8 Tips for Planning Personal Projects + a #52for2015 Update

“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Picasso

Most of the projects I do are, in some sense, for someone else. The writing shows up here on the blog and on social media. I practice piano partially (but not mostly) because I play at church. This year I unintentionally started an art project and today I jotted down some reasons this project was succeeding and accomplishing more than what I set out to. 

Maybe you want to plan a project and don’t know where to start. Fear is what typically stops me. What if it all turns out to be a waste of time? Well, watching tv probably is a waste of time too and we all do that. So why not get to work? 

1. Decide your purpose. My art project was solely for me. Maybe you want to do a project that will allow you to make handmade Christmas presents for your family or crafts to sell. 

2. Pick something you like. I have always loved drawing. I used to fill sketchbooks when I was younger. However I haven’t made time for art on a consistent basis since I took a drawing class freshman year of college. Use these personal projects as a space to explore something you like. 
3. Pick something small. One of the biggest excuses against doing a project of any sort is a lack of time. My original plan was to spend 20 minutes a week on a drawing. That’s a totally reasonable goal even with everything else I do. It did grow over the year because I have enjoyed the project so much. But start small and get bigger instead of realizing it doesn’t fit your life. 

4. Designate a work time. I decided I would do my weekly sketches on Tuesday night once the boys were in bed. When I decided I wanted to do the small daily sketches at the beginning of quiet time I tried it out for a week to make sure it would fit into real life. 

5. Build in accountability. I share my #52for2015 work every Wednesday on Instagram. There have been plenty of times I would have skipped the work on Tuesday but I knew I was supposed to share it. Granted, this is causal accountability. Nobody is going to hunt me down if I don’t post but it still works. 

6. Allow your focus to change. I do the small daily sketches now; I did not plan on that at the beginning. I have also changed mediums during the year to keep the work fresh and interesting. If you are too rigid and don’t grow with yourself you will lose interest. 

7. Find your supporters. Every time I show a drawing or painting to my husband he says, “I want it for my office.” We joke about it now but it still feels nice. (He actually does have the elephant drawing.) There is also a large artistic community on Instagram and I’ve connected with some of them. 

8. Decide what success looks like. You might want to get all those Christmas gifts made or finish some projects you have already started. But have some general idea of what you want to accomplish. I want to finish 52 pieces by the end of the year (I completed #36 this week). I also want to learn some new techniques. Knowing what I want to accomplish keeps me from comparing my work to anyone else’s and getting discouraged. 

I’m about to fill up my sketchbook. Obviously it’s full of terrible drawings; I did not show you all of them on purpose. But I have a sketchbook full of drawings and not just tv shows I’ve watched to account for some of my time this year. I think it’s fun to track small progress (that’s why I’m keeping a list of books I’ve read this year); it’s easy to think you’re not doing anything when you really are. 
Reclaim some old passion that you haven’t visited in years. Then tag me on IG or Twitter (@delighting_days) so I can see it. Or you can post it to the facebook wall. I’d love to see what you’re working on! 
-Most of the drawings are based on book illustrations or Pinterest ideas.