Starting a 100-Day Project. Care to Join?
The rules are simple, but the discipline is...daunting as hell.
You know what I desire? Discipline. You know why I’m afraid of it? Because it feels like fun’s worst enemy. And the second the sun comes out, fun is exactly what I seek most. Spontaneity begins to outshine structure. Longer days, warmer nights, wilder wants. Statistically, the rush of “new year, new me” resolutions—and our commitment to keeping them—fades as time passes. By February, 80% of our New Year’s resolutions fail.
It’s now about to be April. Maybe you’re still in a go-for-it groove. Or maybe, like me, you’ve started to spin. I use this word in its most fun form. Here in sunny Buenos Aires, I’m actually spinning and smiling—like I’m a six year old with a sugar rush, seated on an amusement park swing ride that’s exciting, epic, and impossible to stay on forever. One can only twirl around and around in delight for so long before getting dizzy.
The arrival of springtime feels like a refreshingly good time to reassess. To regain our footing. To rethink our direction and be deliberate about where we go from here.
So starting on April 1st, I’m committing to a 100-day project. I am joining Suleika Jaouad, the magic mind behind one of my favorite newsletters, The Isolation Journals, in choosing to practice one creative act every day—for the next 100.
I have decided to draw. Each morning, I will be making space to play on paper or iPad. I will be having fun with newfound focus. Why draw? Because every time I do it, I feel calmer and happier. Because it’s less pressure than “illustrating” and more synonymous with playtime. Because it’s something I’ve loved doing since I was a kid yet it’s something I never let myself prioritize.
As a “writer,” I start and end my day writing in two journals. I write for work. I write emails, texts, to-do lists. I just finished a month-long writing class. Outside of this newsletter, I’ve written a series of essays that I’m in the process of pitching. Writing has become instinctual for me. A daily need. A professional practice. Which is exactly why I’m opting to draw instead.
Drawing might not be your dream 100 days, but that’s why this is a creative challenge: you take on the timeline, you choose its contents. Sing? Dance? Short story? The canvas is beautifully blank.
This isn’t a project for artists. It’s a project for everyone. There is no pressure to share your progress because it’s not about progress. As Suleika writes, it’s about bringing play to our every day:
But here’s the thing about a 100-day project: the whole point is to get into a more liberated, playful creative flow state—not to reinforce the pressure of constant striving, or the compulsion to be productive, or to create some kind of grand masterpiece. Of course, something will come of your 100-day project. Whatever you choose, it will be useful in ways you can’t even begin to predict, I promise.
In my highlight-filled Atomic Habits, I learned that designing the right environment is essential to a creating a daily practice. So I’m buying a new sketchbook. I’m leaving it where I can see it. I’m investing in fresh pencils, crayons, pens. I’m designating an apartment art zone. I’m setting an alarm. And I’m starting to draw.
While discipline can feel like the enemy of fun, I actually believe it’s fun’s biggest ally. A year ago, I began a daily journaling practice that transformed my life in more ways that I can ever enumerate here. But one of the biggest rewards? Joy. With the daily discipline, I became more conscious of what I found to be fun, and more comfortable carving out time for it. It’s one of life’s greatest paradoxes and it’s at the core of one of my favorite mantras: “Discipline equals freedom.” When you have control, you can enjoy letting go. In 100 days, we can unlock a new direction, revved up by a new creative routine.
A sketch a day. Simple and five-minute-friendly. Open to being elaborate. That flexibility is key here. As Suleika suggests, “The project needs to be challenging and nourishing, but most importantly it has to feel doable and sustainable in order to make it to Day 100.”
That’s not to say this won’t be hard. This is my last month in Argentina—and I want to be living it! Making time to “draw” sounds almost trivial. Why draw when you can tango? Why draw when you can coffee shop? Why draw when you can do anything but draw? Because I want to be able to look back on my sketchbook-turned-scrapbook and remember. I want to be intentional with my finite time because how we live every day is how we live our lives. I want to write and draw for no reason other than getting creative is wildly fun and freeing.
Have you ever decided to change the course of your life? April 1st might be the perfect time to start.
(AKA Things I’ve done recently that made me mildly freak out—and I did them anyway!)
Adventuring into the unknown. Last weekend, I flew to stay with people I’ve never met. My sister-in-law, Julia, is from Córdoba, Argentina. She is one of the sweetest and strong souls I know, but because of the pandemic, I have never met her parents—the people that have raised her to be so lovely and strong. So I flew to their home, unsure what to expect but excited and nervous to finally meet them. And you know what? I ended up having one of the most delicious and delightful two days of my entire trip. Her family welcomed me in with such open arms and love (and dulce de leche pastries) that it truly felt like I had family here in Argentina all along. A la familia Gros, gracias por todo. ¡Y por el mejor asado de mi vida!
Extending my trip. I was supposed to be on a plane back to the United States right now. But my gut said don’t go home yet. So I fought my way though airline customer service and moved by flight. I’m here for another month on my own. I’m missing Easter with my family. I’m missing spring. I’m missing friends. But this also feels like what I needed to do—so I fought the doubts and did it.
A Prompt to Ponder
100 days to do whatever you desire. What creative act would you take on? How might you make this new practice feel more doable?
Tatiana Gallardo is about to embark on a challenge within her challenge. She’s committing to 100 days of creativity—and she’d love some company. If you’re also taking on this project, let her know and read this piece.