2016 Year of Creative Habits: The Quotidian Bones Project

Quotidian BonesBoy, oh, boy, do I love a project, especially when I figure out a smart name for it. Late last fall, I signed up for Crystal Moody’s Year of Creative Habits class. Crystal became an important mentor and model to me over the last few years (go look at her work, sign up for her newsletter–you won’t regret it), and I welcomed the chance to continue the momentum I built from the #2015postcardproject.

After freewriting in response to her prompts, I had the “Eureka!” moment–you know how it feels when idea hits and you realize it is a good idea, right? That happened.

See, back in late November, I was catching up on The Moth. I can’t find the podcast episode to link for you, but one of the storytellers talked about his method for finding his stories: at the end of every day, he opened up a spreadsheet and wrote one sentence that would serve as a prompt for the story he might want to tell from that day.

Did that rock my world? You better believe it. Then I got all mournful about missing making visual art every day. I know myself well enough to know the #2015postcardproject habit would slip away if I didn’t give visual art a new project. And I thought about a few ideas for illustrated stories for adults I have. And: Pop! Bang! Bingo! Hot Dog!

I had it. I would build from the postcard project. I wrote about whatever came to mind for that, and the text was not always a story, nor always related to the image. This new project would connect the two.

Here’s the plan:

At the end of each day (typically before I fix dinner), I will decide what story I can pull from the day. I’ll make an illustration and write a sentence (ok, I’ve already got entries with short paragraphs) to remind me of the story. Once a week, I will develop one of the stories either as a narrative poem or a flash prose piece and make a bigger illustration for it.

I checked in with a few people to see what questions they had about the project…here they are, with my answers:

  1. What’s the deal with that notebook you’re using? It’s a Hobonichi Techno planner. I bought it thinking it would replace my moleskine bullet journal, but I can’t quit my grid. The Hobonichi’s paper is Tomoe River paper, which is super thin yet stands up to a lot–so far, my crow quill pen and india ink, walnut ink, and watercolor.
  2. What do you hope to get out of a daily project, beyond the product? Maintaining the habit of making visual art every day is important to me as is developing the skills and “visual voice” to create the illustrated stories I have in mind. I have a little piece hanging next to my desk that reads “Great Creator, I’ll take care of the quantity, you take care of the quality.” I made it when I worked through The Artist’s Way back in 2001. The project is one way I’m committing to taking care of the quantity.
  3. Do you have the idea when you wake up in the morning? Nope. I let the day unfold and see what might make a good piece for the day. Since much of my life is routine (by my choice!), I have to be more observant than usual some days to find a story.
  4. What’s with that name? On New Year’s Day, after our hike and the after-party were done, I asked Neal to help me brainstorm ideas for what to call the project. I wanted “daily” something, but I didn’t want to use “daily”. I thought the word quotidian, which not only means daily (but fancier! With a “q”–my favorite letter after “z”!) (yes, I have favorite letters, don’t you?) but also “ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane“. Since my daily life is generally (by my choice!) a bit on the mundane side, this seemed perfect. We talked about the purpose of the project, how I planned for it to work, what I hoped to get from it. “Skeletons,” Neal said. “You’re building skeletons of stories.” I loved that, but didn’t like the mouthful of “Quotidian Skeletons.” A little more brainstorming, and we hit on “bones.”

I’d love for you to follow along with not only my project, but the super cool projects of my peers–follow hashtag #yoch2016 on Instagram to see the work we’re all doing. Daily.

Let me know if you have any questions about the Quotidian Bones Project or tell me about your own habit building projects for 2016!

Let's Get Started

babysitting certification