Sketchbook #20

Productivity, Writing

Let me start by saying: February was a strange month. It was filled with schedule disruptions (so much snow), and motivational lulls, and the weird feeling that comes with being between writing projects (I’d forgotten that that feeling even exists.) It’s one of those months that feels like I didn’t accomplish anything at all.

My goal for the month was to prioritize my creativity. And… I’ve done that, as much as those schedule disruptions could allow. I’ve stopped checking news and social media before my work is done for the day, and that’s been nothing but good. It was really difficult for the first few days, but that was it—I’ve successfully broken the habit, and when I do read the news or check Twitter, it’s intentional. It doesn’t interfere with my work, and I’m not spending all day simmering with anger over the latest outrage.

(That said… I’m not posting to Twitter quite as much as I’d like. But that’s probably unavoidable.)

However.

I haven’t eliminated, or even minimized, the other distractions that I’ve been dealing with lately. If anything, cutting out news and social media has made me more aware of those other distractions, and more aware of how I really want to be spending my time. But I’m not too worried. Taking care of those things one at a time, and replacing them with better habits, is probably more effective in the long run than trying to change my entire routine all at once.

And, really, I have accomplished quite a bit this month. I’ve made real progress on the sewing project that’s been on my list since sometime last year. (I’ll probably be putting the finishing touches on this week, and then I’ll be ready to show it to you. I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out.) The daily photo project is still going strong, even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. (I know I’ve said this before, but: I am really glad that I didn’t give myself any kind of rules for this project. I know it would have crashed and burned by now if I was trying to do anything more involved than “one photo a day that doesn’t completely suck.”)

And I’ve decided on my next writing project! I’m still in the very early stages of planning, and it’s going to require a massive amount of prep work (more research and worldbuilding than I’ve had to do in years, even before I took my break from writing), but… it’s interesting. I’m so excited to get to work on it. I’m not sure when I’m actually going to be ready to start writing (I keep thinking I should set some kind of deadline for myself, just so I don’t get too bogged down in prep), but I’m not going to rush it. I’m just about ready to reread my NaNoWriMo draft, and start making my plans for the rewrite, so even if I don’t start writing the new story until this November, I’m still going to have something to work on.

So, yeah. Despite everything, it wasn’t a terrible month. Not as great as I’d hoped, but… not terrible.

My goal for March is to get back on track. Eliminate a few more of those distractions I mentioned, and replace them with better systems. Finish the sewing project. Start digging into the NaNo story again, and start really working on the next one. Focus on the work I want to be doing.

Snapshot #71 | 10 Things for 26 February 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. starting… research for the next story. I’m drawing on so many influences here, and it’s going to be so much fun.
2. finding… a fantastic brunch place and a new favourite bakery.
3. realizing… that, as much as I love my new fountain pen, it’s not great for quick notes. (The ink tends to smear.) It’s great for longer stuff, though.
4. wishing… the snow would go away. It was pretty for the first few days, but now I’m ready for spring.
5. thinking… about simplifying my to-do lists.
6. working… on the tote bag. I’m almost done! I can’t wait to show you guys!
7. feeling… like it’s time to refocus and reboot. (This is actually a good thing—my plans for this year involve both a monthly review and a serious reflection and reassessment session every three months. Both are just about due.) (Also: I really didn’t mean for this to involve so much alliteration.)
8. getting… ready to reread the NaNoWriMo draft. (eep!)
9. wondering… what I should make for Easter dessert this year. (I was leaning toward cheesecake, but that craving has (finally!) been satisfied. I still might, but it won’t just be because I really really want a piece of cheesecake.)
10. hoping… that next week goes according to plan.

Sketchbook #19

Art + Craft, Photography, Productivity, Writing

I generally plan to post these creative roundups on the last Monday of each month.

You might’ve noticed that this isn’t the last Monday of the month. Or that I didn’t actually do a post like this at the end of December.

I’ll be honest: I was busy in December, and blogging wasn’t my highest priority in January. The political situation in the States is still taking up most of my attention, and everything that’s left has been devoted to finishing the novel draft that I started in November and starting the two photo projects I’ve decided to tackle this year.

On the bright side: I finished the NaNoWriMo draft! It took a little longer than I expected—the last major set piece, in particular, was tricky to write—but it’s done. The final count is around 90,000 words, 40K of which I’ve written since November ended.

I promised a proper postmortem once the draft was done, and that will be coming soon. I need to take a couple of days to decompress, and then I’ll be ready to think about it.

I’ve also been thinking about what comes next. I am going to revise this particular story (that alone is a small miracle: I actually think the story is worth revising!), but I need to step away for a week or two to get a bit of distance. But I learned over the holidays that two weeks away from writing is just too long; it took almost a week to get my pre-Christmas momentum back. And since it’ll be a few weeks before I’m ready to start the actual revisions on the NaNo story (I think the next draft is going to need a whole new outline), I need something to work on in the meantime.

I’ve been playing with some other story ideas, trying to decide which one to work on next. Two of them in particular feel promising, but they’re both a bit vague right now. I’ll give myself a day or two to not think about writing at all, then see if I can turn one or the other or both into something like a story.

It’s been a good writing month.

It’s been a good photography month, too.

I already mentioned that I’ve started a 365 project for 2017. I already covered my reasoning in the introductory post, so I won’t bother going into too much detail here, except to say that I’m still really happy with how it’s going. It’s only been a month, but I’m still really happy with how it’s going. Are all—or even most—of the pictures brilliant? Yeah, no. But there have only been one or two so far that I’d call completely terrible, and considering how uninspired I’ve felt some days, that’s a pretty good record.

That particular project aside, I’m trying to be a little more intentional with my photography this year. I didn’t take many photos in January (this is always a slow time of year for me), but I’m trying to think about the photos I do take, and make an effort to improve my craft. I’ve been printing some of my work—not just the good pictures, but the ones that I can learn from—and I’m (slowly) learning to keep a sketchbook.

It’s an interesting process, and I’m having fun with it.

Speaking of sketchbooks… it’s taken some time, but I’m starting to get back into drawing again. I set it aside in November so I’d have more time to write, and December got busy, so it hasn’t been a priority for a while. But I’ve been picking it up again, and I’m starting to see a little bit of improvement. (It sort of feels like setting aside my story for a couple of weeks: I need to find some distance in order to see my progress.)

So, yeah: I didn’t really have a solid plan going into January beyond finishing the NaNoWriMo draft, but it’s been a good month. Just a little unfocussed.

My big goal for February is to prioritize my creative work.

And that means eliminating—or at least minimizing—some of the distractions that have been getting in my way. The first thing I’m going to do is to cut out (almost) all news and social media before I’ve reached my creative targets for the day. I’ll probably still check the headlines (just to make sure that the world hasn’t, in fact, ended overnight) and I can check the social media that inspires me rather than drains me, but that’s it. Everything else can and will wait until after my writing and photography and art is done for the day.

It hasn’t been easy (it really hasn’t been easy), but I can already tell it’s going to benefit my work.

So, that’s where I stand going into February. I’m… pretty happy with everything, actually. It’s a weird feeling right now.

Snapshot #8: 10 Things for 14 September 2014

Personal

13 September 2014

Currently…

1. doing… something about the builder’s beige.
2. working… out the details.
3. debating… whether to cut my hair or let it grow. I’ve been growing it out (I’m a little sick of not being able to pull it back), but it’s reached the point where I really want to chop it off.
4. realizing… that I’ve been distracted, and that I need to refocus.
5. reading… The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau.
6. waiting… for the new series of Utopia to start. (In Canada. I know it’s already aired in the UK, and I’ve been anxiously avoiding spoilers.)
7. getting… back on track.
8. listening… to the new U2 album. It’s ok. Not great, not terrible.
9. fine-tuning… plans for my fall wardrobe.
10. feeling… exhausted. I haven’t taken a break all week, but I think the really hard work is just about over.