DO use actual index cards!
yes, i mean the cheap, thin, flimsy ones from the big box store and not beautiful 120lb cold pressed watercolor paper cut to 3x5" size. the modest, disposable nature of REAL index cards is a big giant part of the point. it helps you focus on process over outcome. it helps you generate loads of ideas that might not work the first time. it helps you remember that the most important art supply is your creativity. this is IMPORTANT! don't cheat on this one, k? ♥
DO prepare (just a tiny bit!) in advance
gather your index cards, favorite pens and a few key supplies you'd like to use this year. put them together in a little box or bag that you can leave out where you like to work. brainstorm a list of ideas you want to try. flick through all those cool projects you've pinned. unearth the book on brush lettering you've wanted to try. check out the hastags on IG which most intrigue you. read some of tammy's awesome advice at daisy yellow. then, think about the best time to REALISTICALLY sneak 15 minutes of art time into your day. mine is usually 10:30 at night, it's my reward for having done all of the adulting that is required of me. if i had to get up and go find supplies at that hour, i'd never get any ICAD-ing done. for me, having my kit ready to roll is crucial.
DO have a "default mode"
let's get real about this right upfront: there are going to be days that you don't feel inspired, haven't thought of a fab idea and aren't interested in the prompts. this is 100% normal, so don't even try to fight it. my default modes are mandalas and glue-as-you-go collages. sometimes, as i start doing one or the other, i find that i've suddenly thought of a brand new twist, and my imagination takes over from there. some days it's all i can do to just fill a card with *SOMETHING* and call it good. both are equally valid. the momentum of having made a card-- even one you don't especially like-- gives you confidence and makes it easier to sit down again the next day. some default mode ideas: zendoodles, stamping and coloring, doodling and coloring, lettering a favorite quote, making color charts or color wheels for various media (paints, pens, crayons, etc), testing out every single artist pen you own, making one-staple collages, doing contour drawings, writing poetry or haiku... the list is endless! having said that, this is NOT an all or nothing pursuit. it's entirely possible that real life commitments will force you to miss a day, a few days, or a week. don't catch up. don't apologize. don't quit. just start back up as soon as you can and keep going. finishing in the middle of august instead of july 31st still counts! so does finishing with 51 cards... or 15... do this YOUR WAY and have fun!
DO balance your social media life
in addition to being an awesome art-making impetus, ICAD has helped me make friends and connections literally all over the world. there's an amazing community of artists at every level of talent, skill and experience waiting to meet you, which is incredibly fun and valuable. but... i've found that for me, it's possible to get so immersed in the social aspects that i'm cutting my actual art time short. which is why i (mostly!) limit myself to one really good scroll of instagram per day, at a completely separate time from when i sit down to make my cards. you will figure out what works for you through trial and error.
DON'T succumb to "comparisonitis"!
if you don't hear one other single thing from this entire post, PLEASE listen to me now: during the course of the challenge, you may see cards that you'll perceive as being "better" than yours; more polished, more skilled, more ambitious, whatever. let me stop you right there. don't compare. don't compete. don't criticize yourself. please, please don't. every single card you make has value. some because they came out well, others because they taught you something, still others because they were enjoyable to make. treasure your progress, strive to improve, and aim to enjoy the process. the act of "showing up" every day is already a victory... and having fun while you do it is the gold medal! ♥♥♥