Sketchbook #14

I think I’m starting to get back into the swing of things.

If you remember, June… well, it wasn’t the best month for me, creatively. I’ve been feeling a bit adrift, and frustrated, and I made up my mind to try to take things slowly in July while I figured things out. (Or, while I tried to figure things out.)

And, generally, that’s what I’ve done.

As far as writing goes, I’ve maintained my 500 words a day, and haven’t pushed myself to increase that. I’ve been thinking about my NaNoWriMo story, and I’ve done some outline work, but I’ve tried not to put too much pressure on myself. I’m starting to realize (like, just now, as I’m writing this) that I know a lot more about this story than I think I do. When I sit down to try to write an outline, I get overwhelmed by all the things I don’t know yet. But when I just jot down my ideas and put them in some sort of order, things are starting to click together and work in ways that I don’t expect. (I also tracked down my old login information for the NaNoWriMo website. I had to reset my password, but somehow the account itself still exists. So that made me feel good. Weird, but good.)

I’m drawing every day, but lately I’ve moved away from the figure-drawing practice I’d been focussing on and spent more time playing with hand-lettering techniques. (Which has been fantastic. I’m still kind of terrible, but I’m having fun again, which makes me actually want to open up my sketchbook and try to get better.)

Now. Photography.

That’s not going well. I did get around to editing the last of the photos from May, which eliminates a huge source of stress. But as far as actually taking pictures goes… yeah. I’m still not feeling it, even with my 52-Week project. I’m trying not to feel too bad about that—and I hope to catch up with some of the backlog this week, without falling further behind—but it still doesn’t feel great, you know?

All that said, I have spent a lot of time this month thinking about my creative process and what I want to get out of it. I’ve started looking at a few new story outlining techniques, trying to find something that works for me and for the story I’m planning. I’ve been thinking about how I can find my enthusiasm for photography again, and how I can maintain it once I have. And I’m thinking about how to motivate myself to do the work that I want to be doing, when it’s so much easier to just watch cat videos all day. (That’s an exaggeration. Kind of.)

So. What’s next?

I’m ready to start increasing my daily word count again. Five hundred words a day is good, but not where I’d like to be. Think of it as the actual physical training that I have to do to be ready for NaNoWriMo after a few years of not really writing. I need to build up my endurance. And I’m going to start moving forward with my story outline—I had some pretty good momentum going when I first made up my mind to do this thing, and I need to find that again. (And I need to do it without freaking myself out again.) I have three months (!!) to turn what is still just an idea—a good idea, but still just an idea—into an actual story with people and a plot that I care about. Right now, it’s just some awesome backstory, a really fun premise, and a couple of cool scenes. I can do it, but it’s going to take work.

For now, I’m going to leave my drawing practice just as it is. I intend to get back to other subjects soon, but the whole hand-lettering thing is working for me right now, and I’m reluctant to let that go while I’m still struggling with so many other things.

And I’m going to try—really try—to find some enthusiasm for photography again. I’ve got a couple of weekly prompts that are going to be a challenge, and that I’m not particularly looking forward to, but… I’m going to try to do them anyway. And I’m going to try to take some photos that aren’t for the 52-Week Project, which would be a nice change. It’s also a good time to update my portfolio, which will at least remind me that I do take pretty good pictures, sometimes.

But my big project right now (which I’ve already been working on for the last few weeks) is making sure I don’t end up a rut like this again. I’m starting to feel better about things, which makes it really easy to just go back to the same habits that got me here in the first place. I’m trying not to fall into that trap. I’ve been reevaluating the goals I set earlier this year, weeding out the things that aren’t really important to me—the things that feel productive, even when they’re stealing time from writing, or photography, or anything that really matters—and finding ways to really move forward on the rest of it. I’m looking at what I want to do in the long term (which has never really changed), but making an effort to focus on what I can do in the short term.

So, that’s where I am this month: still not great, but better than I was in June. Now, I want to build on that: make August just a little bit better than July, without falling back into bad habits.

That’s all I really need right now.