How to Turn Your Daily Creative Project Into a Book

Today's post is guest written by Michelle Taute my friend and my co-author on the book The Design Activist's Handbook... 

I’m not going to lie. My 365 creative project started out as a painful slog. It took me a good month or so to really start hitting my stride. And there was still a little doubting voice lingering around on day 50 going, “Why, exactly, are you making cootie catchers everyday? I mean you’re practically middle-aged.”

Then something rather astounding happened around day 50. One of my Facebook friends, who also happens to be a book editor, asked me if I’d thought about turning all these fun paper fortune-tellers into a craft book. Um, yes, definitely, but I hadn’t thought about it outside the context of wild daydreams.

It took me another six months or so to put together a book proposal, but that simple Facebook note helped me keep going. And a few weeks ago my book, Fold Me Up: 100 Paper Fortune-Tellers for Life’s Pressing Questions, hit bookstores. I’m guessing your daily creative project would make an awesome book, too, so I tapped my wonderful editor at Perigee Books, Meg Leder, for some insider advice and wisdom.

How do you find new book ideas?
I spend time every day reading websites (Brain Pickings, Jezebel, The Toast) and skimming links friends send, looking for ideas that catch my attention. If I find myself spending more than a few minutes on any idea, and if I’m thinking about it for a few hours or days after, it’s usually well worth pursuing. If it’s holding my interest, it will probably hold a fair number of readers’ interest, too.

What really makes a creative project capture your attention? 
 I also look for things I can evangelize about because I flat-out love them. I recently published a nontraditional coloring book called Outside the Lines that features the work of street artists, video game designers, etc., because I have a huge sweet spot for street art. I also published a book from a really fantastic creator—Matthew Buchholz—called Alternate Histories of the World because I had uber-admired his work when I first saw it at Renegade Craft Fairs and the Bust Craftacular.

With Fold Me Up, I have many a fond memory of making fortune-tellers as a kid. The Perigee editorial team did as well. Seeing the proposal sparked a 15-minute nostalgia conversation amidst my colleagues—exactly the type of response you want to provoke in people when you’re thinking about publishing a book. If we’re enthusiastic, it’s likely others will be, too.

What should I know if I’m new to publishing?
People should keep in mind that publishing a book isn’t always easy. You’re taking something you love, and you’re commercializing it, which can be a tough transition. It can be heartbreaking if it doesn’t find the audience you want, but it can also be super validating when someone loves it as much as you do.

How can I improve my odds of landing a book contract? 
People should constantly be thinking about platform, platform, platform. As an author, how can you help spread the word about the book? How can you help us get the book out there? The more of an existing audience you have in place, the better we can help you publish your book.

Are you hoping to turn your 365-project into a book? Or have you done it already? Questions? Comments? Advice?

(My) Artplay at 60 ~ Using the Daily News as Inspiration

Rebecca Grace Jones in Shepherdstown, West Virginia has returned with a new month long daily project (My) Artplay at 60 ~ Using the Daily News as Inspiration

She explains the project as, "Using the cover photo and story of the Washington Post newspaper for inspiration to create a piece of artwork, in image and word, every day in the month of December 2013 and present the results as a show in January 2014"

Why did I decide to do this project and how has doing a daily project affected my life?

As an artist I have two needs ~ 1) the challenge of creating something and
2) someone to show it to.

This means that in the sixty years I’ve been walking around on this earth I’ve not evolved much from the child who would bound out of bed in the morning eager to see what I could scribble together with my crayons and then run to show it to my mother.

As a small child I was able to come up with my own inspiration for crayon scribbles. When I started attending school I learned that it was possible to make things from the suggestions of others. It was also quite satisfying, because then they would acknowledge my accomplishment in the form of a rating system called a “grade”.  This was different from my mother’s reaction in that it might not always be favorable, but the recognition fed me nonetheless.

The challenge of creating something from a presented idea became a puzzle to solve, an activity upon which I thrived. This made me a good art student through graduate school and a decent free-lance illustrator early in my career.

The audience has changed over the years from mother, to teacher, to art director, and now to you, the public. It’s been necessary to evolve, at least to a degree, in order to accept the levels of acknowledgement I receive and continue to produce my art regardless. As a child it’s possible that, if my mother hadn’t gushed over everything I showed her, I might not have pursued the life of an artist. Now, I find I’m able to, well, actually, I need to create things whether you, my audience, like them or not, though, of course, it’s nice when you do. I don’t think I could continue if what I created was being completely ignored, but I am able to find the motivation I need to keep working in even a limited amount of attention.

Having spent 2012 completing the 365 projects from Noah Scalin’s book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, where I was given ideas, I find now, that in order to keep up the daily practice of creating, I am in a position of having to make up my own assignments. That’s where this latest project comes in ~ Using the cover photo and story from the Washington Post for inspiration, I find something to draw or collage and write about, either as a synopsis of the story or a poem in haiku form. I enjoy writing, particularly constructing the haiku in its 5-7-5 syllable structure, because of the puzzle-solving element involved.

This project, the working title of which is (My) Artplay at 60 ~ Using the Daily News as Inspiration, gives me the structure of being there every day and presenting me with a challenge of finding something inspiring enough to be creative. When I post the artwork (or artplay) and word-thing on my blog,, I get to see if it has any effect on anyone.

The incentive for this project was an invitation to have a show at the Fire House Gallery in Charles Town, WV for the month of January 2014, during which I will turn 60. It made me want to do something fresh and interesting.

How has this changed my life? It is the difference between getting up in the morning and being presented with a blur of things to do, and bounding out of bed to get the newspaper to see what today’s assignment is, and then to my computer to see if you got, or didn’t get, what I did yesterday. It’s what I need to do.

See all of Rebecca's project HERE.

A Flamingo a Day Keeps the Doctor Away - 365 Flamingos

Christy Wyatt in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is creating A Flamingo a Day Keeps the Doctor Away - 365 Flamingos...

Why did you decide to do this project? I had recently undergone brain surgery, and felt that I needed some type of daily activity, something focused, to help me cope with the recovery process in a positive way. I came across your blog, ordered the book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, and thought that this was the perfect outlet for me. I have always found art, and the creating process, to be very healing. This is my form of art therapy, I suppose. Hence, the title of my blog. I love your suggestion to choose a theme, because I tend to get sidetracked very easily, and this provides the focus that I need. I live in a very quirky neighborhood that has taken on the Pink Flamingo as a mascot, and that is what inspired my theme. (this is an article that describes my hood)

How has doing a year long/daily project altered your life? I am only 23 days into it, but it has already had a profound effect on me. It is providing the jolt that I need to keep going, happily keep going, during a particularly difficult time in my life. It keeps my spirits up and helps me to lighten some of the things that I am having to cope with.

One example : A few days ago, I had to go to the emergency room for problems with my VP shunt. I mentioned to my mother and my daughter that I needed to figure a way to get my daily flamingo. My daughter happened to have an ATC that I had made of a flamingo in her wallet. She propped it up on the monitor next to my bed and took a picture with her iphone so that I would have an image to post. My pain level at the time was at about 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. That simple act gave me something else to focus on, distracted me from the pain in my head, and it made a difficult day more bearable. That is what creating daily does for me - it gives my days a positive spin, no matter what obstacles I may face. It puts a smile on my face.

See all of Christy's flamingo's HERE.

A Daily Creativity Journal

Ineke Jansma in The Netherlands was inspired by my book to make A Daily Creativity Journal...

Why did you decide to do this project? I decided to do this project because I wanted to be more creative. I had read about your book in a Dutch magazine and decided to buy it. Than after reading it I started on 1 January 2013.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life?
  • This project has affected my life, because now I know how important it is for me to be creative. I found out when my website was suddenly disappeared. I have done my best (with help) to built a new website.
  • I sometimes tell people about my website and this is a big step for me: being proud of what I make.
  • I lost my job and that’s not easy to deal with. Because of this I cannot be creative everyday on the other hand I know how important it is for me to be creative. That’s why I have decided this week to continue this project every other day. Also I decided to asked you again to put me on your site with my new website.
  • Your book takes me out of my comfort zone, because I do things I never had thought of by myself. 

See all of Ineke's projects HERE.

365 Days of Ikebana

Keith Stanley in Washington, DC created 365 Days of Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging)...

Why did you decide to do this project? My reason for doing this project was motivated by my difficulty in building a body of work, I was creating work sporadically and felt I needed some motivating factor to create more often. So I got a copy of your book 365: A Daily Creativity Journal  and realized on online daily project would really give me a reason to do something daily and hopefully create some expectation to do so. My immediate response was to just leap and begin my project, I knew if I hesitated I would probably not have to courage to do a project like this publicly. From there on out I knew my job was to simply do the work each day, good or bad I had to resist the urge to judge each daily piece and just put it out there regardless.

How has doing a yearlong/daily project affected your life? One of the nicest things about the project was connecting with other people interested in ikebana or flower arranging. I heard from lots of ikebana students who were inspired by what I was doing, and others seeking information about how they could find an ikebana teacher or class in their area. Readers would often ask about container sources and particular materials I had used, and I enjoyed being able to share my knowledge. I also leaned a lot myself about how to photograph flowers, and saw a big progression in my photography skills.

Recently I had been looking back at the images created during that year, and I realized that I finally had this body of work that I had longed for. It has inspired me once again and am just finishing up my first self published book using some of my favorite ikebana arrangements from the project.  My plan now is to release "365 Days of Ikebana" on

See all of Keith's arrangements HERE.

Make a Day

Nick J. Jones in London, UK is doing a yearlong creative project simply called Make a Day...

Why did you decide to do this project? I've been feeling like I don't create as much as I like and that I work well when I set myself personal deadlines. This is also a good way of learning not to be too overly precious of my work and to just create without thinking that it has to be the best thing I've ever done.

How has the year-long/daily project affected your life?
It's one extra thing I have to do everyday! A lot of the time it seems like a chore but then when I've created something I usually feel quite pleased and refreshed (it's sort of similar to the feeling of going for a run in the morning, you may not want to do it at the time but once you have you feel better because of it). Having to create something daily has also shown me that my imagination is always active and there is always the chance to do something creative.

Follow Nick's progress HERE.