Create Something Every Day

For the past few days, I’ve been involved in one of the least entertaining activities in the world, one that never seems to end and consumes your very existence, bringing inconvenience to every facet of your life. Yup, I’m talking about moving. I’m definitely not being melodramatic when I say that moving from an apartment into a new house is one of the most frustrating things to ever happen to me.

In reality, this isn’t that big of a deal, but it has caused me to become extremely restless. It’s not because of the inconvenience of manual labor or sleeping on the floor or having to eat ice cream with a fork since all the spoons are at the house and not the apartment. All of those things are fine and can easily be overcome. What’s been irking me about the whole thing is my difficulty in creating anything. I’ve failed to complete several blog posts due to my brain not working properly, I’ve been unable to continue learning how to draw due tot the lack of tables, I’ve been unable to make my small Flask have any functionality due to my incompetence and, worst of all, I’ve been unable to wear any clothes that weren’t sweatpants and a sweatshirt due to having to move things.

My mind is so used to doing anything productive that going several days without doing anything that really uses my brain has left me feeling terrible about myself. Sure, moving boxes and carrying heavy stuff is productive in a way, but it fails to satisfy me in any way. Because of the mental unrest, I’ve been feeling terrible about myself and just have struggled to stay positive in the recent days. I had never realized how much creating things, be it CS homework or blog posts, has such a positive impact on my life and the lack of it can have such a negative impact. When I read this article about the health benefits of art, it all made sense.

As the year comes to a close, I’ve decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to create something every day. I don’t mean I need to write a 500 word blog post or draw an amazing portrait or design something really cool. No, that’s nearly impossible. At the very least, I want to be make anything that leaves a unique impact on the world, however small. This could be a small drawing of a potato on the side of my homework if I’m feeling lame or an awesome photo or even just a bombass photo.

I needed to write this post in order to create something after all of these days. Now, it also serves to keep me accountable in terms of what I want to do in the future. It’s a New Year’s Resolution, so therefore the odds are already against me, but even the intention to create more is better than what I’m doing right now.

Day 84: Photography Revisited

So the title of this post refers to an older post from about a week ago called Photography. In the post, I expressed my love photography that I’ve never really acted and my high quality camera that has gathered dust for 4 years. I wrote about it and taking it to Chicago to take some pictures in order to give myself some accountability for actually doing something with it. I don’t know if it was that post or just the fact that I had the camera with me and didn’t want to seem like a wannabe photography to have my camera and not use it, but I definitely took some pictures. Like a lot.

Before I edited and deleted a ton of the pictures, I had over 1300 pictures from 4 days of taking pictures in Chicago. I edited a total of 570 pictures. Of all of the pictures I edited, I posted around 140 pictures on Facebook and will probably post less than 40 of those pictures to flickr or whatever real photo-sharing website I end up using. This sounds really depressing – how so many pictures can end up yielding so few good ones, but I’m so totally okay with that. In fact, I really enjoy this whole process. The thing about photography is that the extras steps are each exciting in their own way.

First, there is observing the subject. For me and other tourists, this is walking through a city, looking around for something cool to take a picture of. This is super fun intrinsically and part of the reason people travel in the first place, with or without a camera. Next, there is actually taking the picture and adjusting the settings to get the best picture you can before the rest of your group gets too far away and you run up to catch them. Last, you have the amazing power of editing, where you dig through all of your shots, reliving the day and finding the diamonds in the rough and polish them to create the most beautiful pictures you can.

If you want to see my favorite pictures from my trip, click here.

Day 13: Writer’s Block

It’s been a solid 12 days, but I’ve finally hit writer’s block. Every day, my general strategy has been to brainstorm a little bit throughout the day. Then, I usually get a good idea about I want to write about. I sit down and then write about something completely different from what I decided on initially. Today, for some reason or another, that just didn’t happen. I didn’t brainstorm anything, so I’ve been trying to come up with something to write about for the last hour and a half.

I had been discussing my writer’s block with my favorite person in the world (who needs to update her blog) when she told me to write about writer’s block. I have a long history with writer’s block, which is why this topic seems like a solid point of discussion. I’ve had many failed blogs over the years since my first blog at the end 8th grade, with writer’s block inevitably being the reason for my giving up on it. Most days, I would forget about the blog’s existence. When I finally remembered it, I would sit down to write and be completely lost. I’m sure I’ve googled “what should write about” hundreds of times as a result of this.

Unfortunately, writer’s block isn’t limited to just blog posts. In writing assignments throughout school, I’ve often found myself frustrated and ready to chuck my laptop across the room because of the mentally crippling writer’s block. In all honesty, I don’t think anything has ever made me cry as much as writer’s block.

After years of writer’s block, I’ve found (1) that lit essay isn’t worth my tears and (2) that putting too many restrictions on how I want to write won’t get me anywhere. Because I would always want to write the perfect essay or blog post on the first try, I would reject nearly everything that popped into my head and not actually write anything. Therefore, the solution is to not do that. Just write and forget about everything else. Drafts exist for a reason.

Day 6: Potential Creative Outlets Part 2

I’m really glad I decided to split the last post into two, because now I don’t have to come up with another topic to write about! So here are the rest of my potential creative outlets that don’t have to do with writing. In case you missed part 1, it’s over here.

Music


Music is extremely important to me and always has. It’s how I connect with lots of people and just is always there for me when I need it. I find a great amount of power in music and its creation so I hope to explore the process of making music. Yet, this once again is rather vague. I’m thinking of 2 possible ways of exploring music. The first way is to learn how to play guitar and practice singing. I’ve sang a little bit in a religious setting and for fun, but I think I might be able to get somewhere if I start to practice more. Alternatively, I could attempt to learn how to produce electronic music or hip hop beats. There are tons of DAWs available with just as many places to learn how to use them. I have friends who picked this up relatively quickly, so I might try to follow their example.

Photography


I really like taking pictures because it’s one of the purest creative outlets, a way to capture the world as I see it in a particular time and frame. I take photos all the time right now, but I want to learn more. Also, most of my pictures right now are just from my phone camera despite the fact that I have a fully functional dSLT that I barely know how to use. I take pictures with it sometimes but they are rather lacking and I have a lot to learn.

Graphic Design


I’m not sure if graphic design is the right word, but the main idea is that I want to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to make cool designs and logos as well as graphs and infographics to show interesting information I encounter. I’ve always had an affinity of analyzing various forms of data in my life, like the Sleep Cycle app on my phone to monitor how I sleep or last.fm to track my music listening and being able to make visualizations would be really cool.

Drawing


This one is pretty out there since I can barely draw anything, but I think drawing is something that can be learned with enough practice and is a useful skill to have, especially if I want to get into graphic design or just front-end development in my quest to become a software developer. Who knows.

Podcasts


Podcasts are a really strange medium. Growing up, I often heard the word, but thought of them as an old, unused medium. How wrong I was. In recent years, every single organization seems to have a podcast, from production companies and comedians to news organizations. Certain podcasts like Rhett and Link’s Ear Biscuits and the Nerdist podcast are simply based on interviewing notable people and having conversations. These conversations are mostly unplanned and frequently extremely intriguing. Seeing all of the interesting people in my life and the many awesome conversations makes me want to just record them and let the world hear it. This is less of a creative outlet sort of thing and more of a side project, but I thought I might as well include it.

Day 5: Potential Creative Outlets

In my first post on this challenge, I conclude by talking that I’ll move onto my next 100 day project. The problem is that I have lots and lots creative interests which I could all see being my “must.” I’m not sure how I will choose between them, but maybe talking about each of them and breaking them down in cool subsections like all the blogs I read seem to do.

Writing


First, there is my first project. The one I’m doing now. Yaknow. Writing. The problem is that just saying the word “writing” is extremely vague. There are thousands of genres and styles of writing with tons of motivations behind writing so I’ll split this up even further.

Poetry

Poetry has always been perplexing to me. Reading it confuses me but mystifies me at the same time. When I’m told to analyze poetry, I always feel a little lost before I began to dig in and try to decipher rhyme schemes and meter (jk I don’t know what meter is) among other things to try to get as much out of these short writings as possible. At the same time, it was always intriguing and after reading a memoir of poems written in a way that was reminiscent of my manner of speaking, I became more open to writing poetry. I haven’t really had a chance to write much poetry outside of some angst-filled, depressing expressions of frustration that I don’t ever want to share, but I may try later on.

Slam

Technically it’s slam poetry, but I think that it’s different enough to have its own section. Slam poetry is named after events known as poetry slams, where people read their work in front of an audience and are given a score. In description, this sounds rather bland, yet the emotional delivery and complex metaphors combine with a voice in a way that makes it seem like so much more than just words, a way to connect with a human being you’ve never met before as their words plunge me into their worlds. My words don’t do it justice. In particular, I am interested in the medium because of this one and this one.

Screenplays

I, like lots and lots of people, am amazed by the magic of movies. Films have a mystical power to capture all sorts of people. Their universal appreciation among people make them very unique and powerful. However, more than anything, I find quality dialogue and writing make or break movies more than visual effects or compelling stories. The odd yet relatable writing of lines in Juno make it one of my favorite movies. Aaron Sorkin’s phenomenal writing in The Social Network makes me want to both pursue writing and a career in software. Who knows if I’ll get there, but I want to write at least one screenplay in the future.

Nonfiction

This category isn’t as clear but I want to summarize every sort of thing that may be found in a blog or an online newspaper. For me, this is stuff like all of my past blog posts (excluding this one) and perhaps actual news reporting. I applied for an editorial internship position for a teen newspaper so hopefully I’ll be able to explore this field through that. In particular, I want to write some music reviews of various albums due to my pseudo-obsession with Pitchfork. I might try to do this at the GT newspaper this fall.

I have a lot more possible creative outlets but it seems like I really like writing considering the fact that I’ve filled up over 500 words talking about it. Anyways, I’m going to write about the rest tomorrow or some other time.

Day 1: Intro and the Crossroads of Should and Must

Hello! I’m going to try to write every single day for 49 days. If that works out, I’ll keep writing for 100 days as a part of #the100DayProject that seems to be so popular right now, since I recently read Elle Luna’s book The Crossroads Between Should and Must. It really is a beautiful book with an awesome message. If you wanna get the idea without dropping 12ish bucks, check out the Medium article she wrote that was extended into the book.

Essentially, the main idea of the book and the article is that we constantly reach a point where we can decide if we do what we should and if we do what we must. Should refers to the common actions that we do, following what society tells us to do, like go to our day to day job and make ends meet in order to please others and generally do what we are told we “should” do. The other option is what we must do, what that gnawing desire within us tells us to do. For Luna, her “should” was working as a designer at the software startup Mailbox and her “must” was painting, something she had done in her youth and all but abandoned as she grew older. Based on this premise, the book delves into the intricacies of how the “must” can be uncovered and how it may be the only way for some people to be truly fulfilled, as their “must” begins to parallel their lives and more or less¬†provide meaning to it. The ultimate goal is that this “must” fulfills a person, regardless of what others thing, and becomes their career and job as well as their calling (terminology taken from the TED talk by Stefan Sagmeister).

I could go on, but you would probably be better off reading the article and/or the book. I really am intrigued by the idea of how a creative outlet could be so important that it is more than just a creative outlet. Instead, Luna describes it as a “MUST,” something that we cannot live without. This reminds me of the idea of a flow state, which psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the secret to happiness. A flow state is a state of hyper-focus that occurs when someone is highly intent on something that they are working due to a deep interest. For people experienced in a particular area, such as renowned composers or physicists who can ponder a problem for hours upon end, they enter a flow state when working on their area of expertise. In this flow state, there is a feeling sometimes described as ecstasy, as the real world disappears in lieu of the work that they love, ultimately bringing a sense of satisfaction. To me, the idea of finding some area that allows me to enter a flow state sounds like finding my must. If a flow state is a key to happiness, then it must be my must.

Therefore, I come back to #the100DayProject, aimed at finding one’s must by dedicating oneself to a creative activity for 100 days. Sometimes you have to work a certain amount at something with certain factors before you realize whether or not it is for you.¬†With that, I hope that I will be able to find my must. Maybe it will be writing, maybe not. If not, then it’s onto the next 100 day project.