Why I kept one #365project promise, broke another, and will make a new one in 2016
When you sign yourself up to make something every day for an entire year, you’re making a fabulous commitment to your creativity.
And when you decide to post about it every day on social media, you’re stepping up and saying “I’m ready to be seen” in a big way.
As both a #365project success story and a #365project drop out, I know plenty about what it takes to make it work and why it might not.
And I know what makes a project fulfilling and worthwhile… all year long.
First, ask yourself what kind of content you would want to share every day
Brené Brown makes it easy to decide what subjects to post about and talk about:
“I share what is vulnerable, not what is intimate.”
And how does our Daring Greatly/ Rising Strong sage recommend you make the distinction between the two?
Brené makes sure that she has fully explored everything before she brings it to the public arena. Her ability to heal and remain “wholehearted” does not depend on how her audience reacts to what she shares.
When I heard her describe this during a recent interview, it hit home because I’d learned this distinction myself - the hard way.
I’m deeply grateful for one successful #365project and one abandoned attempt the following year. They taught me what it really means to share my story, create media, and be seen. And they taught me how to distinguish between intimate and vulnerable.
A #365project helps you find meaning in your own story
In 2014, I participated in the #365feministselfie project.
I cataloged the last month of pregnancy, the wonder of new motherhood, and lots of mundane moments throughout that year. Some of the Instagram shots were raw, some were posed pics to help bolster a bleary-eyed mama’s self esteem. All of them were me.
This daily practice helped me cope with the isolation of being a work-at-home mom with an infant in the midst of the Polar Vortex winter. It was my chance to discover my own narrative thread when it was all too easy to lose myself.
I didn’t have the free hands to write, but I could snap a pic and use my thumbs to draft a quick caption that gave the moment some context in my bigger story.
A #365project that didn’t work
Giddy with the triumph of devoting a year to someone else’s project, I was excited to start my own project in 2015.
Boldly, I called it #365SovereignReality. The goal was to publicly explore my evolving “concept” that made so much sense inside my own head, but hadn’t made it into easy-to-tell story form.
It didn’t last for lots of reasons. The pressure to make an important discovery about my life’s work every day and post it online was too daunting. It took almost no creative energy to snap and post a selfie. My ill-defined sovereignty project demanded more creative energy than I had to give.
Intimate moments need to stay that way
My own pet project failed for another key reason - my kids.
Now that I had permission to take the camera off myself, it seemed logical to turn it on my constant companions. My little muses had been in plenty of the selfies with me, so it didn’t seem like a problem.
Truthfully, I’d always ignored the little voice that said “don’t start creating your kids’ digital footprint without their consent.” But somehow, when I was always in the frame with them, I could give it a pass. I told myself that my protective maternal gaze warded off predators and voyeurs.
But now that I was casting them in leading roles in my #365SovereignReality, it didn’t seem right. Without their mama in the frame to keep them safe, it didn’t seem authentic - it seemed like I was exposing them to stranger danger.
A new #365project that hits all the right notes
So, what are the ingredients of a sustainable #365project?
- It has a set form. You don’t have to expend extra creative energy figuring out the focus.
- It’s related to your professional or creative work.
- It’s about visibility, not ego.
- It’s a practice that helps you grow - not just another “should” or obligation.
Every day in 2016 I am going to write a story.
It will be less than 200 words. Sometimes, it may not look like much more than a metaphor. There will be days when I’m sharing someone else’s story and using a quote. Each story will be accompanied by a picture, so you'll find it on Instagram and Facebook and all the usual social spots.
It feels a little crazy to sign myself up for something so ambitious. After all, taking a picture is easy compared to promising to write an actual story every day. But I’m dedicating my professional life to helping people tell stories that matter… and I need to walk the talk about how it really can be easy.
My 2016 #365project why…
- I am a storyteller, but I want to get better
- I want to be a more concise, efficient writer
- I’ve been in retreat for a while and it’s time to be seen online again
- #365StrongStories is aligned with my work. In a week or two, I am launching an offer called 5 Strong Stories that helps emerging thought leaders write content that connects.
Would a #365project give you what you need in 2016?
Saundra Goldman, who created a brilliant community around her #continuouspractice project posted her reflections on 2015 and her plans for 2016. Check out her post for ideas for creating your own project and why it's totally valid to make a much shorter commitment than 365 days.
And I'm grateful to Saundra for another idea - who will you dedicate your practice to?
I am dedicating #365StrongStories to you, my dear reader. I am going to tell the stories that I must tell, but only because I think they are the stories that you must hear.