If you’ve been involved in Instagram communities, you’ll know that there are usually multiple challenges running that you can participate in. For bookstagrammers there’s #grimdragon, for those with art journals there’s #ohjournaletc, for the art and lettering types there #dndchallenge – the list goes on and on.
These challenges are great for inspiring content and getting involved in communities, but they are what they claim to be: a challenge. And you know what I’ve decided? It’s not failing if you don’t finish these challenges. You can only post on certain days or give up after a week, it’s totally up to you. But as long as you gave it a go and took something away from the attempt, it’s not failing. You’re just succeeding in an unexpected way.
The Instagram Challenge I Joined
As I haven’t taken Instagram seriously for a long time (and have only recently started transitioning my account into an art one), I decided a good way to try to get myself involved in the community would be to take part in a challenge. And since I follow the lovely Karoline Pietrowski on Instagram, I decided I’d join her #doodletimewithkaroline challenge.
She posted the prompts on June 1st and after a moment of hesitation I decided I was in. And for a week straight I would look at the prompt, find a reference in my many magazines to use, draw something up for the challenge, run outside with a couple of pieces of my mom’s scrapbook paper to lay underneath the illustration, take photos, edit the photos, and post them on Instagram.
I’m tired just typing all that out, so you can imagine how exhausting it was to do every. single. day. I mean, I did do two drawings a day once or twice to try to lighten the load and give myself a break, but really, it just felt like I was always rushing to produce something and in the end, I gave up after a week.
Before I get into that though, let’s celebrate the pieces I did complete. Here they are in all their glory (except my illustration for the suitcase prompt because I don’t like it as much, haha.)
Fails Successes of the Challenge
Once I realized I could no longer keep up with the #doodletimewithkaroline challenge, I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit like a failure. I was disappointed in myself for giving up after only a week (I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t try the #100daychallenge) and frustrated that I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work when there were others who managed to consistently contribute to the tag daily.
But then I realized I was just being ridiculous. A challenge is a challenge. Of course it’s not going to be easy. Of course everyone is going to have their own levels of success. And of course not being able to complete it from beginning to end doesn’t make me a failure: I still learned a lot even from the week I participated.
For one, I learned that hashtags and challenges like #doodletimewithkaroline are great for getting involved in a community. While Karoline herself didn’t really interact with those who posted in her tag (which I was a tad disappointed in, I’m not going to lie), other participants (including myself) interacted, which was nice. I was able to find some new artists to fall in love with (check out svnddlsnts‘s account! I love, love, love it.) and gained some followers along the way. As someone who is fairly new to the artist community, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to fit in, so I enjoyed the way this challenge opened the door for me.
I also learned how lovely it feels to see your post pop up in the “Top Posts” section of a hashtag. Since #doodletimewithkaroline isn’t a hugely popular challenge, there aren’t as many posts to compete with to get a top spot on the hashtag page. As a result, I was able to sneak up there a couple of times with my illustrations and it was a nice little boost knowing that my art was liked enough to make its way up there. It makes me want to find smaller hashtags to contribute to, ones in which my post won’t get immediately drowned behind 800 others.
An unexpected but welcomed thing I took away from this challenge: putting slightly more effort into my pictures for Instagram can be fun! haha. I feel like I’m still definitely learning here and trying to figure out exactly how I want my art pictures to look, but I was really happy with how my photos turned out as a whole for this challenge. The very first day I went through my mom’s scrapbook papers and pulled out a handful that I thought complemented my colored pens and I really think the pops of color made my Instagram account a bit more engaging and fun. I’m not sure how I’ll work it out once I switch to markers (stay tuned!) but it gives me motivation to keep trying.
This challenge made me realize that content can be both an inspiration and a frustration. On the one hand, it was nice to have a prompt to turn to every day. For those days I had nothing in mind to create, it gave me something to work from. On the other hand, some prompts just left me feeling completely unmotivated. Towel, selfie stick, floating tyre? Don’t get me wrong, I can think of things to draw for those prompts.. they just don’t excite me. Trying to think of a way to work with some prompts felt more like chore than a challenge, which was one of the reasons why I felt like stopping was a successful choice.
(It also gave me content to use for my first YouTube video. You know, if you want to check it out and subscribe. Haha. Look at this effortless cross-promotion.)
And, lastly, I succeeded in learning that I don’t want to be forced to create every day. Daily challenges are great, but I think I would be a lot happier participating in a weekly or monthly challenge, especially if they involve certain prompts. Creating everyday doesn’t happen for me right now anyways, but when it does, I want to feel comfortable creating whatever I want and not obligated to use that time towards creating something based off someone else’s idea. I felt like I was losing my chance to create my own work while participating in this challenge, and I’m not about that, especially when pushing my imagination is something I’ve been really working on.
The TL;DR Instagram Challenge Conclusion
Instagram challenges are great, but don’t see completing them as the only solution for success. It can be discouraging not following through with it until the end, but if it’s not inspiring you or if it’s feeling like a chore you should give yourself permission to stop. And instead of focusing on what you missed, take a moment after each challenge to appreciate the successes of the challenge and what you’ve learned. You may be surprised how much you can take away, both about yourself and the community, after only a few days of participation.
Have you participated in any challenges on Instagram? Were you able to successfully complete them? Or were you like me, only able to find success in your failing? I’m curious to know your thoughts so please let me know what your experience has been like in the comments below! Also, if I were to ever do monthly themed challenges (similar how April was devoted to friendships), would you be interested in joining? It wouldn’t be drawing only – other forms of creative expression would be allowed as well (for all my writer friends out there). Just curious!
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I’m creating again, reasons be damned.