Close-up of a camera, with a plant visible through the viewfinder. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

Announcing Project366 for 2019/2020!

Photography

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.

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.

2017 Project365 #352 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #351-357

Photography

We’re coming down to the last days of the year, and it feels so weird. I’ll have more to say next week, with my final post for this particular project (and my plan for next year’s project), but for now: I really like every single picture I took this week. Even the ones that aren’t perfect (the meringues, for one… and the NaNoWriMo pin is a little boring. Well. The picture is. The pin itself is lovely). It was a good week.

Also, apparently I was in the top 1% of readers on Pocket this year. (I read the equivalent of 80-something books? In addition to the actual books I read.) So that’s kind of cool, and I really like the sticker.

2017 Project365 #355 (version 2) | Reghan Skerry

Happy Holidays!

Admin, Personal

Whatever you celebrate (even if that’s just a few days off), I hope it’s a good one.

I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from the blog and most social media until 2 January. I’ll still be on Instagram, and my last(!) two Project 365 posts will arrive on schedule, but that’s all. (I’ll be checking email occasionally, but I’m not likely to respond until after the new year, unless I decide it’s an absolute emergency.)

It’s time to take a step back, enjoy the holidays, and then spend some time figuring out what comes next.

See you in 2018!

2017 Project365 #332 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #330-336

Photography

The days are getting shorter and gloomier. Pretty much all the fall colours have faded, leaving behind shades of muddy brown and grey. And I’ve been doing this project for almost an entire year—so it’s starting to feel like I’ve taken pictures of everything even remotely interesting in my apartment.

What I’m trying to say is: this is getting really difficult, and I’m kind of looking forward to the end of it.

And that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma, because at the same time, I really love this project. It’s been frustrating and boring and I love that it’s forced me to work through all of that and still take photos. And if you catch me in the right mood, I will absolutely say that I’ll do it again next year.

Except.

I want to do something different. I still want to do a year-long project of some kind, and I still want an excuse (and motivation) to post something every day. But I’d like to find a way to do it that pushes me as a photographer, that makes me think about the art and craft of photography, rather than just finding something to take a picture of every day.

So! I don’t know what my plan is for next year, only that it’s going to be a little different. Or very different. One or the other. In the meantime, I’ve still got this project to finish.

2017 Project365 #319 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #315-329

Photography

I didn’t get a chance to post my Project 365 photos last weekend, for a number of reasons. (And I’m probably going to be a day or two late on this month’s sketchbook post.) But that’s ok: I’m still staying on top of the project in general, and this particular group of photos feels like it works as a set.

Just over a month left to go in the year. I’ve got thoughts on this project (so many thoughts!), and I’ll go into them as the year winds down. Right now, I’m thinking about whether I’m going to try another 365 next year (probably), and how I’m going to approach it if I do (almost definitely differently).

I’m starting to come up with some of my own ideas, but nothing’s set in stone just yet. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

2017 Project365 #310 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #309-315

Photography

I’m getting back into my groove with this project, just in time for the short, grey, dreary days of November. Awesome.

Seriously, though. I’m feeling pretty good about my photos lately. I’m finding a good middle ground between writing and photography, which is something I’ve been trying to do… since last November, actually. And, because we’re so close to the end of the year and suddenly all I can think about is setting goals and making plans, I’m really happy with that.

2017 Project365 #307 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #302-308

Photography

National Novel Writing Month is an intense experience, creatively. And I love it for that. I love that it forces me to sit down and write—which is something I want to be doing anyway, but never seem to make the time for.

The downside? It’s an intense experience, creatively. Especially at the beginning, when I’m still finding my way into the story, it uses up pretty much all of my creative energy.

It’s getting easier, now. A full week in, and I’m getting to a point where I can spend a few hours a day writing, and not need to spend the rest of the day decompressing. I can think about the other stories I’m working on, and I can think about photography again.

Which is really just a long-winded way of saying some of these pictures are a bit boring, and I’m sorry for that. (That’s the other thing about NaNo: it gets really tempting to use more words than strictly necessary.)

Sketchbook #28

Writing

It turns out that getting three colds in the span of a month—and dropping Thanksgiving in the middle of that—doesn’t exactly do wonders for my creativity or productivity.

Who knew?

So… yeah. October wasn’t a fantastic month.

Really, I’m fine with it. It wasn’t great, but in general, I’m happy with what I have been getting done under the circumstances.

Of course, my highest priority this month has been writing—or, rather, outlining. NaNoWriMo starts in two days (!!!), and… I’m ready. My outline might not be as complete as I’d hoped it’d be (it’s definitely not as complete as I’d hoped it’d be), but it’s solid. I’ve got a good grasp of my characters, and my scene breakdown is done, and my worldbuilding is as good as it needs to be right now.

As for photography: I’m back on schedule with my Project 365 photos! I really don’t know how I did it, or how I’ve stayed on top of things, but I’m back on track, and I intend to stay there for the rest of the year.

It’s only two months. I can do that.

Aside from that project, I haven’t been able to take very many photos this month. The inspiration and motivation just haven’t been there, and, let’s be honest: one of my 365 photos was literally a blank wall. (Well. The corner where two blank walls meet, because I had to include some kind of visual interest.)

… and that’s about it. That’s all the creative work I’ve done this month.

That part annoys me. I mean, I can give myself a pass for this month. I had valid reasons for not doing much in October. But in general, I haven’t been happy with my creative output lately: I haven’t done any sewing in months (my half-finished bag is hanging in the closet, waiting for troubleshooting), I haven’t drawn anything in ages, and aside from my NaNo prep and a bit of freewriting, I haven’t been spending nearly as much time writing as I’d like to be.

We’re also getting close enough to the end of the year that I’ve started thinking ahead to 2018… and evaluating what I’ve done in 2017.

I know that my goalsetting/productivity habits aren’t cutting it right now. I know that the bullet journal system—as much as I like it in theory—doesn’t quite work for me in practice. I’ve started experimenting with some modifications that I hope will work for me (or at least lead me in the right direction), but I’m still trying to figure out what I actually need, let alone how to get there.

Maybe November isn’t the time to be thinking about this, but maybe it is. One of my NaNo goals is to firmly establish a creative habit that genuinely works for me, and that I won’t abandon as soon as the draft is finished. And, like I said: there’s only two months left in the year. I’d like to get myself back on track in time for the new year.

So. That’s the plan for November: make it through NaNo, ideally with a nearly-finished draft. (I’m still not 100% certain how long my story is going to be, but I know that it’s more than 50,000 words.) Try to do it in a way that doesn’t throw everything else into disarray, and that I can sustain through the holidays, and into the new year. (While I’m at it: reread last year’s story and start outlining the rewrite.) Continue to stay on top of the 365 project, and try to take pictures that aren’t just for that particular thing.

In general, just find my focus, and figure out how to do the work I want to be doing.