Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 22.41.07It’s hard to admit this on my blog that features the word ‘creative’ in the title, but I’ve been creatively blocked for a while now when it comes to my own projects (as you might have guessed by the lack of posts recently).

I have a bad habit of starting up something creative with great gusto and spending loads of time on it but then giving up as soon as the going gets tough – or when I realise that I just can’t carve out that much time on a regular basis.

I’m well aware that starting small is the key to establishing a new habit but even when I’ve tried to keep things small in the past, things have somehow got out of hand. My Mad Genius “Micro-Guides” are a good example of this. There was very little that was “micro” about them in reality because I didn’t set clear constraints in advance and each ended up taking a considerable amount of work to produce. And for various reasons I’ve never quite finished the series of 6 I planned to write (although I do still plan to remedy this at some point before the next ice age).

So I was delighted when my online pal and accomplished illustrator Cathryn, aka concretemoomin, shared the idea of “mini time capsules” on her blog. The idea comes from the talented photographer/videographer Xanthe Berkeley who shares weekly mini films of her weekend adventures on Instagram to great effect.

Here was something truly tiny to try – Instagram limits video uploads to 15 seconds (except for advertisers who are allowed to upload 30). And if I stuck to one video a week, this would surely be a manageable and sustainable project to try! Thankfully I had already filmed some footage that week from our trip to Torquay for a family wedding. I shared the video on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and it got a really nice reaction from friends and family.

Tip: these videos play in a loop so you’ll need to click them again to stop them playing!

Video 1: A Wee Trip to Torquay

The second week was great because I was inspired to look out for small moments to video when I was out walking. But I already found a way to make things more complicated for myself! I decided to “compose” the music myself instead of using someone else’s music without permission. So I cracked open the Garageband app for the first time in several years and tapped out a wee tune on my computer keyboard that came to 41 seconds in length. I really enjoyed this and was pleased with the results even though I knew nobody else would care about the extra time I put in! This additional self-indulgence perhaps wasn’t helped by the fact I made the video all about my birthday, but nevertheless, I got a nice reaction from people once again.

Video 2 – Birthday Bliss

I really enjoyed making the music too, so I did the same again the next week, to accompany footage I filmed whilst out walking and enjoying some very pleasant Autumn/Fall scenes. This time, the music took a lot longer to create and was 1 minute and 12 seconds in duration. I was rather pleased with the whole thing, but now I had to cut it down to 15 seconds for the video which wasn’t much fun.

Video 3 – A Week of Autumn Walks

By the time I got to week 4, the novelty of making these videos was wearing off a little, and I didn’t really have anything new to document, so it ended up being another Autumn video. To avoid spending too much time on it, I simply recycled the previous week’s music (or should I say I created an exclusive remix?). The response on Instagram was lacklustre. Apparently, my mini videos had already become passé. I couldn’t blame people as even I was bored with my autumnal mementos. I was also worried that my one experiment with hyperlapse where the video moves rapidly along a leaf-strewn path turned out to be unintentionally creepy. 

Video 4 – Moretumn

So there we have it. I’ve made four videos in four weeks which has been a nice project that’s given me a good reason to go for long walks and look out for interesting sights. But I do worry that my life perhaps just isn’t even interesting enough at the moment for even a 15 second video per week!

Another frustrating aspect has been the low quality of the video once it goes onto Instagram, despite the fact they are full HD when I upload them (if anyone knows how to avoid this please let me know).

So.. I may or may not continue making these. But at least it’s given me a creative boost, and it’s even helped me to start blogging again.

As to why I’m sharing all this – well, I’d highly encourage you to try a similarly small project if you’re feeling stuck and need a creative boost! And if you would like some guidance, Xanthe even runs an affordable e-course to help people get started.