A Knot to Untangle

A Knot to Untangle

I read an article the other week called the “The Uncompromising Power of Daily Habits” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

It’s not the first time I’ve been exposed to this concept. Many have preached about the value of daily practice, or daily habits. It’s easy to see the logic in it.

What made the article such an inspiration to me is the way he wrote about it. His argument is concise and logical and he provides his real life example as evidently, and he does it with a clear voice. But it’s his real life experience that stuck with me.

For the last few months, I’ve been teaching myself web development. It’s been my ongoing goal to spend some amount about time, no matter how small on my coding studies. And I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been doing a really good job of working a little every day.

It wasn’t a smooth route. I wasn’t always consistent in the beginning, but I’ve come a long way. I’ve even learned to recognize when I need a break and take a day off.

I understand the power of daily habits. I’ve been doing daily work. But it was the writer’s specific experience that stuck with me. He started to blog daily to get better at writing.

With so much going on in the world recently, there has been a lot going on in my mind lately. I have so many ideas jumbled in my brain that I can’t see where one ends and another starts. I need to sort them out. It’s a knotted mess. Somehow, I have to untangle this knot. Writing is how I sort through and process ideas.

These are two separate experiences of mine. One, the experience of feeling inspired by this article. The second of my internal conflict that I’ve been facing in light of a reality that has changed suddenly and dramatically. Two separate experiences, but they exist together.

For weeks, all of these thoughts have been stewing in my head. I knew I needed to get them out, to write them down. For so long I hadn’t wanted to split my focus, but now the need to write kept bubbling. I just didn’t know where to begin. I was so overwhelmed.

So here is where I try to sort it all out by keeping a daily blog.

My goal: to write something, anything, whether 50 words or 500, every day and publish it here, with as little disruption to my web development studies as possible. Good, bad or bizarre.

I don’t expect it to go smoothly, at first. I’m sure I won’t be very consistent to start. But no pressure. For now, this is just for me. Because I have a knot to untangle and writing is how I do that.

photo credit: http://www.ilkkajukarainen.fi IMG_0018 via photopin (license)

Almost Midnight

This month’s Yeah Write poem was the haiku.

I don’t normally read or write much poetry, but I love haikus. I was so excited! I really wanted to write and submit a haiku. So, I have been working on one on and off all month.

Unfortunately, I forgot about it last night. We had a friend over for dinner. She comes over every week (usually on Wednesday, not Tuesday), so I was a little distracted. It happens.

But since I only get home a little before 7pm, I missed the deadline to submit this for the contest. By like a minute.

Really, it’s the minute that kills me. Especially since I was even home earlier that usual.

Oh, and because I finally finished the haiku. On Sunday.

It’s all good though. Because I worked hard on it, dammit! And I’m going to share it anyway!

Because I can.

(And besides, isn’t the point, really, that I wrote it?)

This haiku is inspired by a time, a while back, when I was working swing shift, and I was waiting for the Max (light rail) after work. I’d always wanted to write a haiku about that moment. Almost Midnight is the name of the poem.

Spring breeze sets paper

on the tracks, as the train nears.

A man plays his sax.

Working My Way Out

Working My Way Out

I’ve been working my way out of a writing slump.

Lately, it has been difficult for me to find the energy and motivation to write or practice lettering, which has left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It is especially difficult not writing. I always feel a little off when I haven’t been writing enough.

Besides feeling like everyday life is seeming to take a lot more energy than usual, I recently applied for a pretty big promotion at work. I just had my second interview this past week and am waiting to hear back. Between applying for the position, preparing for the interviews, and now the anxiety of waiting to hear the decision, this has been taking up most of my mental energy and focus for the last couple of weeks, along with a few other things that have had me stressed out.

In my head I know better. I know that more emotionally off I’m feeling, whether angry, sad, anxious, or stressed, the more I should be writing. But that’s often when it’s the hardest to write.

I haven’t neglected writing entirely, but finding it difficult to focus, have been writing much less. The less I write, the less easily the words come out. The way I’m feeling reminds me of a fountain pen left too long without being used. The way the ink refuses flow through the nib, I’ve been struggling to form words. Last weekend I plotted some of a story I’ve been working on for several months, but the words only trickled out. I did not feel the catharsis I feel after a great writing session.

I keep trying, though, and slowly it’s getting better. I know that’s way out.To keep writing. And this is what I’ve been trying to do. Just the way the ink in a fountain pen writes flows more freely and writes more smoothly the more you write with it, I know the words will come more easily and more freely the more I write.

I’m learning to accept that there will be times like this where I find it hard to write. And sometimes things come up, and life truly can interfere, but going through periods like this doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer or am doom to be unsuccessful. I have to be willing to actively work through these times, finding ways to motivate myself and get the words flowing, which I am learning to do. I may never be able to avoid these times completely, but I do think that learning to work through blocks is a skill that be improved with practice and perseverance. I keep trying, and I do think my periods of total non-writing are shorter and fewer than historically. And continuous improvement is the best I can ask for.

Word Art Wednesday: What I’ve Been Doing

Word Art Wednesday: What I’ve Been Doing

Word Art Wednesday is my new project designed to help me practice my hand lettering and calligraphy skills.

The goal is to post examples of my lettering and calligraphy practice once a week. Every Wednesday I will show off what I’ve been working on for the previous week, good or bad.

I came up with the idea as a way to encourage myself to spend time every week on both my writing/blogging goals and lettering/calligraphy practice, allowing them to reinforce each other, while I work on improving my skills in each. I also hope that having a visual representation of my progress will keep me motivated and help prevent me from being discouraged during those inevitable moments of doubt when I think I’ll never improve.

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Hand lettering and calligraphy are old hobbies of mine. Hobbies that I haven’t thought much about in a long time, until recently. Sparked by an idea for a gift for a friend, my interest has been reignited. And as often happens, I’ve been so enraptured by it that I have barely been able to focus on anything else.

And for this, my writing has suffered, and I’ve neglected this blog.

have been writing these last couple of weeks, but not as much as I would like. And I haven’t been sticking to my posting schedule for this blog. I’ve been unable to focus.

I decided I needed a way to stick to my writing and blogging goals, while still allotting some time each week to practicing my calligraphy and hand lettering.

I have a tendency to become deeply enthralled in something for a brief period of time, before abandoning it entirely.  I don’t want this to happen. I enjoy lettering, but I’m not especially good at it. Besides, I haven’t done it in a really long time. I need to practice.

That’s why I’m starting “Word Art Wednesday”, which would probably be more adequately called “Word Art Practice Wednesday”, but that’s a little cumbersome.

 

The idea is to bring the two things together, to allow them to work together and reinforce each other. By working my new hobby into my blog, I hope I can work it into my writing plans and goals for the blog, without too much added stress and anxiety.

With that said, here’s what I’ve been working on the last couple of weeks.

Calligraphy:

I’m using a fairly wide nib, which is recommended for beginners because it’s easier to see what you are or aren’t doing properly. The font I’m working on is Roman minuscule, modern 2. I chose lowercase because for some reason I was finding that much easier than uppercase. I’m pretty happy at the moment because I’ve been practicing for just about two weeks and I feel like I’m already improving. This week I plan on working on some capital letters as well, so I can write proper sentences.

Lettering:

I’ve been doing a lot of doodling and experimenting with pens, pencils, and fonts, mostly. This is a small (and the best) sampling of what probably appears like bunch of random scribbles to anyone but me. There are many options with lettering and I’m still working on what direction I want to start with.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8263540@N05/9169068026″>Pen and Paper</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

(Reflecting) On Blogging 101

(Reflecting) On Blogging 101

I admit I’ve been distracted this week. In fact, I’ve been sitting on this post for days. I can’t help it; I was lost in an amazing book. (The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, more about that later).

And I finished it today, so here we are.

But even still, I’ve spent a lot of timing reflecting on the Blogging 101 course I’ve been spending time on this month. Continue reading “(Reflecting) On Blogging 101”

What 734 Words Can Mean

What 734 Words Can Mean

Last week was a good week for me as a writer.

I wrote a blog post for the first time in over a year! Even more exciting, I wrote a short story for Yeah Write, a weekly writing challenge. A whole short story. From beginning to end. I actually got to the point where I could go back and revise and edit. Revise and edit!

It’s short, less than 750 words (per the submission guidelines). But the shortness was the point. I have struggled so much with finishing things that the relatively small word limit appealed to me. Seven hundred and fifty words seemed long enough to be able to develop a well thought out story, but short enough to be feasible. It took some of the stress off. Continue reading “What 734 Words Can Mean”

Where I Left Off

I wanted to start to a blog because I wanted a reason to write.

But not just to write, because I always have a reason to write. I wanted a reason to write something from start to finish. I wanted a reason to share what I wrote.

I wanted to start a blog because I liked the idea of it. I liked the idea of composing a completed piece of work, of revising and editing it, of posting it for others to see. I liked the idea of a blogging community. The structure. The accountability. Continue reading “Where I Left Off”

Crossroads

This past week, I found myself facing a dilemma.
Boston city corner

Nanowrimo is ending, and I haven’t finished my project. It’s okay because Nano did what I wanted it to, and it got me writing. More than that, it got me thinking even harder about my future as a writer.

A few months ago, after a lot of thinking and soul-searching, I decided I wanted to go back to graduate school to pursue a MA in Book Publishing. This was a critical decision for me as I originally moved here for a completely different graduate program. However, I decided that writing is too important to me to not be a focus in my life, and that I have spent too much of my life with writing on the back burner. I always wanted writing to be a part of my life, but I always pushed it aside while I focused on other things that I perceived as “more important” or “more practical.” Continue reading “Crossroads”

First Lines

I’ve been thinking a lot about first lines. It all began last week when I started reading Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez. The first line was so beautiful I reread it several times, and only after a few pages did I fully understand it.

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

I can’t stop thinking about this line. I hear in my head constantly; there’s something about it that just sticks with you. Continue reading “First Lines”

2,290

2,290

That’s how many words I need to write a day to finish my Nanowrimo project on time.

It’s day 11, and by the end of today I should have written 18,337 words. So far, I have written 4,216. Needless to say, I’m a little behind.

I could make excuses about how my work schedule’s been crazy, and I’ve been tired. Or about how there was other things to do, and how I can’t focus as well when my boyfriend’s home. But none of that matters. It’s in the past now. Continue reading “2,290”