Making something every day DID change my life

Three-and-a-half months ago, I finished a year of making things. Guided by Noah Scalin’s wonderful book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, I succeeded in making something new. Every single day. For an entire year.

365bookI am proud of this accomplishment. More than that, I am changed by the experience.

The tagline of Noah’s book is “Make something every day and change your life.” Life-changing results from merely making things? At the outset of this creative journey, that sounded grandiose. But I’m an optimist and a believer. And now that I’m on the other side of the work, I can vouch for his lofty claim.

When Noah asked me to explain how the project changed my life, here’s how I answered:

Practically speaking, during the 365 days, the project changed my rhythm and routine. In order to get the “making” done, other activities went by the wayside. Some were good omissions, like watching TV (now I watch less and read more). Other things suffered a bit, for lack of attention. So, in the weeks since I finished the life-changing year, I’ve had to reclaim a few priorities … like healthy meals, laundry, and evening conversation with spouse and kids.

As for lasting, life-changing effects:

  • Through daily practice, I strengthened my creative muscles. And those muscles have memory. Now I’m quicker to think of solutions to problems, new angles on writing projects, even suggestions for my children when they’re bored. I’m seldom “stuck” or at a loss for ideas.
  • Because I shared every single day’s creative work on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, I gained the support of an encouraging community. Friends and strangers were curious about the project, and their interest inspired me to keep going, stretch my skills, try new things. I engaged in conversations I never would have had if not for the project, and I gained friends who will be in my life for years to come.
  • I know now that my creativity is a unique asset. Not everyone can or would make something every day for a year. I did it, and I loved the process. So now I confidently tell clients and prospects that creativity is a distinct value I bring to my writing, consulting, and teaching. Not a single person has argued or questioned this assertion. In fact, they agree. As a result of my year of “making,” my creative communications business, Spencer Grace, has grown.
  • Without question, I gained confidence as an artist. Not long ago, I shied away from introducing myself as a writer. Now I own that title, and I claim it proudly.

Noah published these comments and more on his website. In fact, twice he invited me to share observations about this year of creativity: once as I was just beginning the daily discipline and again after I was finished. By publishing my responses, he exposed my work to a broader audience, and he boosted my confidence. He also stayed in touch with me throughout the year via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and blog comments. I am so grateful for his encouragement, approachability, and authenticity. He is the kind of author/artist/mentor I hope others find in me.

3 responses to “Making something every day DID change my life

  1. I am drawn to your blog because of your creativity. I like the “Make Something 365: A Creative Journal” and I plan to read it. I have always thought of myself as a creative person but 27 years in the military kinda got in the way. I want to reconnect with my creative side and I am hoping by reading your blog I can get some insight. Thanks!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I highly recommend the book, of course, as well as any regular discipline that exercises your creative muscles. Other practices that work for me are morning pages (recommended by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way” and many of her other books), doodling whenever possible, cooking, walking, and doing yoga at least two or three times a week. I wholeheartedly believe that every one of us is creative. We just struggle to recognize the small actions that can constitute creative work. Please keep me posted on how things go for you, and let me know if I can help.

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