How doing the #100DayProject in 2019 changed my creative life

My experience drawing a comic a day for the #100dayproject in 2019 and how it shaped my creative journey for the better

How doing the #100DayProject in 2019 changed my creative life
Day 13/100 -- Drawn after a day hiking with a friend in Berkeley
Day 1/100 - Spent a lot of time back then in "analysis paralysis". The #100dayproject helped me get out of that a bit.

In April of 2019, I started the #100DayProject. At the time, I was not doing great mentally and in life. It was about to be 2 years since I graduated from college and I had just started my third job (which was about to be the most stable and positive job environment I had been in). Before April of 2019, I had done two different jobs that were more grunt work-y. The work sucked the life energy out of me each day. All of that combined with learning to be an adult, living on my own, making a cross-country move, paying off student loans, still trying to keep up with paying all my bills, getting into not great rooming situations with Craigslist or FB Marketplace roommates, struggling to make friends or community where I lived because work and chores took all the energy out of me, all on top of being in my mid-twenties. It was a really challenging time!

Day 3/100 -- Quarter life crisis

In the pre-COVID era, these were also the days we were required to show up in office every day without any remote or hybrid flexibility. I remember waking up at 7:30am and had to rush just to make it to work for a 9am meeting. Work would not end until 6pm then I would make the walk or commute home. Oftentimes, I was too tired to cook or make a proper meal by the time I got home around 8pm. Many days I'd end up napping or laying down just to recover some energy. It was many nights of simple not-very-healthy low-effort meals and scrolling social media or watching Kdramas. I'd be in bed by midnight for the cycle to repeat again. I was likely struggling with a form of depression those years, but it was also something most of us with full-time jobs go through. Looking back now, it was also especially challenging for an early/mid-twenties person as I was just beginning to learn the ropes of being an adult.

Day 25/100

Starting to Draw Again

I've been drawing, painting, and making art on and off throughout my childhood and teenage years. As a kid, art was a constant in my life. Either I went to an art class occasionally or I'd doodle at home for fun. During my teenage years, I had taken a few art classes outside of school but otherwise in school, I took art electives every year and that was how I kept making art. Once I got to college, I stopped drawing or doing anything creative for a long while (with the exception of photography). It wasn't until I was working on my senior thesis, which was a process that I did not enjoy very much, that I started to follow all these comic artists and illustrators on Instagram. Scrolling art instead of the highlights of my peers' life made me feel much more at peace when I was on social media. Over time, the more artists I followed, the more I related with the content, the more inspired I was to start drawing my own life out. But trying to draw my life out after never thinking about my life in this way (storytelling through comics), while in the midst of the busy-ness of college senior life, I only managed to draw out my life a few times. I kept it to myself. I remember doing one doodle about studying that I really loved and made me laugh. It was a nice comic relief for me amidst all this stress at school.

Day 18/100

That nice feeling of drawing that one doodle never really went away. I loved that I was able to draw something and make myself laugh. I loved that I could draw out this stress-ball version of me on paper and make light of it. It helped me not take what I was going through too seriously. Throughout my thesis writing process, I went back to look at my doodle quite frequently to cheer myself up.

Day 39/100

I got an iPad soon after I graduated and tried to fit in doodling here and there. But I was just starting full-time work along with tutoring after work so I was working 12 hour days, which made it really challenging to fit in any creative time. It wasn't until 2019 after I found the new job I felt good about and finally had some stability, that I thought why not try drawing consistently now.

Day 31/100

The #100DayProject

During the years 2017-2019 I was very on Instagram. I continued to follow all sort of creators and artists, since it would be my "happ(ier) place" on Instagram. I preferred scrolling art work over my personal feed made up of acquaintances doing things that just made me feel more like a "loser". Instead, I followed all sort of artists who drew about mental health, anxiety and depression, being introverts...etc. This art made me feel less alone and also inspired me to draw out my own inner world. I loved relating to these artists and knowing that there were people out there who felt the same way. At this point in my life, I felt a lot of shame around the way my life was playing out, and later realized that I was struggling with shame around existence. Finding artists who drew and wrote about all this openly was a reprieve and gave me hope. I discovered the #100DayProject IG account (and later, newsletter) and started following along. I was already feeling so low and squeezed of energy most days, on top of feeling disappointed with myself and the life I was living, that this was really just a last resort to try to do something with myself.

Day 43/100

The biggest challenge I had initially, was coming up with what to draw. Over time, I had to start really noticing what I was doing everyday and see how I could turn it into a 1-panel comic. This was difficult given there were many days I felt like I didn't do anything. Which, on the other side of it, pushed me to really dig into the mundaneness of daily life. When I started creating from the mundane, I started to get comments and engagement from friends and strangers online about how relatable my work was. I remember feeling quite moved, because suddenly, my struggles felt less bad. Not only was I able to turn my struggles into something funny and relatable (comic relief for myself as I drew it out) but also I could tell more up close that others shared the same struggles. I also enjoyed that my coworkers and friends could discover this other part of me, in ways that I can't normally share (e.g. in lunch conversation or text).

Day 47/100

Maybe after the first 2 weeks, I did get pretty tired of drawing everyday. I wasn't the most "fluent" on Procreate and iPad this time, so I drew in very simple and basic ways. Many days I just wanted to nap or watch TV after a long day at work, so, pushing myself to always pull out the iPad and draw something became a big challenge. There were days where I just drew my comic character smiling or saying something generic and that was all I could muster. Over a few weeks, I found that I could start and finish a comic within 20 minutes. When I kept it to this 20 minute mark, it felt more manageable to create. I spent less time dwelling on what to draw, and tried to just come up with an idea I could execute in 20 minutes.

Day 50/100

Looking back & Reflections

Five years later... I still think about this project a lot. I actually thought about this project all the time after I completed it. I was really surprised at myself for being able to draw 100 days in a row. Generally, I'm not someone who does great with consistent habits and doing something everyday with discipline (I seriously lack it). I'm the kind of person that if I lost interest, it would be very difficult for me to keep doing something. I guess what made this project work was that I didn't lose interest over time. Even though it got hard at times to gather energy or come up with a good idea, I was still always interested in drawing and coloring. I knew that from doing it the day before that it brightened my day, gave me a small sense of accomplishment, and overall, helped me feel better.

Day 16/100

Just like how the feeling of completing that one doodle from my senior thesis days kept me thinking and wanting to come back to drawing, the feeling of drawing during the #100dayproject and finishing it, has stuck with me since. I've just always known I want to keep making comics, drawing, illustrating, coloring for the rest of my life. Even though I did not do the #100dayproject again (technically, I did do half of it in 2020 but back then I painted, and was less inspired), the project did give me this calm confidence that if I really wanted to, I could draw everyday again and create something. It may not always be the greatest piece, either it lacks in humor or aesthetic, but I know that I could do it. This project gave me hope that I could do other #100dayprojects in other mediums someday if it interested me to.

Day 77/100

The #100dayproject may have been my first time really choosing and committing myself to something that wasn't a job, after college. It was something derived from intrinsic motivation, something that I genuinely enjoyed and was able to create from within. This in itself was a feeling worth so much, and as I am older now, a feeling I enjoy recreating (joy derived from within & your own creations). Happy to say that since 2019, my fluency with iPad and Procreate has improved significantly and my digital art skills are better than they've ever been. I did not draw so consistently over these years, but when I did, I did it with intention and over time, the improvement just came.

Day 84/100

A reminder to myself and those reading that creativity and the improvement around it is not always actively doing it all the time. It's also the rest periods, the noticing, the observing, the absorbing, the processing — all of which is not visibly evident. Just like the way plants, flowers, and fruits takes time and so much of it happens out of eyesight. The five years between 2019 and now was scattered with these not visible seasons as well as with some practice and drawing sprinkled in.

Despite 2019 being a rough year personal life wise and work-wise, I will always look back fondly on this period where I took the time and pushed myself to draw a lil something colorful and funny 20 minutes a day. It helped me take my life less seriously (in a good way) and get through each day. I hope to continue cheering myself up through making light of my own life through fun comics.

Is there anything you can practice in your everyday that lightens up your day?

Day 76/100