Do you remember that time I wrote a post about my attempt to take part in an Instagram challenge and how I came to the conclusion that it’s not considered failing when you decide an Instagram challenge is no longer for you?
In case you need to refresh your memory, last summer I attempted to take part in #doodletimewithkaroline. Keyword: attempted. I lasted one week. And then, to make me feel better about myself, I devoted a blog post to my attempt at the challenge and assured everyone (including myself) that even though I didn’t complete the challenge by participating in all thirty prompts, I didn’t actually fail because I learned stuff about the community and my artwork. And who cares about quitting when you grow as a person and artist, right?
I still stand by the point of that post: you have the power to define what success is to you. But let’s be 100% real, when I joined that challenge, my goal wasn’t to learn. I wanted to complete it. I wanted my artwork to show up on that hashtag everyday. I wanted to be one of those kick-ass people who joined a month-long challenge and survived.
So with the start of the new year, I tried again. And guess what?
I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!
I SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED A MONTH-LONG CHALLENGE!!!
As a result, I have to write another post about Instagram challenges. Because, you know, what’s a victory if you can’t celebrate it? I want everyone to know that not only can I succeed by bending the rules and looking at things my way, but that I can also succeed by doing it the right way.
The Instagram Challenge I Joined
While one can find multiple challenges online to take part in, I decided I’d get the most satisfaction out of participating in another #doodletimewithkaroline challenge by Karoline Pietrowski. Though the theme was completely different this time around, focusing on Disney films instead of summer-related items, it still provided the same challenge: provide a drawing every day of the month inspired by the given prompts.
My process for each picture I posted varied a bit from the last time I participated, and not necessarily in a good way. You would’ve thought since I complained about how much work it took to do each image last time that I would simplify things to give myself a better chance at success, but oh no. While I did end up removing the need to photograph my work nicely (no flatlay attempts here), I actually added more steps by choosing to incorporate a lot of color into my drawings (yay promarkers) and editing all the finished pieces in Photoshop.
What originally took me like an hour or two each day to complete what with sketching, inking, and photographing became a full day process. I pretty much spent the entire month of January working on the challenge and nothing else (hence the lack of blog posts, whoops).
Way to make things easier on yourself, Asti. 🤦🏻♀️
But hey, I did it! I made it all harder and still kicked this challenge’s ass. Surely that makes me even more awesome, right?
The Crap I Learned That I Think Will Help You Survive a Challenge
Even though this time I’m not using “learning” as my measure of success, I still think it’s a valuable thing to reflect on the things you do. Not only does it give you a new measurement for success, but it also might be helpful in providing guidance for surviving future month-long Instagram challenges. That’s right: I survived a month-long Instagram challenge and YOU CAN TOO!
First, I’d recommend making everything simple. Don’t be stupid like me and make it so that to take part in the challenge you have to do multiple steps every day. Not only do extra steps take up more time, but they allow more opportunities for obstacles to block your success.
Let’s be honest here: month-long challenges aren’t about quality. Your goal is to get something up on Instagram every single day. Don’t make it harder than it has to be!
Also, don’t be afraid to work ahead. If you have the energy to complete five prompts in one day, do it! It may be considered cheating to some, but if your goal is to succeed in participating all month-long in a challenge, you’ll need to give yourself whatever tools you can to succeed.
I’m one of those people who find it really hard to keep going if I miss a day or two in a challenge so having a buffer of completed pieces ensured that even when there were days that I was “off”, I still had motivation to keep going because the challenge was still being met.
Switch things up when you can! THIS WAS SO IMPORTANT TO ME. While I loved having a prompt list that gave me direction for my pieces each day, I found that I still wanted an opportunity for freedom within my work. As a result, I switched up my focus every handful of pieces (as you can see by the images sprinkled within this post).
I think giving yourself room for experimentation within a challenge is so important because it stops you from getting bored doing the same thing day in and day out.
Accept that some days you’ll just hate your work no matter what. I mean, really, what more can I say about that? There were days I absolutely hated the pieces I was putting online, but I ended up sharing them anyways because I was determined to take part until the end.
If all you care about is quality, a month-long challenge may not be for you. There will always be days where your brain gives up. (But hey, it’s also another reason why working ahead is good! I redid numerous pieces for the challenge that I didn’t like.)
Determine your goal before joining the challenge and stick to it. My suggestion would be to focus on one simple thing completely in your control like: “hey, I’m going to post something every day for a month.” Don’t be like me and go “hey, I’m going to post something every day for a month” and then a couple of days into it become obsessed about the shout-outs being done by the challenge creator on her Instagram stories because IT WILL DRIVE YOU MAD.
Seriously, every day I would go to check the creator’s Instagram stories to see which contributions she was shouting out and after seeing the same artists highlighted day after day I felt like my work must be absolute shit. And it wasn’t (I don’t think). People just have different tastes. But shifting my focus to something I could control (posting everyday) to something I couldn’t (whether this one specific person decided my work was good enough to shout out on her stories) was hugely demotivating. Learn from my mistake.
That being said, use participating in a challenge as an opportunity to support other artists. While the creator of the tag didn’t give me a lot of love, a couple of the other participants in the challenge stopped by and commented on my work which was greatly appreciated. Know that if you need a boost, someone else probably does too. Share the love!
The TL;DR Instagram Challenge Conclusion
You don’t have to complete an Instagram challenge to be awesome, but if you do it you should be proud and write a blog post about it so you feel a little less bad about your previous failure.
Also, word vomit the things you’ve learned from participating in the challenge onto others. These include: keeping things simple, working ahead, switching things up, accepting that there’ll be bad days, setting a specific goal you can control, and supporting others as you’d want to be supported.
Have you participated in an Instagram challenge? If yes, what kind of successful were you: the “I did it all, go me” successful or the “I didn’t do it all but it’s okay because I learned things” successful? As you can see, I think both are totally legit so go you either way. And for those who haven’t participated in a month-long Instagram challenge, what’s holding you back?