This upcoming November I am participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to create a story and write at least 50,000 words. That's almost two thousand words per day. The tricky thing about this, is it's during a busy month for me in terms of school. Not only do I have classes, but I also have extracurricular activities and a job. Time management and lots of prayer are going to be a given. It means a lot for me to be able to compete in this. Writing a book it difficult, but writing it in one month during the school year? My goal is to have fun, try my best, and encourage others to do the same. Doesn't matter whether I reach 50k or not. What matters is I challenged my mind. I take Nanowrimo seriously as if it was a job because I truly enjoy honing my writing skills and getting better at something I love to do. This is my self-care, choosing something for me.
And with that, I will not post any blog posts this month so watch out for my Nano reflection December 2nd :)
Sometimes the weights on our shoulders get too heavy to carry around. We add so much on our plate that we forget to care for ourselves. We are expected to run like machines, but we are not made of metal, bolts and wires. No. We have a brain that tells us when the stress is too much, and a heart that won’t beat forever. We are not machines, we are human and as humans, we need to slow down sometimes. The world will continue to spin and go one whether you are working or sleeping. Time is an illusion. We don’t lose or gain time. We simply live within its man-made constraints. What we do with that illusion still matters. Not everyone can slow down unfortunately. Some people work three or four jobs to keep up. Some may only work one but have other obligations such as their family. Even in those times, leaving a smidgen of space for self-care can be beneficial in the long run.
In my sociology class we are learning about labor movements in the 20th century. It’s crazy to believe people worked more than eight-hour work days and never got a break and were not allowed to speak to one another. These men, women, and children, worked around and with dangerous machines and chemicals, but weren’t allowed basic rights like using the bathroom. How can you expect your workforce to thrive with such horrid conditions? How can one expect to do their best job in those environments?
As a rule, I make sure there is room in my schedule for alone time. I need that space to relax by myself. Sometimes I push homework to the next day or later in the night just so I can take a much-needed nap. It’s important to take a break from the world and take care of yourself. Our bodies need time to rejuvenate and get ready for the next battle. Hanging out with friends, taking a walk by yourself, reading a magazine, or going to a play are all ways to do that. Taking care of your mind and body is not a selfish deed. It is necessary and healthy. Allow your human body to breathe. How can you expect to be your best if you can’t even stay awake?
*Photos from freephotos.cc
I’m sure most, if not all of you, have heard of a vision board where you put up quotes or pictures of what you envision your future to be. I thought about doing that, but then realized it wasn’t what I wanted. Instead I created art boards and cut out magazine pictures that looked aesthetically pleasing or had some sort of meaning to it.
This is a project everyone should do. Not the same exact thing I did, but the idea. It allows you to become more introspective. You’ll start to ask, “Why do I like this picture and not that?” “What type of meaning does this have for me?” Let your creative side come out in whatever you do. Don't just think outside the box, live outside the box. Change things the way you want to, like how I did with the vision boards. Take snippets of ideas from various places and create something personal to YOU. Allow the art to represent your vision and your ideals. When the creative juices flow in, it will express your inner beauty as well.
Each of my boards has a theme. The first one is black white, the second is blue, the third is brown, and the fourth is colorful. My boards may not make sense to others, but I look at them and see the connections. They all complement each other. Each board tells a story through the pictures. I have a picture of Issa Rae, the creator of Insecure. I started watching webisodes on her YouTube channel and was excited when she landed a show on HBO. That right there is inspiring. I have photo of fashion models like Bella Hadid, because I’ve grown to appreciate modeling and photography more thanks to my novel, Being a Model. All the research I did caused me to see the artistry in modeling in a way I never saw before. I also have a photo of black ballerinas and I love that picture because there you don’t see that type of representation often.
Finally, I have my “Me” board. This will have bible verses, words from magazines, my unofficial book covers, and things that I like/ like to do. The way I express myself is through writing and speaking. This time I wanted something visual and hands-on to do. Next, I might paint or spray paint something. This year, my creative brain has taken off and I want to try everything! Inspiration is everywhere. You need to pay attention and grab it.
There are times when we question ourselves and what we’re doing. Is this the right major? Is this the right career field? Should I move to a new state? In the beginning of the race we run high on adrenaline, but it dies out in the middle, until we come to a slow crawl towards the end. We lose the momentum that pushed us forward. We begin to doubt our abilities and our dreams, allowing them to wither away and fade into oblivion. We forget why. Once things get difficult or take the “wrong” turn, we say, “what’s the point of this?” “I’m tired of waking up early for this class/ job I don’t like.” “I should just take the easier route.” “No one believes in me.” Say no to these negative thoughts. Remember why you started this journey. Remember the goal. See the finish line in your future. Pick up your feet and start running again.
The problem may be your routines or habits. Try changing things up a bit. Find a new place to study. Try taking a different route to work or school. Re-vamp your project, start over if need be. Do something to bring that spark back. Do not give up on yourself. Have milestones along the way so you know progress is being made. Losing hope and motivation is a part of the journey. It wasn’t easy writing my books. Some days I wonder what the point is for spending hours and mental energy on something that may never get shelf life. “Who’s going to read my blog anyways?” “Are my stories intriguing enough?” Stomping on those thoughts, I continue to write. I joined Camp Nanowrimo, set a weekly schedule for each book, and set deadlines.
If it helps to speak to someone else and vent, reach out to a close friend or a mentor. Prayer and/or meditation is also a terrific way to put your mindset back in place. Maybe you need a break to let loose or think. Take a day off or a couple (this might not work for school, please don’t skip your classes). For October, I am not working on any books, just blogging and setting up for Nanowrimo in November. I’m trying to write 50,000 words in thirty days (yikes!). That may or may not happen, BUT the most I’ve ever written for Nano is 20-something thousand. If I even make it to thirty thousand, that will be an incredible accomplishment. This is what I mean. Fifty is the goal, but 30 would still be better than the last time. You need to do better than your last accomplishment. Didn’t get an A+ in class, but got a better score on this test than the last? That’s something to celebrate. Passed a deadline for a personal project, but still completed it? That’s an achievement! Effort is what counts. Do what you need to do to get back into the race and run at maximum speed.
Next week’s topic is on Vision Boards.
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