Make a plan.
Whether you’re engaged in your creative life professionally or simply as a vehicle for personal growth (an important distinction to make), I recommend you make a creative plan. If you do this, you too will find both your productivity and fulfillment will increase, in a way that’s meaningful to you. Having defined what you need to accomplish, your unconscious will go to the work of fulfilling it, generating many ideas over time. You’ll find yourself ready to make the most of unexpected opportunities as they arise. Put this all in writing using your own words. Writing increases retention 72%. If you write something down, you’ll be 75% more likely to take action on it. Remember, while other people can help you discuss and refine your plan as it develops, no one can do it for you. For you to truly understand and benefit from it, you have to do it. More importantly, for it to be right for you, it has to be yours.

Break it down into clear manageable pieces.
Set a mission (why you’re doing it), goals (what outcomes you want), projects (the big things you do)(set goals for 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, and end of life) and actions (the small steps you take to getting your projects done)(detail your 1 year next actions list) for your creative life. You’ll have one mission, several goals, many projects, and innumerable actions.

Align your creative mission with your life’s mission.
Most people need at least two missions; one for their life in general (which includes many things – health, family, finances, etc) and one for a specific area, like their career or creative life, which may or many not be the same. Make sure that your missions share something in common – something other than yourself. The more you can align the them, the more likely you are to achieve them, increase your productivity, and be more fulfilled.

Set priorities.

Set timelines.

Chart your progress.

Be flexible.

Update your plan.
A plan is a work in progress. The best plans are flexible and can be modified. If I don’t learn something new from a process, often something that shifts my perspective significantly enough to start doing something better than before, then I feel I haven’t truly excelled at what I’m doing. I expect to improve my plans.

The time you spend clarifying why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you’d like to see come of it will save you hours, months, even years by ensuring that you’re going in the right direction – a direction of your own choosing. When you make a plan, you take control of your life.

Read the extended version in AfterCapture.

Read more in my essay Developing Personal Projects.

Read more in my Creativity lessons.
Learn more in my Creativity workshops.

In my Death Valley digital photography workshop, Craig Colvin discovered the power of words and of metaphor. When he made images he’d find the words that described the relationships in the image before making the exposures. Solitude. Community. Birth. Loss. He found that by using the power of words he saw things differently and he saw new things. A few simple words, the right words, unlocked hidden potentials within the subject and within himself.

How can words help unlock your creativity?
How many ways can you think of to integrate them into your creative process?

Read more in my creativity lessons.
Find out more about my Death Valley digital photography workshop.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

In my Death Valley digital photography workshop, Steve Lumpkin stumbled into a real keeper. “I looked back and realized my footsteps would soon be gone.” This was more than a magic moment; it was also a moment of personal insight. Steve made the most of his situation and invested a lot of himself in his image both literally and figuratively.

Was it the adversity of the situation, photographing in high winds on a dune field, that encouraged him to shoot from the gut? Was this a deep-seated feeling waiting to be expressed? Whatever it was the image has emotional intensity and it’s loaded; it works on many levels both formally and thematically.

What does or would it take for you to make loaded images?

Read more in my creativity lessons.
Find out more about my Death Valley digital photography workshop.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.


Blurb recently updated their free bookmaking software BookSmart (3.0).

New feature highlights include …

Change book sizes automatically with one click, making it smaller or larger.

Create two-page spreads automatically.

Read more about the update here.
Watch more about using Blurb in these useful videos.
Learn more in my Bookmaking lessons.

In my Death Valley digital photography workshop, Justin Hartford consistently found a quiet corner to pursue his nude self-portraiture using his quiet gestures in the surrounding landscape as a way describing varying psychological states. His style was immediately recognizable, so much so that when another participant presented a nude of him everyone in the group thought it was his work. His approach was so different it stimulated a lot of dialog. His presence prompted us to ask how we could make our photographs more personal.

How many ways can you think of to make your images more personal?

Read more in my creativity lessons.
Find out more about my Death Valley digital photography workshop.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Robin Sharma shares valuable advice designed to help you focus on what’s most important.

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