Something I have worked on improving in my life for a while now is consistency. Consistency in my relationships, consistency in my work, consistency in my actions and my words.
My natural tendency is to live in the moment. I have nearly always given my full attention to the present. This helps in conversations, because I am naturally fully engaged and listen well to what others are saying. This helps in the spontaneous moments of my life when Eddie and I decide to drive to Boston in one night to see Sigur Ros or go to the mountains after one quick thought of how much we miss the mountain air. This helps in being excited about other people’s pursuits. My ability to live so fully in the moment can bring a lot of joy and life, but it can also cause a lot of inconsistency. I have learned to value the importance of consistency. I have learned to balance my love for the present moment and the necessity of consistency, which makes me plan and execute more effectively.
Consistency means commitment.
I think many of us are scared of consistency because we are scared to commit to something we will eventually quit. We do not want to fail ourselves and fail others. But all fear of failure does is paralyze us. The best thing to do is acknowledge your fear, and decide to try something despite it --and stick with it. I have found that choosing to be consistent has quieted my fear more and more.
I love the way that Elizabeth Gilbert writes about fear in her newest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She writes a letter to fear, saying:
Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting -and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way...
....Then we head off together -me and creativity and fear -side by side forever, advancing once more into the terrifying but marvelous terrain of unknown outcome.
Do not give in to fear by staying paralyzed, instead, accept the nature of fear, identify that it is real and present, but fight past its loud voice and start your road trip. Starting with consistency will reward you with growth, clarity, and an audience.
Consistency = growth:
The more you produce, the better you get. It’s just true. If you start taking your camera out EVERY SINGLE DAY for 6 months straight and intentionally make one photograph that means something to you every day, you will grow. The experience and the intentional time devoted to creating photographs will build on top of one another quickly. After 6 months, you will have 180 photos you have made. 180 photos that you have given intentional time to. 180 photos more than if you would have let your fear fly in the face of consistency and held you back from taking action. Start now, start showing up now, and you will see growth 3 months from now, 6 months from now, 2 years from now. Just imagine how much you will grow in 2 years if you commit to showing up every day consistently.
Consistency = Clarity:
As you put yourself out there consistently, you will begin to find what is most important to you. What kind of photographs you love making, why you love those photographs. You will begin to find the why behind your what. By giving energy to your craft consistently, every day, you will find focus in your work. We all start out at the beginning, knowing we love photography, knowing we want to create, but not knowing our place in the world of photography. Consistently work on your craft and you will slowly find clarity.
Consistency = Audience:
I love what Sean McCabe of seanwes says. He says that people do not notice announcements, they notice consistency. You can tell the world all day long that you are a photographer, but until you start consistently creating work, no one will notice or care. You have to create, create, create, then share your work. Do this consistently. Do not do this only when you feel like it, only when you feel inspired. Create and share consistently. Commit to creating one thing every week then share that one thing. Every single week. This is where the magic is. Success may not happen overnight, but if you share your work consistently, people will start to notice and your audience will steadily grow.
Being consistent is playing for the long game. And the long game is worth it. As Gary Vaynerchuck and everyone else who has worked hard to get where they are say, there is no such thing as an overnight success.
Commit to creating every day, every week, today. Commit to being consistent now and stick with it.