Etsy Journal

Explore ideas and inspiration for creative living

Make Something Every Day

by Julie Schneider

Jan 7, 2011

Have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet? Noah Scalin, author of 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, shares sage tips for kickstarting creativity.

bio_julie_author_pic.jpgWhat will you make to greet the dawn of a new decade? Whether sketching self-portraits, welding wildebeest sculptures or baking banana bread, a daily project can be just the thing to break out of your routine while making creativity a part of your daily life. As Noah Scalin, the brains behind the Skull-a-Day project and author of 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, says, "A daily project is like a marathon. It's a ridiculously daunting task, but making an original creation every day gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment. It also forces you to push beyond your mental and physical barriers (especially the ones you've erected for yourself). You'll be amazed at what you produce and what you learn about yourself in the process." Bring it on, 2011!

bio_noah_scalin.jpgHave you broken any of your New Year's resolutions yet? It’s easy to commit yourself to new things, but it’s way more difficult to follow through. In 2007, I decided to create a skull a day for a year, and had no idea what I’d signed myself up for! By the time I realized how out of hand trying to make something new every day for a year could get, I was already reaping the benefits and had an audience that was cheering me on. The end result is that I’ve accrued a large body of creative work, a toolbox full of new skills, tons of new friends all over the world, had two books published, and, oh yeah, was on the Martha Stewart show! Okay, so results may vary, but the point is, you never know what will come from taking on the challenge of a year-long daily project! So why not consider making 2011 a Year of Creativity for yourself? Here’s some advice on getting started from my new book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal… A year-long daily project can be overwhelming — that’s a good and a bad thing. The sheer scale of the task can make it seem impossible to accomplish, but it’s that daunting quality that actually creates so many opportunities for incredible and unexpected results. Pushing yourself beyond your assumed limits is what it’s all about. So what’s the big deal? Doing something every day can change your life for the better, whether it’s gaining a new level of skill, nurturing latent abilities, or just seeing what dedication and commitment can produce. And no matter what the outcome, you will learn more about yourself and feel a sense of accomplishment that’s rare to find in our normal daily lives. A daily project is a personal journey that can offer you a rare opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth with tangible results. And who knows? Maybe even a new career, a book deal, an exhibition, an extra source of income, or even fame and fortune. Choosing a Subject or Medium The key to a successful daily project is deciding on a subject or medium that you will enjoy exploring for a year. Your theme may come as a flash of inspiration, as it did for me, or it may be something you experiment with and research before settling on. Keep in mind that a year is a lot longer than you might think, and it’s easy to get bored or burned out while working daily. On the whole, a simpler idea will go a lot further than a complicated one, which can easily bog you down as it becomes increasingly more difficult to produce. If you choose a consistent subject matter (skulls, stars, smiley faces, Chihuahuas, etc.), pick something you already like. You probably have plenty examples of it in your environment to inspire you, and you’ll be less likely to get tired of it before a year is over. That action figure collection will finally do more than gather dust! If you pick a consistent medium or technique (oil painting, photography, collage, etc.), this is your chance to take your skill to another level. They say practice makes perfect, and you’ll be getting a lot of practice in the course of your project. Choose something you really want to master. I enjoyed picking my subject and diving into the project to see what the results would be, but feel free to test out a few ideas before you commit yourself to going the distance. Once you get going, don’t be afraid of allowing your subject or medium to morph. Perhaps you start with oil painting, but allow yourself to try other types of painting, or maybe you start with Chihuahuas, but move to other breeds of dogs as well. Let your interests guide you. Here's a selection of 10 ideas (of 365 listed from the book) for things to do to get you moving… 1. Take a 5 minute walk and make something where you end up using what’s available. Leave it there for someone else to discover, but be sure to document it first! 2. What do you collect? Work with a collection of objects you have in your home (or borrow a friend’s, if you like). 3. Transform an old book into something new by cutting, folding, gluing, etc. 4. Create or alter something so that it disappears into its background. 5. Can you create something using a material that will dissipate quickly? (For example: soap bubbles, smoke, butter on a griddle, cream in coffee, etc.) 6. Turn today’s junk mail (or spam email) into something much more appealing. 7. Make an image with just words or letters. You can cut them from a magazine, draw them yourself or print out words on a computer to work with. 8. Re-interpret your favorite childhood story. 9. Make a unique trophy. Bonus: award it to someone! 10. Add a face to something that normally doesn’t have one. Be sure to visit my site,, where I’m cataloging 365 projects to inspire folks to start their own! And, of course, let me know if you do start your own project and I’ll be sure to share it there too.

By Sarah Bayly from A Rabbit A Day

What are you going to make in 2011? Let us know in the comments below!

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Julie Schneider

When Julie Schneider isn’t writing and editing, she’s carrying on her family’s pun tradition, making custom GIFs, or scheming in her cozy art studio. Keep up with her latest projects on Instagram.