Short Break

Goodbye, Puerto Rico

 

 

I’m moving to Georgia on Tuesday and I have lots of stuff to do, so I’ll be on a short break till July 22nd while I finish last minute touches here and get situated over there.

Today I had planned a post about What Avatar The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra Taught Me about  storytelling, but it was long and messy and I want to do it right, but ran out of time.

So instead I share you other blogs and articles that are awesome!

 

This article shows how its actually true that being in the moment and enjoying the journey is much beneficial than focusing on the destination:  How Goals and Good Intentions Can Hold Us Back

Everything at Terribleminds.com is just pure awesomeness and today it’s interview day with Lisa Cron, author for Wired For Story which teaches storytelling using science! Lisa Cron: The Terribleminds Interview

Also, everything at The Art of Non-Conformity is great too. Here’s a blog post about taking responsibility for making decisions about your life. This blog and his books started me on my path of really taking my life into my own hands: How to Make Decisions

 

There. Go. Read. Play.

See you next week!

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One More Reminder

 

As I grew up, a big problem I faced (though didn’t realize till much later) was that almost all my goals weren’t mine. They were my mother’s. I just wanted to do whatever she wanted me to do. True, I had hobbies, but I didn’t even consider them as a career option till my mother mentioned it, and even then I still ended up enlisted in the Air Force.

But still, I was lucky.

I always knew I wanted to tell stories and more specifically, make or write movies. I loved them and wanted to be part of that world, even if I ignored and neglected that desire.

For others, it’s not that easy. I had friends who had no clue what they wanted to do or be. Even my brother still doesn’t know what he wants to do for a living and has little to no hobbies.

It has become a challenge for some people to discern what their true personal desires are and what their family or society desire for them.

When choosing a goal to accomplish, a new life to create, it’s always better to listen to the gut rather than the brain.

How does it make you feel rather than what is the more logical choice. Because even if a choice may give you money and safety and security, it won’t matter if you’re not happy and worried that you will lose said money and safety and security, or if you even don’t want it anymore because you’re so miserable with the way things are.

Balance is always the aim, but if I had choose between being rich, unhappy and frustrated, and being penniless, happy and fulfilled, I’d chose happiness.

But I suppose people are rarely happy and fulfilled while being penniless. So indeed, balance is the goal.

This isn’t really anything new. We’ve all seen the desktop wallpapers, the bookmarks, the motivational posters, etc. But how many actually follow the advice? Who actually dares to live a life of non-conformity and passion rather than a life of safety and comfort zones?

Not many.

Maybe it just takes one more time. One more message. One more reminder to live your life on your own terms, and never give in to fear. That you can. That it’s possible, despite how scary that seems.

It’s good practice to discover and follow your dreams.

Never believe or act otherwise.

What’s your dream? What are you doing today that will take you closer to its fulfillment?

 

Bridges

 

And we’re back.

So we got Awareness, We got Faith or Confidence, We got our goal. We’re affirming and visualizing and taking action.

So where’s our stuff?

You know how a very popular metaphor for life is that it’s a journey? I think that is a very accurate metaphor.

When it comes to having a goal and setting out to achieve it, it’s very much like a journey from here to there. It’s easy to assume that with all the stuff I’ve been talking, this means a quicker if not instantaneous arrival at our destination.

But that’s not how a journey works. In order to get here from there, you have to actually travel there.

You may start on foot. But then on your way you find a faster mode of transportation, like a bicycle, a horse, a car or even a spaceship. These are opportunities. They can carry you on your way faster.

But while opportunities can take you to your goal faster, obstacles can slow you down.

But obstacles or setbacks shouldn’t be seen as negative.

I see them as Bridges. Some bridges are safe, tall and made out of stone (like going to college), and some are narrow and rickety and dangerous (like starting a risky business venture).

Some bridges you can see in the distance, like on a map of life, and you can choose from several options which to cross. But as you get on your way and reach the unmapped parts of life, new unexpected bridges turn up on the path. These can be extremely scary and challenging bridges.

Some bridges will have brick walls set right in the middle that you have to somehow climb over or blast your way through in order to continue.

Other bridges may break as you’re halfway across and plunge you into unknown and scary territory.

But I don’t see bridges (obstacles) as bad.

Think of Lord of the Rings. Would it have been any fun at all if the road to Mordor was a walk in a park? If Gandalf somehow knew a teleportation spell that took them directly to Mount Doom in a second? Would that had been a very good movie?

Would you really appreciate a goal if it just fell in your lap? If you just instantaneously teleported to the other side?

Bridges (or mountains or whatever metaphor speaks to you) are what make the Journey (Life) worth it. This is the fun stuff. The being alive part. This is where you live, where you use and enjoy your mind and body. Where you think and feel and act and appreciate.

This is where I used to get stuck. I make goals, affirm them and look at the bridges from afar.

I never dared to walk across them.

Not anymore.

What bridges do you need to cross to get to where you want to go? Are you avoiding them or boldly walking forward?

 

New Goal: Knowledge!

I have a confession to make.

I am very ignorant.

I should have a disclaimer on this site that reads: I am no expert on ANY of the topics I discuss. Everything I write is just my personal opinion, observation and perception and they could very well be very wrong.

I have no college degree (though I do have 5 years’ worth of mediocre college courses under my belt) and had a very limited elementary, junior and high school education (Thank you, Puerto Rico).

Because of this, there are some subjects I know little to nothing about. And as I grow older, I’m starting to think maybe I should know these things.

Like:  How does the U.S. government and democracy works? How the economy and money in general, especially taxes and the stock market, work? What’s actually written in the U.S. Constitution? What are my rights? What are the exact definitions of socialism, communism, and capitalism? What’s happening in other countries politically and economically wise?

In other words, know more about all the things that determine my quality of life in this country.

Before, these topics bored the hell out of me. I simply trusted that whoever is in charge and making all the important decisions not only has my best interest at heart, knows what he or she is doing.

I avoid looking at the news because either I don’t really understand what’s going on or find it depressing.

Though I know I can’t be the only one like this, I also know it’s not very smart.

Let’s face it. What divides successful people and those who aren’t is knowledge. Plain and simple.

Those with more knowledge on how things work and how to use that information to create the life they want will have a higher quality of life than those who don’t know.

Also, those who don’t know are more at risk at being taken advantage of by those who do know.

This goes without saying, but it’s only recently that I feel motivated to actually do something about it.

So, I’ve decided to educate myself. Luckily I live in a day and age where I don’t need a university to learn anything, really.

I shall create a custom degree for myself, using the largest free resource I have available: the Internet!!

Economy, politics, socioeconomics, philosophy, etc. mixed in with my fiction/nonfiction writing and drawing/paining informal education.

My goal is not to feel like a complete idiot by the time I’m 30. Though I have a feeling I’d be more successful if I have a more specific goal/plan on how to achieve this, especially juggling all this studying and somehow still make a living.

I’ll work it out.

Your turn.

Are there topics you want to learn or feel you should know about but don’t? Have any tips or advice on how to continually educate oneself in the mix of our busy lives?

New Horizons

 

I’m writing as I sit waiting to board my flight to Tampa to later board a flight to Georgia, where I’m to meet relatives for the first time.

I’m a bit nervous and excited at the same time.

It reminds me of when I have the first inspiring idea of an unfolding story that I knew had the potential to be great. I’m excited because I love the story and the characters and can’t wait to delve deeper in this world. But I’m also nervous that I’m not up to the challenge. I’m nervous that it’s not as good as I think it is.

In other words, I’m afraid of failure.

I’ve been told by others (and most likely gave this advice myself) that you need to embrace failure. Without the risk of failure, you really can’t achieve anything. I wouldn’t be where I am, heading off to meet my wonderful family I didn’t know existed.

But embracing failure it like saying embracing pain and though this is still good advice, it’s kind of hard to swallow.

It would be much easier to understand if we take failure out of the picture all together.

When I feel nervous and, instead of reacting to the emotion, I watch myself be nervous and be in the present moment, my mind becomes quiet. There are no thoughts or opinions going on in my head about my nervousness or what I was doing. I was just simply aware without thought what I was doing.

When I do that, my nervousness disappears because the idea of failure never happens. I’ve taken failure out of the equation all together.

I wonder if the distinction between writers who write and those procrastinate is simply that writers who are prolific are able to work without thinking or rather nothing outside the action of creating a story and all its elements. They are present when they work and that is why time flies without them noticing because there aren’t in time; they’re in the present moment that is never ending.

I have had those moments, but it’s not something I thought I could do on command. Now I’m wondering if I can.

So, my new writing goals are going to be a little different this year. Instead of setting a goal as “500 words a day” or “finish the first draft of Beasts”,  I will focus more on my state of mind, on “being” rather than “doing.”

My new goal will be to be as present minded as possible when I write.

My state of mind will be my primary goal. The writing will be my secondary goal.

Let’s see what happens.

It’s not just for writing either. I will be present minded whenever I remember to do so. For this trip to Georgia, I have no real idea what to expect. I’m not even thinking about it. I’m now in this moment, taking it as it comes and completely open to whatever happens.

I feel like I’m approaching a brand new horizon I never knew existed and don’t even know what it will offer. It’s kind of exciting.

What about you? Any new goals this year? Any epiphanies?

Unconscious Resolution

 

As 2011 came to a close, I noticed something rather unpleasant.

I was getting fat.

Or okay, to be more specific, my stomach is fatter than the year before and my usual pants size has become uncomfortable to wear.

So in the back of my mind, I told myself one of my resolutions for 2012 was to exercise and get rid of that fat and build a leaner stomach.

It was a very light-hearted resolution. I didn’t really focus on it much. My main concern was this blog and my writing.

But then something strange happened.

On January 1st, yesterday, I suddenly had this urge to go running, even though I haven’t gone running in over a year. I remembered my light-hearted resolution and became even more motivated.

Usually in the past, what happens is that I tell myself I have more important stuff to do or I’d be distracted by some other errand, and I wouldn’t do it. But since I’ve learned to stop thinking so much or rather watch my thinking, I saw no reason why not to go running.

So, I drove to the running track near the University of Puerto Rico and half jogged/half walked a mile (I’m extremely out of practice).

Then today, before sitting here and writing this, the urge came again. But I didn’t want to drive all the way to the track. So, without any drama, any excess thinking, I just got up, put my sneakers on, and ran down street where I live, something I would never have done in the past, being constantly worried about what others who saw me running would think and if I’d be bothersome to the drivers on the road. But none of that happened.

I was very much present minded.

Effortlessly, almost automatically, I was keeping my resolution to exercise and lose weight. I still can probably do more, but I know as my lungs get accustomed to running again, I’ll be able to do much more with less effort.

It was suddenly very obvious what Deepak Chopra meant in his work, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, about Attention and Detachment. I made the goal to lose weight, but was very detached from it. I didn’t worry about it. I barely thought about it even. But when the time came to do it, my entire attention and focus was on the action, without worry or excess thinking.

Then it became effortless, another thing Chopra mentioned in his book (though I learned it through the DVD documentary of his book).

Now I’m wondering if this could also work for all my resolutions. Writing a novel. Publishing a novel. Self-Publishing. Etc.

Can all this too become effortless without drama or worry?

I can’t wait to find out.

Have you made any resolutions for 2012? What is your experience with keeping or following through on resolutions, goals or establishing new habits?

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Now I know why one of the key blogging advice you hear out there is to be sure on what you want to write about and have plenty of material/posts available ahead of time.

Otherwise, you get a sloppy mess like the current state of my blog.

If anything, this has become a blog showcasing what you SHOULDN’T do.

Learn from my inexperience and insecurity, damn you!

But I am learning. Slowly, painfully slowly.  But it’s happening!

So here’s a little update on what I’ve been doing and things that have changed.

First, NaNoWriMo.

Heh. Remind me to do a post of Self-Sabotage. My NaNo2011 had no chance of success from Day 1, mostly because I sort of pretended I was completely ready when I wasn’t. I still haven’t completed that outline. I don’t know how or why I convinced myself I could write 3k when I knew I wouldn’t start writing till the entire outline was completed.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress.

In fact, I made a critical breakthrough!

I started a novel writing course from Long Ridge Writers Group () (I totally recommend their courses. The quality one-on-one instructor-student relationship is totally worth the price in my opinion) via email.  For the first Assignment, you have to submit to your instructor two novel ideas. I submitted both PROPHECY, my current 2008 WIP that needs to be DONE ALREADY, and BEASTS.

My wonderful instructor gave me insight I had craved for since the moment I finished the rough/zero draft of PROPHECY. She told me that the story, while strong, had an ending that wouldn’t work for a first novel from an unpublished author.

Thus, after two years of working on PROPHECY OF THE ETERNALS on and off (mostly off), I’ve finally decided to temporarily shelve the project and work on something else. She explained the reasons who clearly and logically, that I was able to do it without any resistance. It felt right.

So now I’ve started working with my YA urban fantasy novel, BEASTS. This time, I have no plans on taking 2 years to get to a second draft.

One step back, two steps forward…in a new and hopefully better direction.

Next, I need a better paying job.

I needed it yesterday.

But, as is painfully clear, I take forever to get around writing anything. So making any money from my writing anytime soon is out of the question. Putting pressure on myself just made it worse.

Okay, I’ll take off the pressure a little. I’m still gonna try to make it work, but even if I did get published or self-published I probably wouldn’t make what I need to make…or at least not soon enough.

Thus, I’ve decided to search for a bonafide job job.

One I can do from my computer here in Puerto Rico, until I can move to the States. One where I work with amazing people I WANT to help and learn from.

Still, with no college degree, this is going to be interesting.

Oh! I nearly forgot.

Thirdly! My return to college. It was a hard decision, but in the end, I decided to not do it.

The school I wanted to go to…well…wasn’t exactly cheap. And I doubt I can find any other college degree course that appeals to my extremely limited budget that doesn’t put me neck deep in debt.

Thus, I’ll take the more difficult path and carve my own way with the skills I have now.

So to whoever’s keeping score: that’s three plans/goals down the drain. They just wouldn’t work.

It’s hard to accept sometimes. But to realize something isn’t working than keep trying to force it to work and waste a lot of time.

In summary, my new goals:

–          LRWG Novel Course: Working on new YA fantasy novel, BEASTS.

–          Short Stories for submission and/or/maybe self-publishing.

–          A writing/publishing/entertainment related job.

–          Art Practice Habit – 3 hours a day.

What changed:

–          Not going to Art School anymore.

–          Not working on Prophecy anymore.

–          On the job hunt.

 

Have you ever had to drop plans and goals that just weren’t working out? When do you know it’s time to call it quits and try something else?

My NaNoWriMo 2011 Attack Plan

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again! When writers all over the world consume vast quantities of alcohol, coffee and sugar for their own good as they attempt to push out 50,000 words of creativeness in thirty days.

I’m doing it again this year (hopefully with better results than last year), but I’m going to be the absolute NaNoRebel!

First, I already wrote it! My NaNo2008 success has been my WiP for three years now. It needs to either get done or get shelved. I want it to be the former, so this year, I’m gonna try to recreate my personal Golden Month of Writing and write the entire thing again this November, and hopefully add the Second Golden Month of Writing to the history books.

Second, I have a solid plan this time. With it being already written, I already know what I’m gonna write, from start to finish. I have been working tirelessly and will continue these last four days on finishing an extensive outline that will tell me what to keep, what to scrap, and just how to make it better overall. This will be my novel’s Map, the User Manual, my Eternals: Book One Bible.

(Though I never actually have done NaNo with an outline before, I don’t know if this will indeed make the challenge any easier. But I will officially agree that NaNoWriMo’s weakest point is that fact that if you do it at the seat of your pants and write whatever comes to mind, the novel will have unnecessary, deep seated problems. I doubt it would have taken me this long and be this difficult to fix my WiP if I had done it with less desperation. I do believe in the Zero Draft, but there’s a difference between running and sprinting. I recommend the former over the latter.)

Third, I probably won’t finish the novel in the month. 50k is no novel, but honestly, I think it’s impossible to write a 100k fantasy novel in a month, which is my word count goal for this novel (perhaps 115k-120k or less). But I want to come at least close. I will aim for the minimum 1,667 words a day, but then I will take it further and go for 3,000 words a day, making my NaNoWriMo goal 90k instead of 50k.

At a reasonable pace, that is 4 hours of writing a day, something I believe I can manage.

Hopefully with the outline and the fact I know this story and its characters by heart at this point, this will be much easier than last time.

Even with 90k, it won’t be finished. So, my point of view will be to not see this as a dash, but as a marathon to keep going until the novel is finished. Not so much a monthly challenge, but an Until-The-Damn-Thing-Is-Done-I-Won’t-Stop-Writing-3k-A-Day Challenge, which will probably cross over into December.

That’s the Plan.

Is anyone else doing NaNo and if so, what’s your attack plan?

Balance

“The Juggler” 1981 Oil on Panel by Michael Parkes
The Juggler by Michael Parkes

 

I feel the greatest factor in order to maintain consistency and focus is balance.

It’s about skillfully balancing practicing your passion while juggling all the necessities of life.

I’ve learned that it is very, extremely unproductive to compare myself to others who don’t share the same situation as me. I have the bad habit of being a perfectionist and wanting to be the best at everything I’m into. So when I hear people write or draw or study those things six to eight hours a day, I feel like I need to do that too or even more.

But most of those people either figured out a way to balance their life or sacrificed or just simply have the time to make that work.

I know I’ve allowed myself to feel bad by an aspiring artist friend of mine. Drawing for three hours a day is slacking off in his book. And often he’s lectured me about my inconsistency….which I cannot deny.

I am extremely inconsistent. I’m very much aware of it and if there’s one thing I want to change most about my behavior, it’s that.

But I also have to face reality.

I’m living with my 17 year old brother (I took him back in. Inconsistent, I know) with a house that is falling apart, working a part-time job. I have to pay the bills, do the laundry, stock up the fridge, budget my spending, clean the house, monitor my brother’s whereabouts, drive him to places, go to work, make sure my brother is taking care of his pets, etc…

AND pursue my dreams and somehow start a career.

Needless to say, writing and drawing eight hours a day isn’t going to work.

For me, it’s very easy for me to freak out and lose focus, especially with a history of crippling anxiety and depression since I’m way too hard on myself.

Balance is the key.

Flexibility and sacrifice helps in creating Balance. It’s like juggling. You need flexibility to catch everything and sacrifice items, juggling less than you’d like in order to make it work.

It’s all about doing whatever it takes.

How do you achieve balance in your life?

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