I Hate Being Bored

There’s something to be said for my hatred of boredom. I hate being bored. I’ll do just about anything if it means I’m doing something.

That explains why I also despise waiting. I try to do things while I’m waiting. Otherwise, I’d lose my mind.

But due to circumstances I didn’t see coming, I had to wait at the dentist for a while without anything to keep me occupied. I didn’t have pen or paper. I didn’t have a book. I didn’t have my phone.

So even though I felt a bit frustrated at first, I resorted to observing others.

I got to observe a father and son. Maybe a story will come out of it. Maybe not. I’ll have to add some kind of conflict or tension because the two were so happy. Meanwhile there was me being all bitter.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to handle parenthood, especially being a single mother. Although there wouldn’t be a dull moment in my life again if I had a kid to look after.

I kept thinking to myself why can’t I just sit and wait for a while? Because I don’t sit and wait ever.

I always feel like I should be doing something. I cannot not do anything. I feel weird and wrong doing nothing. I tried to relax. After all, there wasn’t much I could do. But to be honest I was anything but relaxed. I felt anxious. I felt I needed to be reading, writing, something.

Of course, I did a lot of thinking during the time. Part of me wishes I had a way of recording my thoughts then because I’ve forgotten them all now. I’d love to have some sort of technology to do that.

Of course, things worked out just fine. The world didn’t end. The sky didn’t fall.

Still, this isn’t an experience I’d like to repeat again. But it made me think about myself, about life in general.

Waiting at the dentist was almost as bad as watching paint dry.

Anyhow, this turned out to be one of the more interesting trips to the dentist I’ve had in a long time. That said, my last trip entailed running on about three hours of sleep right after an exam. That’s a story in and of itself.

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Take Care Of Yourself

When I’m not feeling well, I’m torn between doing nothing so I can rest or doing everything in hopes I’ll get better because I’ve been productive.

A part of me knows I’m allowed take a day off from writing or blogging. But another part wants to persevere. The latter wins out more often than not.

I compromised. I didn’t force myself to go above and beyond. Even though I didn’t want to do too much, I did a little. I’ll take it. Some progress is better than none.

My head hurt. It was especially painful to be inverted. So while dancing I tried to keep upright as much as possible. Although I hate feeling ill, I like rebounding from a bad day or three. Knowing I took it easy even out of necessity motivates me to try harder when I’m feeling better.

Unless I’m beyond saving, I won’t nap during the day. I don’t know why. I think my body doesn’t know how to fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. I could feel awful, and I’d still be awake.

I shouldn’t be hard on myself. I am human after all. Obviously, I would’ve liked to do more. But why work myself until I burn out?

I’m reminded of baseball. It’s easier and better to give athletes a day off even when they don’t need one. It’s worse to push professional athletes to the point where they get injured, only letting them rest too little too late. They’ll take longer to recover from an injury then.

Better to give someone a break before they break something.

I never know if my analogies or examples make sense to anyone not named Herminia Chow. But if you need a sign to take a break and relax a bit, here it is.

Do what you can to prevent yourself from getting injured or ill. Prevention beats cure any day of the year.

Control the things you can. And deal with what you can’t. Always be kind to yourself because if you aren’t, who will be?

My Novel Writing Process

I’ve written some novels in my lifetime. But whenever I undertake a new one, I’m not sure how I’ll make it to the end. This is a glimpse into my writing process.

Brainstorming

I’m a character-centric writer. Always have been, always will be. So I tend to come up with an interesting person and throw conflict at him or her as I go.

Outlining

Based on past experience, if I had to outline every novel for the rest of my life, I’d be on pace to never finish another one ever again. I sort of outline in my head. Depends on your definition of outlining though.

Writing

It isn’t too bad once I get past the beginning and middle.

Researching

I tend to research after I finish an initial draft where I brainstorm my own ideas first.

Waiting

I like to wait a long time in between writing the first draft and all that follows after.

Transcribing  

I handwrite most of my novels, so at some point, I have to type everything up onto the computer.

Critiquing

The one novel I sought feedback on was incomplete at the time, and it still is about six years after the fact. At least I like critiquing my own work. I’d much rather crush my own ego than have someone else do so.

Rewriting

I enjoy losing my sanity and seeing improvements at the same time.

Editing

Some stories don’t even get this far. What a shame.

Publishing

Obviously, I’m not at this stage yet. If my dreams come true, I don’t know how I’ll refrain myself from talking about my books.

Procrastinating

I procrastinate so much it’s a miracle I get anything done on time. Sadly, I put things off at all stages of the novel writing process. Nothing like consistency, am I right?

Reading

Even when I’m writing a novel and it’s a priority like during NaNoWriMo, I try to read as much as I can. Books inspire me. Other stories have inspired my own.

Celebrating

I celebrate the small victories as much or maybe even more than the big ones. I believe in rewarding myself. Otherwise, my motivation would be six feet under.

What’s your novel writing process like? I’d love to know.

My Writing Routine 2017

I’ve always enjoyed reading about the routines of other writers. So I figured I’d answer questions about mine.

When do you write?

It depends. When I have class, I write prose or poetry in the morning. I’m the afternoon, I’ll draft a blog post on the way back. If I don’t have to commute, I procrastinate all day and create at night.

Where do you write?

Where do I not write is the better question. A bus. The train. In my room. At my desk. Wherever I can.

How often do you write?

Every day. Somehow. I don’t sleep much. I also have no social life and a non-existent love life.

What do you use to write or type?

A pen. Google Drive. I prefer them over a pencil and Microsoft Word.

Is there anything you do before writing?

I wash my hands because germs. Is that weird? I’m weird.

Is there anything you do while writing?

Not really, especially if I’m writing by hand. When typing, I tend to have a glass of water nearby. Very rarely do I eat something. On the rare occasion I do, it’s probably a fruit I can eat with a fork. Germs again.

Is there anything you do after writing?

I close my notebook and retract my pen or I’ll shut down my computer. More often than not, I check my phone for anything I missed. But I don’t have many friends, so there’s nothing to miss.

At the start of each writing session, do you read over what you wrote?

If I’m writing short stories or poems, generally no. If I’m working on a novel, sometimes. Depends on whether I need to refresh my memory or not. I’m not getting any younger.

Do you finish writing on a half complete sentence or idea?

I crave closure, so I’ve never stopped writing in the middle of anything. This goes for just about everything I can control, which isn’t much.

Do you write in short bursts or long periods?

I prefer getting all my writing done in one go. Unless I’m struggling. Let’s just say I take more breaks when writing an academic essay than I do with a short story.

Is there anything you’d like to change about your writing routine?

I’m quite pleased with it right now. I don’t have a problem, and so long as my routine continues to serveme, I’m not going to fix what isn’t broken.

Do you think your writing routine will be different next year?

I’m not sure. I guess that depends on my grand lifestyle in 2018. I’ll stay the course, adjust if and when necessary.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to answer the above questions on your own blog.

Writing Advice & Editing Advice

Writing Advice

Start writing.

Pick up your pen and put it to paper. Form letters into words. String words into sentences. Turn sentences into paragraphs.

Don’t stop. Keep going.

First drafts aren’t perfect. They never will be. Stop trying to make them perfect. Focus on getting your idea(s) down somewhere. Write first, edit later.

Try to separate writing from editing. They’re two different processes.

Learn how to silence your inner critic. Listen when necessary.

Be present. Take life one word at a time, one day at a time.

Break big projects into smaller tasks. Make deadlines. Meet them.

Focus on the process of creating. Have fun and enjoy yourself.

Find your inner voice. Nurture it.

Give yourself enough time to write as much as you can, whenever you can.

Remember you’re closer to your goals than you know. Don’t give up now or ever.

When you want to stop, push yourself to write a little more. Make this a habit. Challenge what you know you can do to see what you’re really capable of.

Balance writing with everything as best as you can. Take small and big breaks.

Write for yourself and no one else.

Editing Advice

Put some space between writing the first draft and editing it. Give yourself time to edit.

Change the font or colour of the text.

Print out your work when possible. Then read your writing aloud.

Be honest with yourself. Learn what you’re good at. Learn what you aren’t so good at. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Play up the former; play down the latter.

Critique your own writing as a reader would.

Make many revisions. Make even more.

Even if you love a certain phrase or scene, don’t forget to delete what you don’t need. Your story is better off without redundancies.

Edit slowly. Go at your own pace. Apply corrections. Learn from them. Attempt not to make the same mistakes again. Focus on a different aspect of writing with each round of editing.

Fact check. Double check. Make sure you’re correct.

Be better than your excuses. It’s better to edit too much than not edit at all.

A first draft shouldn’t be your final one.

Writing, Editing, And Watching Baseball

I love writing. But editing is not nearly as fun as baseballing. It’s happening. I’m making up words. If only I could be the next Shakespeare.

I spent the day writing and editing.

I spent the night watching baseball instead of working because procrastination is so much easier than being productive.

When I first started writing this post, I was trying to think of parallels between editing and baseball. I’m sure there are some, but my tired brain can’t think of one.

After writing most of an essay earlier in the day, my brain was ready to shut down. In a perfect world, I would have a lot more time to write and edit all my essays.

I don’t enjoy trying to write an entire paper in one session, which is why I prefer not to procrastinate until the last minute. More often than not, I give myself enough time. After all, I know myself as a writer better than anyone.

It helps that I write every day. I know what I’m capable of, I know how long I need. So I can plan out my mess of a life accordingly.

Editing is tricky though. Again, in a perfect world, I’d have all the hours I want for revisions. Some papers take longer, especially if I wrote an extremely terrible first draft. Besides, the more words I’ve written, the more time it’ll take to make them better.

I know this isn’t the best idea, but occasionally I write and edit while watching baseball. When possible I mostly reserve such moments for shallow work such as typing up text messages or informal emails.

But I’m neither flawless, nor am I a saint.

I still haven’t thought of a parallel between editing and baseball. So much for that idea.

Whenever I need to edit, I want to write. Vice versa holds true too. Sadly, I want to do what I’m not doing.

Anyhow, I can’t wait to have a productive day tomorrow. I need to. Those papers won’t write or edit themselves.


A note from real time Herminia:

Obviously, I wrote this post and many others while there was still baseball on TV. But I realized that some of the sentiments I wrote a while ago are still relevant today. I figured now is as good of a time as any to publish this blast from the not so distant past. Fear not, more will come. I’m horribly behind with blogging and horrible at catching up. Thanks for understanding.

Separating Writing For Fun From Writing For School

I try to keep the two separate from each other as much as possible. Otherwise I’d lose what’s left of my sanity. But sometimes when I’m pressed for time, I wonder if I should consider what I write for school as fulfilling my creative quota for the day.

Who am I fooling? Not myself obviously. And it’s sort of cheating in my eyes.

Come on. Do better, Herminia.

As much as I love what I’m studying (Book & Media, English, Writing & Rhetoric), there are areas of overlap in my personal interests. So everything mixes into one giant mess.

Personally, I blog for a lot of reasons. I clear my head when I write. Well, I try to anyway. I know I can always turn to pen and paper, my best friends when school gets to be too much. It didn’t help my non-existent patience that I hated the second sentence of an essay I had to edit.

Writing is hard. And if you are a writer, it’s even harder. Yet I still put myself in the same position every day, staring at a blank page or a white screen.

I was just thinking to myself if someone gave me the choice to do just about anything, writing would be a top priority. Even if that list of potential tasks was a million items long. I’d still choose writing over a ton of other things.

Over the years, I like to think I’ve fallen more in love with words.

I used to tell people I want to publish a book. I do. But as of late, I tend to say I just want to write and blog. Is that too much to ask for?

I digress as I often do.

Back to the point of writing for fun and for school. I won’t let university stop me. The whole process of creating something takes time and effort. But it’s also so incredibly rewarding. More than anything, writing is worthwhile.

Applying Baseball Advice As Writing Advice

What’s better than blogging about something you love? Blogging about everything you love.

I love baseball. I love writing. And I love advice.

Make the adjustment.

As a hitter, you adjust to the pitchers. As a pitcher, you adjust to the hitters. As a writer, you adjust to the reader. To your audience whether it’s one person or one million. The way you email an editor is different from the way you text your agent. But of course, that’s not the only adjustment you have to make. You and your characters have to adapt to different scenarios all the time.

When life throws you a curveball, hit it out of the ballpark.

Pretty self explanatory, right? Find the good in the bad. Then proceed to succeed.

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

I especially like thinking about this one in terms of rejection. Never let the fear of rejection keep you from writing, from blogging. If you aren’t afraid of rejection, replace with failure, judgement, whatever applies to you.

You can’t steal second without taking your foot off first.

My take on this: You have to move if you want to improve. And in order to improve, you have to write as often as possible. I’m all for writing every day, but I realize life happens. We’re all busy. Still, you’ll be surprised at the progress you’ll make over time with consistent practice.

Every strike brings you closer to the next home run.

Every rejection brings you closer to the next acceptance. The rare acceptances make the frequent rejections worth it.

If you think practice is boring, try sitting on the bench.

You have the right to shake me silly if I ever say writing is boring. The thought of not being able to write anything has me picking up a notebook and pen faster than someone can throw a 100 mph fastball to home plate. I don’t like boredom. Who does?

This has been fun. Even if no one reads this post or everyone hates it, I want to do a part two or something similar in the future.

Blogger Prompt Chain

Blogger Prompt Chain

Thank you to the awesome Rachel Poli who tagged me. Here’s to creating a “chain” of stories written by writers and bloggers.

Rules:

  1. Pick one of the five given writing prompts.
  2. Set up the Blogger Prompt Chain banner and publish your story under the banner.
  3. After your story, continue the chain by forwarding an invitation to five bloggers or writers. (In case a writer doesn’t have a blog, guest posts can be offered.)
  4. Don’t forget to link the writers to your blog and back to the one who invited you.
  5. Publish the five writing prompts and rules.

Prompts:

a) The End of The Bucket List

Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.

b) Get Out of the Car With Your Hands Up

You’re driving to your favourite city when you’re stopped by a police officer. Sure, you were going a few miles over the speed limit, so you’re not overly surprised. But you are surprised when the police officer gets to your car and screams, “Get out of your car with your hands up!” This leads to an unexpected night for you. Write this scene.

c) Hiring a New Villain

Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

d) At The End of The Rainbow

You and a friend have decided to try and follow a rainbow to see if the end holds a pot of gold. But when you finally reach the end, you find something much more valuable than a pot of gold—and it changes your life. Write this scene.

e) The Letter All Writers Should Write

Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired by his or her writing. Do you thank them? Do you blame them? Take the letter in any direction you want.

The Letter All Writers Should Write:

Dear Ms. Davis,

Thank you for everything.

I will never forget all you did for me when I was young and dumb.

Thanks for taking interest, for asking questions. More than anything, I’m thankful you believed in me…even when I didn’t.

I’ll always remember you pulled me aside not once but twice. You cared enough to talk to me and see if I was okay before sending me home. You were also the first person who got the chance to tell me someone else wanted to publish my work.

I don’t know if I would’ve taken writing as seriously if not for the start I had. The beginning of every writer’s career matters a lot. I had a good one thanks to you.

I can’t remember everything but I remember some things. I’m sure the memories will come back. Slowly but surely. I’ll treasure all of them.

Your lessons have gone a long way. I owe a lot of my current successes and failures to you. I have no regrets.

You taught me how to be a student. More importantly, you educated me on how to be a writer.

I wonder where you are right now. I hope you’re doing well.

Thank you so much for everything.

I like to believe you’re proud of how much yet also how little I’ve changed. I’m still just as concise and vague at twenty years old like I was at fourteen.

Sincerely,

Herminia

My Invitations:

I’m going to be that blogger who tags everybody and essentially nobody to participate.

Thanks again to Rachel Poli for the invite. I hope you’re all following her amazing blog.

A Life Update You Didn’t Ask For

As I’m prone to do, I’ve been thinking a lot. Which is how this post of thoughts came to be.

I think I like the idea of making changes to this blog more than I like making change.

Obviously, my brain obsesses over blogging when I’m swamped with schoolwork. But maybe over the holidays, I’ll tinker with things.

Somehow, NaNo is in full swing. To be quite honest, I’m not trying to reach 50,000 words or any kind of a word count for that matter. Right now it’s enough to write every day even if the words are terrible.

I’m writing prose. I hope to start a novel and see the story through until the end. So far so good.

In a perfect world, I’d make writing my first priority. But I don’t live in a perfect world. It’s still a priority, just not my first or only.

My reasoning is when I’m eighty years old I won’t be able to dance to the extent I can now. I doubt my body will respond well to doing cartwheels then. Though I like to believe I’ll still be able to write when I’m an old lady.

For that reason, I’m trying to dance as much and as well as I can at this age.

Dance isn’t something I bring up much on this blog. I wonder if I should. There are definitely parallels I can draw between dancing and writing, blogging.

On another note, I’m quite pleased with my reading. Not so with my reviewing. I’m horribly behind in editing and posting book reviews.

I realize I’m better at keeping up with fictional novels than I am with non-fiction. Still, I try to read some non-fiction on the subway ride home, even though I don’t say so on Goodreads. I’m just more casual with my non-fiction reading.

Overall, I’m doing the best I can. That’s what matters to me.

I debated not bringing up school, but since I’m a full-time student, I figured I will. Despite all the assignments due this month and next, I’m managing. I haven’t failed anything. I like to believe I won’t.

If you’ve read this far, kudos to you. I hope you’re doing well. Wishing you the very best life has to offer. Take care. I want to see you around here.