Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I’ve captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don’t often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all.
Some of my camera walks I’ve done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day’s set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.
At the end of a day’s worth of photo editing, I feel like I’ve accomplished very little. Yes, the photos are ready for printing and/or sharing, but nobody but me has seen them at that point. And if I decide to print them, there will still be work to do in the realms of matting and framing before they’re ready to share with friends, family, and the public. So although I can spend several hours editing a couple hundred photos, it still feels like the process is only half-finished to me.
There are other creative pursuits that can leave the creator with a similar feeling. Editing a novel manuscript is an obvious example. Many writers, even after months of going through their stories with a fine-toothed comb, will continue to find paragraphs, sentences, and scenes they feel could use improvement. (Some authors will admit to finding flaws they wish to fix even after the novel has been published.)
Painting and drawing can lead to frustrations for artists wanting to improve their skills. It can be difficult to stop comparing their efforts’ results to the completed works of artists they admire and wish to emulate. But skills take time to develop, and going through the process of practicing with paints, pencils, and pens can be tedious. Improvements are not easy to see from one week to the next and may take years to reach the desired skill-level.
What we all need to keep in mind while pursuing our creative endeavors is that nothing worth doing will be done in a single day. If we want to express ourselves through artistic pursuits, then we need to have patience. Whether the skills we’re using are in their infancy or have been honed with years of practice, none of us can work faster than what our own hands and minds can produce minute to minute or hour to hour. Rushing our efforts hampers our skills and our concentration. So we need to focus on what we can accomplish in a given day and make sure we’re building a solid foundation for tomorrow’s pursuits.