Happy New Year! Are you all hung over today? We got Chinese takeout, watched the documentary “Babies” (I wanted something adorable, and we had seen all of the animal ones that were On Demand), and I started dozing off at like 10:30. Then I slept in until 8:00 this morning. Happy 2013 to me!
Today I’m saying good-bye to “push” and finding inspiration in my new 2013 verb.
Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about home improvement, self-improvement, and when to not improve. I don’t want or expect to be good at DIY-ing All The Things, but there are a few specific things I’d like to be able to do for myself. So I chose “craft,” not only because it implies creating things, but also because “craft,” the noun, is about endeavors — often creative ones — that require skills that can be taught, practiced, and refined. After pushing myself with my writing in 2012, I wanted to develop certain skills that will ultimately enhance what I do as a writer. Here are the three areas where I plan to really use this verb.
Photography and Photoshop. Photos and design are the bane of my existence as a writer. Every time I hear the phrase “the web is becoming more visual,” I have a mini-meltdown. Unlike a lot of bloggers, I have never had an interest in photography, and I’ve never had the patience to improve. I also find myself getting really bitter about the idea that I need to be a great photographer; why can’t I just be a great writer and let someone else worry about the pictures? Well, because Pinterest, that’s why. But this is incredibly frustrating to me because so much of great photography is great lighting — and great lighting is hard for those of us who aren’t home during daylight hours thanks to having a day job. But knowing how to take good photos and to create beautiful graphics, collages, etc. in Photoshop is becoming something that is just becoming expected of social media marketers and copywriters, so at this point, refusing to do it on principle it is only going to hurt me and my career in the long run.
So last week, I busted out my camera’s manual and read a ton of tutorials online so I could begin to understand aperture, ISO sensitivity, and all this other bullshit that I do not like or care about one bit, but that actually makes a huge difference. I took hundreds of pictures over the weekend, experimenting with different lighting and camera settings, as well as the built-in flash, and ended up with about five kinda-decent photos when all was said and done. When I can afford it, I would like to get a new lens for my camera and a decent external flash (to help me get around that whole pesky day job thing). And I need to get Photoshop in the next few weeks and start learning my way around that as well.
Writing code. I’m aware of HTML and CSS code thanks to blogging and working on the Web, and have some basic knowledge/skills, but I would love to really understand code and be able to do more for myself without having to ask a developer for help. This will be really helpful at work and it will supplement the design skills I’m picking up. I’m planning to use Code School for this one.
Sewing. I actually learned to sew costumes as a Theater Cherub in 2002, and I’m OK when it comes to hand sewing, but I’ve not kept up my skills when it comes to using a sewing machine at all. I probably won’t work on my sewing skills until later in 2013; my plan is to take actual classes, which I find is the best way to learn new things. I’m sure I’ll never be able to sew like my mom or grandma, but being able to do basic things is a really, really useful skill to have, and I’m sure will help in the home improvement area.
While these skills will make me more marketable, I also chose these specific ones because they will make me more self-sufficient and less dependent on others. This is not going to be the year of making my own homemade wrapping paper or going full-out Martha Stewart. While those kinds of talents are enviable, I am more focused on the ones that have the most value to me as an individual and as a creative. But even when I’m not working on these big projects, I hope my verb will inspire me to take more time with the things I am working on and help me develop the patience to create visually beautiful (or, let’s be honest, just passable) things with my own two hands.
What are your goals/verbs for the new year?