Day 4: Always be curious

One of the things that stuck with me the most from our #WriteAwayPH writer's retreat is that instead of harping on and on about passion, we should actually be more interested in chasing curiosity. Samantha Sotto mentioned it during her session on creativity, and it is also something that Elizabeth Gilbert touched on in her amazing book Big Magic.

Don't get me wrong. Being passionate about something is a great thing. However, it will eventually die down and then show up in spurts. But if you live a life of constant curiosity about the people around you, the stories they tell and the lives they live, the things that you don't understand but are interested in, the places you've never been to but dream of going someday, everything that is beyond yourself, then you will live a life that is far more interesting than just being passionate about something. 

Trying to understand yourself, examining your thoughts and motives, and learning to love yourself are all important things. But what I'm learning is that in order for you to live a more connected life, you, of course, have to go beyond just yourself.

Listen to people.

Ask questions.

Google.

Observe.

Research.

Study and learn.

Travel beyond the four corners of your world.

Always be curious.

And if you have the gift of telling stories, whether it's through writing, music, art, or whatever form or platform you want to use, go and tell those stories. Some people do not have the capacity or the means or to voice to share their stories, so maybe you can speak for them. Or maybe you have the gift of teaching them to be empowered to tell their own stories or to find their voice. Or you can do both.

But the important lesson today is, chase curiosity above passion and you will have more stories to tell. 

 

 

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Day 3: Writing is a joy and a struggle

Lest you get the idea that writing is always romantic and idyllic, it is also sometimes a struggle.

Aside from the fact that I have a day job and another job on the side (both of which actually involve a lot of writing), there are also too many distractions around me. Or rather, I am easily distracted. I have my books, my TV shows, my movies, my journaling and scrapbooking, my friends, and of course, the ultimate distractions of all, Facebook and Instagram. While these things do help me become a better writer, they will not essentially finish my book for me.

And while there is a certain joy when I finally do get myself in front of my laptop or on my notebook and actually write, the journey to actually get me there can sometimes be more difficult than actually writing it.

"Why do I even bother trying to finish this, no one's gonna read it anyway? Wouldn't I be much more productive by doing something else? No one cares whether I finish a book, let alone two books! You don't have anything new to say! Some people do it better, so just let them write their books and you do your job by reading them."

Those are just some of the voices in my head that I have to face every time I try to write. But what I learned these past few weeks is that instead of pushing these voices down, you can actually face them and listen to them and answer them. As Aueee suggested during #WriteAwayPH, invite your inner critic to coffee and you'll realize she's not that scary once you get to face her. 

There are days when those voices will win. And I think we just have to embrace that struggle, and understand that it is part of the writing process. Otherwise, if it were really that easy, then all writers would probably be churning out buttloads of books. 

So I say, welcome the happiness and the struggle that comes with being a writer. And as always, be kind to yourself. 

 

 

Day 2: My first 1,000 words and setting appointments

My friends are always amazed at how I can still fit in watching a ton of TV shows and devouring books despite the fact that I work practically 10 hours every day. I'm amazed too sometimes. So lack of time should not be my excuse for not being able to write for my personal book projects. It really is a matter of prioritizing it above other pursuits or distractions for a certain period of time.

One of the lingering lessons I learned from my recent WriteAwayPH writers' retreat is that we need to set appointments with our writer selves and that we need to keep these appointments no matter what. So I gave myself a couple of weeks after the retreat to get my mind and my desk and a few things in order before I officially start my daily appointment.

I'm just on Day 2 and so far, so good. I've written 1,000 words during my first official appointment. And I've blogged for two days straight! I'm dreading the days when I have so much to do everywhere else that I just might cancel on myself. But another lesson I'm learning is that I should be kind to myself during those days when I will fall short. And I know I will.

But here are a few tips that I've been learning about this "writer's appointment"

  • Figure out what time of the day your brain is at its best and carve out your schedule around that time.
  • Schedule at least an hour a day where you will do nothing but write. If you're a freelancer, you can actually do more. If you have a full-time job, schedule it before or after work or during your lunch break. If you can't do one hour straight, do 30 minutes in the morning then 30 minutes in the evening.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or add it to your calendar. And as much as possible, don't schedule anything around that time. 
  • As much as possible, turn off any form of Internet when you're writing. Do your research some other time. In that one hour or 30 minutes, you will do nothing but write.
  • Give yourself tiny rewards whenever you complete a certain number of words that you're targetting. It can be a tiny piece of chocolate, a few chapters of a book that you want to read, or a nice pen you've been eyeing. 
  • If you do miss an appointment, you can either make up for it during the weekend or when you have "extra" time during weekdays. But as I said, be kind to yourself.
  • Don't treat this appointment as a chore you have to do, but rather as a fun task that you really want to do or as your "freedom time" if your day job is actually something really far from writing. As Elizabeth Gilbert said, be a trickster, not a martyr. 

So are you ready to set that appointment with your writer self?

 

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Day 1: Start with a clean slate (kinda literally)

I have never been the neatest and tidiest person. I may be good at organizing stuff but my work area and my room are messes, as my officemates and my mom have wirnessed daily. But my "there's order in my chaos" excuse cannot last forever. And I know that in order for me to properly work on my #NaNoWriMo17 goals and my two book projects, I need to have an actual clean area. 

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And so I spent my first day of the month just cleaning up this mess of a desk and trying to put some sense of order physically so that mentally I will also be able to focus on my main goals for this month, which is to make progress on those two books I promised myself I would finish by next year.  

And lo and behold, I actually finally saw my desk! And cleaning it up really did clear the cobwebs from my mind. And so now I feel like I am ready to actually write some words down. 

Some tips when setting up your writing area at home.

  • Choose a place where you're comfortable in. You'll hopefully be spending several minutes or hours a day so it should be somewhere where you are both relaxed and alert.
  • Don't write in a place where you'll be tempted to sleep or turn on the TV or chat with a family member. Remember, your writing time and space are sacred and so you should honor that.
  • Do surround yourself with things that will inspire you. I don't know what that looks like for you, but for me, it's my favorite books, pens and notebooks (old and new), postcards, stickers, etc.
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I also kind of gave up on my plan to go minimalist because I realized I really can't work if I don't have things surrounding me. So maybe that's another challenge for another year. 

For now, let's just focus on #ProjectStoryAMonth and #ProjectGetOutOfBed, my two book projects which I will be working on over the next few months.