There are some advantages to not having to be at a job every day. In this sort of "time between the times" that I find myself, I am happy to have time to write and to take pictures. To exercise. To enjoy family and friends.
In fact, there've been moments in the past couple of weeks when I have wondered why I've not spent more time doing many of these things in the past. I think the operative excuse is that there hasn't been enough time. Too busy. However, I am now convinced that is indeed simply an excuse and has nothing to do with the real reasons I've not been doing these things.
This year, I started a "Project 365," a photography project in which I take, edit and post a fresh photo once per day for a year. This is forcing me to think about photography every day and actually helping me do a few other things in the process.
- Taking a picture every day is helping me to think about my day more. What about this day will be unique and significant? What is the one thing that I'd like to capture about this day? I've found this to be a helpful exercise.
- Taking a picture every day forces me to think about photography every day. I have to take the shot, and process the shot. So daily I am using my camera and using Aperture to process a picture. This is helping me to become a better technical photographer.
- Taking a picture every day also forces me to think about specifics, like lighting and composition. Every day. I find myself consciously looking at things and people that I might want to photograph. It might be a little annoying to my wife and other people I am with, at times. However, as a photographer, it makes me better, mainly because I am actually thinking about it.
- Taking a picture every day forces me to be more creative. I am working on this as I move through the year. Maybe I should take a self-portrait, or a long exposure. I could experiment with light painting or stranger portraits. Wide angle shots, or close-ups. When I read something new about a particular technique, doing a daily shot gives me multiple opportunities to try it out.
Some of the shots in my Project 365 are technically not that great, but I've included them because they are important pictures for me in a life sense. They carry emotional meaning. This project is forcing me to make decisions and to "ship" my work, at least from the perspective of making sure that my photography gets published to the Internet. It may be annoying for some of my Facebook friends, but it's okay. That's what "unfriend" is for, and that's okay with me. I'm not doing this for Facebook, anyway. I am doing this for me.
I'm also starting a similar practice with writing. I am trying to get the habit of writing at least 500 words every day. That's not a lot. There are more than 500 words in this blog. Some days I may write more, but the point is that it's a daily exercise. My desire is to be a better writer and a better photographer. The only way to do that is to do the work of writing and photography. It's all too easy to spend time reading about it. But reading about anything isn't going to necessarily make any of us better at doing things. Again, in all likelihood there will be very few who actually read anything that I write. But, I need this more than anyone else.
To get better at anything, I am fairly certain that we must actually do the work. Every day.
Endnote: Steven Pressfield's books on this subject have really been a kick in the seat of the pants related to all of this. I highly recommend his book "The War of Art" along with the "Do the Work" and "Turning Pro." These books were exactly what I needed to assess where I am, where I want to be and how I ought to get there, in the area of creativity in my life.