NaNoWriMo 2017

Join me as I talk about my plans for National Novel Writing Month 2017

National Novel Writing Month. That time of year when would be, aspiring, and esteemed authors all unite for a month of madness. To write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. 1,667 words a day.

I have participated in Nanowrimo since 2014, I have won in 2015 and 2016 (winning just means getting to the 50k target, not like, winning a prize for how great your novel is!). 2014 I did not win because I was woefully unprepared for the notion of writing that many words in one project in one month.

See, the thing is, if you’ve read my other posts, you know that I have issues with procrastination and committing to projects. It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s not that I find writing a burden or a chore. It’s that I find a million ways to avoid sitting down to do something difficult. Writing is difficult, I won’t lie. It might be enjoyable, it might be fun, but it is bloody hard.

So, here I sit, trying once more to be prepared, organised and committed to this project. My theory is that if I start the project now, and do a little bit every day, by the time November 1st rolls around I will be interested enough, committed enough, and determined enough to follow through and finish.

This could backfire, I could use all my inspiration and drive before NaNoWriMo even starts, or it could work stupendously well and I could end up with a manuscript of 100k words.

Only time will tell…

If you would like to see me write a daily blog in November to chronicle my journey through NaNoWriMo, please let me know!

 

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Content creation and monetisation: Is it as bad as people think?

What happens when your blog starts to grow?

There’s an oft-quoted saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I couldn’t disagree with this anymore, because the truth is: making money from your passions and hobbies is bloody hard work.

I love writing, I have for as long as I can remember. I have written short stories, poems, novels (both unfinished and finished) and the reality is that while it’s something I love to do and something that makes me happy, it doesn’t pay my bills.

There are of course thousands of authors of all kinds out there making more than a living from their work but for every author who has a book deal, a successful blog or the next great novel waiting for publication, there are 10 authors struggling to pay bills with the meagre income from their writing or working other jobs to pay bills and writing when time permits.

My point is…

You may have noticed a format change on the blog recently, and that’s because, as of this week my blog has qualified for WordAds.

WordAds is WordPress’s monetisation program for bloggers. Basically, if your blog reaches enough people and gets enough views you qualify to run ads on your site and get revenue for views and clicks.

Am I a sell-out?

I mean, yeah a little bit? If by sell out you mean “am I attempting to make money from writing this blog?”

But here’s the thing, like I said above, making money as an online content creator is bloody hard work. There’s no guarantee of a steady pay cheque unless you’re a very well established blogger/creator, and in order to be well established you have to pour hours of work into your content. Whether that time is spent actually creating the content, or whether it is promoting it, responding to emails from readers/viewers or just trying to come up with ideas when inspiration fails to appear from the heavens.

I see it time and time again in other mediums of content creation, most notably on Youtube. There are thousands of comments on popular videos complaining that the creator is a sell out or a corporate whore, for simply accepting a sponsorship deal, or collaborating with a company.

The thing is, people can’t simultaneously enjoy online content and then be offended/mad/annoyed that the creator is using it to make money. That’s like going to a restaurant and being mad that you have to pay for the food you ate. While online content may not be tangible in the traditional sense, it is something that is consumed. The good thing about online content is that it is there forever, you can go back and enjoy it again and again until your heart’s content. All for the “price” of watching an ad, or seeing an ad in the side banner, or at “worst” listening to the content creator talk about a product for a few minutes.

Now, I am in a uniquely lucky position right now, in that I don’t have a full time job and I’m surviving quite comfortably without either a job or an ad revenue, however the purpose of monetising this blog is two fold: firstly, so that when I do make some revenue I can re-invest it in the blog to make it better for readers, and secondly so that eventually I may actually make real money off it.

Basically…

When a content creator monetises their content, it’s not because they’re greedy or want to “rip you off” somehow, it’s because we have to put food on the table and pay the bills.

While I am lucky enough to be working on something I love, it is work. And I do hope that you enjoy it! Because I love making it for you, and this step towards monetisation means that I will hopefully be able to do it for many, many years to come.

All of that is to say, if you’re using an ad blocker, please consider “whitelisting” my blog, so that I may progress my career as a writer/blogger and write the things you like to read.

If you don’t want to whitelist the blog, I understand. Continue to enjoy my blog!

 

 

The Graveyard Of Dead Projects

The place where good writing goes to die

So, in my mind, there are rooms. Each room is a part of my life, there’s a room for work (right now, the lack thereof), a room for relationships/friendships, a room for the tv shows I’m currently binge watching and then, there’s a graveyard.

Having a mental graveyard sounds really morbid, but stay with me here. This graveyard is full of dead projects. The writing projects I have started and loved, then gone back to a day, a week or a month later and absolutely fucking hated.

This graveyard is littered with bodies of work, of varying sizes, shapes and mediums, all of which had such potential for a while and then suddenly *POOF* nothing.

The “nothing” is the point at which the idea suddenly looks awful, or lame, or so cliched as to be painful.

This graveyard haunts me, because I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, I used to write stories as a kid and then never finish them and as I have gotten older, the size of the unfinished project has grown with me.

Right now I am feverishly researching the possibilities that writing a high fantasy series holds. I have been reading more high fantasy recently and want to explore the possibilities of writing it. However it requires…planning. Something which I love to start and never follow through with.

And therein lies the problem: planning, and following through.

Giving myself the illusion of being organised and motivated isn’t quite the same as actually being organised and motivated. To actually be organised and motivated, one must have discipline, and that is something I very much lack.

At random intervals I resolve to be different, be better, and while I do try, it rarely lasts longer than a week.

I was talking to my cousin the other day, over a very nice brunch, and we were talking about the fact that our mothers both have adult ADD, and we seem to exhibit the same symptoms, which would be an excellent way to explain why I am so seemingly unable to get my shit together, but if I’m honest I don’t really think that’s the issue. I almost certainly have ADD, but being aware of the problem means that I should be able to map out strategies to combat the issue and power through it, after all, knowledge is power.

But, what if that knowledge is actually holding me back? What if knowing that I most likely have ADD is what stops me from succeeding? What if subconsciously I’m shrugging my shoulders and saying “well that’s just my brain and there’s nothing I can do to change it”?

Back to that graveyard, where I have abandoned some really promising writing projects when the initial buzz of starting a new project has passed and it no longer feels new, shiny and exciting to take it out and work on it. Am I just like a kid who plays with a toy a few times and then throws it under their bed? And is that ADD or something else? Am I just spoilt for choices? Do I have too many options for things to do at any given moment of the day? And if that’s the case, do I just choose the things that are the easiest?

Do I binge watch shows on Netflix not because I truly enjoy them but because they require much less brain power than writing a new story? Does binge watching a show give me that rush of doing something new without having to actually do anything?

Is that part of my brain chemistry? Do I crave that rush of “new and exciting” and am I getting it from absorbing other stories through watching or reading them instead of creating them myself? Even when my passion lay with writing, maybe I choose not to because I’m essentially lazy? Maybe I just lack discipline.

I am not going to sign off by promising to be better or new, or more organised, because there are blog posts on that here and here, all I will say is that maybe one day I will stop procrastinating, and start really planning, writing and succeeding.

Travellers Notebook Inserts…

I made my own Travellers Notebook inserts

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself at the mercy of your “hobby of the month”. I have a horrible tendency to latch onto a hobby, find it so incredibly fascinating that I buy all of the necessary equipment and tools and obsess over it for a month, before finding something new and “better”.

In the month of August, this has been the concept of Traveller’s Notebooks, and how I can use them to further my bullet journal productivity.

Now, you’d think that buying the inserts that go inside the notebook would be enough, and perhaps it would be if I weren’t such an impatient person. Given that Amazon deliveries can take weeks to arrive, that definitely doesn’t fulfil my “I need it now” mentality, and so I embarked on a journey to make my own inserts.

Now, before I go any further, I want to clarify: I used templates that I found online, some were free and some cost about $12 AUD, but in saying that, once I downloaded them they can be used many times over without having to be paid for again.

Once I found the templates I wanted and downloaded them, I encountered my first issue: depending on the template you get and the printing instructions included (or in some cases, not included) there are a few things that can go wrong, the biggest one I found was that using a Mac meant I had to spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to find the print setting for “flip on short side”. After I found that, it was very easy to print and assemble, at least with this template, which includes enough weekly and daily layouts in one file to last a month, and then plain dot grid paper, as well as some basic cover designs which can be printed on card stock if you prefer the covers to be stiffer and more durable, and very clear and concise instructions to do with printing, formatting, and even the binding process.

Once it was printed and folded, I encountered my next problem: I intended to staple it together but my stapler was too short and I couldn’t line it up correctly, so for this time I have left it unbound, but this weekend I plan to go to a store and buy a book-binding awl and use a denim needle and some waxed thread to bind the inserts.

All in all, I have to say, I’m incredibly happy with my very first 2 inserts, they are absolutely not neat, one has jagged edges where I tried to cut through about 30 sheets of paper with old scissors, and the other has 2 binding edges because I printed it incorrectly, so it’s a notebook within a notebook, but they serve their purpose and with a little more practice and the right tools I will be well on my way to making my own TN inserts quickly and easily.

I will keep you posted as I move into using them gradually for my daily spreads in my bullet journal and how they work for me.

 

Dear Future Self

A letter to my future self, reminding me of the important things in life.

Dear Future Self,

 

Sometimes you’re gonna fail.

Okay you might fail a lot. Like, an uncanny amount. But that’s OKAY. It really really is.

One of your most recent “failures” is not keeping up with this blog. The blog you felt such passion for when you first started. The one you planned an entire 3 months worth of posts and wrote less than a handful of them within the first month. The blog you were sure was going to be your introduction into writing for actual real money.

Right now, I see this is a failure. Maybe I still will in the future, but I hope I learn to be a little more gentle with myself.

Instead of writing this blog, I’ve been doing lots of other things. I stayed with my grandmother for 3 weeks, we had a great time, and I don’t regret it for a second.

I’ve also started really reading again, I’m currently reading through the Ken Follett Century Trilogy and it’s fantastic. I still have the 3rd book left to read and I’m loving every second I spend reading.

I’ve watched a number of new movies and loved almost all of them. I’ve gone out to lunch with friends.

So maybe not writing in my blog isn’t a failure. Maybe there’s a reason it was on the back burner. Maybe I needed some time with the people I love and care about.

I often harp on about self care and I thought I had my self care routine figured out but I think I’ve realised that what I thought was self care was in fact quite the opposite. I used to think that my self care involved being introverted and doing things on my own, and for some people, that may well be the case, but I don’t think it is for me. I have noticed that I am much happier if I spend time with people, out of the house, doing something.

Yeah, I’m going to fail hundreds more times in my life, some small failures and some big. Some of them will seem insurmountable or hopeless, but they won’t be. I just need to take a step back and follow what my heart says.

With love,

Your past self.

 

Please stay tuned for more blog posts. I promise they won’t be so self centred!

 

 

Snowflake: A story of tattoos and insults

So, very important fact about me: I got my first tattoo at the age of 26, and it is 2 small snowflakes on my right wrist. I got it in December of 2016.

You may be wondering why anyone on earth aside from me (and my mum) would care about whether I choose to get a tattoo and what it is, but the reason I am telling you this is because before 2016, I had never heard the word “snowflake” used as an insult. I had however gotten very used to it as a term of endearment and nickname from someone who means a great deal to me, and I had always thought that if I was ever brave to get a tattoo I would get a snowflake because it is feminine, meaningful and I just like it.

This article does a much better job of explaining the intricacies of the origin of snowflake as an insult, but in summary, snowflakes are used as an insult because actual snowflakes don’t withstand heat, are considered feminine, and finally, all snowflakes are unique.

The usage of snowflake as an insult is definitely not new but it has seen a resurgence in recent times and has spread with the aid of the internet and the global nature of media we currently experience.

Historically speaking, in the United States as early as the 1860’s, snowflake was used as an insult. In this particular context it referred to people who opposed the abolition of slavery, it was used because it implied that these people viewed white people as more important than black people.

Cue 2016 and the frankly surprising election of Donald Trump and suddenly everyone who disagreed with him was a snowflake or “sad” or any number of insults from his infamous twitter tirades (I’ve linked to his entire twitter there because frankly there’s such a constant stream of juvenile insults that I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you’ll find one of his dummy spits within seconds).

This insult caught on with such a vehemence that it was impossible to avoid it and I quickly realised that my tattoo was going to garner more than admiring looks, it was going to result in snickers about how I must be an easily triggered SJW. The thing is, I am absolutely, undeniably a Social Justice Warrior and I am so proud of it. The notion that fighting for social justice is supposed to be embarrassing or shameful is merely a tool used by the far right to shame those who stand up and oppose racist/homophobic/sexist/transphobic policies, speeches and actions by those in positions of power and the global community.

I refuse to bow down to the social and peer pressure that is increasingly present in my life to be silent when I see injustice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am angry, I am furious at the state of the world. When people I know and love are being threatened every day, you bet your ass I am going to stand up and be as loud as I can, but more than that, even if I didn’t know a single person being affected by the current political climate I would stand up and say that what is happening is categorically wrong and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen. When my own country is interning refugees and asylum seekers indefinitely, leading them to commit self harm or suicide or go on prolonged hunger strikes out of sheer desperation, I will stand up and fight for them, because the government of my country has silenced them so effectively it is frightening.

When the government of my country aligns itself with Donald Trump and continually announces itself as an ally of the US government, I will stand tall and say that they are not my government. I refuse to ally myself with a man like Donald Trump who has been accused of sexual assault no less than 15 times since the 1980’s, who has promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent people crossing the border, who has incited racial and religious hatred through his comments about Islam, black people, and women.

I will be an ally to those who need it, those who are being oppressed and treated unfairly in a new political climate driven by fear, ignorance and bigotry.

I will proudly wear my snowflake tattoo because even though it didn’t start as a signal for being an SJW, it sure as shit has morphed into one, and I’m proud of that. I will always fight for Social Justice.

 

A social media detox

How do you combat a social media dependency?

In realising that I am a champion procrastinator and that I also may have ADD I noticed that one of my main procrastination tools is social media in all its forms. In order to combat this bad habit of procrastinating and fidgeting, I have decided to delete all social media apps off my phone. So today I am saying goodbye to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Slight disclaimer: I am not deactivating my accounts, as I use them to promote the blog and to stay in touch with family who live overseas). My goal isn’t to stop using social media altogether, it is to be more present in my day to day life, and not be constantly looking down at my phone, scrolling through Facebook or twitter to get the latest bit of gossip or news.

While I will be keeping all of my accounts and checking them on my laptop, I will be limiting that to 60 minutes a day total, not including the time I use for blog promotion, but that will simply be sharing the link and nothing else, no scrolling, no liking, no memes.

This is hard, this morning I deleted Facebook off my phone at 11am, it is now 5pm and I cannot tell you how many times I unlocked my phone to scroll through Facebook, only to find it not there. This is what prompted me to delete twitter and Instagram too, because as soon as Facebook was gone, I substituted twitter and Instagram.

I used to think that social media addiction was a myth, or at the very least highly exaggerated, but it appears to be very much true in my case. I use it as not only a tool for communication but as a way to procrastinate and avoid what I should be doing, and giving myself the illusion of productivity. If I’m looking at my social media accounts for my blog, that’s work right? Not if I’m just mindlessly scrolling and looking at what other people have posted!

I discovered a term I’d never heard before today and that is “hate following”. Hate following is when you follow someone on a social media site just to see what they’re doing and then being annoyed by them either because you hated them to begin with or because they irritate you in some way, but you don’t stop following them because you get a weird kick out of being annoyed. This is one of the many reasons that I am beginning to believe social media is toxic. I try to be a good person, and to me, being a good person means not hating anyone, but if you dislike someone you are simply polite to them when you need to speak to them. Following them for the sake of being annoyed is a petty behaviour and is part of the reason I am finding social media more and more draining.

Cutting out these toxic behaviours is part of a wider effort to improve my life in a variety of areas and it is going to be a slow process, I am under no illusion that this will be quick and painless. It is going to be hard, and frankly it might suck.

I hope that by the end of this month, I will have kicked my dependency for social media entirely, and will simply use it in the way it was intended to be used, to stay in touch with friends and to promote my work.

Let me know if you’ve ever done a social media detox before and how it worked for you.