It’s not considered failing when you decide an Instagram challenge is no longer for you.

It's not considered failing when you decide an Instagram challenge is no longer for you // My thoughts after quitting the #doodletimewithkaroline Instagram challenge after just a week // Blog post and illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

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

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge prompts

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.)

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Shorts || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day One: Shorts

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Suncream || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Two: Suncream

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Flip Flops || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Three: Flip-Flops

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Sunhat || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Four: Sunhat

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Watermelon || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Six: Watermelon

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Prompt: Ice || Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

#doodletimewithkaroline prompt || Day Seven: Ice

The 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.

June 2017 #doodletimewithkaroline challenge || Insta Top Posts for hashtag

Look, my flip-flop illustration made it in the #doodletimewithkaroline top posts section!

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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8 Comments

  1. I would love to participate in a creative challenge!

    I took part in bookstagram challenges before and it was quite fun scheduling and putting photos together in advance since I work non-office hours… the extra effort made me feel a little better. One thing about your post that is great for me is the reminder that not completing the entire challenge isn’t a failure — very often, I think most people forget. I do feel a little down whenever I miss a day or two, but I guess being able to join in a couple of days is actually The Main Accomplishment! 😀

    • I think the whole putting together things in advance is where I went wrong with this challenge. While ideally it’d be great to do something for an Instagram challenge everyday, life happens! And it’s like once I miss a day I sort of lose motivation to keep up because I’ve already missed one so is it really that bad if I miss any others? So I feel like if I were to try a challenge again I’d either do a broad one where I don’t feel so limited and try to create images in advance (such as the 100 day challenge) or participate in a specific one like the one above which provides prompts, but only contribute when feeling inspired.

      And thanks! I will likely wait a little bit longer before trying to run a creative challenge myself (this week has totally thrown off my motivation for a lot of things), but once I do I will be sure to let you know! (And you have no choice but to join because you said you would love to 😝)

  2. I’ve only successfully gone through maybe 2-3 Instagram photo challenges – by “FatMumSlim”. Found them interesting, but I got bored quickly and found myself stuck on certain days. LOL.

    • Hey, the fact that you’ve successfully completed 2-3 Instagram photo challenges is still good – better than me! I do think next time I go to join one I’ll carefully consider the challenge prompts in advance to see if they inspire me enough to actually participate the whole way through. It’s no fun when the prompt bores you and trying to keep up feels like work!

  3. Great post, Asti! Just the fact that you started at all is an accomplishment, and it sounds as if you learned a lot from the challenge. I loved doing the grimdragon challenge every day in April, but it was utterly exhausting, and I decided I would never do it again. This month, I only did the posts that inspired me. And I even let myself take a break during my trip to Leipzig, which was huge.
    I’m really surprised that the host didn’t interact with the participants! Holly and Corey are such great challenge hosts and one of the main reasons I decided to give it a try.

    • Thanks Maraia! I actually think you telling me to only participate when I wanted to when I first started actually helped, as sometimes you only actually notice when people participate and not when they miss so it can feel like everyone is always on top of it except you. I do think if I participate again I’d do it similar to what you said – only doing it for the ones that inspire me.

      And yeah, that honestly bummed me out about the host. Not only did she not really respond to comments I left on her photos, but I didn’t see her comments for anyone else’s – not even those that were in the top. I can appreciate that people are busy and not everyone interacts like we do, but if I am going to participate in a challenge I would like to use it as an opportunity to interact with others as well. I think it’s great that the hosts for the challenge you participate in are great at that. It would definitely motivate me to keep up if I were participating. 🖤

      • That is definitely true! It actually bothers me when people apologize for not posting on a certain day, because a) I don’t notice, b) it’s not obligation, so there’s nothing to be sorry about, and c) people post too much anyway. (I will notice if active posters disappear for a week, but that’s different.)

        Ooh, not even responding to comments on her own posts? That’s bad form. I don’t understand how people like that end up with tons and tons of followers! I mean, do what you want, but hosting a challenge comes with a certain responsibility.

        Glad to see you commenting, Asti. ❤

  4. Great post! I found this one really interesting. And actually, I always want to try bookstagram challenges but when I read through the prompts I realise that a lot of them don’t fit in with the way that I bookstagram (which actually, isn’t a lot anymore) and I don’t want to force myself to take part in something that won’t excite me.

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