Life

Things I’m Going To Do In April

Hello folks. It’s April. Wow. This year feels just like last year – moving incredibly slowly and ridiculously fast at the same time. Feels like eons have passed since January 6th, huh? Yet, my state still isn’t open for everyone to get the vaccine. And that is the first thing that I’m going to to do in April – get vaccinated! Well, at least sign up for getting vaccinated. Who knows when exactly I’ll actually get the jab in my arm. Might be April, might be May. But I’m signing up first chance I can.

Another thing in April – Camp NaNoWriMo, of course! I’ve never actually used these challenges as intended, though. I don’t care much about the word count, but I do use them as a springboard to get myself into writing shape. There’s been some instability in my family life all through February and March, and so my productivity had gone down to the toilet. I’ve finally started back up this week, and luckily April marks a new beginning, so to speak. Combined with Camp NaNo and the fact I’m (bravely) submitting some of my work to my writers’ group (stake is still very small, but there is a stake now, as opposed to none) for critique this month, all of this probably will propel me to write on a more dedicated schedule. I still don’t think I’m operating like a “writer”, per se. I love writing; it seems as natural as breathing (don’t @ me I know where the original quote came from lol). How do you turn existing into a job? Anyway, existential crisis aside, I have goals to meet and schedules to keep. Because of my budding realization that I probably have ADHD, it’s more imperative I strictly follow a routine in order to be productive. Or at least try this month and see where it leads.

I’m also going to resume my healthcare journey soon. IVF waits for no one, yo! I’m going to meet with my doctors (via telehealth) later next week for a roadmap of what to do once I’m fully vaccinated. So really, it’s just the beginning of the planning stage due to Covid. I probably won’t step foot back into a hospital until well into May. But I should schedule things regardless. There’s going to be some healthcare provider changes in my house, too, so it’s good that I’m waiting. The US healthcare system is a nightmare and I want to make sure I’m well covered before going in and accrue tens of thousands of dollars in surgeries and the like. I’ve waited over half a year. What’s a few weeks more?

And last but not least, I am 100% following my previous media black out goals. The last couple of weeks I’ve been pretty stressed, so I didn’t follow all my blockers, and went on to read reddit and comments under Youtube (yeah I know I know) and other news publications. And guess what happened? It got me even more stressed! I mean, duh, but it’s good to see empirical evidence of it. So April I have to be good, and block what I need to and NOT, absolutely NOT, visit reddit. Like I said, I only allow myself to open NPR for actual news, and sometimes LATimes for local ones. They’re the least sensational/click-baity news sites I can find and they have factual reporting. On such a work-heavy month I can’t afford to feel terrible about the state of the world and become depressed in the middle. It absolutely will destroy my productivity, and that’s the whole point of this April exercise. So site-blocking extensions full throttle! And maybe instead of wasting time on the web I’ll actually read a book for once. It’s been long due.

Life · Work

Media Blackout

I’m posting super late because, well, I’ve been kind of super demotivated lately. Starting with the last week of February – I had that weird insomnia episode and everything just kind of went into a haze afterwards. I had zero motivation to do anything, which I’m not proud of. Finally, I got myself motivated enough yesterday since it was the first of the month – a great fresh start, right? Nope! I sat down with the full intention of doing my normal planning and bullet journaling and blogging, only to be sidetracked by a news article. And then it was off to the races! I spent a good hour just browsing news and get demotivated by all the shit that’s going on in the world, and then I got on reddit, and, yeah, it was just a bad spiral all the way down. My plan of doing any work went to nil. And the day was wasted, with me being super upset to boot.

Well, because of all that, I’ve decided this month I’m going to put myself on a media and social media blackout. I will be completely blocking click-baiting sites like cnn.com, and of course no access to reddit or twitter or other forum-like places. (I do not have an active facebook, so at least there’s that.) I, however, will allow myself to look at npr.org, because I found that I can read NPR articles and stop at 1 or 2 articles, because their headline is factual and non-sensationalist. Because of that, I can read a report, get the info, and then go back to work. If it was CNN I’d be continuously clicking titles and skimming the barebones article and then immediately move on to the next one. Their marketing and clickbaiting works! So I’m going to cut myself off from going to that website at all. Ditto for reddit and other social media sites. It’s one thing if there’s amusing content, it’s another that, 4 out of 5 times, I leave feeling stressed, anxious, and upset. And that impacts my creativity so much. (I also give leeway to covid vaccine news, but I go straight to my state’s dashboard for that, so no clicking anything there).

I successfully blocked myself from these distractions today, and lo and behold, I’m finally beginning to get myself back into work-mode. Still didn’t write anything creatively, but at least I’m blogging, and journaling, and doing something productive for my mental health. I’m hoping I’ll return to writing tomorrow. At least a little bit. I can fill my time not doomscrolling with reading or playing a video game. Speaking of reading, I really need something lighthearted and fun for this month. I would like to keep up the habit, too. Well, I guess that’s the next goal.

Life · Writing

Yep, It’s February

Well hello folks. New month, new entry, per tradition. Really, I should post more often, but sometimes things just get in the way. Plus, it’s not like every day there’s some major crises like Insurrection or Second Impeachment and the like. “May you live in interesting times” really is the worst curse ever.

Anyway, I just want to give a general update on my life right now. The first month of 2021 has passed and I used most of it to basically establish a routine – writing, skincare, chores, everything. Of course I hit snags when I just was not up for it, which was kind of excusable considering the turmoil that happened in the US, but just barely. I had no excuse not to work as much as I could the past couple of days, for example, except I just really didn’t feel like it. I did finally give my bedroom a thorough dusting. It lead to many more chores, however, now that I took a proper look at the mess the house has become over the past few years. I know we accumulate stuff just from living, but there’re surely ways to organize things better. I’m not going to Marie Kondo everything, but at least I should clear all the papers from all the surfaces (and they’re literally on ALL the surfaces) so I could give that a thorough dusting too. I mean I don’t think I’ve seen the top of the living room coffee table for a long time. So, yeah, more to add to the to-do list.

I feel relatively okay when it comes to work, surprisingly. I’ve been keeping more or less on track with writing, and I feel like I got a little more done each week that passed. It’s like I’m starting as an overweight person trying to run for the first time in years. Of course it’s going to be slow and miserable and sporadic the first 100 miles (aiming for 1 mile a day as the metaphor). But as I build more muscle I can run faster. Same thing with writing. I’m not working as much as I want right away, but it’ll build upon itself, so eventually I’d be able to actually keep a consistent schedule. The pitfall is stopping. And yes, your body needs at least 1 day of rest a week if you exercise regularly, so I carried that over to my writing too. Five days of work and then one day of break. I found that if I take more break days I tend to just, well, get lazy and not do anything for more days. So I have to keep up the momentum. That’s the goal of this month – keep going, and see how far I can run.

Life · Writing

The Last Month

It’s December, y’all! I hope you had a good, safe Thanksgiving, and are keeping up with the safety precautions for the Christmas holidays, too. We had a tiny Thanksgiving dinner – small 12 lb smoked turkey, stuffing, asparagus, cornbread, and cranberry sauce just for my husband and I. (No dessert, but I think next year we might change that. I did miss having a good slice of pie at the end.) We invited no one and zoomed with my parents, who also invited no one and had an even smaller Thanksgiving dinner. None of us have plans for Christmas either, so with the crazy rising cases, I think we’ll be relatively okay.

I feel like this month is akin to whatever that’s going on in the White House right now, i.e. a transition period to 2021. I cannot wait for this horrid year to be over, and mentally I am already in next year mode, even though I still have a full 31 days to slog through. I started using the Hobonichi Techo I bought already, as its calendar starts in December of this year, and I’m pretty delighted. It’s going to be solely a work journal – I’m keeping a separate bullet journal for all the life things, including my endless journey to getting pregnant via IVF. I will start that again next year, after I get my flu shot and depends on distribution rate, the Covid vaccine. I am an avid pro-vaccine person, but I’m not going to get this fast-tracked vaccine if I get pregnant, because it definitely has not been tested on any pregnant women. Anyway, I bought a new nuuna journal for next year. That format is perfect for my bujo needs, and since I want something cheerful, I bought this super colorful one. Gives me a little more optimism, and god knows we all need more of those.

This month is also for me to catch up, writing-wise. I have not gotten much work done in November due to election, miscarriage, holiday preps, etc. Hell, I didn’t even get any fun things done because of those. And no, I’m not proud of that. So December is for resting and re-energizing. I will take care of myself physically and mentally, and I will have more dedication, more drive, to work. Yes, it’s going to be hard, but I believe I can do it. Of course I’ll keep y’all up to date on whether I succeed. Does this count as a new year resolution already? No matter. Everything in my life is a marathon, not a sprint, and so many things are out of my control that worrying, or even planning, is mostly useless. So why give myself anxiety? If I just keep on trucking regardless of what happens, I believe I will get far, even though it doesn’t feel like it any one day of the week.

Life

Happy New…Beginning?

Well folks, here I am, 2020. It’s a good way into January and I just managed to get myself sorted into the new year. The stay at my mom’s house for most of December contributed to it, and the medical issues I had did not help matters any, either. I know every “new year” is supposed to feel like a “new beginning”, as cliché as it sounds, but personally I have never actually felt that way. During my school years I’ve always associate September with new beginnings. But this year it was different. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a new decade on top of the new year, perhaps it’s that I physically was somewhere else during the turnover and the flying across country made the change more pronounced. Either way, it’s a new year, and I, for once, actually feel like I’m starting anew.

I’ve spent the past two days getting over slight jetlag and getting my life in order. Mentally I’m prepping myself to face what looks to be a fairly difficult time – I’m facing a lot of medical procedures and my writing career really needs to get itself in shape or I might just give up on it. Not something I want to utter this early in the year but we gotta face the music, so to speak. My house is a mess and needs a thorough cleaning – not just dusting and vacuuming but going through every room and sort out the junk from the important papers. The shelves are overflowing and just thinking about it makes me cold in my stomach. It’s long overdue and I just never had the motivation until now. And this journal needs to be updated more regularly; I keep on saying this yet never actually do it. Well, that’s not going to continue anymore. I’m determined and afraid but you know, life goes on and I’m not going to be around forever. Again, a morbid thing to say, but sometimes our own mortality is the only drive that keeps us moving forward. I feel like I’ve wasted enough of my life – I’m not going to do that any longer.

Life · Writing

Silver Lining

I had the worst case of food poisoning a few days ago. I couldn’t remember the last time I threw up – I don’t tend to throw up when I get sick. Well, this time I pretty much projectile vomited the whole night, and was basically bed-ridden for three days afterwards. I could feel my stomach being all knotty from hunger but had zero appetite, and zero energy to boot. It was an ordeal.

On the third day I had enough energy to stay awake but not enough for anything else. So I spent the portion I wasn’t drifting off to sleep thinking about life. (Isn’t it weird that we never think about living until we feel like we’re dying?) Specifically, what the hell am I doing with my life and why is it the way it is. Where am I in my life? Am I happy? If I’m unhappy, why? If I know why I’m unhappy, what do I have to do to change it, and what’re the concrete changes I have to do? It’s one thing to realize I need to “work more” but what exactly does that entail? Write more words every day? Write more words more consistently? Install a page blocker so I don’t get distracted by social media and waste precious hours while I’m in my “work” time? Things like that.

And I think I made sort of an epiphany kind of break through. (Yes, super cliché, but it is what it is.) I had a vision of what ultimately should happen, where I want things to be eventually (finish book, publish book, write more books until I die.) But I don’t have a vision of what should happen much sooner. When you’re working by yourself, sitting alone in the house (with a million everyday chores and other living distractions), with goals you yourself set and no real “punishment” if you don’t meet them, it’s very, very hard to gauge how much progress you’re actually making when your goal is six months from now. There’re no regular check-ups and reports, no meetings to attend to discuss your performance, so how do you know if you’re just lagging impossibly behind or right on track until, well, six months have passed and you see where you end up?

Short answer: you don’t. Or rather I didn’t. I’ve been told that writing’s a marathon, not a race, and that’s true, but you have a pre-plotted road and known miles for a marathon. Writing you have nothing. You don’t know exactly how long your novel will be – ballpark, yes, exact number to the tens digit? Not really. So what do you do? Well, for me, I realized that I need to have a clear goal for every day. What I’m doing now is basically write something everyday and hope in six months it’ll all come together from sheer perseverance. That doesn’t work for me anymore (may have never worked for me, actually.) I need to set a vision, a concrete “what percentage of this project will you be at by the end of today?”, and then set out to do it. And it needs to be very specific, not “I’m going to wrap up as much of this section as possible” but “character A will be at place B and the last sentence will be —” It’s like a mini finish line for every single day. That’s the most useful way for me to progress forward, I think.

This may sound a little like semantics or a ‘duh’ moment, but it’s actually quite a radical change from the way I usually work. It’s like a smoker instead of smoking a pack a day, he smokes just one cigarette short of a pack. To others it’s 24 cigarettes instead of 25, but this smoker has been smoking a pack a day, every day, for 5 years straight. That one cigarette short is a significant change in behavior. I’m only hoping that I can achieve the same.