Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in January.
When it comes to creativity, January and December are never great months for me. I spend December—what little isn’t taken up by holiday prep and recovery—in full planning mode, which is good, but it does turn into an excuse not to do the actual work. And January… despite my enthusiasm going in, it always takes me a bit of time to find my rhythms again. Add to that the one-two hit of the new year and my birthday, and I’m suddenly questioning everything.
That’s actually why I’m working on this post right now, when I’d already blocked out this time for writing fiction. I need to step back and take an objective look at some of this stuff, and talking it out here always seems to help me clarify my thoughts. (If you’re not here for my creative-process rambling, consider that your warning. I won’t feel bad if you skip this post.)
1. daydreaming… about spring. It seems very far away right now.
2. starting… Project366. It’s gonna be an interesting year.
3. suspecting… that I might be getting a cold, but it hasn’t quite materialized yet. (Which is good! This isn’t a good time for me to get sick. Not that there’s a good time, but you know what I mean.)
4. cutting… my hair. Finally.
5. planning… my first sewing project of the year. (Nothing fancy, but necessary.)
6. thinking… about taking part in the CP Matchmaker event on 2 February. (Has anyone done it before? What did you think?)
7. waiting… for parcels. Still. And then they all—the ones I ordered at the beginning of the month, and the one I ordered last weekend—arrived on the same day. (Not gonna lie: that part was actually kind of fun.)
8. feeling… ambitious.
9. trying… to rebuild my routines. This has been a busy month, and the next two weeks are going to be even worse.
10. eating… cake.
Here’s the thing: I love writing, and I love photography. I love studying them, I love doing them. And I’m not terrible at either of them—on a good day, I can admit I’m actually pretty ok at both of them.
But it’s always been hard for me to actually make myself write, or make myself take photos.
And it’s not easy to explain why. Perfectionism’s a problem, definitely. Sometimes it really is a lack of motivation, and sometimes it’s that I build it up so much in my head that I can’t bring myself to start. (Or worse, I have a couple of bad days in the middle of a project, and I put too much weight on them… and can’t get started again.) Sometimes, I think I’m just lazy.
I’ve done well at getting past these blocks when it comes to writing. I write more days than I don’t lately, and I feel good about what I’ve been producing. I’ve made writing friends, people I talk with on a regular basis—about the process, and the challenges—and who help keep me moving forward. (And vice versa! Helping other people get through their own blocks actually does wonders for my own motivation.)
Photography… I’m not quite there yet. I’ve had good moments, and I’ve got some acquaintances who, when I can get over myself and share my photos, are really supportive. (Seriously: thank you. It means more to me than I can say, and I feel awful for not even opening Instagram and returning the favour in… five months? I am so sorry about that.)
With writing, I tend to have concrete projects I can work on: specific stories that I can take from concept to (eventually, hopefully) finished draft. A lot of the photography I do (or try to do) doesn’t work like that, so I’m always trying to overcome the inertia to get started.
Obviously, I need to figure out how to approach photography the way I do writing, and find specific projects to work on.
1. easing… back into my (good) routines, and trying not to fall back into the less-helpful ones.
2. trying… Scrivener. It’s taking a bit of time to get used to, but I might like it? I’m not sure yet.
3. marvelling… at the clerk in the camera store that directed his entire sales pitch to the guy who was with me, even after we both made it clear that I was the one who was making the decisions. (And I just said it was my favourite camera shop. I’m a little less sad it’s closing now.)
4. watching… the tracking info for… a bunch of stuff. Alternately cursing Canada Post (for never scanning anything) and USPS (for scanning my parcel a dozen times without actually moving it anywhere.)
5. rereading… Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s a good way to find my motivation again.
6. rethinking… pretty much everything. (This is the problem with trying to reestablish routines.)
7. hating… the cold. The last few days have been brutal.
8. organizing… revision notes.
9. looking… at all the hand-lettering lessons I’ve got saved. It’s a bit overwhelming.
10. feeling… weirdly unsettled by the whole new year thing. I’m not sure what it is this year, but… yeah.
I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to escape from 2018, but… here we are! 2019! Only a week in and already so weird but… so far, things are marginally better than last year, so I’ll take it.
I’m not going to dwell on 2018. On a purely personal level, it wasn’t terrible. I didn’t reach most of the big goals I’d set out for myself, because I genuinely dropped the ball, or because I underestimated the amount of work involved, or because it’s really hard to focus on certain creative projects when the world is on fire. But, overall, I’m really proud of what I did accomplish. I’m happy with the stories I worked on, and the photos I took, and the general progress I made. I wish there’d been more, but… it was good.
And those big goals I didn’t reach last year? I’m moving them to this year. And, no, I’m not going to tell you what they are just yet. (Though if you’ve been reading the newsletter, you know about at least two of them.) I’ll announce them—and any other big projects I come up with—when they’re ready, or when they’re about to start. I’m really excited about all of them, and I can’t wait to share them with you. (The first major announcement will come in about two weeks.)
Big goals aside, for the first time in… I don’t know how long… I’m making something that could actually be considered ‘resolutions,’ though I’m reluctant to use that word for some reason.