5 Challenges to get your creative juices flowing this February
This February is special. It is the most perfectly, neatly framed and laid out month that we will experience in our lifetimes. Why the accolades you ask? Simple. The first of the month falls on a Monday and the last of the month falls on a Sunday. Four weeks, in the perfect box of a month. If this doesn’t pull at your control freak / neat freak heart strings, then I don’t know what will. And what better time to take on a month-long challenge than the perfect February?
The added bonus, of course, is that this is also the shortest month of the year, so a daily challenge is the most doable it will be all year. And if that’s not enough to get you onboard, I’ve listed 5 ideas for a creative daily practice that you can take on this month.
1. Write one blog post or article per day on a chosen topic
You may have guessed, but this is the challenge I’ve taken up along with my friend Chris Goodman. We’ll each be posting an article here on Medium daily for the entire month.
It helps to pick a topic or two to focus on (mine are career change and creativity) and list possible article titles ahead of time, so that if you get stuck for ideas on any given day, you have something to fall back on.
You don’t need to post your article anywhere. The point of the challenge is to get you thinking creatively, and to incorporate it into your daily practice.
2. Draw something small that brings you joy every day
I got this idea from Octavia Bromell’s Adobe Max talk last year (@tinkoutsidethebox on Instagram). She talked about how drawing a little thing that brought her joy every day— from a warm cup of tea to a friendly email — actually hugely improved her mental health throughout the challenge.
I love the idea of combining honing your skills with bringing positivity into your every day. Again, take off the pressure and do this for yourself. No need to share on Instagram.
3. Join a workshop on Skillshare and do one lesson per day
I have a whole host of workshops saved in my Skillshare account. Workshops are different to classes in that they are a collection of classes on a particular topic. Workshops are curated by Skillshare and take the work out of finding a collection of classes to improve your skills in a given area.
As a self-taught designer, animator, videographer and photographer, I am such a big fan of Skillshare (I know there are other platforms that are probably just as good, but this is just the one that I’ve tried and tested). The workshop that is next on my list is this one on making animations for Instagram.
If you’re interested, I have an affiliate link for joining Skillshare where you get your first 14 days free.
4. Learn a creative programme in 28 days
This might be Adobe Illustrator, Procreate or Ableton — is there a programme that you’ve wanted to learn for a while but haven’t really sunken your teeth into properly yet?
I learnt Adobe After Effects by finding either a YouTube video or a Skillshare video to watch and then recreate every lunchtime for about two months. I always looked forward to lunch because I got to make things that seemed really cool at the time (now not so much) with zero pressure. But the only way to learn programmes that are proper beasts is to spend as much time in them as possible, making stuff.
5. Idea generation: come up with 20 ideas every day
This is a really fun one — it’s something that Escape the City recommended doing on their career change course. Come up with 20 business ideas on a given topic every day. The topics should be completely random — I recommend flipping to a page in the dictionary, or using a random word generator.
Once you have your word, start listing the ways you could make money out of it / start a business from it. The first ideas you’ll come up with will be quite run of the mill, but ideas 10 to 20 will probably be pretty out there. The one rule is you have to write down anything that comes to mind — don’t stop yourself because something’s silly. So say your word of the day is “pancake”, your first idea will probably be along the lines of a “pancake restaurant or cafe”, but you might end up with something like “personalised pancake stamps”.
I’ve focused on creative challenges because I’ve recently been brainstorming them as this is something I’m working on myself. Plus it’s been shown that creative practice improves cognitive performance and idea generation in non-creative fields too. You might have a different focus this month though, like your health or home improvements — any challenge is welcome! Let me know if you’ve decided to join in the February fun.