A to Z Reflections: Part I // I’m Writing It the Long Way

Yes, that’s right, this is part one of my Blogging A to Z Challenge¬†“Reflections” posts.

See, I’m not actually finished with the challenge yet, but instead of quitting after the race is over, I’m just going to go on running even as the other participants head home. I still have just over half the alphabet to go but I thought I’d at least share my thoughts so far, and, being sure I will have further thoughts after I cross the finish line, I’ll write “Part II” on the theme itself in a few weeks.

And still, even after all that, I’m want to take the challenge a step further, and with extensive editing, some additional creative writing, and a little art, I’d like make something real out of all that work, something I can hold in my hands. Something you can hold in yours too, and I’ll share my thoughts on that in “Part III.”

So far all I can share is my thoughts on the process. Writing, all kinds of writing, are a daily lesson not just in the craft itself, but in reflection, introspection, observation, and self-awareness. Writing teaches you how you feel about a lot of things and writing every day, or trying to write every day teaches you a lot about yourself too.

I’ve known for a long time that the kind of writing I naturally gravitate toward is a very slow kind of writing. I’ve known this, but I’ve worked hard to try to change it. I’ve read a ton of advice and tried a ton of strategies to “get ahead of myself” and even on good days when I spend every free second I have on words, I still can only get through a half a post at most.

My writing process is made up mostly of reading, gathering facts, ideas, and inspiration. I also enjoy brainstorming and drafting by hand. I like for writing to feel more like an assignment, a task, a very serious endeavor. I’m not sure that will ever change but I know that if I want to it, I have to start by trusting the process first. Maybe I have to just go with it for a while and write the way that feels right to me?

I also realized I’m still not a very good writer, but it’s okay! I wouldn’t expect to be a very good writer yet. I work a full-time job, and I don’t read nearly as much as I should. What I mean to say is, I’m not a good writer because I lack the capacity to be a good writer. I’m not a good writer because I don’t do the things I need to do to be a good writer one day.

I’m aware that I am long-winded and repetitive. I want to learn to either keep my word count but say what I want more clearly, so that I might say more, or, if I have less to say, learn to say it in fewer words and save us all the time. I’m sure I make a ton of grammar and spelling mistakes, many I catch only after hitting “publish.” Maybe my readers would be willing to read my posts with a more critical eye and share my mistakes with me?

Finally, I learned that blogging is hard to prioritize for a writer like me, a writer who has only barely begun to solidify their relationship with the craft. I have very little to show for all of my effort except what I have here on this little unknown and, I feel, unimportant corner of the World Wide Web. It’s hard to feel important when you can see the looks people give you when you talk to them about what you do.

Of course, I know it is only me projecting my own insecurities into the minds of others. In my mind, people only understand one way of writing. I expect that they are disappointed not to hear I am on my way to publishing a book, or a poetry collection, or that I have many articles in popular magazines. I’m sure they want to hear that I’ve written something they have read or something they might want to read someday, or now if I happen to have a draft to share?

I often think blogging isn’t real writing, this challenge reminded me that it most certainly is if I believe it is. If it’s important to me, it is important. My opinion is the only option that matters on the subject, well, and the opinion of my readers of course.

Which brings me to the last thing this challenge taught me this year, I am not very good at engagement.

If there was anything I felt disappointed in myself for or wish I could have done better, it would be commenting and sharing. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over it. I did the challenge for me. My writing is for me first, always, and with being so sick lately and with work getting in the way, I had to protect my writing time by making cuts to other areas.

I did read every comment posted here, and I replied to many. I still plan to reply to the rest. I’m finding the time to comment on other blogs too. I know engagement is critical here and I know that I give up a lot by not making it a priority. There is still time to make those connections since the master list will be up for some time longer.¬†I will do better.

There are other bloggers I follow and admire who don’t even allow comments on their blogs and instead move to social media to engage their readers. I like that idea considering places like Twitter and Instagram are places I spend most of my time, but I’m sure no one likes little old me enough to open another tab and type their thoughts into yet another text box.

As for the challenge itself, I have very little to complain about. The hosts do a great job of keeping the participants motivated and on track. I only wish the lists provided for each letter stayed open a little longer so that other bloggers like me who fall behind can still share our work with the others. I still plan to participate every year that I can at the very least come up with a theme and a subject for all 26 posts.

I hope you all will continue to follow along while I make my way, slowly but surely, to the finish line. I love my theme, and I have no plans to give up before I’ve written every post I promised myself I would.

Thank you all for your support so far, for every kind or encouraging word. Congrats to everyone who signed up for the challenge, whether you wrote all 26 posts or none, I’m proud of you for at least trying and I want you to know that is enough.

See you soon for the rest of the alphabet!

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Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the¬†A to Z Blogging Challenge¬†Reflections link-up. Check out my theme ‚ÄúBleak Realities of Human Existence,‚ÄĚ and my posts for the 2018 challenge so far, and, please, follow along for the rest! Even though I failed to finish on time, I am determined not to fail to finish at all.¬†

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // I’m Always Playing Catch-Up

Hello, dear readers! I’m so happy you’ve stopped by for a bit of caffeine and conversation today. I’m got up early, and I was feeling better, more motivated and hopeful, than I have all week, but I’ve since grown sluggish and apathetic. To be honest with you I’m no fan of Sundays. The mornings are sweet but as the day drags on I¬†grow disappointed and depressed and not even coffee can help now. The work week is approaching¬†fast with its early mornings and expectations.

But here is a bit of light underneath¬†the dread. There is the knowledge that a fresh start has come. I’ll hold tight to that feeling today, and add a bit of cocoa and chili powder to my coffee. That should turn the world around, yeah?

‚ÄúCoffee tastes better with a side of conversation regarding how the world might end‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒ¬†@cybersygh

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that I continued to make progress this week. I did better than this time last month but not better than the week before. The problem wasn’t from lack of trying, but a¬†lack of knowing how to finish things.

I started a few blog posts, and a newsletter too, but the words got away from me, I¬†couldn’t make my¬†intentions¬†clear and, so, I couldn’t bring anything back around to conclusions. But even that problem is only another symptom. The real disease is not knowing how to manage¬†important vs. urgent tasks.

Lately,¬†I feel like I’m always playing catch up. I’m never looking far enough ahead. I’m not making plans or working toward long-term goals, especially with this blog. I’m writing posts early in the morning that must go up that day rather than having them done and scheduled well in advance like a real blogger. Not that I’m trying to be a real blogger, but I am trying to be a real writer‚ÄĒnot that there is a difference‚ÄĒand being a real writer means learning how to plan and manage my time.

I also have to learn to stop and move on to something else when I get stuck. My current strategy is to stop doing anything at all and hope better ideas or a fiery passion will light under my ass and put me back to work. That never happens though because I end up spiraling into a pit of anxiety and disappointment. The longer I spiral, the harder it becomes to get back to doing something, anything again.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is the first step is always admitting you have a problem and I am now well aware that I have many. I’m working on them, I swear.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week wasn’t especially exciting. I’ve been going into work a bit early and heading home for the day at lunch time. Every day I plan to write until evening but nearly every time the couch calls to me. I turn on the fans, turn the tv volume down, and the dog and I sleep soundly through the afternoon heat.

It’s been nice to relax like this every day, and I’m aware I am lucky to be able to. I don’t want to complain too much except to say that while having time to nap every day is nice, having time to work toward your personal goals is even better. I cringe with embarrassment knowing how much a better person than me would be able to accomplish with over a month of free afternoons.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that in addition to that embarrassment I have a healthy helping of guilt thrown on top. Evey day my girlfriend comes home with me for lunch, and every day she heads back to work while I nap. She doesn’t seem too resentful of me though. She assures me that if the roles were reversed would sleep the day away too without a shred of guilt. I think she was trying to help, but I only felt more guilty. These past few weeks her job has been even more stressful than usual, and relief is at least a month or two away.

I’ve been worried about her, and I wanted to do something for her, get her out of our work home routine and do something fun. So, Friday night we dressed up and went back to a hidden seafood place we discovered earlier this year. We enjoyed a few drink, a few oysters, and a few hours of real interaction sans phones and social media.

Our usual date night routine is to head to the movies, but I forgot how much fun it can be to just enjoy a good meal and some in-depth conversation and catching up with another person. I’m hoping to have more of that in the coming weeks as I try to introduce a bit of balance into my girlfriend’s life.

 

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it was getting late and there is laundry to wash and fold and words that must be written elsewhere. Thanks again for dropping by. I hope your week was a productive one and that your weekend was relaxing enough to allow you to reset.

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If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Written for the weekly Weekend Coffee Share link up hosted, once again by Part-Time Monster

Featured image via Unsplash

30-Day Minimalism Challenge // Day 5: Identify Your Priorities

Throughout the month of January, I am doing a 30-day minimalism challenge in an attempt to start the year off fresh by practicing mindfulness, learning to enjoy solitude, and embracing simplicity. Feel free to join in if you want, I posted an image with all the challenges for you at the bottom of this post for reference.

Minimalism and Zen go hand in hand. Minimalism is about not making life too cluttered, nor too busy. Minimalism is about not being wasteful. It’s about figuring out what true happiness is, not what advertising tells you it is. Anything that is unnecessary is wasteful, and in a world where the trash is piling up and none of us is any better for it, maybe it’s time to try a new way.

I’m starting with doing 30 days, just to give it a try. What I like, I’ll keep, what I don’t, I’ll toss.

Due to an spending an entire week recovering from a nasty bout with the flu, I have had to condense this challenge. I have chosen not to do posts for assignments that do not apply to me. 

Identify your 3-6 main priorities

Above all, minimalism is about figuring out what matters most to you in life and how to add more of that to your day-to-day routine. Today: Dig deep and make a list of your 3-6 top priorities in life.

When I first looked over this challenge I was most confused by this assignment. I know about choosing goals, but it doesn’t say choose 3-6 goals, it says priorities.¬†I’ve never been asked about my priorities before. Priorities were just an abstract concept, something grown-ups are supposed to have and you better have them in order. I’ve only ever heard them mentioned when talking about parenting, and the person being talked about was the father, and he usually had his priorities “fucked up”.

I’m not sure I even know what priorities are exactly.

Priorities: What is most important and meaningful in your life today (activities, values, beliefs, lifestyle, principles, standards, hobbies, integrity, etc.) that you are not willing to compromise or sacrifice in pursuit of something else (a goal).

Goals: A future based anticipated expectation, possibility, end result or experience you are working towards creating, achieving or bringing to fruition that has not yet been realized in the present.

Comparisons:
Present Focused vs. Future Focused
What Is Happening vs. What Will/May Be
In The Present vs. In The Future

Profitbuilders.com

So it sounds like priorities are about right now and not the future. They are about what is important to me today. What do I care about in generally? What kind of life do I want to have? What do I think my life is all about?

Experiencing a life of love and adventure with my family. To be honest, I mean the little family I have that consists of just me and my girlfriend, for now. I want to experience more with my parents, my¬†brothers and sisters, and my nieces and nephews, but they all have their own family units and¬†spending time with me is secondary to that. That’s ok, that’s as it should be.

Just because my family only has two members doesn’t mean it should be any less of a priority for me. So far my girlfriend and I have spent a lot of our adulthood worrying about work. We haven’t done enough to see the world and enrich our lives. This year that changes. This year, and for the rest of our lives, we want to make sure that the life we have together is about more than just waking up and going to work all day, only to come home, go to bed, and do the same the next day. We want to spend more time loving each other and enjoying the time we have.

Exploring the art of mindfulness and simplicity. I have thought a lot about what kind of life I want to live and I think taking control of your emotions and thoughts, marking every moment, and taking care to only spend the little time you have on this earth doing what really matters to you is of the utmost importance. I can say that a wasted life is my greatest fear in this world and to avoid it I am learning not to let time pass by unnoticed.

Mindfulness means breathing in and acknowledging this moment. Mindfulness means breathing out and being grateful for the moment. I’m not perfect at this and I cringe thinking of all the minutes I let slip through my fingers. I cringe when thinking about all the moments I rushed through¬†and can never get back.

Simplicity means filling those moments with only what is necessary¬†or what brings me joy. Of course, I have to do things I don’t enjoy doing, but I must always make sure there is a reason I’m doing them. Going to work every day isn’t fun but with the money I earn I keep a home for my family and fund the fun things we do when we aren’t working. I take care to maximize that money by not spending it on things I don’t need or that only clutter my life and distract me.

Promoting a lifestyle of kindness and compassion. When I look around at greater society and humans as a whole my heart hurts for all the cruelty and indifference I see being inflicted and promoted. I hate to see people harden themselves against other people just because we are taught that the world is and always will be a hard place. I wish to show people how to have empathy and how it can benefit us all if we do. I wish to at best increase the amount of happiness and security in the world, if even just a little, or at least not increase the suffering at all.

Working toward a fulfilling career in writing and art. I love to create things. I don’t do it as much as I dream about doing it, mostly because there are not enough hours in the day but also because I am scared too. Failure is a scary thing. Still, creativity holds a special place in my heart and I do believe it is where my fulfillment in this world lies.

Keeping my sense of wonder and curiosity alive and promoting the same in others.¬†Related to the above, realizing we need more compassion and kindness comes from learning about the world and us. Knowledge and rational thinking lead to less anger and action based on selfishness and instinct. I also think that just like it is important for every human life to be lived to it’s potential, it is important for humanity as a whole to do all that it can in this universe.

We should cure cancer, find immortality, travel through space, travel through time, and solve all the mysteries of where we come from and where we are going. If there is any point to all of this I have to believe that this is it.

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These are the things that are important to me. These are the values and beliefs I will not compromise no matter what. These are the things my life is all about. I choose goals that are in alignment with these priorities and when I am forced to do something I believe is outside of these values I feel bad and wrong.

In the past, I have done a lot of exercises where I thought about my goals but after doing this, I think that writing down your priorities is much more informative. Your priorities give you a the¬†why¬†of all those goals. I think in the future, when I am setting goals, it will help to look back on this and make sure that all my goals are in alignment with my priorities. This assignment is a way to remind yourself what is important so that you don’t find yourself off course and doing things that aren’t important to your aren’t important to you, your family, or your beliefs.

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The idea for this challenge came from Into Mind. The rules for the challenge: Do one assignment every day, the order is your call. Don’t skip a day. That’s it.

30-Day Minimalism Challenge Calendar