Looking Ahead to 2016

Here we are. 2016.

And, as usual, I have plans for the year. I have to make the office into a workable space (and finish decorating the rest of the apartment). I’ve got solid plans for photography, on top of the two different year-long projects that I’ve already mentioned. I’ve got some fashion-related goals and some personal changes I want to make.

You know. The usual.

But this year I have two major goals that I think are worth talking about in detail:

Create more than I consume.
This is the big one.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’m still having trouble articulating what’s been bothering me. It’s a combination of boredom, frustration, and inertia, I guess. I’m bored with endlessly scrolling through Pinterest and Twitter and Instagram. I’m increasingly annoyed by some of the changes I’ve seen online (I understand the reasons, but I wish people would come up with more creative solutions). I feel like I’m constantly reading or watching tutorials that I know I’m not really interested in, but, hey, it still feels like I’m doing work….

Basically, I feel like the balance between creation and consumption isn’t what it should be. It’s not just my issue—most of my concerns apply to the world in general, too (and I have a feeling there’s going to be a longer essay on the topic once I get my thoughts in order)—but I can only change that balance for myself. ‘Be the change,’ to borrow a phrase. (Or my favourite variation on the theme, which also applies.)

So, for me, 2016 is about making things. More photographs than ever before. Paintings and illustrations. Writing—fiction (maybe) and non-fiction. (The first step has actually been the redesign of this site: focussing more attention on my photography, and changing the blog layout to better accommodate longer posts and discourage shorter ones.) Croissants and macarons (seriously… if you knew how long they’ve been on my ‘to bake’ list…).

I’m going to start right away, though I know it won’t happen right away. I’m already in the habit of tracking my time; I’m going to fine-tune my system, and adjust my routines, and start tipping the balance back toward creation rather than consumption.

Consume with intention.
The thing is, despite everything I just said, I’m still inspired by other peoples’ work: the books that make me want to write, the movies and tv shows and games that make me think of new ways to tell stories, the images that make me so jealous that I just have to pick up my camera or sketchbook. People are doing incredible things, and I’m not going to cut myself off from that.

But I also haven’t been taking full advantage of it—most of the books I read in 2015 were ok, but not amazing. I barely watched any movies. (That said, I have been pretty good about cutting out mediocre television.) That ends in 2016. I’m going to try to read more, and watch more, and play more, but I’m going to be more careful about the media I consume. If it doesn’t inspire me in some way—through the language, or storytelling, or visuals, or mood, or whatever—or if I can’t learn something from it, I’m ready to move on.

Now, I don’t need everything to be brilliant—sometimes I’m more inspired by a work’s flaws than its perfections. But I’m not going to be finishing books just to say I’ve read them, or just because there’s still a part of me that thinks they “might get good” eventually. I’m not going to watch movies or television just to fill time. I’m going to look for new music and new artists.

Basically, I’m going to look for inspiration, rather than just letting it happen.

These are my plans for myself in 2016, but they’re also my hopes for you:

I hope you make things this year—beautiful things, or strange things, or just the things you keep putting off. Write that screenplay, rewrite that novel. Fill up your sketchbook. Put your songs up on Bandcamp. (And send me the link!) Try some of those recipes you’ve saved to Pinterest.

And I hope you seek out the things that truly inspire you this year: the tv that makes you cry and the books that make you want to run away and have adventures. I hope you choose movies that surprise you and art that makes you uncomfortable.

It’s a new year. It’s up to us to make it better than the last one.