The sun is shining, I had great creative photography excursion yesterday and last week’s pause is at an end. I have a great view today, but it’s a changing view. I’ve come through the other side of my little break but not without making some important discoveries.
You see, there was more to the pause than my Mom visiting for a week. Underlying the feeling was a growing sense of dissatisfaction with some elements of my creative life. It was as if I was seeing through a dirty window but could sense something more on the other side. After journaling about it the last few days and making some mental shifts and decisions, I want to share them here.
For a little while now, I’ve felt as if I’m not using my creative time on what I want to be using it for. Here I’ve arranged my whole schedule, working part time at my corporate job and all, to give myself more creative time. And yet I’ve filled it with my “to do” list. Always more to do, isn’t there?
So I’ve taken a look at what I want to be doing with my time and what I have been doing with my time to see what is causing the tension. Based on that, I will be making some changes to create the space I feel I need to continue to grow.
What I want to be doing…
I want to continue to develop my art. I want to spend more time in developing my own aesthetic through study, creation of new work and exploration of print. How I do that is ever-changing and up in the air at the moment, but it requires time.
I want to be hiking in the forest regularly, for my mental and physical health. There is something about being among the trees that brings me peace and makes me feel alive. I want to do more of it, several mornings a week at least.
I want to continue to connect with other artists, both in person and online. The connection and inspiration I find through running my eCourses, my blog, Photo-Heart Connection, the Liberate Your Art postcard swap and interacting with local photography friends are all important and valuable to me, and I can see the value to others as well. I need time to develop these meaningful relationships.
What I have been doing…
I have been spending a lot of time with writing things that aren’t necessarily aligned with my personal goals listed above. Things like trying to blog daily, send a newsletter twice a month, and the Exploring with a Camera blog series. All are things that have been an important part of my creative journey in the past, but they don’t seem to fit the same way they once did.
My intention in the future is to blog when I have something meaningful to say, rather than as a daily routine or weekly/monthly schedule. I think the quality of what I share will improve, even if the frequency lessens. The one schedule thing that you can be sure of: Photo-Heart Connection will continue on the first of each month. Beyond that, I could be here 5 days a week or 1 day a week; we’ll just see what happens.
Exploring with a Camera is going on hiatus for a while. While I love this series and have never written one exploration I didn’t fully enjoy, as I look to the future I’m not sure I still have the inspiration to continue. At least, as I look at my personal schedule for the next few months, I feel overwhelmed when I think of this series rather than enthused. Beyond a few months, I’ll see how I feel. In addition to my own personal reservations for coming months, participation has been steadily declining over time, so I wonder if there is still interest out there. What I spend my time sharing needs to be valuable to both me and others, or there is no point in spending all of the time it takes to write if it’s not useful.
My newsletter will go to once a month for a while, too. I love being able to connect with more people through this method of communication, but it takes a lot more of my time than I’ve wanted to acknowledge. I also have to admit I’ve been overwhelmed by all that comes to my email inbox of late and I think about that for all of my subscribers too. I want any email I send you to be important and useful, not just because it’s on a twice-a-month schedule. Going down to once a month saves me the time of creating the newsletter and the burden on all of your email inboxes, while still keeping in touch in this great way.
I will also be changing my class schedule to give myself some more time off over the summer. Summer is gorgeous, but too short, in Oregon. I need to spend more time outside and less on the computer. It doesn’t affect any eCourses in progress or A Sense of Place (planned for April-May – registration opens VERY soon), but it will affect the schedule for the rest of 2013 beyond May. As I sort it out and finalize dates I will keep you informed through my blog, website and newsletter.
I feel good about these decisions and know they will allow me the time and the space for new things to grow. I’m seeing a little more clearly now, thanks to the pause and the needed introspection. I found out what was on the other side of that murky window I was looking through last week. It’s looking pretty interesting, too!
Admitting some of these feelings to myself and deciding to make these changes has been an internal struggle. Many of these decisions run counter-intuitive to the common wisdom of running an online business, much of which advises regular interaction on a high frequency through as many channels as possible. The changes also mean mixing up things that have clearly worked for me in the past, and that’s always uncomfortable.
My heart is telling me to throw that common wisdom out the window and that it’s time for a new way of doing things. If I’m not spending the time I need to grow myself creatively — in the direction my heart tells me — then I’m not going to add anything useful to the conversation. And more than anything, I want to add something useful to the conversation of art, creativity and photography. For myself and for all of you.