Monday, July 26, 2010

Posting Progress

Project Progress

I've done several things in the last couple of days that will help me move forward with this project.

First, I did some brainstorming by myself. Then I got some ideas from Paul. And I called David and asked him if he, Chris, and Ann, and any of their compatriots would be willing to get together with me for a brainstorming session. I'm starting to get some ideas about the scope this project can take. It won't all happen at once, but I will add things in stages, depending on whether anyone is interested.

Second, I discussed with a friend some ideas for researching whether anyone else is doing anything like this, and if yes, where's my niche? What's different from what I want to do compared with what's already out there? Based on his suggestions, I did some research and found some useful information. I'm not finished with the research. I need to really get creative with search keywords, if I'm going to do a really thorough job.

Third, I realized I need to start a notebook for ideas and planning, plus a file for the computer files that go along with this idea. I made a file on the computer, but haven't done the notebook, yet. That's most likely going to happen this evening or tomorrow, depending on whether I need to help a friend with her computer set up or not.

Other Topics--after all, this blog wouldn't be a mishucalanza if I didn't post on more than on topic.

I found this template and I really like the way it looks. I may not keep it, though, because the gorgeous green text is a bit hard on my eyes after reading it for a while. On the other hand, just reading one post may not be too bad. If I can figure out how, I may change it to white or a lighter green.

I've been reading various interesting books lately. I've been reading Geneen Roth's books about emotional eating and Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. The two together kind of mingled around in my brain and I realized that one of the main reasons we don't achieve our goals is that we set them up using rational, logical systems. We create a goal and a projected time line and figure out the steps we need to take to get there and think we're done.

But if we don't consider the emotional component of the goal, we're likely not to complete the steps. And then we get very confused and upset with ourselves. We think we're a failure because we don't do very simple, obvious things. We know what they are. We wrote them on our plan. But sometimes the steps make us feel things we don't want to feel. Or sometimes we just don't feel like doing those things and the emotional side wins that battle.

I'm using my journal to try to look at the emotional side of the changes I thought I wanted to make in my life, but haven't been successful with. Many of them are standard things many people want to do--lose weight, become more organized, pursue artistic or creative interests like writing or art or music--things we tend to fail at, usually because of emotional issues. The thing about what I learned in Switch is that you don't have to fix your emotional issues in order to make changes or reach goals. You can set up things in your environment, for example, that can help nudge you into doing the things you want to do. That's kind of vague, but as I think about the various techniques, I'll figure out how to make it specific enough to actually be useful.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sometimes Progress is in Your Head

I realized why it's often hard to come up with posts to report on progress with creative projects. The main thing I've noticed is when I'm in "musing" mode, pondering possibilities and staring out the window and letting my mind wander over whatever I'm creating, it feels like I'm not doing anything. It seems like progress isn't happening.

But if I don't do that musing, I never figure out what the project is or what the next steps are. So, the past few days I've been musing. I've been trying out various approaches in my head to see which seem to lead to dead ends and which might actually work. I'm starting to want to write it down, which means I'm nearing the end of the current musing and ready to move on to brainstorming.

Musing, however, happens throughout the creative process. It's particularly useful when I'm writing. Doodling is the artistic equivalent, I think. When I'm designing a web site, I grab graph paper and doodle.

The other thing I've been musing on is whether to take a class that would be helpful for my project or take something for fun. I'm thinking I could do something that fits both modes, but I really, really want to take more drawing classes. I think that learning how to draw better would do two things. One, help me to develop a skill I've always wanted to have. Two, when I'm working on computer art or designing a layout for a flyer or web page, being unable to draw decently has really held me back. It would be much easier to learn some of the graphic software if I had a more solid ability to draw.

I know that taking a sketch book and practicing is one of the main things I need to do if I want to draw better. But my monovision creates a challenge that is much easier to overcome with the help of a good teacher. I never thought I could do anything with my interest in art until I took some classes with teachers who understood the challenge having no depth perception poses. I needed to learn how to "see".

And I got better. I was surprised when the class picked one of my drawings as one of the best in the bunch. I'll never be a great artist, but I don't care about that. I just want to be able to draw well enough to make what I want for projects I'm working on. So, I've pretty much decided to pursue drawing right now, assuming I get into the class.

As I move forward with this project, I'll have to work on developing other skills. Some of them I can learn on my own, using the information that's readily available via the internet, books and people in my life who already have the skills I'll need. Others will require more formal training. Mostly, I'll need to pare back some of my other activities so I can carve out time to practice, work on developing the project, and the ongoing work to keep the project going once it launches. It's possible to create it in a way that has an end point or to keep it open-ended and ongoing. I haven't decided which way I want to go, yet.

It's interesting that this post seems to indicate the project has to do with art. But it doesn't. It has to do with cooking, but I need art in order to create the images for the web site. I also need to learn some more advanced skills with photography, particularly with using light when photographing food, and how to style food so it looks appealing.

This is because I noticed that I don't stick around food blogs and web sites if the food looks awful, no matter how good the content is. I'd rather read about food without photos than be looking at food that's not appealing.

I also need to practice a different style of writing than I usually do. Writing will be a major part of this project, but not fiction writing. I think that's one of the main reasons it appeals to me. It uses a variety of the creative arts, plus the more creative aspects of my cooking skills.

So, even if I get impatient and want the project done now, I'm not going to give in to that impulse. I'm not ready to do more than create a reasonably doable, but entirely flexible plan of action, which is my next step.

It's not likely it will be done in a day. I don't want to post "today I worked on the plan" every day until I'm finished. So, I'm going to reserve my posts for whenever there's something worthwhile to report. The boring report about working on the plan today will be relegated to my calendar, just so I don't lose the momentum.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Project Progress

Yesterday I signed up for WordPress. My oldest son recommended it as a starting point for creating the blog that will be the center of my project. I envision a much larger site in the future and Blogspot doesn't have the tools to create what I have in mind. I can import this blog into my WordPress site, when I'm ready to do that.

None of their standard themes really fits my project, so I'm going to have to find out how customizable WordPress is. I suspect that with some practice and digging around in the tools, I can do whatever I want with it. If it turns out I can't do what I want, I'll get a host and use my web design skills to create my own.

Today I researched the subject of my project to see if anyone else has done anything similar, but so far, I haven't found anything. I've found blogs and web sites that have the same theme, but not the same approach as the one I want to take. So, I'm encouraged that my idea is unique enough to make it worthwhile to give it a go.

I need to contact a friend who once suggested searching beyond Google, but I need to find out what he meant by that. I suspect that I won't find anything that's not on Google, though, because my idea is mainstream enough that, if they're tech savvy enough, I'd expect anyone who has done it to get it on Google because that's how their audience will most likely search for it. And if it's not on Google, I wonder if their intended audience would be likely to find it?

My goal is to do at least one thing toward getting this project off the ground each day. I've been thinking about doing "lists of 5", which is a list of 5 things I want to do today toward whatever needs to be done in the various areas of my life. If that turns out to be too much, since I like doing so many different things, maybe I'll go with "lists of 3". It's just a way of keeping the projects moving and manageable.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Much for "Rules"

I love this template. So, I'm going to be using it for a while, at least. I'd design one, now that Blogger has tools that make it easy to upload your own designs, but I'm working on a new project and don't have time to design two blogs. More on that below, but not a lot more.

It's been a while since I posted last and my idea of following Michael Pollan's rules, adding one per week, is a total bust. I'm just not a "follow the rules, no matter what" kind of person. It makes me crazy to do that. So, no more food rules. I'm going to stick with my basic approach to food. Eat food made with the best ingredients I can afford. Cook from scratch whenever possible. And don't sweat it if I can't do those two things. Usually if I can't it's because I'm with friends and family, and they're way more important than anything else.

However, I finally found my food & cooking-related project. It will take a while to get it going, since I need a couple of expensive tools and must save up for them. I'm going to be starting a new blog for that project and keeping this one as a general blog. I'm planning to work on it slowly, so for a while there will be only posts on this blog about how the planning and design and all is going. I'm not going to say specifically what it is for a while. Right now it's pretty much just an idea.

My first step is to work out the parameters of the project. My creative brain wants to get on and design the look and feel of the site, but I can't really do anything about the site itself until I know what the content will be. That tells me that my creative side is being thoroughly neglected.

To regain balance in my life, what I'm planning to do is to cut back on my choir singing in the fall and take some classes in drawing or graphic design or digital photography. And continue in those subjects, one class at a time, until I've taken all the ones I'm interested in. Some of the classes I want to take are to develop skills I need to do my project. Some of them are just to get more creativity back into my life.

The other thing I still want to do is to add more writing to my life, starting with more blogging, because I enjoy doing it. I don't like to blog when I don't have anything to say. Thus, this has become the "Occasional Blog", rather than the "Blog in Which I Wrack my Brain for a Topic so My Nonexistent Audience Doesn't Leave". The first has the advantage of being both more interesting and shorter. I also want to get back to writing more fiction, even if it's just a little bit a few times a week.