AH: Writing From Rest

Hullo, world!

It’s finally April, meaning spring, aka my favourite season of the year. It seems like spring is exploding everywhere around me, not to mention there are actually sunny days. *insert gasps & fervent hopes it will stay* I can’t believe my academic year is coming to an end soon, either…it felt so short!! 

Anyhow. 

Lately, with so many things coming to a close, it feels like I’m finally starting to get the idea of writing from rest. It’s a mindset, a posture, a practice. And today, I’ll be talking a bit about how I try to keep this in my heart even when it gets dizzyingly busy. 

So without further ado, let me present to you, AH–Writing From Rest

But wait…what does “writing from rest” mean??

Good question! For me, it would mean:

Writing-from-rest

/ˈrīdiNG – frəm – rest/

verb

  • Writing from a leisurely manner/state; creating from a space of rest
  • the mindset of writing (as outlined above)

i) Sleeping earlier & waking up earlier. 

Something that has greatly helped me in writing from rest is sleeping earlier and waking up earlier. 

And before those of you who are not morning persons run away, hear me out:

I think that we can all agree that writing takes energy. The act of creating something out of distinct, arbitrary 26-letters is not something to be taken lightly of. I won’t pull out the research on the benefits of sleeping earlier or waking up earlier, but one thing I personally find is that it does help restore my creative energy. 

In the morning, where nothing has really happened yet to clutter the mind or sap one’s energy, it becomes much easier to focus on my writing, and that only. Starting from a blank piece of paper, physically, mentally, and spiritually, can help you relax and let your imagination roam free. 

> Practical steps to take:

  • Go to bed 15~30 minutes earlier than you usually do. Turn off your phone 15~30 minutes before going to bed
  • Set an alarm for 5~15 minutes earlier than you usually wake up
  • Set out the clothes you are going to wear the next day by your bed. As soon as you wake up, take this to the washroom/wherever you go after waking up & get changed!
  • Put the kettle on. Make yourself a cup of tea or simply hot water. Drinking something first thing in the morning lets your body know you’re awake!

ii) Setting up a morning routine. 

Another thing that might be super controversial, but has helped me nevertheless, is having a solid morning routine. (Well, more or less solid…but later on this.) 

When I say morning routine, don’t think you have to do what I do, or a set thing that another influencer might do. You do your own thing. Which, I think, is the whole point of having a morning routine–a set of things you do that helps you wake up refreshed & become ready to face a new day

My morning routine looks more or less the following:

  • Wake up & get changed
  • Put the kettle on. (As advertised earlier!)
  • Light a candle & do my morning devotions
  • Listen to worship music & make breakfast/lunch to take to school
  • Get ready for university!

> Practical steps to take:

  • Brainstorm. What are some things that help you feel refreshed & energised in the morning? List out three of the things that help you do this.
  • Make a plan. From the list of three things that help you in the morning, think of ways to make it even easier to do–for example, if you plan to run in the morning, can you get your running gears in place? If you plan to do devotions, maybe already have your Bible (& notebooks, or other resources) in an accessible place–like on your desk, by your bed, etc.
  • Don’t be stressed. As I pointed out earlier, the whole point of having a morning routine is to help you feel refreshed & ready for the new day. Don’t feel like you’ve failed first thing in the morning even if you can’t follow along with your routine perfectly. They’re more like…guidelines in the first place! Feel free to change up the order, cut out some of the things, etc. 

iii) Being okay with the day’s writing. 

Lastly, be okay with the amount of writing you get done on that day. Maybe you wake up earlier and you are able to squeeze in a writing block in the morning. Maybe you’re like me and have to go somewhere, so the only writing block you get are the in-between times of classes, work, etc. Maybe you won’t have any time to write in the morning, OR later on. 

But the important thing is–being okay with it. One of the most important things about writing from rest is having a calmer, rested mindset from where you create. It does not have to be a solid hour of writing with everything perfectly falling in place. It can be the five minutes of quick journaling, three minutes of working out in your head about a particular scene, or a minute of Pinterest scrolling. (Yes, don’t be so aghast that I just endorsed Pinterest scrolling. It’s called brainstorming!) Whatever you get to do on that day, it counts as writing as long as you are putting your mental energy into it. Just take a deep breath, turn off your phone for a bit, and let your creativity take place. 

> Practical steps to take:

  • Schedule a writing block. Find a time in your day that you can fit your writing into. Remember, it doesn’t have to be long!
  • Plan to do one thing in that writing block. It can be simple as “make character profiles” or “write one paragraph”. Or, you can be more ambitious and set up wordcount goals. Just remember to be happy with what you get done!
  • Write down your thoughts about that writing session. This also does not have to be long. It can be one sentence, like, “I’m happy with what I wrote!” or “I feel like I want to write more.” I keep my thoughts, progress, and goals in my writing journal, which you can read more about here: 3 Steps to Start a Writing Journal

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Do you practise writing from rest? Are you a morning person (or want to be one)? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you! 

AH: …But I Need A Platform!

Hullo, world!

It is another glorious Saturday. Although so many things have happened in this world (and in my life!) in the span of just a few weeks, every day I wake up is a constant reminder that God is good. And He is able. 

Deep thoughts aside, I’ve been thinking a lot about my blogging and bookstagramming habits. This is my fourth year at SJ Barnard. Over the course of years, I’ve had setbacks, days when I didn’t know if I should be blogging, or had no idea what to write about. I also started a bookstagramme account that I have an intense love-hate relationship with. I’ve gone on too many hitouts to count. 

But every time, I keep coming back to this thing called my Author Platform. 

So, if you are a writer out there who’s felt alone or floundering on this topic, this post is for you

1. A platform is for you. 

First of all, I think we should remember that no matter where you’re at with platform building, it’s for you. 

A platform is a sort of gallery, a small nook in this wide world, to showcase the things you love, the thoughts you might have to offer, small joys and tears and everything that matters to you. (Well, not every single thing, for privacy reasons. But you get the idea.)  

Of course, it’s good to keep in mind that you’re writing to an audience. You might have even heard that you should have an Ideal Reader. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that the Ideal Reader is you

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through blogging (on this blog and other ones), it’s that blogging, at its heart, is about telling your story. Especially for authors. I’ve heard so many people get tired, burnt out, or feel like blogging is not worth it anymore (with the rise of other popular mediums). And maybe it’s true. Not many people might read blogs anymore, at least not like in the Golden Age of blogging.

Even so–I don’t know about you, but I love reading. In all of the blog posts I write, I write to myself first. I’ve been blessed that there are other people out there who enjoy my blog & have shown so much kindness to my musings. 

When it all comes down, it’s this: Do you love what you do on your platform? If not, why? Take a moment to ask your heart. 

2. It’s okay to take a step back.

And obviously, maybe you’re a bit burnt out–especially when you feel like quitting. I’m here to tell you that, hey, it’s okay to take a break! (For those of you who might remember, I have a tendency to go on hitouts announced and unannounced at various intervals of time.)

When I first started blogging and bookstagramming, I felt like I needed to be posting continuously, or else my readership would wax, wane, and disappear altogether. Which is completely irrational! 

I want you to take a moment and think about your absolute favourite author. Now, imagine that the author has not published in a while. (Like, think Donna Tartt or J. R. R. Tolkien’s publishing pace.) Would you forget about them if they haven’t been published in years?

Of course not!! 

Likewise, once you establish a base following–it could be your family, friend, or someone across the world–they won’t disappear. Take a deep breath, a step of faith, and trust in the connections you’ve built up so far. 

3. Don’t get hung up on numbers. 

This is another thing. When you start off trying to build a platform (because authors need to market themselves), I think the numbers start to feel like everything. (Gahh, I just lost another follower tonight! They are leaving by the hordes!!)

Must I explain more? 

*inserts serious, contemplative silence*

Your value is not some number and will never be reduced to how many followers you have on Instagram or Twitter or wherever else

So there. 

RECAP:

  • DO have fun building your platform…the Ideal Reader is you!
  • DO take a break whenever you need to–you can always come back to it.
  • DON’T think that the number of following you have is the value of yourself or your platform. 

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! What do you think? Do you have an approach to your platform? What are some things that matter to you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: Balancing Life and Writing

Hullo, world!

This week has been really busy for me and it felt as though last Monday was yesterday. Of course, I’m glad it’s Saturday now despite my piles of assignments because I get to have an excuse from them and blog. ꒰ ∩´∇ `∩꒱

And today, I’ll be talking a bit about that business in life–whether it’s school, work, or something else, it’s generally known how challenging it is to balance everything and writing. 

So, without further ado, I present to you Author Health: Balancing Life and Writing

1. Temet nosce–Know Thyself

If you are time-pressed and the only thing you can take away from today’s post is this, that’s okay…

And that’s how important it is to know yourself. 

It’s an obvious point, but I think it’s the ones that are too fundamental and we tend to forget about it. Take a moment to ask yourself, Where am I? Are you at a place where your creativity feels mentally stuck? Do you feel a bit overwhelmed with everything that’s going on? Is there a story you desperately need to tell now? 

Even if it feels like there’s a lot going on, chances are, if there is a story that you desperately need to tell, you’ll be able to make time to write. But if not, maybe it’s a season of rest. 

2. List things up

Once you have an honest assessment of where you’re at with writing, list up all the things that are occupying your time. For example, if you’re a full-time student, write down all your classes and an estimate of how much time you need for each class. You might be working part-time or full-time. That should go on the list as well. Any other activities you do like sports or housework can also count. 

Then, sort them into priorities–this gives you a clear idea of what you absolutely have to do and how much time it takes. 

This is where you enter writing. 

Think about where you can potentially carve off time or exchange it for a writing session. It doesn’t have to be long–think anywhere from five to thirty minutes. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a slot of time for writing. 

3. To write or not?

When you have a clear idea of when you can write, the only thing left to do is to actually do it–that is, write. 

But often, this last step is the one that takes the most effort. One thing that has made it easier for me to write consistently is by choosing days when I’ll write. It’s likely that it won’t fit into your schedule or energy to write every single day. I’ve tried to write every day in the past and I know that it requires a lot–mental energy, physical energy, time–which you might not have when there’s a lot on your plate.

So, choosing my “writing days” and scheduling writing sessions ahead of time has helped me a lot. Since I have a full-time course load this term, my day is quite full. Add in work, housework, and extracurricular activities, there’s no chance for me to sit down and write during the daytime. This means I can only write in the early mornings (since evening does not work well with my body rhythm). And because that’s the only time I know I can immerse myself in writing, I find that I’m more focused and not willing to waste time doing other things. 

It’ll probably look different for you; just know that every day, we make a conscious choice–to write or not. Whichever choice you make, it’s possible to find a balance between writing and life. 

Additional thing that helps me in my writing session:

  • Sound-blocking music/earphones. I don’t think there’s an easier way to get back into my writing mood than my heist music. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧
  • Designated writing space. I usually write at my desk, dining table, or on my bed. Wherever it is, it’s the place that I know I won’t get distracted by myself or someone else. *totally not looking at my siblings*
  • Writing journal & WIP notebook. I’m an analog person, so I find it useful to write some of my notes in a physical notebook. I also have a writing journal where I track my progress, designate writing schedules &c. 

Lastly, be prepared to be more lenient towards yourself even if things don’t always work out the way you hope they do. Writing is a dependent variable that’s affected by life–to some extent. It’s okay even if you take time. The thing that matters is the process. ଘ(੭*ˊᵕˋ)੭* ੈ♡‧₊˚

And that’s it for today!

Thanks for reading! Where are you in your writing right now? What are some things that help you stay focused on writing? Do you have a story you’re dying to tell? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!