July 23./ Laying out Excuses

Writer’s block has hit me hard for the last year. To break out of this period of inactivity, I want to do an exercise that I saw in Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. In it, she lists the excuses she sometimes makes to avoid creating. Afterwards she provides commentary about how she can move past them. In no particular order, here are my excuses:

  1. I’m not a professional / I don’t want to mislead others
    Excuse: A few years ago, when I was hyped about blogging, I often tried to motivate friends to start writing. I heard every excuse in the book. One friend though, said she didn’t want to start blogging because she didn’t want to contribute to the noise. “There’s too many people on the internet shouting their opinions” she said.This was hard on me because I had to ask myself if I was actually contributing online or just shouting my opinions. I’m not a professional on any topic. I don’t have a degree. Most of my knowledge comes out books or experiences. This excuse could be summed up by the introspective question all artists face: “What qualifies you to do this?”

    Rebuttal: Honestly? Most of the internet is filled with people who are not qualified to do what they do. But they do it anyways. For the most part, nothing could really qualify a person. Who says that someone is qualified to walk down the street and vlog their life on their camera? Or toss a bunch of mentos in coke? Or to do anything for that matter?

    As for the ‘shouting opinions’ portion, everyone is going to come across in this way. If you want to share, it’s inherently noisy. You don’t make the noise any louder by producing or any quieter by not writing. If you’re heart is telling you to contribute, go out and create. It’s bound to be noisy.

  2. I’m unclear about my intentions about why I write and what to write about
    Excuse: Often when I sit down when I sit down to write I don’t have a particular topic that I want to discuss in mind. I only have the feeling that I want to write. Without direction or drive, I spin between possible topics for too much time before giving up.The process of choosing a topic is… long winded? Usually this part is intermixed with the other excuses; “what qualifies you to write about this?”, “why don’t you write about a personal experience instead?”, “that’ll take too long”, et cetera. Without a topic, I don’t have clear intentions to create a good product.

    Rebuttal: The obvious solution to this excuse is to take time to define why you write and what you want to write about. Find what topic you want to discuss and stick to it. The first step you should take when sitting down is defining why you’re here and what you’re going to do. Going with the flow is a great skill to have but if you do it too much here, you’ll exhaust yourself wandering through topics with no direction. Pick a topic and hold to it.

  3. My writing skills are rusty and it’s embarrassing to read old posts
    Excuse: While this one is easy to counter, I often find myself faced with my old writing. Not that it was particularly good, but when I was writing daily, my skills were much higher. Now that I’ve stopped writing for almost two years, I automatically compare my current work to that which I was producing during a creative “height”.

    Rebuttal: Comparison will eat you alive. If you spend your time sulking in how you’re not as great as you once were, you’ll never do great things again. If the feeling is nagging you that bad, just work through it and continue to produce. With time and persistence, you’ll hone your craft again. Maybe it won’t be in the same way, and that’s fine, but you will get better as you work.

  4. It’s time consuming and there are other things I could be doing
    Excuse: Without skills, it takes feels like it takes forever to write. I spend 4 or 5 hours writing a short blog posts, then I over-edit it, question myself about whether it’s “good enough to post”, then ultimately log off for the night without sharing it.

    More than anything this make me feel like I’m wasting my time. It takes me a long time to sit down and produce something. “Is it worth the time if the product isn’t great?”

    Rebuttal: All art takes time to produce. You can’t go into it thinking that you’ll be able to jump in quick and come out with a fantastic product. You have to put in the time to create something awesome. Even with greater skill, you’ll still have to put in your hours. Suck it up buttercup, everyone goes through these stages of writing too much, overdoing it, and questioning if it’s good enough. It’s part of the process. Keep going and push passed it.

  5. When it comes down to it, I’m scared of judgement or being held accountable for what I write
    Excuse: These “writer’s blocks” usually boil down to a fear of being judged for expressing something. Whether it be a personal topic or a judgement based off what I choose to reblog or share. “If I write ________, will I come across as too (gay, masculine, feminine, showoff-ish, dumb, know-it-all, irrelevant)?”

    On the same note, I’m afraid that if I write casually, down the road someone is going to hold me to what I wrote. My opinions change as I gain understanding. What I wrote two years ago may not be true about me anymore.

    Rebuttal: No matter what you do, people will always judge you for it. And that’s okay because it really doesn’t matter what others think about you. You’ll always be too gay, too thin, too dumb, for somebody. So what? Create anyways. Have confidence in what you do. You feel driven to create and share. Not everybody can say that.

    The same is true about being held accountable for what you produce. People will always hold things against you. You’ll always be too much of something. Even if it was a past you. Create anyways. Be radical, then contradict yourself. Who cares? You’re allowed to change. You’re allowed to be obscene and different and too much. Do what you love.

Hey y’all, thanks for reading this. I apologize for how long this post has gotten. Brevity isn’t my strong suit. Plus, it’s easy to complain and write excuses! 😛 I hope that if you experience any of these same excuses, maybe you’ll let them go. I’d love to see what you produce. If anyone gets this far, let me know in the comments what excuses you face and how you get passed them. Have a good day/night and I’ll catch ya later!

 

 

Sitting Down and Writing

The most difficult part of writing, I’ve found, is starting. It’s easy to find ways to avoid the process. Sometimes I make excuses or purposefully become busy to escape. But the thought always comes back. Sit down and write. You have something you want to say. That’s what fuels this sort of writing. Why does that desire keep returning?

It’s all chaos. Each time I sit down my mind goes in one thousand directions. There’s nothing cohesive. Even reading the lines as they slowly appear is agonizing. This sentence doesn’t match the one before it. They won’t understand what you are trying to say. Delete it. Start over. Make it better. Write more clearly. Edit. Filter it. It becomes unbearable. Some days it feels like I’m walking through tar.

The motivation to create startles me. This need for expression doesn’t make sense. If I’m this critical of what I’m writing, why should I even begin? I contemplate as I write this, if I even want to share it. It’s embarrassing to be open. Yet I know this sort of creation is necessary.

When I created this site, I was regularly blogging. Each day I wrote 100 words. It feels wrong to say that writing was easier then. It was a skill, something I honed through hours of sitting in front of the screen. Putting thought to word. I don’t have that now. I’m undisciplined.

However, that’s not an excuse to avoid writing. If anything, that’s a reason to sit down and focus. I need to write. It sharpens my mind. When I do it regularly, I feel as though my thoughts are linear. They become digestible. The chaos doesn’t clear up, but it becomes bearable.

This is the spirit of writing regularly. Whether it be BLOGtober, a 365 project, or anything in between. It’s sitting down and getting through the chaos. Pushing past the perfectionist that only wants to share content once it’s been revised 1,000 times. It’s ignoring the urge to get up and do some mindless activity to avoid not knowing what to write or create.

Not every day is difficult. Some days I rush to computer to tell you about my day. Photographs sometimes build themselves and come easily. I have notebooks of ideas and post-it-notes on my walls. Yet, confronting the blank canvas is a process that takes time to get used to.

It’s like standing on stage for your elementary school band concert and suddenly the lights shine in your face. You can see everyone in the audience. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve practiced, sometimes that light will shock you. Blank canvases do the same thing occasionally. But it’s not about that. It’s about getting on stage and playing anyways. Over time it gets better but sometimes that light will still shock you.

Anyways, enough about writing. Have you listened through this mix of Kygo’s music? That link goes to YouTube, so anyone can listen to it. It’s the perfect combination of songs to start the day. My friend introduced it to me a couple weeks ago and I put it on all the time for motivation.

Happy day four of BLOGtober everyone!

(Orig. 20150727)

 

Ad Infinitum

It’s been over a month since I completed a writing 365 project. Since then, I’ve only written a couple of articles. The amount of time I spend on this site has dramatically reduced and I want to change that. For an entire year I sat down each day and wrote. Many of the posts were useless and junk but there was consistency.

Yet, doing another 365 project wouldn’t be satisfying. I don’t want to write daily as a goal or a challenge. I want to write simply because I’m passionate about it. There is no visible endpoint to that. I can’t say that I need to write daily for another year because I know that I want to keep writing past that.

There are other artists, whom I admire, that have done 3 or more years of art projects. Their passion is incredible but I feel like I’ve been measuring myself against them. If only I created as often as them, then I will feel content. But this simply isn’t the case. My passion cannot be measured against another’s. Then it’s not true passion, it’s envy or desire to be like them. This is why I cannot do another year of photographing or writing.

That being said, I will be creating more. It won’t always be on this blog either. Sometimes it’ll be taking pictures or YouTube. It may be scribbles on Twitter or a few pictures on Instagram. I can’t promise consistency on any medium but I can say that I will be creating more.

Also, as I sifted through 2014’s blog posts, I realized that I don’t really write about my life. For the most part, I tried to remain relatable to others. What I did write about myself was cryptic. It’s hard to talk about my life sometimes because I’m not sure if other people will understand it. My hardships feel different from other’s.

My perspective on myself changes constantly as well. Some days I feel like I have it figured out. Why I chased after that boy or how volunteering at that one event changed the course of the next six months. Other days I feel like everyone else is smarter than me and I feel like a child in a room full of adults. This makes my writing incredibly inconsistent.

Regardless, it’s important that I write because it makes me work on myself. It challenges me to reach out to other artists, to look at myself from many perspectives, and to focus on accomplishing something. This writing, whether it be hideous or fantastic, is my work. I own it as a piece of me. With that being said, I don’t see an end to creating. It’s like the blood that flows through my veins; coursing through every facet of my body and nourishing my soul.

While I can’t promise where we’ll go or what we’ll do, I hope that you’ll join me. I don’t know who you are or what your intentions are but I hope you choose to share yourself, to be completely you, to be unadulterated, and to share that with the world. That’s my intention with this site and I hope you’ll be here with me.

With that being said, have a wonderful night and I’ll see you again soon!

 

Day 1

Oct. 19/ Forgive Me

Nights like tonight I can’t sleep. I’m haunted at the last year and I can’t get it out of my head. I’m forced to relive moment by moment what happened. It starts with an younger version of me swimming in a pool everyday. I feel all of the last year in the pinhead of a needle. There isn’t room to breathe it all in because there’s so much that’s happened. I can’t refine it into single pieces. It’s all of it – at once. This insanity ensues and I find myself holding my knees in my bed and gasping for breath often. I can’t contain it, it’s too much.

One day it starts, and I’m living some part of the year. I can’t start there, it’s not the beginning, so it rewinds even further… back to the pool. The nausea of driving to the recruiter in the mall. Failing Broadcast journalism. Driving to Milwaukee and meeting with Greg for the first time in years. Walking around the mall with him. There isn’t a way to filter the details from the overall message. I feel the details and I can’t hold them all. There’s only so much mental room. It’s like I don’t have enough RAM and the memories lags.

Meeting Blake, relaxing with Caleb at Basic, Keesler, and Sheppard. The feeling of the October wind in Texas. It’s too much, god it’s too much. Sobbing at the pet fair in Biloxi. Walking at the ocean. Meeting others. Moving. I’m holding all the details and at a loss. I’m trying to contemplate the entire ocean, every crest and wave break. Each drop and the darkest depths. I feel its motion inside me and I’m entranced. There is too much to hold onto and not enough to let go of.

Niché writing

So today we’re going to slow down and speak unedited. It’s been a long day and now I just want to write to you guys. Not that posts are usually overly refined but today I just want to lay out a few things.

When I became seriously interested in blogging last year, I created five or six blogs. It wasn’t overnight but it happened rapidly. Each blog represented a different niche that I was interested in; The Anatomy of a Dreamer was focused on photography, Navel Oranges on music, and Everyone Wanders was my personal blog.

As 2013 progressed, I came to the realization that I had spread myself too thin. There weren’t many posts on The Anatomy of a Dreamer – interviews take a long time to write. Navel Oranges was fun to create but I found it difficult to write about music without studying music theory.

By the time December rolled around, and I began this 365 project, I knew that I wanted to compile content. My personal blog became flooded with posts because I was writing daily but I didn’t feel I could write about niché topics. If I wanted to write about photography, I had to write on The Anatomy of a Dreamer.

As I continued the 365 project, posts became even more general. Rather than writing about niché topics, I began writing about general experiences. While this isn’t always true, most of these posts have been about broad subjects.

365s are great for developing the ability to write on-the-spot. At any given moment, I feel like I could write 1,000 words. Not only am I able to write more, I’ve become more analytical of what I’m reading. I’ve started to notice sentence structure in books and recurring speech patterns in friends.

However, most of this blog has become on-the-spot writing. I need to reorient how I write so that I can better record my thoughts. Maybe this means creating a website, or returning to Everyone Wanders, but I’m not sure yet. All I know is that I want to increase the quality of my writings, even if that means writing less frequently.

309/365

6/31 Blogtober

 

There’s a few days left before Blogtober, this is why you should join in!

October is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than to blog! While I’m already writing daily, I want to challenge you to blog for 31 days straight. All you will need is a few spare minutes and a cheerful attitude.

Below I’ve included a few details about the event:

Why do this project?

Blogging is a great way to record your life and express yourself. It’s also a fun way to decompress after a long day. Writing has given me a greater perspective on my life and helped me both set and accomplish my goals. I encourage others to write because it gives you time to contemplate your days and focus your energy into one product.

After only 31 days, you’ll have something to look back at. For some, this project will be easy. Others will find it difficult because they don’t feel like they have anything interesting to share. Take that as motivation to make your life more interesting. Cook new foods and write about it, go to the movies and write a review, try something new and share it! Blogging can be as simple as punching the keys on your computer, all you have to do is reach for the keys.

Who should join in?

I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Writing is a simple way to get your voice out there and to get feedback. When you write on a computer, you have the ability to read what you’ve written. This creates a loop where you can look at your ideas/thoughts from a greater perspective. You can modify them, erase them, bold them, whatever you want.

By interacting with your thoughts, you can start to understand yourself in a new way. You have the ability to see who you are and how you think. There are many days that I write and look back over what I’ve written with much surprise. Sometimes we don’t know what we know. Every person could benefit by spending just 10 minutes a day writing.

How much should I participate?

This is entirely up to you! When I began this 365 project, I set a few rules for myself. I encourage you to find what works best for your writing/blogging needs. These are some of the rules I chose, feel free to adopt a few of them or modify them as needed:

100 words minimum a day!

Writing at least 100 words daily makes the task easy to do but difficult to B.S.. It only takes a few minutes to write and I’ve found that I usually want to write more. 100 words is a strong enough commitment that I can’t just write one sentence.

Guest Blogging/ Collaborations count!

If you get a friend to write on your blog, that counts as a post! Collaboration is a great way to build friendships and to provoke thought. Everyone has a different perspective and a unique style of writing. Guest blogging helps introduce you to other bloggers and new topics that you could potentially write about in the future.

Video Blogging (Also known as “Vlogging”) is acceptable

Videos tend to be more in-depth that text posts for me. I can usually talk about more information while chatting on the camera than typing away. This option allows you to have more variety during your project.

Posts must be made in one conscious period

This means you must post sometime between when you wake up and when you go to bed. Rather than pushing off your writing to the next day, you must do it. It’s just a simple rule that helps regulate your posts. This one is definitely a measure of discipline.

Where should I post?

You can blog anyway! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are all forms of microblogging. While I encourage you to write on a blogging platform like WordPress.com or Blogspot.com, feel free to write anywhere. Blogtober is about your experience of blogging, no matter where you choose to write. It doesn’t matter what you have to say or why you have to say it, only that chose to express it.

 

Happy blogging everyone!

300/365

 

 

“Everyone Wanders”

“Everything you’ve ever done,
every person you’ve ever met,
every experience you’ve ever had,
is a part of who you are today,
adding interesting layers to your being,
and colorful depths to your soul.
Everything needed to be as it was,
so you could grow as you did and do.”

-Karen Salmansohn

This quote inspires me to seek adventure and, when I’m going through a rough time, to see the bigger picture. The person I am today is a compilation of who I was yesterday and the day before, returning to the day I was born. You are built on your daily life and the years are comprised of months, which are held together by days. Fill each day with as much experience as you can.

My old blog http://www.EveryoneWanders.com/ is being repurposed into a side project of this blog. Here I write daily and this has become more of routine than a creative expression. Though I enjoy writing every day, this has become more tedious than a way of expressing myself. There are days that I cannot stop writing, while others I feel dry.

To force yourself into expression creates a dull piece of art. The purpose of a 365 is to learn this balance and to find a point where you can create regularly. Ultimately it shows you that you have a greater capacity to write (or photograph) than you think. After 30 days of writing, you realize “wow! I never knew I had so much to say!”.

Eventually that wears off, maybe around day 150-180, and you just have to push yourself through the rest of the project. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy writing and blogging. However, right now I’m just waiting for it to be finished. Not so that I can be done writing but because I want to produce greater quality work, which can only be produced over days of writing.

Everyone Wanders is a collection of my side writings, a place where I can release content that I feel fits me but that I don’t want to edit. It’s more raw and rigid. For the next few days I’ll be back-posting and updating previous writings.

As a side note, check out the band Trademark. “Getting By” is a beautiful song recommended by The Howling Fantogs.

256/265