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! 

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: The Art of Slow Writing

Hullo, world!

It feels like such a long time ago since I typed those words, it’s honestly making me feel elated and despondent all at the same time. Well, I’m officially back from my hitouts and hope to stay back, so thank you for being patient with me!

Some highlights (?) since I was gone:

  • I did not win NaNoWriMo…I wrote a grand totalé of 8,848 words. Some of them were hand-written, some of them were typed. 
  • I’m almost done with the first term of uni! I have a final exam coming up, except it’s quite sacrilegiously on a Sunday morning. *insert mega-gasp* 
  • I turned twenty! I’m legally an adult now in Japan and in Canada. (I finally get to say, “I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne”!)

All in all, life has felt like it was being conducted in cut-time with one stroke, and it has made me realise the importance of taking things one at a time. I’ve been slipping back into my toxic, workaholic self the past few months, thinking, “I need to balance school and life. I need to hand in A+ papers, ace midterms, write every day, join student council, and, and…”

Obviously, I had to stop myself. (Although I did join a student council.) Sometimes, we’re tempted to do everything, when, in reality, we’re really doing nothing that matters. 

And so, I wanted to share a book that I recently picked up at the library. I haven’t finished reading it yet, so I feel weird about recommending a book I haven’t “read”, but I’m trusting my gut instinct that this book will be so much of a comfort to you. 

Without further ado, let me present to you, Author Health–The Art of Slow Writing!

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The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity

In a series of conversational observations and meditations on the writing process, The Art of Slow Writing examines the benefits of writing slowly. DeSalvo advises her readers to explore their creative process on deeper levels by getting to know themselves and their stories more fully over a longer period of time. She writes in the same supportive manner that encourages her students, using the slow writing process to help them explore the complexities of craft. The Art of Slow Writing is the antidote to self-help books that preach the idea of fast-writing, finishing a novel a year, and quick revisions. DeSalvo makes a case that more mature writing often develops over a longer period of time and offers tips and techniques to train the creative process in this new experience.

I: “Slow writing is a meditative act: slowing down to understand our relationship to our writing, slowing down to determine our authentic subjects, slowing down to write complex works, slowing down to study our literary antecedents.”

DeSalvo first introduces this idea of “slow writing”. She highlights various authors, famous and more local, but points out the importance of not rushing. Steinbeck called writing “a delicate thing”. I’ve already talked about how one of my favourite authors, Donna Tartt and J. R. R. Tolkien, took over ten years to complete their works. Reading this book has made me realise how much I was trying to rush the process when it doesn’t work that way. Process is an ongoing thing, like taking a walk. You don’t expect to arrive at your destination five kilometres away in five minutes if you’re walking. (FYI, it takes about an hour. More, if it’s me and my siblings walking since we dawdle and take detours.) 

II: “The most productive writers and creative people I know realize that dreaming and daydreaming are important parts of how writers work. We might not know, now, what to do with the images our dreams or daydreams provide, but one day, if we continue to try to unravel their meaning, as Naylor’s process illustrates, we will.”

One of my favourite activities is dreaming. No kidding, since my name (my real name) also means “dream”. I have kept a dream journal since age twelve or thirteen, and although I don’t write as often in it now, I make sure to write a dream the instance I wake up if it’s something I don’t want to forget. A lot of my stories come from dreams…in fact, most of the major WIPs I have now (actually, all of them) have started with some sort of dream or daydreaming! When I can’t write, I “write” in my head so when I sit down, it’s all there to be translated into paper. ଘ(੭ˊ꒳​ˋ)੭✧

III: “Publishers now act as if writing is the same as typing.”

This speaks to another aspect of writing. While I love writing challenges (like NaNoWriMo, even if I keep failing the goals), I think a lot of people are so hung up on word counts (including me). In this age where we are over-saturated with information, I think it’s so vital that we take a step back and actually think about what writings do–what is the purpose of a novel, as my professor would say. 

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IV: “Getting back to writing is hard. So what. King had to relearn how to walk; he had to relearn how to work. That’s life. To expect that we can stop writing and then start again any time we want without some ‘writing rehab’ is to engage in an act of hubris.”

DeSalvo talks about Stephen King (which I do too on this post, 15+1 Lessons to Learn from Stephen King’s On Writing) and how he had to learn to get back into his writing life after his accident. I think that admitting to yourself that writing is hard is the first step towards integrating writing into your life. Unless we know where we are, it’s impossible to see where we’re going. 

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V: “Woolf penned roughly 535 words and crossed out 73 of them, netting her 462 words for her day’s work. Let’s say she worked for three hours. That’s about 178 words an hour including the words she deleted—and Woolf was writing at the height of her creative powers.”

Although I’ve never read Woolf before (she’s on my TBR list), I really appreciated how DeSalvo put it into perspective how much one of the famous writers wrote in an hour. It made me realise that crafting words is a very sensitive thing, and each person has their own way of doing it. C. S. Lewis was a relatively fast writer compared to J. R. R. Tolkien. But Stephan King would have probably written more compared to Lewis. What I guess am trying to say is this: Writing is relative. Some people write fast, some write slow. Someone would love your work, someone would inevitably hate it. But we still write–because it matters to us. 

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And so, as we step into this Christmas season, I just want to remind you that it’s okay even if you’re not writing like your writer friends. We each have our own pace and time in life. We have a season that God ordained for us. 

Slow writing, friends! ꒰◍ᐡᐤᐡ◍꒱

Thank you for reading! What did you think about the concept, “slow writing”? Do you write fast or slow? Are you more inclined to take writing a little slower? (Or not?) Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!