Make 365 Somethings Follow-up

Beth Nyland recently completed her yearlong Make 365 Somethings project. She explains, "I began making things on May 1, 2013, which was my 44th birthday. I finished on April 30, 2014, on the eve of my 45th. I chose 'words' as my theme, and for the most part stayed true to that focus. At the start, my daughters (ages 8 and 10 when the project began) intended to participate; but when daily discipline became more than they could manage, they opted in just occasionally, sometimes to help me and sometimes to make their own creations."

What are the biggest lessons/skills you learned from doing your project? Whenever I tell people about Make Something 365, the first thing I say is, "I can't believe I never missed a day." I was prepared to give myself a day's grace here and there, but that just wasn't necessary. This was a lesson in self-discovery: that when I'm truly invested and interested in the work, I do have the stamina and discipline to take on something big. I surprised myself!

I also learned that although my comfort zone is writing, I enjoy playing with visual art. Word art, photographs, infographics, doodles, drawings, collages, and more. As much as I love to write a poem or define a character or describe a scene, giving tangible form to an idea brought tremendous satisfaction -- especially when the creative effort took place at the end of a full, stressful day. (Maybe this is because business writing is my day job, and a visual project served as relief from that routine.)

Finally, I learned that I have things to say about writing. Many times, to adapt the day's prompt to my theme of "words," I made something that communicates my feelings or knowledge about writing: a visual metaphor about writing and brushing your teeth; a pie chart about my writing process; a list of essential writing supplies; a description of a writer's uniform; a poem about the moment before writing begins. Now, when friends, colleagues, clients, or students say I should write a book about writing, I believe them. I do have things to say.

In what ways did the project change your life? Practically speaking, during the 365 days, the project changed my rhythm and routine. In order to get the "making" done, other activities went by the wayside. Some were good omissions, like watching TV (now I watch less and read more). Other things suffered a bit, for lack of attention. So, in the weeks since I finished the life-changing year, I've had to reclaim a few priorities ... like healthy meals, laundry, and evening conversation with spouse and kids.

As for lasting, life-changing effects:
  • Through daily practice, I strengthened my creative muscles. And those muscles have memory. Now I'm quicker to think of solutions to problems, new angles on writing projects, even suggestions for my children when they're bored. I'm seldom "stuck" or at a loss for ideas.
  • Because I shared every single day's creative work on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, I gained the support of an encouraging community. Friends and strangers were curious about the project, and their interest inspired me to keep going, stretch my skills, try new things. I engaged in conversations I never would have had if not for the project, and I gained friends who will be in my life for years to come.
  • I know now that my creativity is a unique asset. Not everyone can or would make something every day for a year. I did it, and I loved the process. So now I confidently tell clients and prospects that creativity is a distinct value I bring to my writing, consulting, and teaching. Not a single person has argued or questioned this assertion. In fact, they agree. As a result of my year of "making," my creative communications business, Spencer Grace, has grown.
  • Without question, I gained confidence as an artist. Not long ago, I shied away from introducing myself as a writer. Now I own that title, and I claim it proudly.

Now what? Now I'm applying all these learnings in my daily life, in my work and in our home and as a parent.

I also plan to return to a regular schedule of posting on my blog ... but not daily. During the 365 days, I shared my creations every single day. Even the flops and fails. When I return to regular blogging, I expect to post once or twice a week, giving myself time to develop ideas, make adjustments, and EDIT.

Finally, I will be sharing Noah Scalin's book with all the creative spirits I know. I'll talk about it. I'll recommend it. I'll give it as a gift. But not my copy. That one holds a special, permanent place in my library. It's mine.

Read Beth's original 365 interview HERE.

See all of Beth's projects HERE.

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