I thought this would be a fun little post for a Monday. As many of you know, I have a number of friends in the photography business. They are at various levels of the business, and I always marvel at how similar their posts are to those of writers. This morning I saw a post on Facebook from Gustavo Alfaro Photography. I can’t for the time of me figure out how to embed this post, so I will just quote it: “Photographers are the most insecure people I know. Don’t believe me? Look at one and tell them their work sucks. Part of being an artist I guess… #needtostepitup #changingmyvision”
This post reminded me a lot of myself, I have a few insecurities. And well, it got me back to thinking on how similar the lives of the writer and photographer are. So her are 10 reasons writing and photography are the same:
1. We both never have time to work on our craft.
It is true. I’ve never seen a group of people complain about a lack of time more than writers. That was until I met photographers. We are remarkably similar in this. Our crafts take time, and there isn’t enough time to work on it. Sure, we have to feed the dog, water the lawn, clean the house, care for the kids, but that isn’t the reason we have no time. The real reason…
2. We both spend far too long on the internet.
And we call this time on the internet, research. Writers are getting character ideas, researching possible locations, getting ideas on character names, learning the difference between than and then. Photographers call it “getting shoot ideas.” or “buying props”. The truth is simple. Just look at our Facebook pages. We are too busy sharing cat photos, complaining we don’t have time to work, and writing blog posts about the similarities between… well you get the point.
3. Our friends and family don’t take our craft seriously.
Oh, you write books. How cute. It isn’t hard. HA! Sure. You take pictures all day. When will you get a real job. Hell, my phone takes pictures. See, to them it is a cute hobby. Your mom might love you, but your best friend is too busy to worry about this little hobby of yours. Secretly they all hope you will get a real job so that you’ll stop posting links to your work and go back to sending the Candy Crush tickets. Some even make fun little remarks like: “When will I see a movie about your book?” or “Was that your photo I saw on TIME?” or “So you still play make believe.” or “I bet it is hard to take pictures of beautiful women/men all day.”
No one promotes us. We are left to beg people to click like, or write a review, or vote in the photo contest. Only about one percent of your friends ever share anything you do. Not really realizing that that shared photo, or the nice review on a book you write, could be the referral you need. We all just want the acceptance of our communities, but it always seems out of reach.
4. There are tons of people in our craft with real talent who never see the light of day.
We both think our work is not good enough. As Gustavo said, we are insecure. It takes huge amounts of courage for us to show you what we wrote. For us to share it, and then for us to hear you say you don’t like it. There are some excellent talented people in our crafts, but they are just too scared to put their work out there.
5. It is easy to do what we do.
Just ask anyone who doesn’t do it. People who have never written a word come to me and tell me how easy it must be to be a writer. You just sit down and your computer and type. It sure looks that way from the outside, but when you try it you see it isn’t that simple. Photography is the same way. We all have a camera, all you have to do is point the camera and take the picture. It is easy. Being a writer or photographer is easy in the same way that being a brain surgeon is easy. I am sure I could cut scalps with no medical training, why the hell not.
6. We both spend more time editing than creating.
It is very much the case. Photographers go out for a three hour shoot and spend the next week editing the photos. Writers may type out a manuscript in one or two months, but then spend then next year promising the release date is around the corner. Editing takes the most time, and…
7. People have unrealistic expectations from the editing process.
Sorry folks, no amount of touch ups will make my fat ass look like Channing Tatum. I can spend a year editing a book, I guarantee that it will still be released with an error. Even the big publishers do it. Instead of focusing on what doesn’t matter, lets be realistic here. Perhaps I can look like George Clooney instead.
8. People assume we’ll work for free.
Why does your book cost so much? Can you just send me one? I’d love to buy your book, but I am broke. I have a great idea for a book. If you write it for me, I’ll split the earnings with you.
Hey, come to our wedding just bring your camera. Can you remove the watermark on this photo so I can print it at Walmart? Would you mind taking our family portrait, you know, for free?
9. We can’t wait to get discovered, just to show you we could.
We fantasize about how we will be discovered and start really bringing in the big bucks. How you will then wish you were nice to us when we were small time. We imagine you coming to us asking for our time or money, but we are just far too busy. We couldn’t possible sign anything right now, perhaps you could talk to our PR person.
10. We are both practicing an under appreciated form of art.
The number of active readers are decreasing. People don’t read anymore, that is why they want to see every popular book made into a movie or a TV series. And our print market is dying fast. Everyone one wants digital. Books no longer line home libraries, but rather stored “in the cloud” or on eReaders making the true value of a book seem somewhat trivial.
In photography, the digital camera has ruined film. And now that everyone has a camera on their smart phone, few see the point of hiring a photographer for anything anymore. Homes seem to rarely display photos anymore, instead they sit on the hard drives of computers, never really being appreciated for the art form they really are.
I didn’t write a blog post yesterday. I had every intention of doing so, but I also have a great family and they needed my attention yesterday as well. My two older boys had their first ever soccer practice, the wife and I had to meet with some people to talk about Life Insurance. Then of course I had to have play time with the kids and cook dinner, and on and on and on. Not exactly exciting stuff but it all piled up into a nice pile of excuses (valid ones) to not write anything. No blog post and no story work. Opps!
My fellow writers out there with kids know exactly what I mean. So last night as I was laying in bed, kicking myself for not writing, I thought this would be a great topic for today’s post.
Writing with Kids!
When I first started writing for my own fun, I had no kids. I would write for hours into the wee hours of the night. I would put down thousands of words a day, easy. Then my first son was born. Having a child is one of the best things that can ever happen in your life. My beautiful wife did all the hard work giving birth to all three of our children. I was working so she even took care of most of the late night needs of a baby each and every time. She is an amazing woman.
Well something else happened with the miracle of becoming a Dad. The days suddenly got shorter. There was not longer 24 hours in day, I am pretty sure time accelerates. I would wake up in the morning with every intention of getting all my daily tasks done, including writing. And then I would eat breakfast, and just like that it was time for bed. I am sure something happened in between breakfast and going to bed, but it was all a blur. Two years later, my middle child was born, and two years after that my youngest. Time had now sped up exponentially with each child. I no longer ate breakfast. I woke up, did a bunch of things all related to child care (none of which I remember) and then I went back to bed.
Needless to say, writing never seemed to happen. Days turned to weeks, weeks to month, and next thing I knew my oldest son was five years old and going to Kindergarten. I know what you are thinking, I thought it too. I can write while he is in school! Well I have a two other sons, who need my time. And you would be amazed how much of my time they need.
But I needed my writing time too. My craft was for me, and I needed some me time. At the same time I had some other epiphanies at the same time and really began to look into writing. My passion for writing had bloomed, but now I needed to find the time. The great people of my writer’s group has a lot of great ideas.
Some get up early before the kids and get an hour in that way. The problem is, I am just to damn lazy to get up any earlier then I have to. In most cases, laziness beats determination especially when you have three young boys who never stop sucking the energy from you. So that option was out for me. It may work for you, and if you want to try it… go right ahead. I will pass.
Some suggested waiting for the kids to go to bed for the night. But my wife works twelve hour days and the only time I get with her is after they go to bed. Did I mention she is a beautiful woman? So the last thing I want to do is spend time with my keyboard over her. She is fully supportive of my art and would likely let me write to my hearts content, but I am a man too. And as a man I want to spend time with her too.
Others simply wrote while their kids play around them. I am a paranoid Dad. The second the house in quiet, I panic. My house is never quiet. And as soon as they see me distracted they find something they should not have and they get quiet. They think they can get away with it because Dad is busy. Well when I write, I can’t have distractions. The words come to mind far faster then I can type them (and I type at a decent speed). Stopping every few minutes to put on the black and white stripes to referee the latest toy dispute distracted me to much.
Of course there was nap time. In the early years that did not work. When all three kids are asleep I was playing catch up on the house work. The stuff you don’t want to do around kids because the seem to some how ruin it. You know the toy the never play with so you pick it up and now they want to use it. Or the dishes they see you doing, and now they need a snack (three boys always need snack). And now, my two older boys don’t even take a nap. So, that takes a lot of work.
Any of these tips may work for you, but not for me. But I still needed to write.
So what did I do?
The idea actually came from my mom. As she so often does, she has ideas for everything. I suppose its her nearly thirty years of Mommy experience. She suggested that when my little one goes for his nap, I impose “Quite time” to help the older two relax. So we did that.
It wasn’t to long into this that an idea came to mind. I should share my writing time with my kids. I hear you all yelling at me right now. “YOU IDIOT YOU JUST SAID YOU CAN’T DO THAT!!” First, don’t yell at me. Second, I mean to actually share the quiet time as art time.
So, I put my little one to nap. Then I start the two older children on their homework. This is when I work on picking up the house, doing the dishes, and helping with my kids homework. After that we continue quiet time with “art time.”
They color, draw picture and read books. I write. For two hours we do this. We stop and share with each other. Mostly they show me what they draw or tell me what they read. But sometimes we work together. My oldest boy and I put together a children’s story. And I am working to have it published very soon. Its like a writing group with my kids.
Share in the passions you have with your kids. Art is to important and too many kids don’t get it in school anymore. I have completed a lot more writing sharing the time with my kids, and they are enriching their minds with books, arts, and crafts. They need the time away from the TV. You never know what they may become in the future and the art time may be what they need.
Family is always first, that will never change for me. And it should be the same for you. But, family time does not have to trump writing time. It can be shared.
Does this work for me? Yes. Your results may vary.
If you have kids you have to fit your writing (or other art) around, please comment bellow on how you do it. I would love to know.