Sketchbook #44

Personal, Photography, Writing

“Maybe I’ll have some answers by the end of June,” I said

Why do I set myself up like that? 

I’m being a little overdramatic. The first two weeks of the month were good. Really good. It took a few days to figure out what I was doing with Violet Lane, but I’m well into the second draft now, and it feels like the big changes (cutting down the number of point-of-view characters, eliminating one character entirely, et cetera) are the right ones. I’m still wavering a bit on the tone (I want to make it darker, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I might have to rework the main character again), but in general, I’m happy with it.

My progress with photography is… ok. I’m in a bit of a rut—so many flowers—and I’m trying to figure out how to push myself out of my comfort zone with that. Part of the problem, I think, is that I’m in a bit of a rut when it comes to my routine in general—I do the same things and go to the same places, travelling the same routes, at roughly the same time every week—so I’m not seeing anything new. Nothing is feeling fresh or interesting. (I haven’t gone on as much as a day trip in over a year. The logistics for that kind of thing get tricky when you don’t drive.) Plenty of photographers have found inspiration in mundane environments, but I’m dealing with a general sense of frustration that’s just feeding on itself right now, and I need to figure out how to break myself out of it.

That said, the flower photos are ok—some of them have been quite good—they’re just boring.

Other than that things have been pretty much progressing as expected: I’m having fun with the website redesign, I’ve been making some real progress when it comes to figuring out my long-term plans (which… yeah, I kind of worked on that a few months ago, but I’ve been refining the ideas and framing them in a way that means I can work toward them rather than just dream about them), and I took a few small steps toward that big project that I’m still not announcing, even though I fully intended to do so this month. (More on that in a minute.)

… and then I came down with a cold. Nothing much has happened since last Wednesday. At all.

Snapshot #128 | 10 Things for 2 June 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. getting… back to work.
2. talking… myself out of dying my hair pink. Or teal. Or any colour other than blonde. I miss real colour desperately but I know I can’t be bothered to maintain it.
3. planning… the next draft of Violet Lane. I’m ready to start writing on Monday.
4. experimenting… with the whole bullet journal thing again. Turns out the setup I was using didn’t work as well as I thought.
5. trying… Beyond Meat burgers. I was pleasantly surprised—not the best burger I’ve ever had, but perfectly good for something store-bought, and far better than any other veggie burger I’ve had. I’ll have them again. (That said, I do want to finally try making my own veggie burgers this summer.)
6. catching… up on my podcast backlog! Completely! As of right now, there is no backlog. Which means I’m tempted to go looking for something new, to start the cycle all over again.
7. making… plans for the site redesign. Now I just need to pick a day to tear everything down and rebuild.
8. meeting… the new ravens! Over the past few years, I’ve managed to become friendly acquaintances with the local pair; this year I got to see their fledglings! (Which, yes, meant I was standing in the middle of a public path talking to four ravens like they understand English. But four ravens! 😍)
9. starting… to build my DVD/Blu-Ray collection again. I got out of the habit, but as streaming services multiply, it makes more sense to me to buy anything I want to see more than once. Now I need to figure out how to store these things.
10. refining… my goals and updating my inspiration board.

Sketchbook #41

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

It’s the end of March! And, since it’s also the end of the first quarter of 2019, this feels like a particularly significant creative check-in. I’m trying to focus on 90-day goals this year, or at least breaking down my bigger goals into smaller milestones, and… well, the end of March is my first big deadline of the year.

Wall hanging to display enamel pins, by Reghan Skerry.

Sketchbook #40

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

In a lot of ways, February is when my real work starts—even in a good year, it takes me a few weeks to find my routines and start moving forward again with my writing, or photography, or… whatever.

This year, February has been a very good month.

My goals going in were to move forward with the photo-a-day project I started at the end of January, to find my rhythms in Violet Lane and The Black Sun again, and to start making time for the creative hobbies I want to explore over the course of the year. (I was also hoping to make up my mind about Scrivener, and to start moving forward on my big scary photography goal again.)

Sketchbook #39

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

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.)

Looking ahead to 2019.

Art + Craft, Personal, Writing

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.

Vintage SLR cameras in my office by Reghan Skerry

The 2018 Reboot | Finale

Productivity

Technically speaking September was only four months ago.

But 2018 has been the longest year ever, and it feels like it was at least two years ago that I decided I needed to make some changes.

Back in August, every project I was working on had either stalled or was moving too slowly to see any real progress. My motivation had plummeted. I was in a rut, and I needed to get myself out of that rut, and I needed to figure out how to avoid falling into it again. And so in September, I came up with a short list of things I wanted to do by the end of the year. They weren’t huge goals—and they definitely weren’t dramatic—but it was about building a system that could support my bigger goals going into the future.

We’re fast approaching the end of the year, so it’s time to look back at how (and whether) my reboot has worked, and where I’m going from here.

The 2018 Reboot | Week 14 Check-In

Productivity

Almost there!

Next week, I’m going to do a complete end-of-year report on this reboot, looking at what did and didn’t work over the past few months, and what it means for the future.

For now, I’m just going to do a quick update on how I’ve been doing this week.


Clarify my long-term goals, in writing, photography, and in general.
My focus this week has been on my 2019 goals, rather than the true long-term goals, but I’m starting to feel good about this. Some of the short-term goals (and what I actively resist) are helping me figure out what I want to do long-term, and I’m choosing others that will help me narrow the focus even further over the course of the year. I’m also trying to choose goals and projects for next year that will move me in (mostly) the right direction, no matter what those long-term goals turn out to be.

Find a way to structure my time in order to support my bigger goals (creative and otherwise).
After taking a break last week to recover from NaNoWriMo, I’m back to work this week. (Still in a limited capacity, since the holiday chaos is slowly starting to take over my free time.) And, really, that’s one of the best metrics to judge this particular goal: I was able to dedicate one month almost entirely to writing, and another week to almost nothing, and I don’t feel like it’s broken my stride. I was able to get back to a routine that works for me without any real difficulty.

I’m ready to call this one ‘done,’ even if things are still sort of weird right now.

Develop workflows for writing and photography. And blogging.
I think I’ve made just about all the progress that I’m going to, at least for now.

Experiment with productivity and journalling systems, and find something that works for me.
I mentioned last week that I think I’ve finally landed on something that works. I’m still making tiny adjustments… and that’s fine, that’s half the point of building something for myself rather than relying entirely on a ready-made solution that’s almost (but never quite) perfect. As my circumstances and needs change, I can change my system

I’ve actively started setting things up for next year. I’ll give you a full tour… probably in January, once I’ve really lived with the final product for a few weeks.

Finish the work on the office.
I finally got rid of one of the stupid boxes I’ve been dragging around—never unpacked—through three different apartments!

… and that’s about all the work that’s going to get finished in here before the end of the year. (Maybe. I’ve got one small-but-deathly-dull project I’d kind of like to take care of in that time.) But progress has been made, and that’s what matters.

Sketchbook #38

Photography, Writing

… well, that was a month, wasn’t it?

Leaving aside NaNoWriMo for now (since I’ve been talking about it all month, and I’ll be talking about it even more on Friday; but if you do want a recap: the story has been fighting me, but I made it through), it… wasn’t too bad.

Not great, obviously. I didn’t get to work on a lot of things that I’d hoped to spend time on in November, like the next round of revisions on The Black Sun. Or photography.

But last month, I said that my mission for November was to sit down and think about what I really want to accomplish, in both writing and photography. Everything else aside, if I did that—or if I made significant progress with that—the month would be a good one. If you’ve been reading my reboot updates, you know by now that it hasn’t been easy; I haven’t really been in the mood for the necessary self-reflection, and I’ve been second-guessing myself a lot.

But I’m on the right track.

The 2018 Reboot | Week 12 Check-In

Productivity

Just a quick update this week, because… I kind of forgot that I was supposed to post this today, and my brain is fried from trying to meet my NaNoWriMo targets.


The goals:

Clarify my long-term goals, in writing, photography, and in general.
I finally feel like I’m making real progress here. I’m pretty clear on my writing goals, and I’ve got a good idea of what my personal/general goals are.

Photography… is a bit of a challenge, still. Partly because I love it all. (Or most of it—there are a couple of niches that I have absolutely no interest in, and never have.) There’s a big part of me that resists specializing, because I don’t want to limit my options. (Which is ridiculous, I know, because specializing in, say, landscapes doesn’t mean I’m never allowed to take another food photo in my life.)

Right now, it’s hard for me to really know what I want to focus on (pun 100% intended). More work is needed.

Find a way to structure my time in order to support my bigger goals (creative and otherwise).
Well… the whole month has been a revelation when it comes to time management. Not always in a good way, but even the less-successful bits have taught me a lot. Enough that I’m almost ready to consider it done. (On that note: this month’s ‘Sketchbook’ will be posted next week. Something had to give.)

But I’m going to wait, and see how the next few weeks work out, when I don’t have the pressures of November weighing on me, and when the temptation to just slack off for the rest of the year starts sneaking up on me. (I already know that I’m going to take a bit of a break next week to recover, but after that, I want to ease my writing schedule back to something a little more tolerable, while still working… mostly right up until the holidays. I might be a bit overoptimistic.)

Develop workflows for writing and photography. And blogging.
My update from last week still stands: I’m slowly getting there with writing, though it’s an ongoing process and I need to evaluate some stuff. Photography workflows rely on the type of photography I’m doing, so this is going to be on hold until I finish clarifying my goals.

Experiment with productivity and journalling systems, and find something that works for me.
Like my time management, I’m almost there, but not quite.

I’ve been making a few more adjustments to my system; at this point, it’s mostly a matter of streamlining my processes and experimenting with a few less-essential additions as I start thinking ahead to setting things up for next year. (I promise I’ll give you a full tour of all of this stuff as soon as I’m ready.)

Finish the work on the office.
Again: I’m still working on it, but progress is slowing down because of other commitments. I probably won’t be done by the end of the year, but I’m getting there.