2018 Watchword | Reghan Skerry

Looking Ahead to 2018

Personal, Photography, Writing

The last few years, I’ve chosen a watchword to take me into the new year, a small mantra to remind me of my goals, both big and small.

In 2017, my watchword was “focus.” I knew the year was going to be rough, and I knew that (for me) the biggest challenge would be dealing with the sheer distraction of it all. And… I kind of managed that. It was a struggle, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped (the 2016 NaNo draft is finished, but it sort of stalled after that), and I only did one of the photo projects I’d planned (I don’t even remember what the other one was…). But I did finish that 365 project, and I’m genuinely happy with how it turned out. And one of the story ideas I’d been playing with turned into a draft that I still kind of love. Even if it’s not quite finished.

Now. 2018. Still going to be awful in general, but I’ve had time to process. Not ‘move on,’ but I’ve at least figured out how to function, even when the news cycle infuriates me.

This year, my watchword is “action.”

I know what my long-term goals are. They’ve never really changed; if anything, they’ve become more clear to me as time passes. But I haven’t really gone after them, because… fear, mostly. And perfectionism, which is the same thing. And, you know what? I’m done with that.

That’s the plan for this year: I’m going to stop wasting time. I’m going to write. (Starting with finishing the draft I started for NaNo last year. I’ve only got one act to go, I should be able to finish it by the end of the month.) I’m going to take photos. I’m going to find ways to put my art, both writing and photography, out into the world. I’m going to take the little personal changes that I’ve already started (exercise! embracing minimalism!) and follow through. (Also: I kind of want this to be the year that I finally master the art of winged eyeliner. That, or figure out how to wear bold lipstick without feeling awkward.)

I’m going to take my goals—all of them—and find ways to move toward them.

2017 Project365 #365 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #358-365

Photography

I still don’t know what possessed me to try a 365 project in 2017. When I started, I was pretty sure it would turn out like the attempts I’d made before: three months in, I’d be taking the most boring snapshots in the world, simply to fulfil the obligation. I didn’t think that I’d make it through the year without getting bored or resentful, and I definitely didn’t think that the project would do as much for my photography in general as it did.

Were all my photos good? Of course not. I phoned in a bunch of them, even this last week. But I can see a marked difference between the photos I was taking in January, the ones I was taking in July, and the ones I’m taking now, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come.

A big part of it, I’m sure, is just the fact that I was sharing the photos—the ones that I loved, and the ones that were, frankly, embarrassing. Getting some kind of feedback (whether it was full-on comments, or just a few likes) has done wonders for my confidence as a photographer, which in turn has pushed me to try a little bit harder with every photograph. (Or almost every photograph. Some days, I’m still lazy and uninspired.)

There’s a lot to be said for not creating art in a vacuum.

Now that this particular project is over, what’s next?

I’m going to keep taking a picture every day, and posting it to Instagram, but I’m not calling it an official 365 project. (I’ll keep posting the photos here, too, but I’m going to move to a monthly roundup, instead of weekly.)

The big problem I ran into this year was that the every-single-day aspect meant that sometimes I was taking pictures just to fulfil the obligation, and I wasn’t happy with the results. By the time November rolled around, I wanted something that was more of a creative challenge, but less of a chore.

In 2018, I’m going to give myself some leeway when I’m sick, or uninspired, or whatever. I’m still going to try for every day, but if I can manage at least five days a week, I’m going to call it a win. And I’m going to break the year down into smaller, more challenging projects, things that will push me either creatively or technically.

I don’t know what all of those projects are yet. I’ll probably limit myself to a single camera or lens for a month, and I’ll do a month of black-and-white, and I’ll find a few more things to do as the year goes on. (I’d also really like to work on my portraiture…. If you’re near Nova Scotia and might be interested, get in touch.)

I’m going to keep going. I’ve enjoyed this project too much to stop now.