This upcoming November I am participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to create a story and write at least 50,000 words. That's almost two thousand words per day. The tricky thing about this, is it's during a busy month for me in terms of school. Not only do I have classes, but I also have extracurricular activities and a job. Time management and lots of prayer are going to be a given. It means a lot for me to be able to compete in this. Writing a book it difficult, but writing it in one month during the school year? My goal is to have fun, try my best, and encourage others to do the same. Doesn't matter whether I reach 50k or not. What matters is I challenged my mind. I take Nanowrimo seriously as if it was a job because I truly enjoy honing my writing skills and getting better at something I love to do. This is my self-care, choosing something for me.
And with that, I will not post any blog posts this month so watch out for my Nano reflection December 2nd :)
Sometimes the weights on our shoulders get too heavy to carry around. We add so much on our plate that we forget to care for ourselves. We are expected to run like machines, but we are not made of metal, bolts and wires. No. We have a brain that tells us when the stress is too much, and a heart that won’t beat forever. We are not machines, we are human and as humans, we need to slow down sometimes. The world will continue to spin and go one whether you are working or sleeping. Time is an illusion. We don’t lose or gain time. We simply live within its man-made constraints. What we do with that illusion still matters. Not everyone can slow down unfortunately. Some people work three or four jobs to keep up. Some may only work one but have other obligations such as their family. Even in those times, leaving a smidgen of space for self-care can be beneficial in the long run.
In my sociology class we are learning about labor movements in the 20th century. It’s crazy to believe people worked more than eight-hour work days and never got a break and were not allowed to speak to one another. These men, women, and children, worked around and with dangerous machines and chemicals, but weren’t allowed basic rights like using the bathroom. How can you expect your workforce to thrive with such horrid conditions? How can one expect to do their best job in those environments?
As a rule, I make sure there is room in my schedule for alone time. I need that space to relax by myself. Sometimes I push homework to the next day or later in the night just so I can take a much-needed nap. It’s important to take a break from the world and take care of yourself. Our bodies need time to rejuvenate and get ready for the next battle. Hanging out with friends, taking a walk by yourself, reading a magazine, or going to a play are all ways to do that. Taking care of your mind and body is not a selfish deed. It is necessary and healthy. Allow your human body to breathe. How can you expect to be your best if you can’t even stay awake?
*Photos from freephotos.cc
I’m sure most, if not all of you, have heard of a vision board where you put up quotes or pictures of what you envision your future to be. I thought about doing that, but then realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Instead I created art boards and cut out magazine pictures that looked aesthetically pleasing or had some sort of meaning to it.
This is a project everyone should do. Not the same exact thing I did, but the idea. It allows you to become more introspective. You’ll start to ask, “Why do I like this picture and not that?” “What type of meaning does this have for me?” Let your creative side come out in whatever you do. Don't just think outside the box, live outside the box. Change things the way you want to, like how I did with the vision boards. Take snippets of ideas from various places and create something personal to YOU. Allow the art to represent your vision and your ideals. When the creative juices flow in, it will express your inner beauty as well.
Each of my boards has a theme. The first one is black white, the second is blue, the third is brown, and the fourth is colorful. My boards may not make sense to others, but I look at them and see the connections. They all complement each other. Each board tells a story through the pictures. I have a picture of Issa Rae, the creator of Insecure. I started watching webisodes on her YouTube channel and was excited when she landed a show on HBO. That right there is inspiring. I have photo of fashion models like Bella Hadid, because I’ve grown to appreciate modeling and photography more thanks to my novel, Being a Model. All the research I did caused me to see the artistry in modeling in a way I never saw before. I also have a photo of black ballerinas and I love that picture because there you don’t see that type of representation often.
Finally, I have my “Me” board. This will have bible verses, words from magazines, my unofficial book covers, and things that I like/ like to do. The way I express myself is through writing and speaking. This time I wanted something visual and hands-on to do. Next, I might paint or spray paint something. This year, my creative brain has taken off and I want to try everything! Inspiration is everywhere. You need to pay attention and grab it.
There are times when we question ourselves and what we’re doing. Is this the right major? Is this the right career field? Should I move to a new state? In the beginning of the race we run high on adrenaline, but it dies out in the middle, until we come to a slow crawl towards the end. We lose the momentum that pushed us forward. We begin to doubt our abilities and our dreams, allowing them to wither away and fade into oblivion. We forget why. Once things get difficult or take the “wrong” turn, we say, “what’s the point of this?” “I’m tired of waking up early for this class/ job I don’t like.” “I should just take the easier route.” “No one believes in me.” Say no to these negative thoughts. Remember why you started this journey. Remember the goal. See the finish line in your future. Pick up your feet and start running again.
The problem may be your routines or habits. Try changing things up a bit. Find a new place to study. Try taking a different route to work or school. Re-vamp your project, start over if need be. Do something to bring that spark back. Do not give up on yourself. Have milestones along the way so you know progress is being made. Losing hope and motivation is a part of the journey. It wasn’t easy writing my books. Some days I wonder what the point is for spending hours and mental energy on something that may never get shelf life. “Who’s going to read my blog anyways?” “Are my stories intriguing enough?” Stomping on those thoughts, I continue to write. I joined Camp Nanowrimo, set a weekly schedule for each book, and set deadlines.
If it helps to speak to someone else and vent, reach out to a close friend or a mentor. Prayer and/or meditation is also a terrific way to put your mindset back in place. Maybe you need a break to let loose or think. Take a day off or a couple (this might not work for school, please don’t skip your classes). For October, I am not working on any books, just blogging and setting up for Nanowrimo in November. I’m trying to write 50,000 words in thirty days (yikes!). That may or may not happen, BUT the most I’ve ever written for Nano is 20-something thousand. If I even make it to thirty thousand, that will be an incredible accomplishment. This is what I mean. Fifty is the goal, but 30 would still be better than the last time. You need to do better than your last accomplishment. Didn’t get an A+ in class, but got a better score on this test than the last? That’s something to celebrate. Passed a deadline for a personal project, but still completed it? That’s an achievement! Effort is what counts. Do what you need to do to get back into the race and run at maximum speed.
Next week’s topic is on Vision Boards.
This month, I set aside weeks to focus on three books and edit my completed novel, Our Father. I challenged the writer in me to work on a scene each day and write 500-1,000 words every day! In my mind, I thought it would be difficult to come up with that many words, but I surprised myself. Some days I wrote 700 words, 900, even 1,000! The words were coming to me and I didn’t stop them. Because of the outlining I did over summer, my books had a little meat on it to begin with. The process was exciting as I saw my books grow closer to completion. By this time next year, I am planning on having two more books done.
It wasn’t all peaches and cream though. There were nights I didn’t want to write because I was exhausted. Staying in bed or watching YouTube videos sounded like better alternatives at that point. Researching subway routes, uber rides, what ports in Dar es Salaam looks like, and boat rides to Madagascar were some of the setbacks I didn’t have beforehand. These things took time because I need to envision the scene properly. When someone reads it, they should see the image clear in their mind. It’s a crucial part of writing, to create the scene. Everything needs to feel real. They need to be able to smell the coffee and hear traffic in the background while their eyes experience Bethany demonstrate her special abilities. Fortunately, the author in me pushed through with motivation. My creative mind cranked out those words in less than three hours -something new for me- and now I have 6,713 words added to Being a Model, 6,382 words to The Other Side of the Mirror, and 5,228 words to Her War.
I also finished editing Our Father which means it’s *almost* ready to get sent out to publishing agents. Editing was only step 2 of… I don’t even know how many. Next up are beta readers (people who read your books and give feedback) and sending in queries to agents. Maybe it will be ready by the end of this year? Cross your fingers for me!
Next Saturday’s topic is on losing motivation and hope.
Many students went back to school about a month ago. I start this upcoming Thursday. This is my junior year in college, which means the end is almost here! I have so many goals to accomplish this year, so many unnecessary things/people to let go of this year, and I’m excited to start. Everyone has the giddy feeling at the beginning of school. We’re ready for any challenge that comes their way, but by the third (or first!) week of school, our brains have melted. They say think big so we do, but then we realize how complex it is to create a reality out of our big thoughts. It’s a tad bit impractical. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying a person can’t do that. If you read my post last week about prioritizing your time, you know I don’t think that. The problem arises when the road to creating something real becomes more difficult than we expected. We almost expect it to materialize before us. Society gives the perception that this is straightforward and simple when it’s not. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to get straight A’s this year!” It’s a lot more difficult to achieve that. It takes hours of dedication and preparation and you still might not get all A’s. Tailor your goals to your life and your own experiences. Take your ideas as far as you want, but remember to take the right road on the journey to achieving your goals.
Never allow someone to tell you that you can’t get something done. Have confidence in your abilities. There are so many brilliant minds suppressed by people who don’t believe in them or are plain jealous. I experienced this before in middle school. My friend and I wanted to set-up a dance event for students and teachers. I don’t remember what is was for. We confided in a friend and told her our idea. You know what she told us? She said it wasn’t a good idea and we shouldn’t do it. My friend and I glanced at each other shocked. This girl didn’t give us an alternative or try to help. She simply shut us down. I then said, “Well, we’re still going to try and do it.” Unfortunately, the plan failed and we couldn’t do our program. Oh well, the effort was what mattered. How could we know if we never tried?
Don’t stop something because someone says you can’t do it (unless they give you detailed reasons). Work hard for what you want. Sometimes you still fail. Maybe it wasn’t the niche for you, but that okay because it means there is something else. They try to make your ideas or aspirations seem unreachable or dumb. Even if you don't have that skill, practice to do better. Remember the purpose of your actions. Remember your abilities and skills. You are capable. It hurts when your “support system” doesn’t support your vision, but those people will end up asking for your advice when the success pours in. Once you check off your goals, those things won’t matter because you will see how capable you are. Your competency is evident. We have the capacity to fail and succeed. The encouragement of others is nice, but it’s easy to depend on it. Don’t rely on them to push you forward. Row your own boat. Fly your own plane. Cook your own food. Confirm the person in the mirror. If you want it, go for it. The journey is yours.
Time management is important in life. You may have several different activities going on at once, and you must organize them accordingly. This post is about time management in a more specific sense. We need to talk about prioritizing your time with the things you want do in your life besides the obvious (school, work, family/friends). We pack our day with so amny things and some of them are more important than others. People say they don’t have time to do what they love, but I think the problem is, they don’t see it as significant so they clear it out from their schedule completely. If you like to sew clothes or play a sport, set aside time to do that! I prioritize writing because it is something I love and take seriously. I don’t make money from it and I’m not getting a degree for it either. I write for me. ME. There’s nothing wrong with that.
We all have what we need to get done (academics or work) and then there are side projects as I like to call them. They are equally as crucial in life if you allow them to be. It shows a lot of discipline too. If you like to go hiking set aside weekends for that. If you like to sing, go to karaoke nights. If you like to dance, create choreography. These activities can teach you skills you wouldn't learn in other fields. It makes you a more well-rounded person when you are involved in different fields, especially if they're different from each other. A person like that brings a new insight to the table. Writing makes me more of a creative person and I bring that aspect to anything I am involved in. Whether it's the way I create a presentation, or the way I solve a problem. These side projects can become something real if you allow them to be. Make it a challenge. You must prioritize your time. We spend too much of it listening to others telling us how to live our lives. Do what makes you happy too!
“Why can’t I be like that person?”
Everyone has a talent or a passion within them. You may not be aware of it, but it’s there. Some people may even see their “talents” as inferior to others or something not worthwhile. We can accomplish something great if we allow ourselves to. Just because you can’t do any of the famous talents like sing, dance, or draw, or take pictures, doesn’t mean you don’t have something to share with the world. Maybe you like to organize and plan events, that’s a talent. Maybe you love editing and proofreading essays, that's a talent. Maybe you like collect rocks and create a booklet talking about rocks in different countries, that a talent (interest?). God has given everyone a special quirk, no one is left out. It’s within you, sometimes you must find it. You are on a specific path so you cannot compare your life or success to another person. They are going through certain things that will benefit them and so are you. It doesn’t have to be the same.
Look in the mirror what do you see? Potential? A lack of motivation? Take out a piece of paper and jot down things you enjoy doing and/or things you are good at. Maybe write a sentence for each of those things are make bullet points underneath each thing explaining why you’re good at it/enjoy it. Then, ask yourself which of these things on the list can you improve on or turn into a new project or even an actual career. No matter how far-fetched it seems at the beginning you never know where it might take you. Even if it’s a hobby, that doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself to do better. For example, I love to write poetry and create stories. Since I was six, I would make story lines for my dolls. At this early age, I knew my books were going to get published. Whether by me, or a publishing company. It wasn’t the idea of going on a book tour or making loads of money that kept me going though. It was the realization that if I put my mind to something and work hard for it, the outcome will be success. And it has. I can’t draw. I can’t skateboard. I can’t take pictures. I can't play an instrument. But I can write. Of course, there is nothing stopping me from learning how to do those other things, but my point it, I have something to work on and so do you.
It’s the last week of August! I don’t have a story to work on this week so today’s post is more of a reflection on this month, and a schedule for September. I was extremely excited coming into August. I went from completing Camp Nano to working on four different stories each week. I outlined, planned, and created character pictures and biographies. This month was productive. My stories are fleshed out and ready for the writing process. This blog has allowed me to keep track of my stories and my progress for each one. Some writers prefer to work on one book at a time, giving it all the attention, but I can multitask, figuring out plots for books in different genres. That’s how my mind operates. Too many ideas flow through my brain and suppressing them only restricts my creativity.
September is also an exciting month because there are multiple things going on. First, I am finally editing Our Father, the story I completed during Camp Nano. My plan is to edit a couple chapters a day and maybe even finish by the end of the month. I will do another round of editing later, maybe in December. Second, I will continue working on the stories from August each week. My goal is to write 500-1,000 words a day. Third, I am adding poems to the family! Every Thursday (or Sunday) I will post a new poem for you all to enjoy. Lastly, every Saturday I will post life advice topics. This was the initial reason why I wanted to create this blog. I have so much to say and I hope whoever reads my posts will gain something new and inspiring.
The topic for this Saturday is: Do you have a talent?