AH: How to Regain Your Love (& Motivation) to Write Again

Hullo, world!

It’s so hard to believe, but my first week at my university has ended. In this week, I got to go on campus tours, attend workshops & practise lectures/seminars as well as meeting so many new people. And although I’m kind of tired after the fact, it has been such a blessing being a part of this. I can’t thank everyone who was a part of this experience enough. 

Now, it’s my favourite day of the week–Saturday! I honestly don’t know why, but Saturdays fill me with joy whether or not I get to write (or blog) simply because it’s that kind of day that makes me smile when I wake up. And obviously, Irish cream in my coffee. That’s the only day I get the real deal 🙂

[Also, pls take some time to fill out a short survey concerning my email list: https://forms.gle/e6sxLonmVKnMWdJk7

Today, I’ll be talking about How to Regain Your Love (& Motivation) to Write Again. This summer has actually been a dry spell for my writing life where I struggled to put words down to paper. Even when I did so, it didn’t feel natural or from my heart and I ended up needing lots of breaks in between. 

Well, it’s officially September, and I’ll be going back into writing…so here’s a little fragment from that attempt. 

 A: Where are you? 

First of all, temet nosce. You need to know where you are writing-wise and life-wise. 

For example, university is starting for me in a hybrid manner–meaning, I’ll have half online classes & lectures while the other half is in-person. I don’t have a full-load yet, but I know I won’t have as much time to write. So, I’ll be setting a lower goal than I think I can do…like, half the amount I think I can manage. 

B: What is in your heart? 

For the longest time, I lost touch with the feeling of excitement with the WIPs I was working on. Obviously, not every writing day will look like hands flying, mind flashing past to awesome scenes and amazing prose leaking out. But I felt the fire inside me dying, flickering into embers that I started doubting my story. 

And so, reflect on your heart. What is the story in your heart? What’s the theme song burning just to be written? Chances are, without a solid thesis, the words you want to shout to the whole world, you won’t get through those tough writing days, the dry spells of writing. Find that ember. Find the fire to your story, the soul of everything that makes your story matter. 

C: Who are you writing to? 

This is also an essential block to writing & motivation. I talk often about my Ideal Reader, and how I’ve come to realise they’re usually me to begin with. I’m writing the book I can’t find on the bookshelf. I’m writing a blog post that will encourage me, make me smile in the future. I used to think I had to have a “proper” IR–family, friends, etc., etc.–and that put a lot of pressure on me. 

What will they think of my writing? What if they didn’t find it as enjoyable as I thought it was? What if they thought I was wasting my time? 

Well, I say Tash to all that. 

It’s absolutely inane. Even if everyone out there absolutely hates my writing, I love it. And that’s enough for now. 

D: When will you write? 

On a more practical note, ask yourself WHEN you’re going to write. 

I wrote in the mornings these past years because that was the only time in the day I had time all to myself. I used to think if I missed that slot, I wouldn’t have any time to write that day. 

*insert “Tash to all that!”*

Anyhow. From this September, I’ll be going for a more flexible writing schedule. If I write one word, one sentence a day, it’ll still be a good writing day. If I write a page or five, huzzah to me. I might be able to write in the morning, or after lectures, or even before going to bed. It’ll be a new attempt and I’ll probably still have to adjust many things (and fail a lot), but I’ll write as long as that day still exists. 

E: Why are you writing? 

And lastly, probably the most important thing to know–Why are you writing?  It’s that kind of question that makes you want to slowly edge away, saying, “Oh, this is just, um, a hobby, a side-business-y thing I do, so don’t mind me…”

Well, no. 

Writing isn’t a just, it’s definitely not some mindless thing you do. (I mean, it could be that, but for me it’s never some small thing.) You’re pouring your life and soul into this “small thing” you do on your side because you actually believe this is something that matters, something worth your time. Don’t downplay your writing. Don’t think it’s something without a mission. 

I write because even when someone stops me, there’s a story in my heart that’s screaming to be written. There’s a message that’s waiting to be heard. It might take time, it might look ugly, but as long as there’s still today and tomorrow and so on, I’ll take up my pen. And that’s the end and the beginning of the story. 

Thank you for reading! What do you think? Do you have something burning in your heart? A story that’s waiting to be written? Why do you write? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

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Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon!

Today, I’ll be sharing my summer with you. It felt like a really long and short summer versus last year where time was like a small creek. This year was filled to brim with adventures &c, so let’s dive straight into it!

-Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beachside park

Tea: Hibiscus, lime-lemon-basil, Mint-and-Grapefruit

Offered With: Muscat parfait, melon cream soda, white roll cake

I got to read a lot of books over the summer–the total being over thirty-something books–and although there were books I wanted to read anc couldn’t, I’m happy with what I did read…well, except some of the reading I did for my university syllabus. (My family would know all about it, given I ranted about the need for it to burn in the seventh circle.)

Summer Reads

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (fic)
  2. When We Were Orphans (lit fic)
  3. Bushido (Jpn nfic)
  4. Miura Woshin Essay (Jpn nfic)
  5. World History from Maps (Jpn nfic)
  6. Murakami Haruki’s top 100 playlist (Jpn nfic)
  7. Counting by 7s (mg)
  8. Rashomon (Jpn clsc)
  9. Good・bye (Jpn clsc)
  10. Fangirl
  11. Writer As A Vocation (Jpn nfic)
  12. The Art of Flight (nfic)
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia (clsc)
  14. Shayō (Jpn clsc)
  15. The Bacchae (uni sylb/O4)
  16. Love Does (nfic)
  17. 1Q84 v1-3 (Jpn fic)
  18. The Communist Manifesto (uni sylb)
  19. Carrie Pilby (YA)
  20. Till We Have Faces (clsc)
  21. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (uni sylb)
  22. Grettir’s Saga (uni sylb)
  23. The Prince (uni sylb/O5)
  24. Unfamiliar Fishes (uni sylb)
  25. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (uni sylb)
  26. My Brother’s Spare (YA)

Overall, I’m glad I’m almost finished reading my first term university syllabus books. 🙂 

Would you like more of the white roll cake? Or another glass of hibiscus tea? 

Anyways, I rediscovered my love for many things in this section over the summer as well since I went on a manga re-read and movie binges! 

Music 

Practising: Gurenge (Kimetsu no Yaiba op), KaiKaiKitan (Jujutsu Kaisen op1), Chopin Etude op.10 no.3

Listening to: Prokofiev piano concerto no. 2-3, Tchaikovsky Symphony 4, 5, 6, Max Richter’s Voyager

This summer’s most-listened-to playlist on Spotify

Movie 

I watched a lot of movies in July since my family was away for camping and I was sick for a week. Some of them were fantastic, some were just okay…

  1. Vancouver’s Sunrise–after the all-Japanese baseball team back in the early 20th century
  2. Honey and Thunder–based on the Naoki prize winning book about piano prodigies
  3. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence–the classic feat. Sakamoto Ryuichi
  4. Tenet–Nolan keeps getting better
  5. Kingsman–bordering on okay and not okay
  6. The Imitation Game–I love Alan Turing and I love Benedic Cumberbatch!
  7. Kill Your Darlings–also based on a book
  8. Interstellar–my new fav!!
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–re-watch…Newt Scammader is simply too cute!!
  10. The Crimes of Grindewald–Newt + Theseus. Also, “Your eyes look like a salamander’s.”
  11. The Prestige–earlier Nolan work. Okay. 
  12. Memento–earliest Nolan work? Not okay…
  13. Norwegian Forest–based on the Murakami book. Stunning cinematography albeit a tad graphic
  14. Emma–re-watch. Absolutely hilariously Austen
  15. Castle in the Sky–classic Ghibli. Prob. in the top 5 list. 
  16. Nausicaa–I’m the fan of the manga, but the movie was amazing as well!!

Manga/Anime

I did a manga reading challenge and am happy to say I got through most of them!

  1. Tokyo Ghoul + Tokyo Ghoul re: (Re-read it for the third time? Gets better with every re-read.)
  2. Attack on Titan (up to vol. 33, waiting for the library to acquire vol. 34!!)
  3. Kimetsu no Yaiba (This finally arrived from Japan. I cried buckets and it’s definitely a must-read.)
  4. The Promised Neverland vol.15-19 (I am still waiting to get vol. 20…)
  5. My Hero Academia various + Anime season 1-3 (It keeps getting better and better.)
Everyone should read this manga and cry as much as I did.

(Psst! I also have a new Goodreads account solely for manga-reads. It’s at: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/138785634-iaphos)

Wow, that was long. I think I’ll have another glass of mint-grapefruit tea. The muscat parfait is absolutely gorgeous, too!

So, writing life… *insets crickets chirping*

As much as it pains me to say, I did not have a great writing life this summer. I have not been able to move up my wc since the last WIP update I did in July which has been kind of depressing to me…

However. 

In the bigger scheme of things, I got a few wc tucked between various projects, trying to sew up loose ends, brainstorm, outline, worldbuild, etc., etc. I feel a bit stand-stilled so I’m not sure how y writing will work out in September, but crossing my fingers I might be able to get back on track!

This is where things get really exciting. University is starting soon. In fact, orientation week is from Monday!!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confettis*

For those of you who have been long SJ Barnard readers, you might remember me flailing about university and my long dream of getting there. Well, I am happy to announce to you that I am finally (and officially) enrolled in a university with first year courses of my dreams (maybe) hoarding brand-new textbooks and binge-reading syllabii. I am so excited I can just burst!!

So, cheers and onto the next topic…

Lifestyle & Living

More tea, anyone? Have you tried the melon cream soda? They’re all the rage in Japan as being Showa-aesthetic and “emoi”. (My siblings hate the word!! It means emotional, btw.)

Life has been good. I survived a five-day long camping trip to Whistler, three-day intensive karate camp (where we won the talent show with Kimetsu and GReeeN songs), one and half week illness (not Covid, thank goodness), and various online university prep workshops. That, and reading pretty much summed up my summer.

I also got my first ever MacBook. It’s MacBook Air with M1, rosegold *swoons* and works like a dream compared to my old Dell. I’ve yet to name it but I’m leaning towards Rhindon, spelt with nne-ending. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the name of Peter’s sword.) Since I bought it with student discount, I got free AirPods which makes me feel like an actual modern person! Eeep! I’m getting back into drawing more, and am thinking I’ll draw in between classes…hence I will be clad with iPad & iPencil, too! 

I usually don’t buy things at all and all of the expenditures have been dizzying to me, but why not? I’ll probably not buy things until four years later. 😉 

And that’s the grand finale to my summer break! 

Thank you for coming over! What was your summer like? What are some of the highlights and/or favourite memories? Did you travel places? Or meet new books? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: It’s Okay to Write Slow

Hullo, world!

I’m back from my short hit-outs. I survived camp and am fired up about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! I was especially fired up about judo and karate and am so happy Japan got 12 medals (9 gold!!) in judo and 3 in karate. Also, the wrestling team got 7 medals in total (5 gold) which was awesome. Canada’s women’s soccer got gold, so I’m still happy even though Japan’s women’s soccer didn’t do so well this year. 🙂 I also love Irie Sena-senshu of women’s boxing. She’s the same age as me and got a gold medal, but loves frogs, which is too adorable!!

Anyhow. 

Today, I’ll be talking a bit about the slow writing days. Recently, I haven’t been able to write as much (or as fast) as I’d like to, even though I have a lot of great ideas. I would have a day when I would wake up, thinking, “I’m going to write today!” But the day wouldn’t go as planned and I’d miss my writing slot. 

And I’d think, This is bad. If I’m not writing, I can’t call myself a writer. 

Which, btw, is totally not true. Here’s my take on this month’s Author Health–It’s Okay to Write Slow. 

A: Each WIP is different.

This is kind of common sense, but I’m still going to say it. Every WIP that you work on will take a different amount of time. 

For me, draft 0.5-1.5 of Juliet took me a total of four years. I’m still not done with the rewrites–in fact, I’d just begun it. Woodstone is a faster paced project in terms of wordcount and the time it took to get that word count, but it’s been a year already since I started. Osthauptstadt took six months to put together; I’m still uncertain about the ending although that’s technically where I am. And that’s not to mention Elektriem (or die electricae as I’m now calling it) and a bunch of other projects underway. 

So, don’t get discouraged even if one WIP takes you longer to start or finish. The amount of time it takes you is always going to be the right amount. 

B: Slow doesn’t equate to low quality.

This is also something that’s super common sense, but the thing that tends to be forgotten. Just because a WIP takes time (like, years in the making) doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it might be quite the contrary. I’ve found that the more time I take to get the words out on paper, the higher quality it tends to be. 

The first book of Juliet took me around three years to write and it’s probably one of the most solid drafts out of the three parts. 

Osthauptstadt, the project that’s been pulling my hair out, took less time to write, but still was a slower process than what I’m used to–I could write only a few hundred words at a time. Yet it’s been a WIP that helped sharpen my prose and focus. 

Woodstone, by far the longest WIP so far with 155.7K in the 65% mark, has taught me endurance. 

Slowness isn’t a measure of incompetence. It’s the measure of one’s diligence. 

C: What are you hurrying for? 

And lastly, this is the thing that’s been stuck on my mind the most–What are you hurrying for? 

When I was writing in high school, I was writing like someone who was going to die any second. (Which, by the way, is absolutely true, but hear me out.) I thought I had to make it or break it by the time I graduated high school to have any hope of a second career as an author. I know, irrational and completely insane, but that was my belief. 

I set crazy writing deadlines for myself. I told myself I had no other time in my life to write. I was constantly on the edge whenever someone else got acquitted or got published. I felt like my slowness was a failure. 

Well, it’s not. 

I had a wake-up call where I realised this: I love writing. I’ll probably be writing even when I’m a wrinkly old lady. Who cared if I got to the “publishing line” before I was twenty? Who cared if I took the longer route in traditional publishing? Why, Tolkien took over ten years! Even C. S. Lewis got rejected before he was recognised. J. K. Rowling got turned down by 12 publishing houses. None of them were in a hurry to get published. (Or maybe they were, IDK, but it’s true they stuck out on their end and kept writing.) 

So, I’ve decided not to hurry. Each person has their own writing journey walked at their own pace. I’ll keep walking mine…and in the end, that’s what counts. 

Friends, let us keep walking. 

Thank you for reading! What do you think? Do you have slow writing days? (Or slow writing months?) What are some things that helps you stay grounded when you feel the need to hurry? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!