Creativity & Motivation

The Fear of Being Wrong

The scene I finished yesterday is called “Reincarnated cactus” and it’s 2200 words of pure Julianne and Kris interaction, which I very much enjoyed writing. Today I fell just short of 1000, but another scene is done. All of it is headed to Patreon with Friday’s update.

I finished reading two books last night: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Mason.

The biggest thing I took away from The Creative Habit is the notion of keeping boxes for separate projects. I like this idea so much that I ordered myself some Bankers Boxes off Amazon.

All of my books already have their own notebooks, but over time, each project accumulates isolated notes and scraps and Post-Its, and because I don’t like mess I end up throwing everything away, or stashing it somewhere never to be seen again. Having a box seems like an obvious solution to what I now realize is a problem, but it never occurred to me before. I always think of boxes as things you use to store things away, not something to be actively used. So, I’m excited to give this a shot.

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits.

I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg over the summer, and since then, I’ve been working to build better habits, starting with a good morning routine. I had a really good one going for a while: journaling, yoga, meditation, writing. I was doing it all, every day, and it was great.

Problem is that as an insomniac, I often have trouble waking up early, since “early” is when I usually manage to fall asleep. The later I woke up, the later it would be by the time I got around to writing, and the less time that left me to write during the day. I skipped yoga one day, and that was it. My whole routine fell apart.

The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they all have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.

Since writing is my One Thing that I have to do every day, my current routine is stripped down to the bare necessities: wake up, make coffee, write. Eat lunch. Write. It’s working well. Eventually, I’ll tack on something else. Meditation, probably. Then yoga.

Since I made “giving fewer f*cks” one of my resolutions for the year, I figured I should get some insight into how to go about achieving that, so I bought The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck back in January. I finally finished it last night.

What I took from it boils down to this: We’re all going to die, so we might as well be selective about the things we give a f*ck about.

Death is the only thing we can know with any certainty. And as such, it must be the compass by which we orient all of our other values and decisions. It is the correct answer to all of the questions we should ask but never do. The only way to be comfortable with death is to understand and see yourself as something bigger than yourself; to choose values that stretch beyond serving yourself, that are simple and immediate and controllable and tolerant of the chaotic world around you. This is the basic root of all happiness.

This is mostly a book about putting things in perspective so that you don’t make yourself more miserable than necessary.

Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt uncomfortable with being different. For me, it’s always been more about giving up the fear of being wrong.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

–Joseph Chilton Pearce

So that’s what I’m working on.

Next book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson

May you rest in peace, Stephen Hawking  — The world will miss you

writing

New Beginnings

I wrote about 840 words of TBSOL today, and finished a scene that turned out much longer than I intended it to be, but it was a lot of fun. Writing this version feels a lot like writing the first one. It’s not a version that’s trying to do anything. It’s not intended to be better, like v2 was, or shorter, like FV.

This version is my playground. It’s me trying to find my voice again. It’s me trying to fall back in love with writing again. It’s me figuring out how to listen to myself again, instead of feeling overwhelmed by what I think other people want. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that, but it doesn’t matter. It’s enough that I understand why all of this felt necessary. This book, and all of its iterations, have made me who I am today, both as a person and a writer, and I have no regrets.

This will be the last version of TBSOL, not because I have finally discovered the perfect way to tell the story, but because I’m ready to find out what happens next. And whether it works, or falls apart, I can’t really know. The point is, I’m no longer afraid to find out.

I think of this version as a new beginning, both for the story, and for my life, and that is how I’m approaching the writing of it. It feels like closure, but it is also a fresh start.

Of Life & Randomness

A nice, mellow weekend

I wrote about 900 words of TBSOL this morning, and finished another scene.

Over lunch on Saturday, K talked to me about Microsoft Sharepoint and computer programming, and then I talked to her about the Vedic texts, the cyclical nature of time, the duration of kalpas, and the spiritual nature of souls. But then I remembered I’d forgotten to put in an order to the grocery store so we could go pick it up. In my haste, I accidentally scheduled the order for today (Monday) instead of for Saturday afternoon.

K made fun of me.

At the grocery store, I brought up the subject of thoughts, and wondered what form our thoughts would take in the absence of language, but we didn’t get too far into that discussion, because we got distracted trying to pick out some lettuce.

For dinner I made us BLAST sandwiches. The original plan had been tacos, but halfway through our outing we decided we were too hungry for anything that would take more than a few minutes to prepare. So I suggested BLTs. But, having found some fresh spinach, and the perfect avocado, I made us BLASTs instead. Bacon. Lettuce. Avocado. Spinach. Tomato. So good.

I then tried unsuccessfully to get K into Halt and Catch Fire, and switched us instead to a show I’d been interested to try: Imposters. K’s not a big TV watcher so trying to get her into shows is very hit or miss. But she loved Imposters, and so did I. So much so that we binge-watched all ten episodes of the first season in one sitting, and went to bed after 3AM. Con-artists and lesbians. What’s not to love?

Yesterday — Sunday — was a bit of a lazy day. We listened to my playlist of classical music for about an hour before, during, and after breakfast, and talked about music. There was a lot of reading, and some World of Warcraft, and some laundry, and some cooking, and I don’t even know what else. For dinner, I made tacos, and at some point much later we sat around talking, and snacking on Oreos and milk.

Overall, a nice, mellow weekend to kick off the month.

Today, there was writing in the morning, a break for lunch (leftover tacos), and then more writing. Then I played some WoW while listening to Mysterious Universe Plus+ podcast 17.08, which is about Nick Redfern’s The Slenderman Mysteries. I’m not done listening to it yet, because I got distracted, but I’ll go back to it soon.

Tonight: salad and a potato omelette for dinner, and most importantly: The Good Fight. 


“Remember that the world in which you live is a gigantic laboratory with people interacting with each other and affecting the whole. Each act of yours, everything you do, or say, or think, yes even every emotion you give way to has an impact on everyone else.”

— Joseph J. Weed, Wisdom of the Mystic Masters

Of Life & Randomness

Picking, and choosing, and blogging again

The other day, I caught myself thinking that I was bored of the Internet. Then I realized that by “the Internet” I meant social media, and I wondered when it was that “going online” became logging into Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, and all the rest. What did I do online before all that?

It occurs to me that I don’t really know what’s up with most of the people I consider friends. They’re all spread across different parts of the world. To learn about their lives I have to log onto Facebook, and scroll through whatever content an algorithm decides I should see, and from there I learn that so-and-so went out to dinner, or someone else posted a meme, or someone else’s kid looked cute today, and so on and so forth. Is that what connecting means these days? Sharing a few, selected pieces of our lives and scattering them across the digital landscape in the hopes of getting a like, or a heart, or even — dare we hope (or fear) — a comment?

The Internet has forced us to become the editor-in-chief of our own life, and I’ve never been very good at that. I’m bad at picking and choosing what to share, what filter to use, how to caption things. I’m 100% sure almost nobody knows anything about me anymore because I can’t really figure out what’s important to share. I retweet a lot. I’ve gotten good at letting other people say the things I’m too afraid to.

I miss saying things. I’ve been wanting to resurrect this blog for a long time, only I kept facing the same question: what to say? A funny thing happens when you fall silent for a long time, you kind of lose your voice. I thought I’d blog again when I found it again, except I can’t find it without writing.

So here I am.

I promised myself that this year I would write more, and give fewer f*cks about the things that don’t matter, and I’m working on both of those things. I promised myself, too, that I’d do more sharing, but so far, I’ve been unsuccessful at motivating myself to do that. Mostly because I haven’t wanted to add to the noise, which really just means I still give too many f*cks about what people think.

I’m not sure what’s important to share, but I’m starting to realize it doesn’t really matter. I suppose that’s the beauty of having a blog, it’s your own semi-private oasis. I hope to make the best of it again.

Of Life & Randomness

Giving Fewer F*cks

Resolutions 2018.

Kind of.

I don’t really do resolutions. For some reason the first day of the year is never the time I kick into high gear or get my sh*t together. That usually happens a few months later, around my birthday.

Today is day five of the year, and I’m not sure how the writing resolution is going, but the giving fewer f*cks about anything is shaping up a little better.

By that I mean not overthinking. Not worrying. Not stressing about every little thing. Not doing that thing where I create elaborate doomsday scenarios and let fear take over. I’d like to be done with all of it.

Last year was a bit of a rock bottom year for me, but I think things got a lot better in the second half of 2017, and ever since then I’ve been trying to find my way back to myself with varying degrees of success.

We’ll see what 2018 brings. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to. Bring it.

 

writing

If it makes you happy…

The Midnight Sisterhood. Notebook #2.

I didn’t write today. I wrote yesterday, and I wrote the day before. But at 4am, I was like, “I think I need to remove this one character from that scene I wrote today…”  And then I was like, “Do I, though?” And then I wasn’t sure. So I spent the day staring at my news feed on Twitter, in a state of perpetual horror and shock, and then the day went poof.

So tomorrow. Tomorrow I will remove this one character from this one scene, and then finish it.

This draft of TBSOL is 100% about making myself happy. I have not, for one second wondered, “Is it good?” Whenever I’d give K things to read before, I’d always ask, “Is it good? Is it well written?” These were the things I was preoccupied with. With this draft, I hand her pages, and I’m just like, “Was it fun to read?” I can usually tell by how much she laughs. Making her laugh makes me happy, and making people happy has been the entire purpose of this book from version one, page one. So, onwards we go.

Today I scheduled Chapter 18 of TBSOL over on Patreon. Coming up next, that which is highlighted, and beyond…

 

Of Life & Randomness

Mist Monsters, Vaginas and Teleportation

Photo Project: 30 Days of Notebooks (1/30)

I spent my morning learning about mist monsters (muy creepy), and — unrelated to that — about a Spanish boy said to be the reincarnation of a much-beloved Buddhist lama, who grew up in a monastery and at eighteen was like, “Eff this shit, I’m out.” He then returned to Spain to hang out at the beach and listen to trance music and make documentaries. All of this I learned courtesy of the Mysterious Universe podcast, which remains my favorite discovery of 2017.

Chapter 17 of the new version of TBSOL is now up on Patreon.

Chapter 17 Sneak peek:

Julianne: Va…nguards? No … Vagabonds… Vaaaacuities…

Kris: Tragic

Julianne: Vag…arious

Kris: I’m never playing Scrabble with you

Julianne: VAGOTONIAAAAAAA

Kris: Is that even a real word?

Julianne: Play Scrabble with me and find out.

Kris: I can’t believe how reluctant you are to write VAGINA. Are you sure you’re a lesbian?

From here, the conversation moves to teleportation, because any conversation about vaginas usually segues into quantum mechanics and the transfer of matter. At least, it always does in my experience. “Write what you know,” they say. Well. This is what I know.

Stepping back for a moment, I can see that this post is all over the place. Insightful quote about writing followed by talk of mist monsters; reincarnated Buddhist lamas followed by vaginas and teleportation. I look at this post, and I think, I should maybe have a coherent theme? But no. No. I’m just gonna go ahead and blog the way I think.

So back to the mist monsters: sometimes they paralyze and attack you in your house, but apparently turning on the light makes them go away. Pro-tip: Never turn off the light. I also learned that sometimes aliens abduct you and put you into some kind of gel liquid you can breath through. I have no pro-tip for this.

Today I’m grateful for: Not being someone who gets attacked by mist monsters or abducted and put into breathable alien gel.

And now I’m off to catch up on Las Estrellas. Look how cute they are. <3

 

Of Life & Randomness

Happy Thanksgiving

There’s no Thanksgiving in France, and unlike Halloween (which I love), it’s not really a holiday I ever celebrated before moving here. What I do miss, however, is pumpkin pie. I really, really, really, REALLY love pumpkin pie. So, this weekend, I’ll be making my own. Hopefully, I won’t burn it like last time.

And while I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, I do celebrate giving thanks.

Gratitude, I think, is one of the most powerful things in the world, and I intend to show more of it.

So, thank you. Thank you for reading this, and most of all, thank you for existing.

Today, I thought I’d share a few articles I’ve collected on my travels through the Internet today:

  • Giving Thanks to the “Not Me” generation – Lynne McTaggart, author of The Power of Eight, discusses how thinking about and doing for others is the key to unlocking happiness in yourself.
  • Perpetual Thanksgiving – Author and artist, Austin Kleon, shares a free, downloadable gratitude template he created with his son, and a quote by Thoreau on giving perpetual thanks.
  • Out of this World Cornbread Dressing Recipe – Courtesy of NASA. I will probably not be trying this…
  • 22 Famous Writers Talk Books They’re Most Thankful For – A great list from such authors as Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Rainbow Rowell, and more. And since we’re on the subject, the book I’m most grateful for is Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden. This book literally fell from the shelf at the bookstore and landed at my feet at a time when I desperately needed it. No one believes me, but it seriously fell from the shelf as though someone pulled on it and let it drop. So, thank you, invisible librarian spirit.
  • The Art of Ornamental Orange Peeling (1905) – In case you need some last minute table decoration ideas, the Public Domain Review has your back.
Of Life & Randomness

Hello, C’est Moi

I descaled my coffee machine yesterday, and here’s the thing about descaling the coffee machine: it’s not fun. It’s not fun at all. Especially since the descaling solution comes with zero instructions. I had to resort to YouTube, which made my cat very angry because he hates it when disembodied voices drift out of the laptop.

However, after cleaning the coffee machine inside and out, it turns out my coffee did taste much better this morning. The angry red light was right.

So, if your coffee machine has an angry red light, and like me, you’ve been ignoring it for weeks because you know that cleaning out the coffee machine is not fun at all, just do it. Do it. You’ll thank me later. You won’t thank me as you’re doing it — you’ll probably hate me then, but later — much later — you’ll thank me.

I wanted to kick-off my newfound dedication to blogging by reminding you that I still care about you and your coffee. In case you thought I didn’t.

It’s been a weird few years. I fell into a deep well of depression for entirely too long, and crawling out of it has been a slow and arduous process. But here I am at the other side, and I’m feeling much, much more like my old self.

And, like my old self, I’d like to get back to blogging every day, or at least more frequently.

There was a point there where I honestly couldn’t remember what I used to do on the Internet. Hours of my life got sucked up into the void of random social media. Tumblr. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Back to Twitter. Hours, days, weeks, months, years — all gone, with nothing to show for it. I stopped reading books. I stopped creating things. I stopped sharing because I had nothing to share. I was in a constant state of anxiety about everything.

I hit rock bottom some time around April, and just went, “Whoa, enough.” It’s been getting progressively better since. I’ve started reading, journaling, meditating, doing yoga, walking more, eating better, sleeping better, and, most importantly, writing.

One of the first (and best) changes I made was cutting Twitter from my morning routine. I used to reach for the phone first thing and read the news, which was a great way to start the day anxious and depressed. I cut the Internet out of my morning routine altogether, eventually.

Now I wake up. Drink water. Do yoga. Meditate. Listen to a podcast or audiobook while making/eating breakfast. Journal. Write. Then check the Internet. Sometimes I don’t do it all. Sometimes I wake up late and have to shift things around. Sometimes I’m lazy. But the foundation is there, and it’s been a blessing.

So, what have I been … continue reading…

writing

I’m back to blogging, but first, let’s talk TBSOL

Last time I wrote on my blog about TBSOL was back in November of 2015, and I said I wasn’t going to talk about TBSOL for a very long time.

Well, here we are, two years later, and I’m finally ready to talk about TBSOL again.

Today I scheduled “Chapter 17” of the new draft over on Patreon. Last week I finished what I’ve been thinking of as “Part I” of the book. There’s a lot left to write, but all of it feels doable in a way that hasn’t felt doable in a very long time. Mostly, the book feels fun again. It’s also (I think) a bit more ridiculous than FV. It has 100% more Nutella poetry, in any case. continue reading…