear was holding me back so I needed to address it.
The following year I chose to paint everyday, including painting a dog every Thursday. That year I wanted up to the ante. I wanted to do more than a little sketchbook. I began the year with the grand plan of completing a painting every single day. After a few months, it became clear to me that wasn't possible for me at that time so I switched to painting 30 minutes a day (or more when time allowed it.)
I began this year with the fear that I couldn't paint people. I mean sure Crystal you can sketch and paint dogs from a photo, but what about people? What about faces? (Can't you just hear my inner critic taunting me?) So I've spent the year painting a portrait each week. That'll show that inner critic (and me!) Over time I've learned all kinds of things about myself--what supplies I prefer, processes I like, and how to draw and paint a face!
And as I make plans for next year I'm listening to that critic again. Do you have anything larger? Do you only paint small? And so while I'm still finalizing my plans for next year, I can tell you it will include LARGE pieces. That scares me a little. There's lots to figure out. But that's what a new project is all about.
So if I had one suggestion for how to choose a project, I'd say choose something that scares you a little. Awhile back I was on the how she creates podcast with Torrie Gass who said to make sure it's something that's "within your wheelhouse." I like that phrase. Maybe don't pick something that you've never, ever done before as a project for a whole year. Choose something that's related to what you know and feel comfortable with but also challenges you. Stretch your abilities. Face your fears. A good creative project should be both exciting and scary.