Meditative Monday: Don’t Worry, You Are Making Progress

Hey everybody, it’s that time again to relax and chill with another Meditative Monday. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I’ve spent on this planet and the progress that I’ve been making in writing and art.

 

A problem that I run into a lot (and it’s common across lots of disciplines, not just art) is this issue of feeling like you’re not progressing fast enough or that you’re not making any at all.

I found that I tend to feel this way even if I did put in the correct work for a day. And it’s because my novel Vicissitude Yin Side is a freaking behemoth at a little it over 240,000 words and I’ve still got two and a half sections of this fatty to write.

Realizing The Importance Of Context In Progress

If this was my first novel, I would’ve been done with 60k to spare and I realized that the feeling of making progress is very based on context.

I’ve had days where I’ve written as little as a hundred words and I’ve felt great about it, and then I’ve had days when I’ve written 4,000k-5,000k and felt awful.

And you might be wondering why feel awful if you get that much work done? I found its because this idea of where we are in comparison to where we think that we should be.

For example, I decided to ramp my word count up to get through my scenes faster so I thought okay, 4500 is a decent amount that I can do without destroying my brain but get a little bit done on both of my WIPs.

But what I was doing in my head was saying, “Okay, I’ll get through this scene or this section today.”

Then I launch myself into it and low and behold, I throw all 4500 at my comp and boop, at the end of day, I could still be stuck in the same scene in a chapter.

I divide my chapters by 1-1 (1), 1-1 (2), and often times these things can go on to like 4 or 5 individual sections. So when you have 4k and 5k behemoths next to each other in one chapter, things get very sluggish really fast.

When things get slow, it can be hard to remember that we’re still putting in the same amount of work every day.

If it goes on long enough, we can sometimes feel like all of our hardworking isn’t going anywhere. And that can lead to feeling like you should give up or that the project isn’t fun because you’re doing the same thing over and over when you really want to move on. And feeling stuck all of the time sucks major crusty sphinx booty.

But there are two things that I’ve realized that helps when I’m going through a hard patch like this:

One: Being born guarantees us a certain amount of time here on earth.

If it takes you ten years to do something, those ten years will pass whether or not you practice actively. And if you horse around, your goals only get pushed further and further into the future. The amount of time something takes will not really change much if you put in the same effort.

So I thought, well if that’s true then I might as well keep doing it. And that leads into the second thing…

Two: Finishing/Reaching That Book Is A Given If You Keep Working On It

Unless, you know, you’re making an unfinishable book for some reason. But so many people give up on their drafts because they feel like they can’t finish it.

When I was a newbie, I was one of those people! I ditched drafts and skipped around because I felt that it was just impossible. I didn’t understand how to finish or end things (though I still struggle with the ends of chapters. 😦 )

When I finished the first draft of what is now Vicissitude Yang years ago, I was so happy. Granted it was a huuuuuuge stinker, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I finished something. I didn’t feel like some hack pretending to be a writer or some wannabe making excuses and thinking that they could cheese their way into success.

But it also made a light come on for me. Mind you it was a very vague, faulty light that probably couldn’t help me see shit. But I thought, “Huh. If I keep writing like this, I’ll get to the end.”

Fast forward to now: a whole novel is finished, and I’m hooked to finishing my writing projects and excited about the future (though still lamenting my broke butt struggling present).

So if there’s anything to take away from my long ramble-spree, it’s that to try not to think too much about how long something is taking and focus instead on putting in the work. Worrying about the deadline doesn’t help things actually get done (no matter how well meaning and logical it is).

So keep working at it! You will finish.

Meditative Monday: Everything I’d Do Differently If I Had To Start My Writing Journey Over Again (Part 4)

Never Shoot Lower Than My Potential

Underperforming not helpful. I’m not from the camp of thought that one should take baby steps when you are clearly capable of much more. As I decided to take the time to learn about myself I realized something really important.

One, it’s against my nature to underperform. Underperforming is a sign that I now recognize as something I do when I’m overwhelmed, or I don’t like something or if I don’t like someone, or if I’m just bored.

This would often happen when I hung out with friends or roommates and they wanted to do things at a slower pace or maybe start at lower levels than what I was used to. Of course, I still tried to accommodate them for politeness sake, but I always felt like a dog on a leash that’s way too tight. And deep down it never felt right at all.

Now, I understand that there’s a time and place to be patient with others, but I’ve learned that I’m very much a person that needs the space to reach and surpass my potential regardless of whether I intend to or not.

Though being the smartest or most talented person in the room might feel good for the ego sometimes, but to me, it’s definitely a sign that I’m in the wrong freaking room.

And this is something I wish I would’ve known about myself much earlier because it would’ve saved me a lot of wasted time with things that just weren’t right for me.

Understand Why I Do Things

Every time I revisit the reason why I write my novels, I get fired up not just in body but in spirit.

But if you would’ve asked me about why I write it at different times of my life, you’d probably get way different answers.

I think as a young middle schooler starting out, I wrote because I thought it would help me be noticed. In high school, I wrote because it helped me cope with the stress I was going through.

In my first two years of college, I think it was more about ego and trying to be the best. In my third year when I was depressed, it was very much about trying to find the reason why I should stay on this planet. But in my fourth year, it was about growing as a person and having loads of fun with my new freedom in writing.

And now?

I write because I have to.

Not in the paying bills sense or because any outside pressure. Inwardly, I feel like I just have to. If I don’t, I don’t feel right inside. It’s something that I think is hard to explain to the average person or even the average writer because I find people tend to shy away from extremes. Its too “heavy” for them.

I’d call it an obsession, but I feel that’s not quite it. I’m not obsessed with writing in the mad scientist way people think of obsession. It’s more like determination to focus on something through to the end, no matter what it takes or what it costs.

But even more importantly, I think a lot of the reason why some people have so much problems with writing is because they don’t know or understand themselves enough.

Some people have the best intentions to write, but really they just like the idea of writing something grand. Some people probably could write that book, but they don’t see that what’s stopping them isn’t the writing itself, it’s the fact that they make thousands of excuses for why they didn’t do it when they probably could’ve finished it in the time that they gave all those excuses.

But what I’ve found that if your why is strong enough, you’re not going to make up reasons why you can’t do it. You are going to find ways around those blocks you’re having.

And I know I probably sound like I’m beating dead horses around here, but really I don’t know any other way to put it.

I know a lot of people out there will say that writing is hard, but I find myself starting to disagree with this more and more. I think writing is simple. The only requirement for writing novels is that you have some semblance of a plot, characters, some realistic basis, and passing a certain word count. (But if you’re writing a draft, you don’t have to pay as much attention to these! :D) However, all that writing requires of you is to sit down and type one word after another until something is done.

The problems that occur outside of being physically unable to write at a certain moment are usually self-made from our expectations on how things should go in our story. I find these go away when you just relax and let the story just be the story.

More…?

I’m going to keep this one short since my schedule is getting tighter and tighter.

But until next post~

Get back in that water!

Meditative Monday: Decluttering The Mind With Morning Pages

Hey everybody, it’s Meditative Monday again and today I wanted to share something that I tried a while back and hopefully it might help some of you.

So today, we’re going to talk about Morning Pages.

The Barebones Basics

If you’re already familiar with freewriting, you’ll transition just fine. It is still writing everything that comes to mind, but you do it in the morning, preferably when you first wake up.

The twist is that you have to do three pages. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ten minutes or ten hours.

You do those three pages.

Now I often hear that people should do it by hand. Personally, I don’t like writing outside my Writing Sketchbook so I don’t write longhand. Morning Pages and freewriting is not for other people to see, so how you organize yourself and arrange to do this doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

What matters is that you have a way that works comfortably for you.

The Good, The Bad, And The Eh…

I haven’t really found much that’s awful about it besides the fact that when you begin, it’s hard to fill three pages. It was especially hard for me because I’m doing it on a computer and I’d rather not cheat and use big fonts or any cheap tricks of the sort.

But as far as the benefits, it’s still a helpful warm up. And its also very cleansing to get rid of the previous days thoughts. Think of it like a shower for your brain. It’s particularly helpful for helping me get into the mood for my real writing session.

Often times the hardest part for me when writing is getting started, but I often find that once I get ten minutes into it the block that I had just goes away and its easy to just keep going. And I find that this exercise is even more helpful if I’m starting on the blank page of a new scene or chapter.

For me, Morning Pages has replaced my normal freewriting set up, but as with anything I say here how much or how little you want to use this is up to you. But if you have experience with it or if it’s helped you in anyway, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Get back in that water!

Fast Flash Friday Prompt # 10

Hot. Heat shimmying down your back. Cold perspiration seeping from your pores, trapped under the itchy cotton of your shirt. Itching of your weave. A hot day. Hot and sticky. Humid. A day in the rice field. Back sore and sweaty from bending over. Feet wet by warm water.

Random Author’s Note: I don’t know why, but I just adore the picture of rice grain. Maybe it’s because I’m just a riceaholic. 🙂

Meditative Monday: A Day In The Life Of An Author/ Artist/ Musician: What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?

Hey everybody, today I wanted to do another Day In the Life post. And for today’s topic, I wanted to shift our focus inward and talk about something that’s been on my mind a lot these days. It’s this idea of being more honest when we write, draw, compose, or just create well…anything.

On Where This All Came From…

You see I’ve always had this feeling before I had the words to express them, but it was finally cleared up for me when I heard about artists that have sketchbooks that are made for the sole purpose of showing people and separate sketchbooks that are just for them.

I was listening to an artist named Sycra talk about how he doesn’t show anyone his sketchbook because he was afraid that it would turn into a thing where he would feel pressured to make his sketches good because people would see them.

And this resonated with me a lot because in both writing and drawing, I often feel the pressure to make things look good or make it seem really epic and huge, even when I’m working on something that no one will ever see.

In fact, I realized that it was hurting me as I was writing my current novel. I’d often mull over my sentences for a while and try to put down the perfect word even though this is just a draft that I know will get changed.

If I had to describe it in words, I’d say it always felt like someone was looking over my shoulder. I’d always imagine a reader’s reaction to what I was writing and this made me stress out over what I was doing even more. And that made everything even worse.

I had a bit of a rough period last week where I felt my writing wasn’t as exciting as it could’ve been. And I was getting sick of it and really discouraged.

So I thought about this for a while and I decided to take a new approach to writing my novel draft. Of course, most of you all already know that I’m a big advocate of writing what you love, so I thought about it from that angle and now when I sit down to write, I ask myself one very important question.

What Would You Write If No One Was Looking?

What if no one could judge you?

What if no one was over your shoulder?

What if no one would bat an eye at your book, drawing, or whatever you’re personal project doing? What if it wasn’t about money or fame or prestige? What if there was no rush for time?

What if it was just about you and what you love doing?

Would you write something extremely different from what you’re doing now?

If so, then there’s a big problem.

And this was a bit of an eye-opener for me. As I realized, that found at times I’d write something serious when I really wanted to write something funny or shocking. Or sometimes I wanted to stop and describe things, but I felt like I needed to move on.

I’m still finding a balance with this, but this approach is helping me get through things much better. And I find that my intuition is willing to chip in more with ideas when I free myself.

But also, in a way, that question is true. No one is looking over my shoulder and criticizing me. No one is ever going to see this draft. So really there’s no reason why I shouldn’t write whatever the hell I want.

But of course, there’s a big elephant in the room that I should probably address…

But My Work Has To Get To My Audience Eventually!

Yes, that is true. At some people are going to see what you create. And those people are going to form opinions about it, and some opinions are not going to be what you like or expect.

But here’s the thing…

When you go to the store to look for something to read by your favorite author, do you open their books and say, “Oh boy, can’t wait to see what I came up with in this book!”

No. Of course not. Because it’s their book.

People pick up your book, your art, read your article to hear what your have to say, not to hear you parrot the words of someone else. Otherwise, you’re just a cardboard copy.

And why get a cheap watered down version when you can just go look at the real thing?

If people are looking for you to be you, why pretend to be someone else? Even if you’re in a situation that’s not the best, there’s still usually a way that you can put your own spin on it. In fact, it’s almost impossible for you to not put your own spin on something, unless you’re following instructions strictly. But even that’s debatable.

So relax and be you.

Write the thing you’d write if no one could ever see it. And be the freest version of you that you can be.

And also get back in that water!

 

 

Fast Flash Friday: Prompt #9

Sitting in an ice-cream shop. Ice-cream Malts printed on blush pink and red striped wall paper. Whirling Fans hanging from the low ceiling. What ice cream flavors are on sale today? Green tea, mango, sherbert— behind the condensation on the glass. A cross-eyed teenager comes to the register, dark curls peeking under his Yuki’s Ice Cream hat. He rubs his hands together and stutters out a “W-what can I get for you today?” First day on the job I bet.