Over the weekend, we had quite a heatwave. Here in western Pennsylvania, that means humidity on top of the high temperatures, and while many of the communities around my area received afternoon rains to ease that humidity, mine did not. When I woke up this morning, however, it was to the sound of rain and temperatures more than twenty degrees (F) below what we had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Perfect weather to sit down with a large mug of tea and my laptop for an extensive writing session.
Many of us who engage in creative pursuits on top of having a day job and various social/family obligations can often find it frustrating trying to eek out enough free time to devote to our projects. When we do get free time, sometimes we struggle to utilize it. Creative blocks often come when we just don't have the energy to focus on our creative goals. But when the stars do manage to align and we have both the free time and the energy to create, we can fall into another problem. Sometimes we can become so immersed in our projects that we forget to take time for ourselves.
With July here, another session of Camp NaNoWriMo has started. Normally I don't bother with NaNoWriMo anymore; I find setting word count goals runs counter to how I prefer to work. But this month, I'm using Camp NaNo to explore some new writing projects I've been putting off in favor of making progress on established stories. For me, NaNoWriMo is a good excuse to explore plots and scenarios that I've never written about before but would like to try.
The other evening, I was browsing through some of my wildlife photography, looking for shots to share with a friend. I have thousands of photos I've taken over the years, and for the first time, I recognized the amount of improvement I've made. Although I still end up with my fair share of crappy shots when I take my camera for a hike, the quality of the photos worth keeping has grown.
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.
I'm away for work training this week, which means my days will be filled with hours of seminars and way too much food for the level of inactivity we'll be forced to endure. Caffeine will be in high demand but do little to improve our levels of alertness during the various sessions. In the evenings, … Continue reading Distractions Left Behind
March can be a frustrating time in western Pennsylvania. Spring weather intersperses with winter temperatures, teasing residents with the promise of warmth and sun one day only to have the next day requiring winter coats once again. Buds on the trees start to swell, and if the warmer temps stick around for too many days in a row, they may even start to grow leaves before the final snow of winter falls. Other signs of spring include the return of migratory birds, such as turkey vultures, killdeer, and red-winged blackbirds. And the spring peepers, a tiny native tree frog, have been singing for several days in the wetlands now.
This weekend, western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region had to deal with some relatively common winter weather. So most people in our region spent the weekend at home, avoiding the cold as much as possible. I took advantage of the long, uneventful hours by working on some fanart. I know I should have probably spent part of the weekend writing or editing, but it's been nearly a year since I took time to work on a piece solely for my enjoyment. And the time spent on sketching, painting, and coloring helped distract my mind from other things.
One of the things that I've found helps me in my editing (particularly dialogue) is when I assign a specific voice to my characters. This may be a celebrity or a person I know from life, but no matter where the voice comes from, it's always distinctive to me. Someone I've heard talk a lot. Someone who I've seen and heard express a wide range of emotions.
So with the start of November on Thursday, we will once again see the start of NaNoWriMo. I have yet to decide if I'm participating formally or not, but I do see a number of writers on social media gearing up for their projects. I love the encouragement and community that NaNoWriMo and its additional camps creates for writers both new and old, but the writing process itself, pushing to hit daily word count goals, doesn't work well for me.