Weekly Status: June 8, 2018

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week (maybe a couple of days late!)  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from my updates some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing

Blogging

As a result of the progress I was making on my fiction writing, I made the conscious decision to let the novel flow without interruption from other projects this week.  I started two posts when I needed a break from the novel, so they are queued up for posting soon.  I also spent my downtime this week brainstorming other post ideas to alleviate some of the rush to get my five weekly posts published.  

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I found my flow getting back into the novel I had started re-outlining.  I’ve tried being a pantster, an outliner, a Snowflaker, and a Story Gridder.  After following the Story Grid podcast and reading the book I desperately wanted to follow the Story Grid method, but for me Story Grid alone is not enough.  I discovered that I am a Snowflaker at heart.  The flow of the steps draws out and helps me clarify and strengthen my ideas.  Everything I learned from Story Grid is impacting how I approach each step in the Snowflake Method.  As I get into and complete my first draft, I am certain Story Grid will be a well worn tool to get me to the final draft.  This week I probably hit at least eight hows of dedicated work on my novel, therefore to keep momentum I’m bumping up my target by 3 hours.

The second writing project I haver this week is to come up with an idea for the Write Practice and Short Fiction Break’s summer writing contest.  The entry deadline is July 10th with the first draft due for workshopping on the 16th, so I’ve got to get working.

Next week’s target:  6 hours working through the Snowflake Method

Photography

Again, I didn’t spend any time on photography this week.  I’ll keep it on the list in case I jump into it in my spare time.  The quick tutorials are great for filling a waiting minute.

Next week’s target:  Playing around for as much time as I want

Coding

I realized my data storage method was not working so I began investigating the best approach for data structures that are more complex than used in most Swift tutorials.  My goal this week is to determine the best method and outline a plan to implement the method into my project.

Next week’s target:  Develop and Outline new data structure

Videography

Focus on my novel too precedence this week so I was not able to map out the project in Motion based on the current draft of the script.  I’m putting this on the side burner for now to keep pace on my novel.

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project using placeholders.

When juggling multiple projects do you feel guilty neglecting one for another?  Does positive momentum in one project build your overall confidence?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Weekly Status: June 29, 2018

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Photo by vedanti on Pexels.com

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week.  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from my updates some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

Writing

Blogging

I think lowering my target posts by one took a bit of pressure off me this week although I struggled a bit to get my fifth post in, probably because I had a false sense of ease to accomplish my goal.  I know five posts per week fits well into my work, home and creativity schedule, I know now that I cannot take the effort I need to put forth in my posts for granted.  

Next week’s target: Post 5 of 7 days

Fiction

I spent quite a bit of time this past weekend working on my novel.  I set aside a few specific times to work on my writing and committed to writing, outlining, or thinking about writing while avoiding doing absolutely anything else.  I did some of the writing outside and when I had that urge to check my e-mail or jump over to a browser, I held myself back and just stared at the trees and clouds until I could refocus on writing.  I am now working on setting aside more time during the week to work on my novel and other writing projects.

Next week’s target:  3 hours brainstorming and outlining

Photography

No photography work again this week, but at least I don’t feel guilty for leaving this out.  Maybe I’ll have time and an urge to play around in the next few days.

Next week’s target:  Playing around for for as much time as I want

Coding

I completed the rework of one my main views to a static view, at least everything that was in the dynamic view.  This week I will be working on adding even more components to the project in this view.  My plans are getting a bit complex but the good part for me is that each piece can be segmented into smaller chunks.  Not only does this makes it easier to work on but as I complete each segment I am rewarded with the satisfaction of making real progress.

Next week’s target:  Complete three more sections in the static tableview

Videography

Although I’ve completed the script I have not jumped back into the Motion project yet.  I expect to spend time this week mapping out the project with placeholders to see how the flow works.  This will also provide some basic Motion practice since I am still quite the novice and it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done anything in motion.

Next week’s target:  Map out the entire project using placeholders.

Have you started any new creative projects?  How are you fitting these in to your likely already packed life?

More Misses than Hits: My Weekly Update

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week.  Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

abstract accuracy accurate aim

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing

Blogging

I fell short of my target and only had four posts this week.  This first week of summer activities from outdoor chores to fun after work weekly activities ate in to my writing time.  I’ve taken a look at how these activities impact my writing time and have adjusted my writing schedule to accommodate them.  I know with these adjustments I can hit my goal of six posts this coming week.  I certainly don’t want to miss out on the summer fun!

Next week’s target: Post 6 of 7 days

Fiction

I had little time for my novel but was a able to complete a Flash Fiction piece which I posted on Wednesday.  I’m not sure I’ll be spending much time outside in the 90 degree heat and high humidity this weekend, so my novel will be at the forefront of projects I will work on this weekend.

Next week’s target:  3 hours brainstorming and outlining

Photography

I spent a couple hours rewatching some of the Affinity Photo Video Tutorials.  I want to keep learning and have found that I get more out of each tutorial on a second and third view.  Much of this comes from a better understanding of the overall process and being able to take what I learn from one  tutorial to help me better understand others.

Next week’s target:  1 to 2 hours of tutorials and practice

Coding

I worked through most of the UICollectionView tutorial I wanted to complete this week.  My next step is incorporating what I learned in my own project.

Next week’s target:  3 hours, minimum with the goal of understanding Collection Views

Videography

I’m still working on the script for my Motion project.  I am targeting completion again this week because I am at a stage where I don’t want to put too much work into the Motion project until I have a clear understanding of the storyline.  I’m sure as I dig in to the actual animation I’ll have some story tweaks here and there but what I want to avoid is major structure changes.

Next week’s target:  Complete the script

I hope you are finding success with your own projects.  I’d be interested in knowing how you stay on target to complete your projects.

Staying on Target: My Weekly Update

To keep myself accountable, I have chosen to post about my creative progress each week. Although you may not be invested in the details of my progress (or lack thereof), I hope you can take from some ideas on developing your own personal accountability method.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Writing

Blogging

I’m proud of the fact that I have posted five times over the first seven days in June. With renewed commitment to my blog, I planned to post six of seven days. I nearly reached my goal for this first week. To stay on target, I am starting out the next seven days with this post on schedule, two more drafted and another sketched out.

Next week’s target: Post 6 of 7 days

Fiction

Getting back into my fiction project has been a struggle. I decided to go back to my first successful NaNoWriMo project from several years ago. That November I wrote 50,000 words without an outline, so it’s incomplete and quite a mess. I love the idea of this book and am now returning to outline the story. My biggest hurdle is the middle. It’s always been the middle. I have a clear picture in my mind of the beginning and the end, but the middle is causing me fits. Each time I sit down to work on the outline I am easily distracted.

Next week’s target: 3 hours uninterrupted brainstorming and outlining

Photography

I spent a few hours viewing Affinity Photo Video Tutorials and applying what I learned to my own images. I’m improving on a technical level and in my understanding of how to select and apply adjustments. There is still so much to learn, particularly on the “whys” and “whens”—for example, why should I use a curve adjustment over an exposure or brightness adjustment, or when should I apply a high pass filter first? More about this in tomorrow’s post.

Next week’s target: 1 to 2 hours of tutorials and practice

Videography

My current project is a Motion piece for the senior pet rescue where my wife works. I am currently doing some testing of the action sequences and drafting the script. As I move along in the script, I am realizing this is more of an undertaking than I originally pictured. I have figured out some motion paths and a cool particle effect but these still need loads of fine detail work. As a draft, I am liking how it is coming together. The rescue just began construction on their new shelter buildings this week, and I would love them to use this as a promo video about their new permanent home so time is of the essence to complete this project well before they move in.

Next week’s target: Complete the script

Coding

I dedicated most of my free time to blogging this week to ensure I met that goal. Not much time was left for other pursuits so coding fell by the wayside. Unfortunately, at my learning stage of coding, not keeping up with learning and practice results in significant steps backwards.

Next week’s target: 3 hours, minimum with the goal of understanding Collection Views

 

Good luck with your personal goals for the week. I will post an update on my target progress next Friday.  I’m interested to hear more about the projects you are working on, so feel free to share in the comments.

Why Midlife Creativity

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I started Midlife Creativity because I needed a place to be more creativity than I could be in my career and busy home life. I missed my creative side which I mostly forced to the back of my personality since graduating from college. Recently, I longed to express my creative side which re-emerged through writing, something I never explored much in my younger days. I could feel it growing inside me. It was something I yearned to do.

Beginnings

My creative path through life stemmed from being a child of the 70s, a teen of the 80s and emerging into adulthood in the 90s. As a child creativity was ingrained in me. Parents and teachers encouraged our imaginations, exploration, and questions. They left us to figure out life by being kids. We had some responsibilities, but nothing like what you see with some kids today. We were kids, and we acted like it.
Moving into the teen years, the world changed around us. It became more of a push to discover what career you wanted followed by years of studying to make your career choice a reality. The pressure was on to be more successful than your family before you. I never felt that pressure from my family but in many respects I felt it from my peers, teachers and other grown-ups.
In college, even creative subjects were about turning these skills into a career. As a film/television major it didn’t seem like the best way to develop creativity in society. Luckily this approach has changed in the twenty-five years since I graduated. My focus at the time, from the pressure I felt to build a career, had always been on the business side of film. I used my creative side for the required individual and group projects, but, looking back, I never expressed it to its full potential at the time.

What is Midlife Creativity?

Everyone needs creative outlets. Life cannot be all work and responsibilities. Creativity is fun. It’s new. It’s originating. It’s problem solving. Creativity is too many things to name but emerges through your passions and your interests. It’s vital to a well rounded life regardless of how you personally express your own creativity.
“Midlife” means accepting that no matter your current stage in life, whether you’re twenty-something or ninety-something, you can always reignite your creative spark. Forget that you may have pushed creativity out of your life due to time and other commitments. The time is now to take it back.
I don’t think of “midlife” as a midpoint in time. I think of “midlife” as a turning point, a fork in life’s road. It is here where we make a choice to commit some of the time in our busy schedules to develop, grow and learn new or old creative pursuits, giving them the time they deserve.

Which fork will I take?

I’ve committed myself to the several creative pursuits; probably too many to take on at one time but they have all become my passions—writing, coding, videography and photography. Who knows what I may take up next year.
I have two main goals for this blog. First, to scream to the world that it doesn’t matter when you begin or restart your creative journey. What matters is that you take that first step and every step thereafter to create the best work you can.
Second, to develop a creative community. Creativity can be lonely. We create within ourselves before putting the ideas to canvas, paper, clay, or the pixels of an electronic device. Having a community to support and provide feedback before releasing our work into the world can make all the difference to one’s success. Midlife Creativity can be such a community by helping each other experience the freeing sensation of letting our work out into the world where it can have an impact others.
I want this site to be a beacon of hope for those who need to express their creative side but feel it may be too late. It’s never too late to do what you want in life. Pick up your pen, brush or stylus. Turn to a blank page in a notebook, open a laptop, set up your tripod or place a canvas on an easel. You’re Ready. You’re Set. Now Go! Be creative.

Will you join me on this journey? What creative pursuits ignite your passions and what new ones have you longed to learn?

Resolution Time, Again

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2018 is going to be a new year for me. I’ve said it before (probably even on this blog). You may have said it before, and we all could probably name a few people who we’ve heard say it before. For me, this year is going to be different for a couple of reasons. I have a new attitude and a new approach to making positive changes in my life.

The skeptic in me keeps asking, “how could your attitude transform as simply as the year changes on the calendar?” As I ponder his query (and yes, I’m aware arguing with myself is not always the best use of my time), I realize my attitudue has been evolving over several months now. Due to a very emotionally exhausting experience early this fall, my attitude has fluctuated between investing more time in my creative pursuits or just pluggin through life at my normal job. What the change in year gives us is a powerful line in the sand past which we can fully enact a change. Its a fresh start, a new beginning, or it can even be a do over.

I’m a goal setter and a resolution maker. This year it occurred to me that apparently I am better at establishing personal levels of achievement more than actually fulfilling these goals. I don’t beat myself up when I miss them because I can seemingly rationalize away the defeat by focusing on the other things I have achieved or new goals I have already set in my mind.

I am bound and determined to make a change in this personal process this year so I am taking a new approach. Rather than set very specific goals as I have done in prior years I am taking the lead from Scott Adams’ book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life”. Adams says in his book, “goals are for lossers”, so this year I will establish systems. The difference between goals and systems, Adams explains, is that goals have a very specific outcome or ending while systems are things or processes you carry out every day that could, and in many cases should, go on indefinitely.

For 2018, I choose to focus on three systems – Learning, Organization, Completion. Rather than set a list of highly specific goals at the beginning of a long year bound and determined to morph from month to month, I changing my approach to set up three systems that will allow me to succeed this year even as my ideas, interest and available “me” time adjusts under the influence of external stimuli.

As of today, some of the things I would like to learn this year are Apple’s Motion software, Affinity Photo (an affordable Photoshop alternative), and advanced Swift programming. I’m afraid if I set out specific goals for all three items I would not sufficiently succeed in some of these goals. I might also purposely avoid an opportunity to switch gears should a new interest arise. By focusing on “Learning” I will be successful when I make progress on each and every new task I undertake related to learning.

I chose organization and completion as two additional systems. To make lifestyle improvements I see these system going together like peanut butter and jelly. I tend to jump around from task to task in both my profesional and personal responsibilities., so improving my organzational abilities will lead to seeing more projects all the way through to completion.

Even though this first post of the year is over a week past that all important calendar change, I have already made strides toward these goals. So far this year, I have been excited everyday to put my new systems to use. The key to my success is execution, continued execution.

Have you set any resolutions this year? I’d love to hear about your approach to success in 2018 in the comments section.

My Favorite Excuse

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Many have used it. Some use it too often. I’ll bet we’ve all heard others lay it out there. Personally, I have thought and even uttered these words aloud far too often.

“Life got in the way.”

With so many different flavors of this same, old excuse, I’ll admit I’ve put some of these to use as well.

“Work has been crazy”

“Other responsibilities took precedence”

“I didn’t have time to fit it in”

For the last couple of years I have had strong desire to write. Fiction, non-fiction, journalling and blogging have all played a part in this dream. I think about it daily, yet I don’t act. I assumed I could develop a good writing habit by blogging. Regularly blogging should be an excellent way to develop, practice and expand my writing abilities. The blog also provided the important opportunity to share my writing publicly in a relatively safe space. By choosing the WordPress community I knew my blog would gain some notice by other bloggers, a mostly positive and encouraging group in my experience, yet remain relatively hidden until I actively publicized my work. The initial likes for my posts were a great encouragement to continue. I attempted posting regularly, but for me this was not often enough to consider myself a blogger, and I could not find the time to draft, edit and post even weekly. Eventually the posts dribbled down to once a month before abandoning all but the idea of the blog.

Life got in the way.

And here is the thing, the Life that got in the way isn’t the life I dream of. The Life in my way is the life of requirements, of responsbilities, of duty. Dreams and desires don’t play much of a role in the LIfe that always seems to get in the way. But, they should!

Just because writing doesn’t pay the bills, keep the house clean and keep my family safe and secure, does not mean it is any less important than these other priorities. What writing does for each of us is very personal. It may allow us to express our inner most thoughts in a safe way that otherwise would remain secret forever. It allows us to share the stories in our heads bursting to get out that would likely never be told. It allows us to be creative when the rest of our life isn’t. Whatever your personal reasons are for writing, remember they are important, they should be priorities and, most of all, there should be a place for them in your life.

Someday I want to say, “hey, I was going to vaccum the living room, but life got in the way.” When I can apply this excuse to these required, yet uninspiring responsbiliites, I will know that the Life of this excuse is my life of writing.

For now, I have crammed this excuse in a box and hid it in the attic so I can be serious about my writing. It will take significant effort to keep the excuse secure. Strong excuses have ways of slipping out of the thickest box even when wrapped in several layers of chains and locks.

As I catch myself using any flavor of these excuses, I stop and ask myself, “Why?” What made the other items on my list so much more important than writing? What did I spend my time doing that stole my focus, but wasn’t a priority? How could I have managed my time and energy better?

It isn’t life that is in my way; it’s these excuses.

What is your favorite excuse keeping you from putting the time you want toward your creative pursuits? Please share your thoughts in the comments, below.