Lately, because of the WordPress Post-A-Day and Post-A-Week challenges, I’ve noticed a lot of writing advice on finding time to blog daily. I agree that many of us will benefit more from our blogs if we write in a stress-free, comfortable environment with limited distractions. But I feel like some people are being left out of this widespread advice. What about the procrastinators that work best under a bit of stress? Maybe you need another way to motivate yourself, and my advice to you is:
Give yourself a deadline!
No one is looking over your shoulder or evaluating your blog’s timeliness and currency. So what’s the rush? I know this feeling, and it leads nowhere.
If you want to write daily and you’re struggling, give yourself a daily deadline. If you’re usually up until midnight, make that deadline midnight. If you want to write weekly, pick a day of the week and stick to it. If you know you have a Thursday deadline, for example, you’ll write every Thursday because you’ll feel the pressure! Consequently, your readers will begin to expect a new post from you every Thursday. Expectations are good, and will reinforce your deadlines as time goes on.
With deadlines, you still have freedom when it comes to writing. You have a whole day’s worth or week’s worth of freedom, in fact, depending on your preferences. With a midnight deadline, you can write at 6 am or you can wait until 11:30 pm- whatever works out best that day. But if you work better under pressure, chances are you will wait until the last minute to post. That’s just the way some of us are, and it doesn’t matter as long as we achieve our goals.
So if you’re struggling a little with the self-discipline it takes to keep up with your blog, try giving yourself a deadline. Don’t stress out too much over it, because, like most bloggers will agree, writing should be fun. But maybe an extra kick is just what you need to get in gear for whichever challenge you’ve accepted this year.
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
Today’s topic asks, “What gives you hope? And what, if anything, makes you question hope?…”
Hope, as a concept, is a survivalist. Even when everything goes wrong, people cling to it. And not wrongly so; hope can bring us back from those darker places. It’s interesting, however, that events themselves cannot cause hopelessness. If a person is hopeful, they always will be despite their circumstances. Hope is a constant. People can ignore it or embrace it.
No fiction today. Today is all about fact and how to perceive it. I’m inspired by Olivia Tejeda’s blog, Away with Words, to write a haiku. As a result, I wrote three somewhat connected verses in regard to today’s topic. Traditionally, a haiku references nature in some way, and I’m not sure if “darkness” and “light” are enough of the natural elements one would expect from a haiku. In a way, however, darkness and light define everything found in nature. Light forms images and decides how we see the world. Today, I see the world in haiku.
I also came across an instructional and interesting quote by Matsuo Basho, the Japanese poet. He cautioned, “The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of” (from Wiki, Note 10).
This gave me an idea. Although I’ve graduated, I’m still (and always will be) a student of writing. As I come across new ideas, whether they are informative or inspirational, I should share them. If I immediately adopt new perspectives into my writing, it’ll be easier to incorporate good ideas into my writing habits permanently.
And so, for now, this:
Hope dwells in darkness,
small spaces between the light;
We see it through cracks.
We question our hope,
confuse it with naïvety
wonder what to think.
See small bits of light
survive our doubts and worries,
Smile through the cracks.
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
We’ve all been the victims of useless advice, especially from people who barely know us. Sometimes it’s difficult to endure lectures that we don’t think apply to us. Mary Schmich, in her Chicago Tribune essay, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young,” warns you to “be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth” (2). This patience is key, because it can open your eyes to what is really being said. Sometimes, it is not the advice itself that is important, but what it shows you about the world, and maybe even your place in it.
She didn’t much care for TV. She grew up in a house full of TV addicts; every social event marked by what aired during the same time, each family dinner held in silence so her father could hear the TV in the next room.
“Do you not have cable or something?” her boss, Erin, once asked her, teasing her for not knowing the latest local news.
“Basic cable, I guess. I never really turn it on,” she admitted. She used the internet instead. Fewer commercials, she claimed. So it was no surprise when she had no idea what her coworkers were talking about, especially when the topic was an infomercial.
“Sadie, you’ve got to check out that vapor cigarette thing. It’s just like smoking a cigarette, but without any toxins or nicotine. Great for quitting! I think I’m going to buy it for my mom,” Erin said to her one day.
Sadie looked at her in hesitation. She couldn’t grasp the appeal of a non-nicotine cigarette, but she also wondered why her boss was sharing this with her. “I don’t smoke,” she said.
“Oh, right, right. Well, this is electric, see, so you wouldn’t be smoking.”
“But why would I want to smoke an electric cigarette if I don’t smoke anyway? How much is this thing?”
“About a hundred or so bucks, for the kit and everything. There’s probably some guarantee, too, so if you didn’t like it-”
“I wouldn’t,” Sadie interrupted.
“It would reduce your stress level,” Erin continued. “I bet just the act of smoking would be therapeutic. Give it some thought, would you?”
Sadie glared after her boss as she walked away. Sometimes her head hurt from being around so many ridiculous people, and she counted Erin among them. For most of the day, Sadie found it amusing that she, a nonsmoker, had to endure a sales pitch about healthier smoking habits. As the day progressed, however, she wondered why her boss was so concerned about her stress level.
She had become very stressed. And the more she thought about it, the more she recognized the source. At the end of the day, Sadie confronted Erin in her office.
“Electric cigarettes are absurd,” she said. “Even if I was a smoker and if I wanted to quit, I would never try smoking some odd contraption. And if someone ever pulls out one next to me in a public place, I will be equally offended as though they lit up a regular cigarette.”
“So you don’t think I should get one for my mom?” Erin asked, absent-mindedly.
“No. But you are right. I need a vacation. I’m taking off the rest of the week. See you on Monday.”
With that, Sadie left work, uncertain whether she’d actually have a job when she returned the following week. Surprisingly, that mattered little to her at the moment. On her way out the door, she was already brainstorming creative ways to fill her time for the rest of the week. Her stress had increased because she had neglected other aspects of her life, and she was about to fix that.
Disclaimer: These characters are completely fictitious, and any resemblances to persons living or dead are entirely coincidental.
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
- Electric Cigarette – Your Way Out Of Smoking (stepbysteptips.com)
- Smokeless Cigarette For A Better Environment (stepbysteptips.com)