Bullet (Journal) Hell

In the week and a half since the year started I’ve been binge-watching YouTube videos about organizing your life through cleaning your desk, overcoming distractions, and keeping up with everything you want to do in the form of bullet journals. “Bullet journaling” is the act of logging tasks and events in short increments, the purpose of which is to pressure you into getting things done. The key to success is to rapidly log your notes because having overly detailed entries takes up much more time, which results in you eventually abandoning your journal.

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This format will probably change on a weekly basis until I find a format that I can work with. I don’t expect to get through all of the fourth season of The Boondocks.

I didn’t think I’d jump into the world of bullet journalizing as quickly as I did, but in a week it’s really helped me out to get what I need done by dividing my tasks into different subsections:

  • Blue = Writing: This keeps me accountable for tasks realated to my manuscript, which is now about halfway through its second draft. My goal is to get at least one chapter done per week.
  • Green = Blogging: I like to keep scattered ideas for blog posts on the Evernote app on my phone.
  • Yellow = Entertainment: I’ve realized I spend too much time watching short YouTube videos and I want to transition into watching longer, more professional content. This section is for the things I want to tackle for the week.
  • Orange = Personal: These are general tasks, related to my personal life and things I need to buy.
  • Pink = Professional: Until I land a steady job, this will be the least used section in my journal. For now, it’s focused on the projects I have to get done for my internship.

Last week I made it a  priority to clean my room and clear out the clutter in my room. And I mean really clean it. I got rid of a gigantic stack of paper in a drawer. It was all notes from past classes that I know I’ll never look at again, so I emptied the drawer in favour of filling it with cables and smaller devices that have lower priority. It also got me to consume more media at a faster rate. If you know me, then you know how long it takes me to get around to actually watching something after you pester me to watch it (Still haven’t seen Stranger Things, haw-haw).

Also, while it has nothing to do with actual organization and task management, a bullet journal that I can’t recall  the name of used the concept of recording good things that happen to me – literally anything. I added this because it’ll be fun to look back on at the end of the year.

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It was a Sandile, by the way. Certainly beats the Luvdisc I found in Y.

My objective for this bullet journal is for it to be a time capsule on 2017, like a scrapbook of sorts. Here’s hoping it’s a good one.

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TVTropes Saved Me

 

Like most writers, I’m in a constant state of worry that my writing is a five-alarm dumpster fire, even though I’m probably pretty good. I have over 5,000 words trimmed so far, reducing my total word count to 102,190 with only the first major story arc completed. Can’t wait to work on the second arc, where shit gets real. I’m also flipping between two or three titles and I’ve changed the name of one of my main characters partway through the second draft.

While I’ve been writing, my anxiety is pretty broad. I worry that my dialogue, writing and character development simply isn’t good enough. Then I discovered how addicting TVTropes and my worries became a lot more specific. The other day I spent over an hour scrolling through all the negative pages – which resulted in me sleeping through my alarm and ending up late for work – looking for any awful tropes I’ve fallen into without realizing.

There’s the ‘Idiot Plot’, which highlights a story that has a plot that could have been solved from the very beginning if all of the characters weren’t idiots. And then there’s the ‘Cliche Storm’, where you are trapped in an endless hell where everything is something you’ve seen before. Finding stuff like this had me self-conscious that my story is exactly this, but you know what?

Finally reading up on what can kill a story has potentially saved my manuscript. From now until I’ve decided I’m done with writing (so, probably never), I plan on keeping TVTropes around as a reminder of what not to. After all, I can’t stand stories with conflicts that could have been solved from the very beginning and I’d hate to create something like that by accident.

So, that’s where I am right now. Still scared. Still slowly going insane.

Dream On (Or: The Destination Has Ruined the Journey)

The other day I saw a YouTube video about how publicly telling people about your goals and aspirations might not be the best idea. He mentioned a project about a guy who gathered a bunch of people to etch their goals on monuments scattered around the UK, for all to see. Its purpose was to make you accountable for your goals by having them visible, and it did work to a certain extent. However, he also mentioned that telling everyone your plans for the future can get you stuck. You might end up focusing on having that goal, and actually accomplishing it risks going to the wayside. I mention this because I’ve spend the last few months in the latter category, and it sucks. 

I don’t completely agree with the notion that telling people your goals is a bad idea, because it got me excited to tell people that I wanted to write a book. The problem was that I grew stagnant because I wasn’t keeping myself accountable for it. Nobody was. I haven’t been keeping up with this blog, yet at the same time I wanted to keep track of my writing progress, but I wasn’t keeping up with my actual writing so I couldn’t make an update. It was a vicious cycle and my new goal (oh, there’s that word again) is to kill my crippling lack productivity and to stop wasting time.

Don’t Stop Me Now

I started this blog because I wanted to always be writing. Exclusively talking about my writing progress isn’t the only way to do that. I have a lot of thoughts on the books I read and the TV shows and anime that I watch. Rather than spamming my Twitter feed I can talk about them here.

Keep Up

My phone has been little more than a social media machine, just scrolling and lurking when I should be getting shit done. So, I dedicated a whole section of my phone to making a habit of writing and everything else I’ve been negotiating. I’ll be setting a target amount of time every day dedicated to writing, instead of telling myself to edit and revise a chapter every week. A far off deadline only gave me more time to put it off till later, until the deadline passed and I should have finished working on that chapter two weeks ago.

I’ve heard that your mid to late twenties is the time when your brain solidifies. Your personality is set in stone and you’ll be like that for the rest of your life. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being a lazy ass who only complains about what he could have done in the past. Getting rid of the part of me that I hate the most would be the most freeing thing ever.

And actually making good use of my time wouldn’t be too bad either.

Hi, Hater! (Or: The Different Types of Criticism)

Now, if you’ve been on the Internet as long as I have, then you’ve more than likely come across the dreaded term “hater”. That boogeyman of the Internet. Always watching, always waiting for you to slip up so they can claim your soul.

I’ve always qualified a “hater” as someone who seeks to tear down your successes, attacking your creations with no rhyme or reason. These are the kind of people who you could attribute their crappy attitude to jealousy over the fact that they did not or could not achieve what you have done. But nowadays, people like to throw the word “hater” at anybody who has anything negative to say about something you like, no matter how sound or well written your argument is.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, everything, really. We’re creators, and anybody putting themselves out there is going to be at risk of the same scrutiny and criticism and hate. What separates the good from the bad is how we deal with criticism, and knowing what criticism is worth paying attention to. If someone is criticising your work, answer the following questions before you decide to take any action:

1. Is it specific?
Did the person who made a negative comment about your work specify what exactly they had a problem with? Or, did they just throw a good ole “U SUCK! QUIT NOW!!!1!!1!” your way? If it’s the latter, then just ignore it. Actual criticism is supposed to help you. Even if you hate everything about the work, a laundry list of issues will help you a lot more in the long run instead of some all caps gibberish meant to tear you down.

2. Does it tell you what you can do better?
The next step in improving yourself through listening to criticism is knowing what you can do to improve your writing. If a scene isn’t working for you, let the writer know that. Then, tell them what you would do to make that scene better. It’s certainly a lot better than just being told to delete your scene because they just didn’t like it.

3. Were they trying to hurt your feelings?
The true mark of a typical hater. They don’t want to help you. They don’t want you to succeed. They just want you down to their level. If you do get something like this, the important thing to do is to not take it to heart. And most importantly, don’t write an emotionally charged response to them. That’ll just make things worse.

Not only should you not let hater comments get to you, you shouldn’t let constructive criticism get to you. This is even worse because they’re trying to help you. Also, if you lash out at people just trying to help you, they’ll either never be honest with you again, or they’ll just stop helping you altogether for being an immature jackass.

Knowing the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism goes a long way. It helps you better appreciate the good ones, and lets you dump all the garbage to the side.

Don’t let the haters get you down, and let the critics help you up.

Writing Life & My Blog

Well, I’ve done a mighty fine job of updating this thing, right?

I may not be a big fan of New Years’ Resolutions, but I do have some goals I would like to accomplish this year:

  1. Edit My Novel: Finally finishing the first draft of my first novel was my crowning achievement 2015. I’ve finally decided on a name for it (“Soul of the Leviathan”) and it was about 110K words. My first writing goal for 2016 is to edit and trim this thing. I didn’t really get a feel for how I wanted the story to go until the last third of the novel. I’ll actually reveal what the book is about once I deeper into the editing phase and I actually start looking for beta readers.
  2. Read More: 2015 was the year I was fully immersed into the world of reading. I realized I wouldn’t be able to write a great book without knowing what makes a great book. And I couldn’t do that without actually reading some. I ended up reading a total of 27 books – more than I’ve read in the past few years. Now, reading is super fun and I hope to read more in 2016
  3. Utilize This Blog: This is the big one. I started this so I could build an audience for my writing. I do have idea for things to write on this blog regarding my writing journey, books, and random pieces of advice regarding writing. The problem lies in actually writing the damn posts. So, my goal for 2016 is to actually use this blog by posting on it at least once a week. I will be very cross with myself if I can’t get this down. I mean, I wrote 110K words. What’s a couple hundred a week?

I felt very accomplished with my 2015, and here’s to a fantastic 2016.