3 Steps to Start a Writing Journal 

Hullo, world!

It’s so nice to be sitting at my desk, basking in the sun and writing this post. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I hope that you are having a wonderful day, too. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how process and the heart is what matters, not the end product. Too often we focus on what we get out of something, not what we are doing. Which, I think, is really sad. There’s a lot to be learnt from how we do things. There’s joy in baking waffles or flipping pancakes for brunch. There’s joy in reading, not in finishing a book. (Maybe both, but still.) 

And today, I want to focus on the process of writing–and introduce a tool that has helped me with being mindful of how I write…

May I present to you, the Writing Journal!!

You’ve probably heard me mention how I’m a hybrid writer (hand-writing & typing sort) but what’s interesting is how I lean more to the hand-writing side when it comes to brainstorming. Sure, I do have folders after folders in Google docs on my various WIPs. But the baseline, or kernels of my ideas, I try to grow by hand. Writing by hand, I realised, helps me not forget. It’s a more organic process for me (which is also shown by research) and overall, I fully advocate writing journals. 

And, without further ado, I will break down how (and why) I keep a writing journal–and how you can, too. 

1. Get a notebook

The first step is, very obviously, to get a notebook. The type of notebook you get will dictate the use (a little bit), but most of the time a normal notebook will work. Personally, I like using notebooks without ring-binders. (FYI, I think ring-bound notebooks are a nemesis to the whole world.) I use A5 notebooks and B5 notebooks, both from Japan (but I think Muji might carry them if there’s a local Muji around the place you live) which opens flat when I’m writing. The point isn’t to get the same notebook like mine, though. As long as you love the design and there’s practicality in the notebook, you can use it for a writing journal! 

2. WIP-wise v. Schedule-wise

After you’ve gotten yourself a notebook, decide on the two types of writing journal you’ll use for–WIP-wise or Schedule-wise. 

WIP-wise journals are solely used for brainstorming, restructuring, outlining, conducting character studies, etc. I’ve found there’s no one way to do a WIP journal since the WIP pretty much directs what you’ll need to write. 

Schedule-wise journals, on the other hand, look a lot like bullet journals. If you’re familiar with the concept, bullet journals are a system where you can quickly jot down tasks and ideas in a planner-type notebook. 

In both types of journals, I create a blank page for a title, another for an index (so you’ll be able to find things easily), and number the pages after that. 

3. 54321, Campaigns, & Daily Logs

What goes into a writing journal, ultimately, depends on you. But at the same time, here are the three basics things that help me in my writing journals:

  1. The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, method

I explained this in detail in last year’s goal-planning post. (See the Plan section.) This is the long-mid-short-term goal setting method that works well for me.

  1. Campaigns

These are also in the same post above, but basically what I do is to come up with writing campaigns (write every day, host a writing retreat for myself, etc.)

  1. Daily Logs

This is the aforementioned bujo-ing method(?) I use on a daily basis. I write down one to three things to do concerning my writing (e.g. write chapter 13, re-read chapter 13, etc.). This is also the place where I quick-log my thoughts (“Writing went well! Happy with what I’ve written!”) concerning that day’s writing, or make notes to myself for tomorrow’s writing session. 

Overall, a writing journal is very flexible. You can put a lot of information into it, or just the bare minimum. Either way, the act of writing helps you become more conscious of your process. (Not to mention you’ll have a hard copy to refer back to later on.)

In the end, what matters is how you do it, not what you do. When writing can feel like jumping through loops, take a step back—breathe–and write down what you feel about your writing. Write down what you’d actually like to do in writing. Write down why you write. 

And, in the end, that’s what counts. 

Thank you for reading! What did you think about the post? Do you think you’d like to keep a writing journal now? Or, do you already keep journals? Are you a hybrid writer like me? 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!

5 Steps to Cut Back Screen Time & Increase Creativity

Hullo, world!

I’ve been meaning to write this post last week but changed my mind. (Things happen, don’t they?) This has nothing to do with today’s topic, but I’m happy to announce a few things:

  • Jenna Terese’s Ignite cover reveal is in 2 weeks (The release date is June 2nd)!! You can add it to Goodreads now!!
  • Finding God in Anime’s cover reveal is coming up soon 🙂 I can’t wait to read other people’s submissions!!
  • I began running. If you didn’t know, it’s like the ultimate sports I loathe. It’s been two weeks and I’m having a hard time believing I’m still doing it. 

And, of course, digital minimalism

Becoming a minimalist has been one of my goals for 2021, and the biggest portion of it is my screen time. I’ve researched the average phone usage and the consensus seems to be about three hours or more. That’s only the time spent on one’s phone, so it doesn’t count the time spent on computers, TV, and other devices. 

In January I set my goal to 1 hour per day on my phone. I knew I was wasting a lot of time on it, and I tended to relapse easily after media fasts, so I came up with a circular method to make sure I can keep this quota.

So, let me introduce to you the 5 Steps to Cut Back Screen Time & Increase Creativity

1: Set phone limit to 1 hour 

If you own an iPhone, you can go to the control centre and place a limit. I have a limit of 1 hour on All Apps. I do know the password, however, in case I need to use it and am pretty confident to be self-controlled. 😉 Or not. 

When starting, it might be a good idea to have someone you trust (i. e. parent, sibling, friend, &c.) set the password so that you won’t be able to access your phone when your time’s up. 

Be ruthless like Levi!

2: Delete unnecessary and/or apps available on the computer

This is huge. Before I had a lot of apps on my phone I barely looked at and/or I could also use on my computer. The funny thing is, when I open my computer, I’m usually more focused on my task, so I wouldn’t waste my time as much on say, things like checking my email, but when I’m on my phone I could spend the next fifteen minutes going down a rabbit hole

Delete apps like Levi would…

It also saves phone storage so you can use your phone for things you need. 

Examples of Apps I deleted: Twitter, Google Chrome, Safari, YouTube, Goodreads, &c. 

3: Outline time usage for a given day 

At the end of the day, it’s also a good idea to check how well you did. Something that has helped me was to go back to the reason I’d need my phone in the first place, then plan the phone time usage accordingly. 

I try to post on Instagram as basic self-branding, so I couldn’t quite get rid of it, but I can set a timer for five minutes and post during that time frame. If I know I’d need to record myself for the translation ministry, I would block the thirty to forty minutes needed and work with the remaining time. Or maybe I’m going to chat with my friends overseas on Line. 

Being conscious of how and why and where you spend your phone time helps you be more aware of the phone utility. A phone, at its fundamental level, is a communication tool. The rest of it is usually possible to do elsewhere. 

A moment of revelation!

4: Put the phone away after the limit 

And once your time limit comes up, physically remove your phone from the environment. I would put it in another room or my desk drawer, just any place I can’t see it. This sounds kind of silly, but if you can’t see it, it doesn’t distract you

Okay, now I’m having too much fun at AoT gifs…

For the first few days, you might want to lock it up or ask someone to hide it for you. 

5: Analyze & Assess phone usage each week; plan strategies accordingly

Finally, at the end of the week, go back and check your average weekly usage. My weekly usage does fluctuate, but at the end of the month, I’ve been able to keep it to about an hour for the past three months and it’s been great! 

I do have days I went around my limit or didn’t plan my time as well as I should have done, and those are really good moments to go back to why you’re using your phone and how you can better maintain your time. 

Seriously, everyone should drop what they’re doing and go watch or read AoT!

On Computer screen time:

A little side note for those of you thinking, But I don’t use my phone that much. What about other screen times? 

Good point. Although I haven’t started to crack down on this as much as my phone (partly because I write on and off on my computer and work/study on there), I do have a few tricks to stay focused on one task. 

  • One thing I love to do is the 3 tab limits. Sometimes I see people who have a million tabs open on their computer, which drives me crazy. Recent research shows you can’t actually multi-task, so try tackling one thing at a time. 
  • I also write out my tasks in detail on a post-it note which I stick on my computer. This way, I know why I opened my computer and can stay focused on those tasks. 
  • The 15-minute rule. I would write or do tasks in fifteen-minute sprints and take a break at the end of three rounds. I know I can stay focused, glued to my computer for hours on the end, but try to force myself to take breaks. 

And that’s about it! 

What did you think? What are some of your ways of cutting back screen time? How do you stay focused and use your time wisely? (Or not?) Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!