12+ Tips for Sticking with ICAD

"Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations,
the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity
into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem."
Rollo May

Leverage your creative thinking skills and develop a creative way to make this ICAD thing work.
I think it’s also important to ask yourself whether this is helping you grow or get more comfortable or try new things?
For me, creative challenges are expansive and generate mad levels of ideas.

Know that it is totally valid to stop a challenge if it is no longer resonating. It would be valuable to take a few moments to think about why you started and why you chose to stop. After all, the energy of “starting” is exhilarating, isn’t it? And continuing is different. It means putting into place processes to stick with it day to day, even on days when you’re not completely inspired or feeling it. Even when you can’t decide what on earth to do.

This is the hard part. The part where you BUILD a habit, a process, a workflow. And returning to the practice day after day is what we as artists and creatives do. It is how we grow and learn and blossom. We can only do that if we keep going back and put work into it. Keep doing creative work that you enjoy, OK!?

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos:
you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Being consistent with your creative practice is not easy. It’s really up to you to decide what you want. You drive the work. If you truly want to keep going, I hope that these tips for staying in the game will help in some way! These probably apply to any daily creative challenge!

1. If you do feel like you are at a plateau, it just might be the verge of a new phase in your creative process! Keep going to see what happens!

2. Build a bit of flexibility and grace [and reality and compassion] into your work moving forward. Give yourself “credit” for trying this challenge and for putting your best into it. It’s OK if some days you don’t like what you create. Keep going anyhow, OK?

3. Alter the mood of your workspace by changing the way it feels, sounds, smells, etc. Face a different direction. Get a lava lamp. Make a cup of raspberry tea. Listen to a different playlist. Put on some perfume. Try a different brush. Work at a different time of day. Snap photos as you work. Work while standing up.

4. Toy with your process! Shake things up. Put away some of the materials you have been using… some brushes, some paint colors, some collage fodder. Then add back different tools and materials. Changing just one variable can change your outcome! This is something that I LOVE to explore and write about! Inside Zine 17: Kick-Start Your Creative Process you'll find 16 Tactics for Toying With Your Creative Process along with colorful artwork and inspiration, plus details on variables that you can change to mix-up your process!

5. Put together an emergency art material kit* in a zip-loc bag and take your creative show elsewhere. Sketch at a café or just sit on your back porch.

6. If you are truly feeling stuck, there are a lot of ways to get unstuck and move through a period of creative block or boredom. That is the entire focus of Zine 16: Getting Unstuck and Figuring Out What to Do, definitely one of my BEST ZINES ever.

7. Interact with the ICAD community! Comment on the cards others are posting. Ask questions. Social media is VERY social. Participating in creative challenges gives you a launching point for interacting with kindred artists.

8. Go back to basics. A few simple cards in a row might be just the trick to get you back INTO THE GROOVE. A segue!!! Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be? Remember — it’s just an index card, a super simple substrate — cheap, risk-free, abundant!

9. The ICAD cup is HALF FULL and never HALF EMPTY. Missing a day or a bunch of days is not failure. You are still welcome to play! At the end of the challenge whether you have completed 34 or 44 or the magic 61 you will have a STACK-O-CARDS and an array of ideas to explore in other formats.

10. Set up an inviting scene on your breakfast table or art desk with a random assortment of collage items, a glue stick, etc. to discover when you get home tomorrow. Pay yourself forward.

11. Take stock. Go back through the cards you’ve, open up old sketchbooks, flip through art journals. Select 5 ideas to revisit.

12. Reconsider the prompts. 😀 They’re optional, but they are there for you as a fallback even if you did not plan to use them. Or flip that — if you’re not “feeling” them any more, go off-prompt into the wilds of ICADia.

PS. If you are really thinking of quitting, consider instead a change of direction. Start a new mini-series, a new exploration, a new twist. Know that sometimes a ginormous project just doesn't work out. The reason may be obvious or it may be elusive.

PSS. Know that this is a hard but DO-ABLE challenge. So it’s OK if it seems like a heck of a challenge! It really is a whirlwind. The good news is that every single year challengers who did not get to 61 tell me that the challenge WORKED. That it refreshed a love of daily creating. That it pushed new ideas into the forefront. That it altered their path. That means that all of this work makes a difference.

*Emergency art material kit contents? Magic markers, index cards, glue-stick, kid-scissors, a roll of washi tape, a mini-stapler, headphones, your phone, a spotify playlist, and a Honeycrisp apple.