Writing a Letter

Today I had Lauren write a little letter to her teacher for next week. She just wrote down some of the things that she did this summer, such as swimming, going to Gramma and Papa’s, and playing My Little Pony.

I helped her with spacing, capital letters, commas and spelling. It made me see how far she has come in just a few years. She’s a SIXTH GRADER now. I can’t even believe it.

When You’re In A Bad Mood

It’s hard, day in and day out, doing the same things. Feeling the same feelings. Fighting the same battles. I used to have a really tough time getting out this hole – deep, dark, bottomless. I’ve learned some tips to make my bad days seem…not so bad.

DRINK WATER

It’s obviously the healthiest beverage choice, and the cheapest. I keep a 64oz container of water in the fridge, ready to go when I need it. Staying hydrated is important anyway – but this is the best choice when you are grumpy. Caffeine makes me jittery and hurts my stomach, which doesn’t do anything to improve my mood, no matter how good it may taste at the time.

GRATITUDE

I am grateful for so much in my life. My kids. My family. My friends (it still makes me smile, writing friends. I spent many years alone.) After all that’s happened, I look back on how far I’ve come – and my kids – and remember that God used that experience to shape me into what I am now – and what I have yet to become. Sit down and make a list of everything you are grateful for today.

MUSIC

Listening to some music usually helps me feel better. I use Spotify, and have certain playlists I go to when I’m feeling icky. My current favorites are the Moana soundtrack (especially Shiny) and my Christian radio playlist. Unfinished by Mandisa and Hard Love by NeedToBreathe are some really motivating ones!

EXERCISE

I hate exercise. I hate being outside. I hate being sweaty. But there’s something about moving, burning calories, that makes me feel so much better when I’m done. My current go-to is walking, but I’ve been thinking about trying yoga – I know my kids would love it – and the benefits are endless. Do you have any tips, YouTube channels or advice on how to get started with yoga, especially as someone who is not flexible at all?

MAKE A LIST

Sometimes, I make a simple to-do list, adding things like: eat breakfast, wash the dishes, take a shower. When life gets crappy, seeing even routine things crossed off a physical list can be powerful.

JOURNAL

Write it all out. Get it down on paper, or type it out on your computer or phone. It can help you sort through what’s making you so grumpy. It’s like venting to a friend. Or…

CALL SOMEONE

Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Most of the time, they will be more than willing to listen and they may even have some suggestions. Bonus points if they meet with you in person. Sometimes, when you feel crappy, you don’t want to be alone.

GET A HOBBY

Find something you genuinely love to do. For me, it’s taking photos of my kids, writing YA paranormal fiction and reading through the Harry Potter series.

Sidenote: if you have meds, take them! If you don’t, and think you might need them, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about it!

When all else fails, lounge on the couch and binge-watch some Parks & Rec or Supernatural. Sometimes, you just need to feel crappy for a little while. Just don’t let it go on too long!

What Avery’s Reading

Avery started reading the Wings of Fire series last year because it was in her classroom library. I saw the third book of The Menagerie series (by the same author) at the library a few weeks ago and ordered them for Avery.

She is halfway through the first book and is on track to finish the series by the beginning of September. Her favorite thing about the books? That they are about animals – including mythical and extinct ones. (She wanted me to let you know that there’s a Woolly Mammoth named Captain Fuzzpants).

The Menagerie Series by Tui and Kari Sutherland

I think I am going to read them when she is done!

Creating A Writing Schedule

Since I haven’t been writing much lately, I need to ease back into it. I am planning on using tips from Kristen Kieffer at Well-Storied to create my daily writing schedule.

First, I need to come up with a daily word count minimum. I can barely crank out 50 words for journaling some days, so I will aim for 100 words a day on any one of my various works-in-progress or something new. I will not count my journaling, since that’s non-fiction.

Second, I will have to write early in the morning, since I am usually a night owl and I want to change things up. School starts in a few weeks, so getting up early will need to become habit again. I’ll set my alarm for 5am and be writing by 5:15am.

Third, I need to decide where I am going to write. Some nights, I bring my laptop upstairs with me, with the goal of getting things done, but I usually fall asleep instead. To wake me up in the mornings though, I suppose having to walk all the way downstairs to use my laptop will be better than hitting snooze.

Last, I need to have some sort of small goal to work towards. In one month (31 days from tomorrow), I want to have written 3100 words. If I reach that goal, I will get to buy a new notebook (my favorites are Fringe Studio notebooks from TJ Maxx).

I think that’s a good start! Happy writing!

33 Things Update

When I wrote the first post back in May, I was in a relationship. Some of my goals were relationship-oriented. Now that I am very happily single, I feel the I need to update my goals again.

  • Go swimming with my kids
  • Take them to more social events
  • Make progress in therapy
  • Try new foods from the local Farmer’s Market
  • Go to an outdoor movie
  • Pick fruit this summer
  • Get back into consistent blogging
  • Take daily photos
  • Get in the photos with my kids
  • Take more selfies
  • Walk every single day
  • More deliberate self-care
  • Less Netflix, more nature
  • Use my planners more
  • Plan more self-care nights
  • Use my free time more wisely
  • Use my phone LESS
  • Go out to dinner alone once a month
  • Write with my (many) pens more
  • Take a portrait of my kids each month
  • Get a haircut
  • Read daily
  • Get some sun (safely) this summer
  • Go see a movie alone
  • Word hard in therapy
  • Drink a lot more water every day
  • Journal daily
  • Get back into writing fiction
  • Focus on school and get my last year out of the way
  • Figure out who I am and be that.

Not too many things have changed, and now that I am looking back on this list, I need to get a move on the summer stuff! It’s already mid-August – my classes start in a little over a week and the kids go back the day after Labor Day. Summer is flying by and we’ve been a little lazy!

Why is Writing So Hard? Part 2

You can view Part One here.

Perfectionism

I recently learned that my procrastination is linked to perfectionism. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I don’t remember. But either way, they are linked. (It’s also linked to anxiety, but we won’t go there yet.) I am by no means a Type A/Everything has to be perfect-person but I seem to forget that a first draft can be revised – and it should be revised.

A first draft is supposed to be messy and not always make sense and there might be plot holes and you might forget some details. That’s okay. That’s why it’s a first draft.

Another mark of perfectionism according to Mandy Wallace is that you spend more time reading about writing than actually writing. Yep. This is me. At any given time, I have at least ten tabs open on my laptop (and at least ten more open on my phone) for writing advice sites. But actually putting those practices to work? Yeah, no. It’s too hard.

Not Having a Writing Schedule

Right now, I write whenever inspiration strikes, which isn’t often, I’ll be honest. I spend more time trying to force myself to write than writing (goes along with the point above). So I looked up how to set a writing schedule. James Clear has a great list of Twelve Famous Writers and their schedules. But I was looking for something a little more…normal.

On almost every site, it says that you should figure out whether you write better in the morning, at night, or somewhere in between. I guess I am a night owl, since I am nearly useless in the morning. The Write Practice suggests that instead of writing at night like I am used to, I should switch it up and write early in the morning. I may have to give this a try. At the very least, it will be good to see a sunrise again.

Self-Sabotage

This is something I do in almost every area of my life. I hold myself back, stop myself from making progress. Why? Who knows? Maybe my therapist can help me figure it out.

The first thing that jumped out at me on Kristen Lamb‘s site was this: “Most of us fear we don’t have what it takes.” I think this is true because there are countless stories of writers publishing their work and not selling anything. Or some writers never even publish because they don’t think it’s good enough. She mentions “pantsing” in her post. It’s not what you think – in the writing world, it means that you fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to your writing. No plotting, no character/world-building. Just writing. I’m pretty much a pantser. This is actually a great post – she lists the ways that writers self-sabotage and also ways to get over it. I’ll definitely be trying some of these!

Sounds like I have a bit of work to do before my classes start in two weeks!

What Hannah’s Reading

Kindergarten books. Because, duh (her words). She’s so excited for kindergarten but I don’t think she really gets that she will be in school all day, every day. It won’t be like it was in preschool where she got days off during the week and rest time in class. I’ve been to one of the kindergarten classes at her school and can confirm there is zero time for resting. Those little kids work hard to learn everything they need to learn and they do a great job. On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome snacks and the playground is just a few feet from her classroom door.

She reads the books by describing what’s happening in the pictures. She’s really good at figuring it out!

Why is Writing So Hard?

I used to write all the time. If I wasn’t reading some fiction book, I was writing my own stories in notebooks, or journaling about my day. I was always writing. It came easy to me. But for the past two years, I haven’t been able to write a single word of fiction. I do journal – but it’s usually just a few sentences about how I don’t know what to right and every day is the same stuff all over again.

After my youngest child was born in January of 2014, I couldn’t read. I just didn’t have the mental capacity to read a book. That terrible stretch ended after about three years, which made me so happy, I went and bought the Kindle edition of the Harry Potter series. During that time, I didn’t do any writing either, but it didn’t bother me at the time. Now? Now it bothers me.

I want to write. I want to have ideas again, and put those ideas down on paper. I sign up for NaNoWriMo every year, and each Camp (April and July), in hopes that inspiration will magically strike on the first day.

I really want to be able to write fiction again, so I did a little research as to why it’s so hard. Even as I type that, I know I sound a little whiny, but I really miss writing and getting lost in my characters’ world.

Focus and Practice

One of the first sites I clicked on mentioned that writing requires focus and practice, among other things. Well, these are two things that I do not have right now. I was diagnosed with ADHD-Combination type last year, and it made so much sense to me as to why I wasn’t able to write like I used to, or to comprehend what I was reading for college assignments. As for practice, I know I need to just sit down and write. But I always feel like I need to wait for an idea before I write. The idea never comes, so I never write. It’s something I need to work on for sure. I found this quote on another site:

” Writing is difficult for numerous reasons. Writers struggle with finances to time to losing friends, but the key to being a good and strong writer is that you never give up. You write, you fail, you write again, you improve. With everything you have to practice. “

Not Knowing What to Say and Being Physically Uncomfortable

On yet another site, it says “You can’t write if you don’t know what you want to say”. It goes on to give suggestions on how to combat this such as researching the idea you do have, and if that doesn’t help, making an outline of your idea which will give you more to work with, and if none of those tips work, then where I am at the moment may be the issue. I know this to be true.

I have been dealing with some physical pain lately, and I’m sure my POS couch isn’t helping things. I currently sit hunched over my laptop, which sits on a coffee table in my living room. I don’t have a desk, nor do I really have room in my house for a desk. It’s something that I think would really help me a lot though, both with writing and school work.

Getting out in public to write is also really uncomfortable for me. Even when I have headphones in, I still feel like everyone is staring at me and judging me (for what? I don’t know. Social anxiety isn’t exactly rational.) Figuring out where to put a desk in my house seems like the best bet.

Stay tuned for Part 2!