Getting un-stalled, Part 1: Lots of Ideas, publishing nothing

Janelle's artwork, photo essays, photography, the creative process

What happens when you are working on a project and you hit a wall? Call it an impasse, writer’s block, getting stalled…. call it what you will, I think it happens to most of us.

Here on this blog we seem to have reached that point. The past couple weeks, getting from publishing Post No. 4 to finishing Post No. 5 has proven quite difficult. Rather than let this project fade, however, like I might normally do — a bright explosion fading quickly to black, then onto a new shiny thing! — I’m going to let you into my process a little.

The next post was going to be about a photography workshop on a farm in Olympia, WA that I went to a few years back, with the wonderful Audra Mulkern of Rooted in the Valley and The Female Farmer Project. This formally introduced me to the concept of photo essays, which as it turned out resonates strongly with me. Photo essays combine photojournalism and storytelling and art all together, telling a powerful narrative through a series of images combined with writing, often delving into little known or under-highlighted histories, communities, locations, and issues. That largely describes how I want my art to have an impact, and even how I naturally approach photography when I’m being intentional. I was going to talk a bit about all of that, and share some of the photos I made. But I couldn’t decide which of my 300 images to share, or even how many. ((Here are a handful I do like!!))

While I was getting nowhere with that post, other topics kept popping up as possibilities – a Vintage Air Show I photographed last year, a treatise on expanding society’s definition of ‘Who is an Artist’, and Lin-Manuel Miranda philosophizing on being a composer of musicals – but I couldn’t seem to flesh out any of them into finished stories. Plus I kept getting terribly sidetracked by fiddling with design and formatting … ‘wait, should I switch to this WordPress theme instead? cue searching all the options for photo-blogging… why is the line spacing doing that?? shoot, I have to put a title and a tagline on all my photos?!’ etc etc ahhhh!! So many distractions.

What I *did* manage to do in the meantime was engage several friends in agreeing to either write a guest post or let me interview them. Gina is planning to write an essay about Polish poster art. Will, who has hosted a writing group for years, is going to share his thoughts about writers and community. And Jen A. has agreed to be interviewed about learning to write Icons at a workshop put on by a teacher from Russia. I am so excited about each of these unique stories of art, community, history and culture. But until those are ready, I knew I needed to be continuing to write my own stories and share my own art.

But how? No ideas I came up with were getting finished, and nothing was being published. What was I going to do? Let my blog die?

Find out in Part 2. To be continued…

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