I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into May.
I finished April feeling good about how I was approaching my goals. I was feeling really good about the first draft of The Black Sun and my writing routine in general, but not so great about Violet Lane. And kind of awful about my photography. And I wasn’t exactly clear on my goals for May; I knew I wanted to keep moving forward, but beyond that…?
So I have no real metrics with which to judge May. Vague emotional impressions, it is!
I had one big goal in April: to get over the ennui and inertia of March and find my focus again. (So… nothing too big, then?)
I think I succeeded. Mostly.
The first step was reviewing and revising my long-term goals, and figuring out how to keep them top-of-mind. And that’s actually been the biggest change I’ve made this month: I’ve completely changed the way I set and keep track of my goals, and I’m working to modify the ways I juggle day-to-day tasks and projects. I’ve taken some big steps, but the whole thing still feels very much like a work-in-progress; I’m still making little changes, and figuring out the flaws in my new systems, but I do feel like I’m (finally) on the right track. (I’ll go into more detail later, once I’ve ironed out the kinks. The whole thing feels like it merits its own post.)
That’s the general. And I’ll be honest: the general is working better than the specific for me right now.
When it comes to the big picture, I have a three-month attention span.
It takes three months for that initial burst of energy and enthusiasm to fade.
It takes three months to lose sight of my big goals, and get bored with the day-to-day grind required to achieve them. Three months to start to question whether those goals are actually possible, and whether I’ve got the drive to see them through. Three months to start thinking ’I don’t feel like writing today. I’ll make it up tomorrow.’
In other words, March was difficult.
February was one of those months that just… didn’t work for me. That one week in the middle - something like a vacation, but not quite - threw me off my game for the entire month. I had a hard time being productive the week before (because I knew I’d be taking a break, so I didn’t want to build momentum only to lose it again), and I struggled to find my stride again after.
I really need to find a way to work around interruptions like that. They’re a real struggle for me, and I’ve never been able to figure out a way to integrate them into my creative process.
If January taught me anything, it’s that I need to have some kind of well-defined photography project if I’m going to keep shooting. And I need to make a public commitment to that project. Without those two things, I really struggle to stay on track with any of my photography goals.
In other words, it wasn’t a good month for me as a photographer.
I keep sitting down to write this post, and it keeps not happening. There’s part of me that feels like it’s not time, yet: I haven’t finished writing the story, so how can I possibly think about any of this objectively? I didn’t write the postmortem for last year’s project until I’d finished the draft, and that worked out well enough. But this isn’t about the story, it’s about the experience.
And this year was a very different experience from last year.
I went in confident that I could do it. Last year was... I won’t say “easy,” but it was fairly straightforward. I wrote nearly every day, and I stayed pretty much on-target as far as word-count went, and then I crashed as soon as I hit 50K, because I’d had a cold for the last few days of the month and the only thing that kept me going was stubbornness.
This year wasn’t like that. At all.
It turns out that getting three colds in the span of a month - and dropping Thanksgiving in in the middle of that - doesn’t exactly do wonders for my creativity or productivity.
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.
Well. I did say that September was going to be a busy month, didn’t I?
First off: I’ve made up my mind on my NaNoWriMo project. I’m going to stick with my original plan (a new story that I’m really excited about), and leave the rewrite until later.
Looking back, I can split August into two distinct creative phases: for the first couple of weeks, everything was... slow. I was getting some work done, but not as much as I wanted, and I wasn't really into any of it.
Mostly, it was because I had a week's vacation scheduled for the middle of the month, and I didn't want to get too deep into anything, only to lose my momentum. It wasn't a conscious thing, but... I know that it was there. (It's kind of a habit for me, and not one I'm happy with.)
That said: the vacation was actually helpful.
July has actually been a really good month for me, from a creative standpoint.
I know. I’m surprised, too. Lately, I’ve started every one of these check-ins with a sigh about how weird things have been, but July… actually went well. Mostly. I mean, it didn’t start well, but the last few weeks… I’m really happy with the work I’ve been doing.