10 Ways To Kill Your Creative Project

Jennifer Hulley food photographer hamilton toronto ontario

100 days dedicated to channeling your creative energy into self directed project? Amazing! Unless you go about it in a way that leaves you drained, uninspired and void of any action. Here are 10 ways that I "failed" at my first attempt at #the100dayproject:

1) Neglect to put thought into the theme of your project: I jumped into the project at the last minute (read: the day before it started) and didn't really take the time to reflect on what I really wanted to practice, create and work on developing. Instead I threw a bandaid solution/ theme on it of improving my iphoneography, which is great and a long running goal for me, but was it really what I felt driven to dedicate the next 100 days to? I didn't give myself any time to reflect or answer that essential question before embarking. 

2) Over structure your project: Rules rule, right? Perhaps not. Its not secret that I tend to lean towards structure and repetition by default and I set about some really rigid boundaries for this project. The theme of iphonegraphy wasn't enough, I was going to further structure this into 10 thematic sets of 10 images, 10 themes within my big theme of iphoneography. Great! But lets kick it up a notch...embedded into that theme would another theme to focus it all around food. A theme within 10 themes under an overriding ultimate theme! A trifecta of themes if you will!

3)  Expect perfection every day: "Every image I produce must be 100% on brand and on par with my current work! Not only must it reflect my vision and style as an artist but it must jive with my overall look of my social media accounts and maintain the professional standard that I hold for myself with all my work!" (...because that is the point and purpose of a creative project right?)

4) Fail to take situational limitations/obstacles into account: iphoneography is great fun and can produce some fantastic imagery. It is however really dependent on fantastic "nailed it!" type lighting, which does not always happen when you are a natural light photographer. The iPhone is much less forgiving than a DLSR and you either have to not shoot one day if the conditions don't match with what you are trying to create, or change what you are trying to create to work with the conditions (see pt 2 &3). Add to that time constraints with a current work schedule that sometimes has you away from home until the light is gone/unusable an you have yourself a bit of an issue. Force the issue and shoot anyways and you end up with images you don't like, leading to frustration and demotivation.

5) Take the "but we've always done it this way" train of thought: the 100 day project is all about creating and trying something new. Its about process over product and throwing yourself into the creative cycle.  This doesn't mean that if you are a painter that you have to paint for 100 days, or that you have to commit to 100 days of photography as a photographer 

6) Compare yourself to others: social media is a wondrous thing. It connects us and brings us together bridging boundaries in time and geography. People can connect and see what you are working on. You can draw inspiration from and support each other as you undertake different projects. This is a great thing. But with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Social media can also lead itself to a lot of social comparison. It is easy to get swept up in it all and compare yourself to others and forget that everyone at different times is going through similar struggles and successes. It can become hard to block out all the noise and focus on your own pursuits. 

7) Beat yourself up about your mistakes: so you blew it. You had an idea it looked great in your minds eye and then when it came time to produce it, well...let's just say it was a far cry from the intended outcome. This happens. And it will happen A LOT. Lose sight of this idea and you will squash the creative light that is inside you.

8) Stop trying: ultimately the demise of my project has been a result of inaction on my part. I got frustrated with what I was creating and as a result I stopped trying to create anything for it. My images that I created were good and I was happy with them for the most part, but I found the idea of sustaining that level of imagery every single day unsustainable, and so I just stopped trying. 

9) Fail to see that failures are part of the natural creative cycle and abandon the project all together: Here's where things get interesting. I will NOT let this bump derail me completely. Rather than abandoning the 100 day project all together I am putting git on hiatus until I can develop and idea that is workable and a true reflection of my current creative goals. This may mean that its not even a photography goal. One of the topics that I keep going back to are: graphic design, typography and hand lettering. But, I also still really like the idea of the deconstructed food images that I was working on, but wonder if there's a way to rejig it so its doable. I guess I don't really know when I will start again it or what I will do, and that's ok! What I do know is that this "failure" does not define me as an artist nor does it mean I am destined to a creative demise. 

10) Put "10 ways" in the title of your listicle when you can only think of 9: let's all embrace the idea of flexibility and openness that is the creative cycle and end here :)

Right, so I didn't make it very far in this edition of The 100 Day project but here are the images I did create for Set 1: Food De/Re Constructed:


The 2016 edition of The 100 day project started on April 29th and runs until July 27th. Want to see what others are creating for The 100 Day Project? Check out some of the work being shared on Instagram & Twitter

Are you participating in the 100 Day Project and want to share your thoughts on the process so far? Or have you seen some really inspiring work on social media? Please add your comments and thoughts below!