Daily #100: Daily #100

Well, I reached 100 posts! Yeah, I didn’t do it perfectly (as I just forgot a post the other day), and I took a break for my holiday, but regardless, I’ve written almost solidly for 100 days. 500 words a day at least. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • It’s bloody hard. I thought that 500 words would be a relative doddle, but after about a week and a half of it, my topic bank ran dry. Suddenly, I had to think up topics on the spot. Often, there wasn’t a topic at all – I just discussed my day. This leads me onto the next point:
  • Not everything will be good. If you’re writing every single day, with the goal being just to commit to writing, most of what you come up with will not be very entertaining at all. For me, that was part of it – I wanted to be comfortable with putting out mediocre content, to be come okay with putting out mediocre writing in general. Ever heard the phrase “kill your darlings”? If you struggle with perfectionism, throwing out ‘junk’ is one of the best ways of pushing past it. It stops you from being precious about the words you put on the page.
  • Be prepared for those days. The days when you can’t write a post, whether it be for lack of time or lack of being bothered. If usually write in the evenings as I do, think ahead if you’re going to be going out. Be ready to whip up a post on the fly if you have to, and if you’re more prepared than I am, have a few posts on standby for just such an occasion. If you’re really feeling professional, maybe even write your posts a couple of days in advance.
  • It’s okay no matter what your blog is for. A lot of blogging communities online focus on two things: finding your niche, and making money. It’s all about analytics, sessions, and SEO. But it’s okay if your blog is not about that. Sure, if you want to make money, niche-based content blogging is the way to go – but you’re allowed to do it for the enjoyment, for the creativity, if you want to. Don’t feel like you have to conform to pressure to put out a certain type of content.
  • I’m not sure whether I want to do this long term. I’m not saying I’m about to quit, but I can’t see myself creating this much content centered around myself indefinitely. At some point, I’m going to switch to concentrating on just my creative writing projects. Sometimes this commitment can seem like a barrier to getting more progressive work done.

As I said, I’m not saying I’m going to quit, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue the daily series for much longer. I might minimise the post length to just a diary-style post instead, it just post when I have something specific to say.

100 days is a long time. It’s led to 31,000+ words written (and I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve written more words than that on my novel draft in the same amount of time). I’ve talked about things that matter to me, and things that don’t matter to anyone but me. I feel like I’ve achieved my goal of proving I can commit to writing – commit to anything, and I look forward to continuing however I choose to.

Daily #96: Flash fiction #3

Another competition entry! This time, I placed second in the competition, which I’m really happy about. I enjoyed writing this piece as I could personally identify with it, to an extent. The prompt this week was “write a story about a seed growing in an unlikely place”. Hope you like it! Any feedback is welcome.

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Daily #84: Back pain

The first thing I did this morning was some yoga. I woke up, and instead of spending the following 30 minutes in bed mindlessly browsing my phone like I usually do, I brought up a yoga video on my phone and followed it for the same amount of time.

It’s not the first time I’ve done some yoga, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve done it as early as that. Last year, I completed Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge (successfully, too). Unfortunately, I stopped once I’d finished. I absolutely recommend looking at her channel – she has loads of incredibly well-made videos for yoga tutorials, and she is a born teacher. Her tutoring isn’t obnoxious, and it can be so encouraging and well-timed that it feels like she’s talking directly to you.

The reason I finally tried yoga again is because my new routine of writing all day at work, then coming home and writing all evening is taking its toll on my back. Neither my home or work desks have standing capability, so I’m stuck sitting for most of the day by virtue of what I’m doing. My back has been becoming stiffer and stiffer, to the point where it’s straight up frustrating to deal with the pain all the time.

I’m happy to report that my experiment this morning was a success, and I intend to try it again tomorrow. I felt a bit more limber during the day. For now, to ease myself into it, I’m going to be following the same routine each day: Yoga For Writers (fitting, right?). It’s a fairly straightforward routine which obviously hits the points I need to hit to be a bit more comfortable during the day. I hope to progress onto completing more of her 30-day challenges after getting used to the morning routine.

The reason I’ve decided to do it in the morning is simply because I feel like I have too much to do in the evenings. Almost all of it is self-inflicted, and I enjoy it, but it’s piling on a bit so I have to try and fit as much into my day as possible. Those things include:

  • Proofing my friend’s novel – I believe I have around ten chapters left to go on this.
  • Writing a blog post (500 words) each day
  • Writing a short story I’m working on
  • Writing a week’s worth of blog posts in advance – I’ll explain this soon!
  • Maintaining my social media profiles and engagement
  • Writing my novel draft
  • And now, doing yoga (or otherwise maintaining my health).

Considering I also work 40 hours a week, it’s a lot. I’m still getting used to this relatively new routine, and the more I do, the more I want to do. It’s a struggle to make sure I have enough time to complete everything each day. That’s why I’m using my mornings before work, as well as my lunch break (in which I try and write at least 500 words of my novel draft) to get through as much as possible.

There’s only so much time in the day and week, and I have to factor in other things I end up doing – for instance, I went out for a meal tonight for my partner’s mum’s birthday, there’s another meal on Friday for our friend’s birthday, and I’m going to a gathering at my other friend’s new house for the whole of Saturday night. Of course, not every week is this busy, but those are other things which can wipe out a day or evening.

Speaking of wiping out an evening, it’s time for bed for me. Hopefully I’ll have some more time tomorrow!

Daily #82: From home

Today I got to officially work from home for the first time.

It was quite simple really – I was suddenly asked to write two high-volume pieces (ebooks) with only a couple of weeks notice. Wanting to get them out of the way, I just asked my boss if I could take today as a work from home day, and he agreed.

The only thing (literally the only thing) I don’t like about my job is that there doesn’t seem to be a way of arranging a consistent work from home schedule. Despite us all being given laptops, and my work primarily being something I complete independently, as well as the necessary communication channels that facilitate remote work having already been established, it’s just not something that’s offered.

I asked my colleagues about this, and they said that “a few people have like one day of WFH a week, but they’ve been here for ten years”. It’s a shame, as I think it would really be an improvement to my workflow at times – hence why I requested to stay at home today. I got a good amount done, as I was uninterrupted by colleagues asking for odd bits of work.

I think my ideal arrangement at this point in time would be for me to be able to work from home 2-3 days each week. This would allow for me to be in work regularly – I see the benefit of being in the office at least some of the time, as some things move more freely when they’re being collaborated on in person, and meetings are a good way of catching up. But I’d still spend a good amount of time working at home, which works with my main goal – to get a dog.

I’ve probably discussed this goal before, but I don’t remember where. Getting a dog of my (our) own is one of the main things I really want to do within the next 2-3 years at the latest. We’ve bought a house, which was one of the two criteria we needed to fulfil to be able to get one – the other is for our work lives to match the dog owner lifestyle.

I’m aware that plenty of people have a dog while both adults are working full time. The money earned from them working allows the dog to attend daycare, or get dog walkers – or there’s family close by which look after the dog during the day. While these are all feasible for us, it’s more of a matter of preference for me. While this might sound selfish, I’d like for myself and my partner to be the ‘primary’ owners of the dog, and part of me would probably be jealous if somebody else (such as a family member) was having as much time with said dog as I was.

Sounds silly, I know – but I can’t help it. Part of me also thinks it can be a little irresponsible to get a dog when neither of the owners are home most of the day – especially a puppy, which is what we’d be in the market for.

You might be wondering what breed of dog I’d like. There are many, but we both agree that our first dog will be a golden retriever. My grandmother had one when I was young called Wilf, and he was like a lion. I’ve loved them ever since then – and they’re fairly easy to train and very friendly, which is exactly what I’d like in a dog.

It doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by gorgeous dogs. Here’s a few pictures of them!

Daily #80: In the family

I fancy myself a writer, and now I do content writing as a job. My mum is also a writer, and being around her has given me quite a lot of lessons on the reality of being in a creative field.

The first time I realised writing was something she did was when she presented me with a manuscript of her novel when I was in my early teens. At the time, I didn’t realise the gravity of completing a novel draft. She asked me to read it and give her my thoughts, as I was in its intended target audience. I read it through, enjoyed it, told her it was good but that the ending was a bit confusing, and called it a day.

Since then, she’s written a short film which reached the finals in a competition and was subsequently produced, and now she works as a script writer for a soap opera.

She’s always struggled with confidence and self-worth, as well as faith in her work, and I was always worried that I’d feel the same. Her writing is constantly under scrutiny from a full set of people who aren’t writers, and it’s difficult for her not to take suggestions and criticism too personally.

But despite her feelings, she’s an amazing writer. I sometimes think that my job can be hard mentally, when I’m trying to push out content that I’m not familiar with, but she has to do it on a creative level. She becomes emotionally attached to what she writes, but it has to go through the same inspection-mill as my marketing content. It’s exhausting.

And if something goes wrong, rewrites have to happen – and that means writing an entirely new story-line in just a few days of work. Something which just isn’t possible for many writers.

Having a writer for a mum inspires me, but it has also taught me how best to deal with criticism. Not wanting to feel the stress she feels at her work being scrutinised, I constantly work against perfectionism, and force myself not to take criticism personally. While it’s fairly straightforward in my work as it’s not overly creative, I’ve also started to put my creative fiction out there too – on this blog, and entering competitions. I invite criticism on my work, rather than shy away from it. I’m a firm believer that ‘exposure therapy’ is a really effective way of getting over that hurdle.

My mum never published her novel, although I think it was very good – just needed some tweaks here and there. She told me she got stuck in the editing process. And as I’m writing my own novel now, we’ve agreed that once my draft is done, and I’ve done all the edits I can, we’re going to form our own little writing group – just the two of us. We’ll work on our novels together, and give each other feedback for editing and redrafting. I’m glad that the person who inspired me to write will be going on this journey with me.

That got pretty sappy at the end there – I just love my mum!

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Daily #79: Left handed

Today, as the title suggests, I’m going to discuss being left-handed. By the way, I’m writing this in a rush as I’m going out tonight, so apologies in advance if there are errors.

I am part of the approximately 10% of people worldwide who are left-handed. I don’t do everything with my left hand – just writing and drawing – but that is what tends to have the most impact. Some people also do everything else with their left hand, including playing instruments, throwing and using a baseball bat, and even using their keyboard and mouse.

I’m fortunate in the sense that my only needs are writing and drawing, but even then, there are some things I have to deal with which right-handed people just don’t.

Of course, I’m lucky I’ve not been born in the middle ages, where left-handedness was used as a factor to identify witches (which were subsequently killed). Even as recently as the 20th century, children who were seen writing with their left hand would have it tied behind their back or were punished for using it. Left-handedness was even banned in Albania for a while!

Here is a list of the most annoying things I’ve encountered. Some of them don’t really occur anymore, but they did in school, so I’ll include them.

  • The first is writing alongside someone. By writing, I mean on pen and paper. This was only really a problem in school, as now I either type or don’t have to sit adjacent to someone. But while in school, if I was sat to the right of someone who was right-handed (which had a 90% chance of happening), we would bump elbows. Writing over long periods of time became a constant struggle of whose elbow would be triumphant and claim the prime real estate between us, and who would be the person to contort themselves into a strange position to avoid the bump.
    More often than not, I would be the one to concede, due to my being in the minority in that area – it was seen as a problem I caused by being left-handed.
  • Another problem that occurred in school, but continues to occur now is that English is written left to right. This raises a couple of issues – firstly, when I’m writing, I can’t see what I’ve just written. You may notice a left-handed person writing with their hand curled over their writing – this is so they can see what they’re doing without lifting their arm.
  • The other point raised by this ‘quirk’ of the English language is that if I’m handwriting anything, I will always get pen on my hand if I’m not careful. My hand will immediately shove its way over wet ink on the page, so I’ll end up with smudges and entire prints of words on the left pad of my left hand. It’s a pain, and makes my handwritten work look messy.
  • Whiteboards. Due to the aforementioned smudging, whiteboards require me to be creative with how I hold the pen – imagine writing but you’re holding the pen near its far end. There are many reasons I couldn’t be a teacher, and that’s one of them.
  • And then there’s the general tools that are designed for a right-handed world: scissors, musical instruments, notebooks, can openers, and plenty of other things. Using any of these is frustrating at best, and leads to destruction of property at worst.

That’s my little rant about being left-handed. The good parts? It’s an interesting thing to say about yourself, and there’s a bit of a thing going around that left-handed people are more intelligent than right-handed people. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I’ll roll with that.

I’m off out now. Bye!