Daily Writing

The Snark Zone: Letters from the Editors
Theryn “Beaver” Fleming

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’ve written 500,000 words this month.

While everyone else was off participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or the brand-new National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I decided to challenge myself to post a photo taken that day every day in November.

My inspiration was a photo essay in Canadian Geographic nine or ten years ago where a photographer had taken a photo every day for a year. I remember that the article left me with the impression that he’d actually only taken one photo each day, and thinking how intimidating that was: one chance to get a decent shot. And this was before digital cameras were prevalent. It’s hard to imagine having the patience to wait 24 or 36 days to finish a roll of film just to find out if day one turned out. Still, since then, it has always been in the back of my mind to try it.

More recently, I’ve been inspired by Woolgathering, a blog where the artist has been posting a photo of her sketchbook every day for almost two years. A quick Google search of “photo a day for a year” finds that this is a semi-popular project to attempt (though hardly in the league of NaNoWriMo—though, hey, that started out small too). Dozens of people have it as a goal on 43 Things. And after I posted my first photo along with my plan, Eden told me about the Art Everyday project.

But I didn’t want to join an existing project. I wanted to do this on my own, see what it might evolve into. And I decided that whatever other people had done in the past, I couldn’t stick to just one photo a day; I wanted to take lots. I ended up taking 500. You can see the 30 I posted here.

Partly this project was about getting more comfortable with the manual settings my (relatively) new camera. I didn’t want to set too many rules for myself, but I knew I wanted to (a) avoid the automatic setting and (b) avoid the flash. I managed to do both. But more deeply, it was about the idea of dailiness, something I’ve been intrigued by for a long time. I’ve written before about how I’ve never been a very good journaler, in that, rather than writing a little each day, I’ve always been someone who writes in fits and starts. Yet I’m fascinated by people who can keep up journals or diaries or blogs over long periods of time.

So the photo-a-day project for me is intimately linked with the idea of daily writing, that is, recording something each day (which is not to be confused with the writer’s adage “write every day” meaning work on a story or an article or an essay or whatever). The 100 Words project, where participants make one-month commitments to write exactly 100 words a day, sums up the daily writing philosophy well:

You are expected to write ON THAT DAY and FOR THAT DAY. Please do not “write ahead” and do not “catch up” at the end of the month. 100 Words is about capturing life on a daily basis, and then examining those days across a period of time.

Looking back on my November photos, I remember how happy I was that I’d taken photos of the leaves on November 1 when it was still sunny and dry because it started monsooning the next day. And I see what a contrast that photo is to the snowy photos at the end of the month. I ponder whether I should become a food blogger (the photos you see are a just a sample of my cooking adventures—there are more food photos in the 470 photos that didn’t make the cut). And I already, having just finished classes yesterday, feel a slight nostalgia for the downtown campus where I spent all of this semester.

So will the project continue? At the moment it’s up in the air, but there are still several hours left in December 1…


Beaver also wrote about 20,000 actual words this November. She congratulates everyone who achieved their November goals. E-mail: beaver[at]toasted-cheese.com.

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