Freedom and Creative Quotas

It’s the first day of July in 2019. It’s a Monday. Last month I was off of social media and told myself “I’ll go back on instagram in July” but then I stayed up so late Saturday the 29th that I looked at the clock, saw it said 12:30 on the 30th and thought to myself “oh cool, I stayed up until July, I can get back on instagram now.”

Needless to say, one day doesn’t make much of a difference for avoiding social media. The point of staying off was to use my time to do other thins; I did a daily vlog for a few weeks and it was very time-consuming. I wanted to make sure I was producing decent videos (you can be the judge) and also spending enough time with friends and doing stuff. My goal with vlogging was to become more comfortable making and editing videos, and my goal with avoiding social media was just to spend less time on it. I think both things, vlogging and avoiding social media, went pretty well.

Now that it’s a new month, and a month that, for Americans, represents freedom, I want to start a new goal. A writing goal, naturally, since in my head being able to be a writer would be the most freeing since I could write from anywhere in the world. I have spent a long time wishing I was A Writer, but instead of working towards that I often get side-tracked by other types of creativity. Photography is probably the biggest culprit. It is so efficient at delivering a sense of satisfaction; you aim and shoot and suddenly you are A Creative Person who has Made a Photograph.

I have long been curious about whether or not I have a creative quota of sorts, one that can be filled by different types of creative output. I want to write, but maybe part of the reason I don’t write much is that I do so many other things. Posting photos and getting likes is much easier and more rewarding than sitting by yourself and writing, and then publishing and not really getting any feedback at all. The more I think about a creative quota, the more I believe it works like that. I’ll keep exploring that idea; I want a better name for it than “creative quota,” so if you have any suggestions please tell me.

I’m on the fence about whether or not to ban myself from taking pictures or creating anything else at all this month to focus on writing. I don’t think that I would like that very much; if I end up not writing enough, maybe I will use that as a backup for painful, necessary motivation… no, better still, I will use writing as a key to unlock other creative outlets. No photos or videos or instagram or vsco until I write 500 words that day. There it is! The Josh Gastin July Writing Challenge.

Writing is often seen as a tool to focus your mind and I certainly agree with that. I wanted some kind of writing challenge to work on but I couldn’t think of anything too interesting until I sat down this morning and started writing.

Writing is hard, but I think that true personal freedom comes from discipline. I feel most free when I am least controlled by external inputs. So here’s to writing, freedom, and discipline, and the somewhat-cliché-by-now-but-still-effective concept of the monthly goal.

Well, that was the introduction and the Why. Tomorrow, a story about the sea.

See you on the other side!