Motivation :: and the Art of staying productive

How many times have I said "This Summer I am going to _____ " or "This weekend I am going to knock _____ and _____ off my to do list.."  ?

There are all sorts of organizational and motivational guides and jump-starts, from Apartment Therapy's January Cure to the ubiquitous Martha Stewart's Good Things for Organizing, but realistically, even if I get a good foundation, I rarely follow up. 


This is my desk right now, a dozen rolls of un-conquered film from California to the left on my lightbox and in the window, my lunch, coffee, piles of photographs, a moleskine filled with lists and one filled with ideas. 

Whether writing, archiving my photographs, or finishing a to-do list, managing my household and life has never been something I felt adept at - it always seemed so overwhelming. Recently, however, I have been trying to tackle those feelings of enormity, that the task at hand is too immense to complete. Because you know, in order to write, my desk has to be tidy. And in order to tidy my desk, my outdated mail has to be opened and filed. And in order to deal with that mail, I have to get online to pay some bills. And then I get stuck in that rabbit-hole... 

But realistically, if I can set my mind to one task and complete it, I feel a whole lot better, and ready to move on to the next, as opposed to half-finishing a bunch of stuff. 

That said, I'm focusing my energy this summer into #summerprojects in the simplest of ways. Every week I'm going to be listing the projects I aim to complete, and crossing some off. Some weeks might be as simple as a cleaning project or buying flowers for our home, then other weeks might be more involved: working through my archive chunk by digestible chunk or building something for one of my installations. 

It is my hope that by putting my intention out there (where I can hold myself a little more accountable because other people have seen it) will light a fire under my ass, motivate me to not only begin to be more productive, but complete the tasks I set out to do, rather than leaving a whole slew of half-finished ideas around. The year I did a 365 Photo Project I took more photographs than ever before. They weren't always the best, but the frequency kept me moving, progressing my skills and my understanding of how I work with the camera. I think Stevie Wonder said something about how he wrote every day and most of the songs sucked but every once in a while he'd write a good one (I just googled it and can't find a quote so maybe it wasn't Stevie Wonder... but still) and Pablo Picasso said "Inspiration exits, but it has to find you working." So yeah. 

Let's get this party started. 

Inspiration in the Rabbit Hole

the follen house Right now I should be writing about Rinko Kawauchi. Specifically Illuminance and her ability to offer the most intimate and poetic 6x6 images of the mundane, the macabre, and the tiny beautiful gestures which pepper our daily existence.

Instead I am getting myself deeper and deeper into what I lovingly refer to as an "internet rabbithole."

We all know the feeling. You start by checking your reader, (right now I'm using Feedly to replace the doomed Google Reader, but  if you have a better suggestion, please share!) which leads to a series of twists and turns and suddenly, you're at the end of a choose-your-own-adventure novel which has to have had a beginning, you just can't seem to recall it.

Sometimes this seemingly endless accidental consumption of more information inspires me, but more often it just makes me feel guilty. Guilty for not producing enough. For not publishing enough. For not being more inspired. It's a shame spiral. And that shame, while it could most definitely light a fire under my ass, mostly just makes me feel sad.

I'm a collector. I'm a magpie. But it isn't enough to be attracted to these wonderful, beautiful, shiny things; great art, impeccable style.. I want it all. I want to do every awesome DIY project, buy every great print, make more in general, and I think constantly "damn, why don't I do more of... I should write about... that isn't as good as my..." and of course, in the words of The Jealous Curator: "DAMN I WISH I THOUGHT OF THAT."

The thing is, though, that it's hard to absorb all this visual information and not immediately compare it to your life. It's not enough to apply bits and pieces, for me it has to be an all-out transformation or nothing. To clarify: if I'm writing a blog post about something, I can't just post it, I hem and haw over every detail until I'm convinced its stupid or boring or pointless and I don't post it. As if I have readers. As if anyone is judging me. And regarding my own artwork, I am a terrible editor. I can't, even after 10 years of considering myself "an artist," actually figure out some sort of statement-portfolio-identity which I feel is accurate and authentic to my aesthetic.

I digress. the reason I started writing was to point out that tonight, something changed. Maybe it had something to do with an email exchange with Vincent Serritella after reading about him on The Jealous Curator. We wrote about the state of the Art World and the necessity of giving art away for free. We thanked each other. We were transparent. In a world where emails are often unrequited, I felt held. Maybe it had to do with moving into our new apartment, or Spring finally coming to Boston. Whatever changed, I felt a little lighter.

I then comfortably spent the next few hours clicking: through Autumn de Wilde's amazing photographs without feeling jealous that she is Beck's go-to or had an intimate photographic relationship with the late Elliott Smith (OK maybe a liiiitttle jealous of that), which led me to Shirley Kurata, which led me to Nothing Major and so on and so forth. And the only thing I felt, other than admiration, was inspiration. No sinking feeling, just read, learn, go, do.

And so I wrote this post. That counts for something, right?