Do you see the beauty in the challenges we face? How they allow us to improve?
Last week I wrote about criticism and the positive impact it can have. You can read that post here: Feed(back) Your Enthusiasm. Feedback and criticism will often pose as a challenge to us, they’re signs that something we’re doing isn’t quite working, or they’re suggestions to go against our natural grain. Even accepting criticism in the first place, can present itself as a challenge, as we might find we’re unwilling to hear that our latest magnum opus isn’t quite as flawless as we’d wish to believe.
A few weeks ago we also had Debs #WiPW, which was on the subject of the 52 Photos Challenge. You can read all about it here, A Year Long Photography Project – A #WiPW Guest Post, but I’ll also explain it a little. The challenge is when a photographer, or in Debs case a group of photographers, challenge themselves to take one photo a week that may, or may not, follow a theme. By the end of the journey, the photographer will have 52 photos they can showcase, and will, hopefully, be able to see the benefit of a years worth of practice. Now, these things are hard. Challenges like this require commitment and dedication. I know that because I’ve tried them myself, to little or no avail. Greg and I host our ‘Wordless Wednesday’ pics over on Level Ups Blog, you’re welcome to check them out, but you’ll notice that, despite it being over 52 weeks since we started, we have only managed 19 weeks (and even those weren’t sequential). The thing is, these challenges wouldn’t live up to their namesake if they were easy, and they wouldn’t be of any benefit to us if they were. A challenge should be challenging, it should require some blood, sweat, and tears. The 52 Photos Challenge requires us to be dedicated, it sometimes requires us to work within a certain theme, and it more often than not asks us to better ourselves as time, and practice, kick in. Like criticism before it, this can be daunting, upsetting, but ultimately beneficial.
Without challenge we risk losing ourselves to comfort; without adversity there is nothing to overcome. Challenges are designed to be hard work, they’re designed to test us, to temper us like steel and fashion us into something sharper. My writing isn’t the best, my photography isn’t the best, my blog isn’t the best, and without any challenge that’s where my abilities, and talents, will sit, stagnate, and even regress.
It’s with this in mind, that I am doing #NaNoWriMo. It’s with this in mind, I am approaching something which I’ve attempted before, and failed in before, with a head held high and with determination in my eyes. It’s not going to be easy for me, I’m already in two minds about what ‘No‘ to ‘Wri‘, but I know it’ll be beneficial regardless of what I do.
Talents take practice to better, talents take practice to keep. These challenges, be it a photo a week for a year, or a few thousand words a day for a month, we can better ourselves and our abilities. I invite you all to keep an eye on what happens over at Level Up Photography, and, if you’d like to hear more about #NaNoWriMo from me, keep your eyes here on the Clouds. Alternatively, if you’re doing #NaNoWriMo yourself and would like to talk about it, consider taking part in a #WiPW like Deb did, as I am running a #NaNoWriMo specific version for every Wednesday in November! Apply here: Work in Progress Wednesday – What it is and how you take part!