Interlude #1

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Interlude is the portion of the blog where I share thoughts not directly related to the creative life but are still worth sharing.

Now Reading:

  • Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump

I’m not American, but I still miss Barack Obama. Can we clone this cool, calm, leader of the free world and send these clones to the Philippines?

Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s former communications director, wrote about his time from the Obama campaign to the White House. He also talks about how Trump rose to power and how Democrats can save their country and prevent a Trump reelection.

Now Listening to:

  • The Minimalist Podcast

I  recommended their books in a previous post, but these guys also have a podcast. I listen to them almost every morning during my commute. If you’re thinking of minimizing your life or just listening to something more positive than the news, then I recommend you listen to them, too.

They talk about applying minimalism, not just in getting rid of excess stuff, but applying the same principles to your health, relationships, career, passions, and contribution to the world.

  • Falling All In You

I listen to one song repeatedly to help me focus. This is currently that song. I love you, Shawn Mendes.

Get bored

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In Ancient Greece, King Hiero II had a new crown and old trust issues. So he asked the mathematician Archimedes to find a way to know if his crown was 100% gold. The king had a feeling that his crown maker mixed it with silver to keep the gold for himself.

As the famous story goes, Archimedes it figured out while he was in a public bath, screamed “Eureka!” and ran home naked. Whether or not the last two are true, Archimedes’ story proves that “Eureka moments” present themselves when we need to let our minds breathe.

If you’ve ever waited in line, commuted to work, or, been in a bathtub, you know that these breathing spaces already exist. We just choose to fight boredom with stimulation, usually in the form of scrolling through social media.

Checking our feed gives us something to do, instead of sitting still and doing nothing. Because it’s insanely awkward nowadays to wait in line and just….wait.

Since I’m basically addicted to my phone, I decided to carve out a regular time for boredom which is the bus ride from work. If I look out the window, no one can tell that I’m a weirdo with a boredom schedule.

Most of my writing ideas come from this block of time. While they’re not worth streaking for (yet), they keep this blog alive and well.

 

Photo by meredith hunter on Unsplash

Keep only the essential

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The best writing advice I received involved murder to some degree.

Kill your darlings. Cut the fluff. Keep only what is essential. An often-used metaphor is Michaelangelo chipping away at a block of marble until he reveals The David.

And after reading about minimalism and (slowly) applying the things I’ve learned that aside from cleaning our copies, we can also chip away the excess in our lives to reveal our best selves.

Here are a few of my favorite minimalist reads:

  1. The Gente Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

Margareta Magnusson describes herself as somewhere between 80 and 100 years old. In this book, she introduced the art of Swedish death cleaning or making sure our loved ones know what to with our belongings after we die.

This may sound morbid but it saves our family from the pain of sorting our junk while still grieving for us. Death cleaning also forces us to confront the fact that we can take a grand total of none of our possessions to the afterlife.

Plus, sorting paperwork like insurance policies is a good idea at any age.

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Marie Kondo’s bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” popularized the Konmari Method of tidying up our clothes, books, papers, and other miscellaneous items, in that order. Each has its own chapter to guide us through the process.

The Konmari method is not just getting rid of stuff, but treating them with respect. In the chapter about clothes, she suggests this folding method where we begin by feeling the fabric and thanking our clothes for their service (it’s not as woo-woo as it sounds.) It actually made folding laundry a fun and almost meditative activity.

Through Konmari, I finally got the resolve to *gasp* get rid of most of my books and other things that I keep Just In Case.

  1. Everything That Remains

Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus are The Minimalists (and are currently my favorite people). Everything That Remains is their story of going from suit-and-tie corporate guys to becoming minimalists to live more meaningful lives.

One of their favorite pithy answers is to love people and use things. Because the opposite never works. 

 

Photo by Sofia Sforza on Unsplash

 

Write everyday

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Now that we’re calling ourselves writers, the next step is to write. A lot.

I’ve been writing on and off for a few years now. My writing “habit” consists of quick bursts of writing for five hours a day then petering off to no hours a day. (A moment of silence for all my abandoned blogs.)

This time, I’m going to write for one hour every day for the next 30 days. To trick myself, I’ll make it into a fun 30-day challenge. If you want to join me, here are a few rules I set for myself:

Write at the same time every day

As much as possible, write at around the same time every day. Call it your “writing hour” for gravitas. I don’t limit myself to only one medium, because I can use the fact that I don’t have my computer or my unicorn hair fountain pen as an excuse not to write.

No word limit

Author Jeff Goins suggests to write 500 words a day, you can do that if that’s more your style. But a prescribed word count reminds me of school essay requirements where I put words in just for the sake of the 500-word limit.

No editing (yet)

The writing hour is focused on getting all my ideas out. So strictly no editing until the next day–or at least after a good night’s sleep. Basically, I press backspace as less as I can and accept the fact that first drafts suck.

No prescribed time of day

Most writers have a super achiever morning routine where they wake up at dawn and magically fit exercise. meditation, and writing before their first cup of coffee. My mornings are spent hitting the snooze button, so I do all my writing and exercise at night. Your writing hour can be any time that works best for you as long as you…

Stop after one hour

As soon as the time is up, I’ll stop writing, even if I’m halfway towards the end of a sentence. That’s even better because I have a point where can resume. The editing process can be for much longer because Lord knows I need it.

Edit the next day.

Confession: I’m really just writing for 15 days since I’ll be editing for the next day’s time slot. Editing has to be in the next day to distance myself from what I wrote, and spot mistakes better.

Level up

If after 30 days, you feel that one hour a day is too short for you, you can increase your quota to whatever works for you. I’m only on my second day, so I’ll let you know how this goes.

That’s it! Best of luck to me (and you if you decide to join me).

 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Call yourself a writer

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The first step to is to call yourself a writer.

Jeff Goins of Goinswriter.com said that we start being writers when we call ourselves writers. Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists said a similar thing about “aspiring writers” who just aspired all over themselves without doing any real work.

I was terrified to do this out loud. What if people ask if I’ve published a book yet (I haven’t) or if I have a literature degree (I don’t.) What if the “real writers” judge me? (Oh look, I drove myself into a panic attack.)

Turns out, no one cares about me. And that’s a good thing because the first few attempts at something are bound to suck.

Writers write. That’s all there is to it. Who’s to say what a “real writer” is, anyway? Neil Gaiman didn’t have a fancy literature degree. He just wrote a lot and got better at it. Speaking of Neil Gaiman, we should take his writing rule to heart:

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule of life as well as for writing, but it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best as you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules, Not ones that matter.”

–  Neil Gaiman, 8 Rules of Writing