#IWSG: Mid-Year Reflections

IWSG

Wow, can you believe the first half of 2020 is already over with? They were quite eventful six months for most of us, I guess. Anyway, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) gathering.

This past month wasn’t too eventful in the writing department. I was at times really motivated, but most of the time, I was a bit uninspired.

To get some of my writing mojo back, I started working in the book DIY MFA, though its author claims writer’s block does not exist. The only reason we don’t write, according to her, is that we don’t want it badly enough.

I started writing a short piece of fiction right that same evening. It was based on a writing prompt I found in a collection for July on another blog. It’s still a bit random and not worthy of publication even on this blog. I might try to edit it someday or I might not.

I’ve also been journaling and writing stream-of-consciousness more lately. I like that and it helps me keep my writing muscles active. I don’t have a word goal. One thing I learned from DIY MFA is that there is no rule of thumb or best practice on how to become a writer. I mean, Stephen King claimed you need to write 2000 words a day and read at least 80 books a year. I don’t write as much and I certainly don’t read as much. Now I don’t intend on becoming a novelist. My one published piece of writing was written in the same way I write a blog post, kind of randomly.

Still, I hope to someday publish more. As such, I hope that the publishing world will become more diverse than it is now in the future. I mean, I’ve looked at mainstream places to submit my work and I always think my story is a bit out of the ordinary for them. I can’t be sure, of course, until I submit my work and see how it does.

What’s Up (June 2020)

Wow, can you believe it’s already the last Wednesday of the month? I truly can’t. Time flies! Today I’m joining in with What’s Up Wednesday.

What We’re Eating This Week

Well, like I said last month, I live in a care facility with food delivery, so I don’t get to meal plan. We’ve been having an insane amount of baked potatoes lately though.

What I’m Reminiscing About

Not really anything. I mean, occasionally memories pop up, but they’re usually neither pleasant nor significant to share about here.

What I’m Loving

Sunshine! The weather is truly beautiful out here. Tomorrow and Friday the temperature is supposed to rise to 30°C (86°F). That’s a bit hot for my liking, but oh well.

What We’ve Been Up To

Lots of walking! I loved taking several long’ish walks a day with my staff. Today it was a bit hot, but we managed two shorter walks anyway.

What I’m Dreading

My parents possibly being judgmental about my living situation. They will visit me for my birthday on Friday. As much as I try not to stigmatize my intellectually disabled fellow clients, I still fear they’ll feel shame.

What I’m Working On

I started working in the book DIY MFA yesterday and immediately was inspired to write a piece of short fiction. It’s not remotely good enough to go on the blog and it doesn’t have an actual ending yet, but I liked the writing process.

What I’m Excited About

My birthday! Tomorrow, the festivities will start with my mother-in-law visiting. On Friday, my parents will visit. That’s a little scary, but it’ll likely be okay. Then on Saturday, which is my actual birthday, my husband will be visiting. I invited him to get pizza delivered.

What I’m Watching/Reading

I’ve been watching Diagnosis on Netflix and reading the book by that same title, written by Lisa Sanders. I also finally started reading The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth. I’ve been excited about it ever since I first heard about it in like January. It was released earlier this month.

What I’m Listening To

I’m frequently listening to the Harp Music for Sleeping playlist on Spotify. It’s very relaxing. This afternoon, in fact, I fell into a deep sleep listening to it.

I’ve also been discovering podcasts. Early this month, I mostly listened to true crime podcasts. Now I’m occasionally listening to progressive Christian podcasts.

What I’m Wearing

A skirt and a black T-shirt. I have three skirts that are the exact same model yet a different color. As I am blind and haven’t labeled my clothes, I don’t know whether this is the blue, green or red one.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Having pizza with my husband on Saturday, like I said. I’ll probably have a lie-in on Sunday.

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month

Probably visiting my husband for a weekend again. Like I mentioned a few times, the visiting rules at my care facility will be relaxed come this Friday. This means I’ll be allowed to go home to my husband for a weekend again. I don’t want to right away, but I’m hopeful in July I’ll be able to go a few times.

What Else Is New

My husband has two weeks off work this week and the next. He’s getting workmen over to replace the outer doors and some other big things that need doing.

What’s up with you?

#IWSG: Keep on Writing (Everyday)?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meets again.

I’m not sure what to write about today. In May, I wrote only one less post than in April. It still feels as though I’m a lot less inspired and motivated to write. The writing prompts that helped me write posts, including fiction and poetry, didn’t really speak to me at all in May. Even if they did speak to me in a way, I couldn’t find the words to actually write.

I did resolve a few weeks ago to write everyday. I wasn’t requiring myself to write a blog post everyday, though subconsciously that’s what it felt like. As such, I felt weird when I had no idea what to write about at 9PM and was going to go to bed in half an hour. I skipped blogging only two days in May though. That’s something to be proud of!

Now on to the optional prompt for this month. This month, we’re encouraged to share some secrets people don’t know through our writing. I am going with one that is in a way pretty contradictory: people may not know from my blog that I can be really private.

I mean, I share so much on my blog that it’s almost too much information. I of course intended my blog for this very purpose, but still. I guess most people who read my blog, assume from it that I share a lot about my life in real life too. I don’t. My husband has gotten upset at times at my having posted something on my blog that I didn’t tell him.

Another, related, secret is that my self-esteem is pretty low. My husband at least used to think I had a lot of self-confidence, being that I think others find my life interesting enough that I want to blog about it. It’s not true though. I’m pretty shy and self-conscious in real life. And even where it comes to my writing, I often feel held back by my inner critic.

I Want to Feel Better #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I want to feel better. Or maybe I need to feel better. No, that’s not correct. Feeling normal mentally may be a want, but I cannot need to feel it everyday.

I’ve been really in a depressed funk over the past week. Maybe, like I said on Thursday, it’s just that I was feeling so well over the past six weeks or so. Now that it’s passed, at least for now, I feel frustrated and depressed. I feel tired too. I’ve been lying in bed most of the morning and part of the afternoon today.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m writing now at least. That’s better than lying in bed. I still at least have some writing mojo left. In this sense, it helps that this writing exercise is stream of consciousness so that I don’t need to worry about structure.

What else can I do? I could be forcing myself to stay out of bed, but this is hard especially on weekends. So I’m not doing that.

I will be going for daily walks unless the staff have no time to take me on a walk all day (which is rare). Then, I will dance in my room for at least 15 minutes and/or go on the elliptical.

I will continue to write everyday. If it isn’t “blog-worthy”, so be it, but I’ll at least try.

I will meditate. It doesn’t need to be a long guided meditation or anything. A few minutes is enough. But I’ll make sure to incorporate mindfulness into my day.

Hopefully, committing to these will help me keep depression at bay. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ll know that I’ve tried.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, for which the prompt today is “want”.

#AtoZChallenge 2020 Reflections

Oh boy, it’s already May 10. Can you believe May is already one-third over? I think time flies. Today, I am rather late joining in with the #AtoZChallenge reflections. April seems so far behind me, but it’s good to look back on the challenge.

The good part is I actually completed the challenge this year. As you may know, I signed up each year since 2015, first on my old blog and last year here. In 2015 and 2016, I completed the challenge. I had the topic of autism awareness/acceptance as my theme for 2015 and the alphabet of mental health in 2016. In 2017, I made it myself rather hard by picking autism again even though I was in the midst of being re-assessed for it. I only published one post. I can’t remember how I did in 2018, but last year, I was fooled by the letter X. I had had a word in mind that I thought meant something different than it turned out to mean (xenial) and couldn’t think of any other word once I found out I couldn’t use that word.

Then this year, I had the letter X already figured out before I even wrote a post. I know, I cheated a little, but well. I ended up unconsciously choosing the theme of self-care. I actually stuck to this theme rather well to be honest. I know I also cheated by using The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care for inspiration. However, I mostly wrote down my own thoughts and gave credit to Anna Borges, the author, where needed.

The more challenging part was reading an dcommenting on other bloggers’ posts. I still must say I find the Google spreadsheet a harder to use format than the linky the challenge used until 2017. However, I was able to work it somehow. Then, still, it took quite a bit of time to visit a satisfactory (to me) number of other bloggers. I had only a few bloggers I followed in my feed reader, so most I visited only occasionally. I liked the new connections though.

The absolute best part of the challenge though was that it kept me motivated to write. Or maybe my motivation to write helped me complete the challenge. I’m not sure. In any case, I loved being active on my blog and look forward to staying in this zone for a long time to come.

#IWSG: Keep on Writing!

IWSG

Today is the first Wednesday of May and this means it’s another Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I didn’t really understand the optional question for this month, but I have enough to share without answering it.

You see, I finally did pretty well in the writing department! Firstly, I finally completed the #AtoZChallenge for the first time in four years. I loved it actually. Of course, occasionally it got a little boring and difficult at the same time, but overall it was quite a cool experience. I got to know a few bloggers I hadn’t known before or only four or five years ago when I did the #AtoZChallenge on my old blog. It’s so cool to see bloggers actually keep blogging year after year.

Secondly, I wrote a few poems. I actually had some more in my head that I haven’t written down yet and I may’ve forgotten. I find it pretty easy to come up with particularly syllabic poetry. Not wanting to brag, of course, since I honestly don’t want to claim my poems are any good. However, the words flow quite naturally.

Next time it’s open at dVerse, I might try my hand at a quadrille. I had no idea what one was and thought it had a lot of rules. Apparently not.

I also wrote my very first piece of flash fiction. Looking back, I should have explained a little more, as my piece left a lot to be filled in by the reader. That was on purpose, but it did make it a little weird maybe.

I look forward to keeping up the writing mojo in May. Of course, I know I’ll face writer’s block, lack of motivation or both someday, but I hope I’ll continue to be inspired and motivated for a long time to come.

Gratitude List (May 2, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I did a gratitude post. Right now I’m feeling a little frustrated with the fact that I am blind. I want to participate to the fullest in the social media thing, but it seems images are often required and I can’t do them. Other blind people apparently can, but I can’t. Anyway, to cheer myself up, I’m taking part in Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here’s what I’ve been grateful for lately.

1. The beautiful weather last week. Okay, it’s been raining a lot this week, but last week-end, it was sunny and warm. I loved it!

2. Being able to take regular walks in spite of the bad weather this week. Somehow, my staff and I managed to find time inbetween rainstorms to go for some walks. Yesterday and today, I even took some late evening walks after most of the other clients were in bed.

3. Making plans for more activities I can do with my day activity staff. On Monday, we will be trying out a basic oatmeal recipe with banana. I remember my sister ate oatmeal for breakfast when she was little and I didn’t like it. I hope I like it with the banana added. I’ve also looked into overnight oats recipes. I definitely like that.

4. The orange puff pastry we ate with our coffee for King’s day on Monday.

5. Getting crunchy muesli for breakfast. It took the staff some time before we found the right one, the one with four kinds of nuts and crunchy muesli, not granola. Yes, I’m picky like that.

6. My teddy bear getting washed. I thought it’d gotten a hole in its fur, but it turned out to be just dirty. After I finish this blog post, I’m going to cuddle up with it in my bed.

7. My computer. I’m really enjoying using it. I know, I’ve had it for ten months already, but up till this week almost always chose my phone to do most things on. I’m now actually loving writing this post in good ol’ Notepad.

8. Having finished the #AtoZChallenge. I’m definitely proud of myself for actually getting it all done.

9. Keeping my writing mojo now that the challenge is over with. I don’t know for how long I’ll be motivated to keep writing, but we’ll see.

10. Being more alert in general. Okay, I think I may be a little overalert, but then again that’s a lot better than being tired and depressed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

Distracted

Wow, can you believe it’s May already? I completed the #AtoZChallenge rather well actually if I can say so myself. Now I want to continue writing regularly for the month of May at least.

Today I’m joining in with Five Minute Friday, for which the prompt today is Distraction. At first, this prompt struck a chord, but I didn’t know why. Then I thought…

I want to live more productively. I also want to live more mindfully. These two seem contradictory at first, but honestly, if you get distracted by a thousand other things whilst being “productive”, you’re not mindful and not productive.

I want to stick to a regular writing routine. That doesn’t mean I need to write actually high-quality posts everyday. Of course, if my post is scrambled and going off on a thousand tangents, it may not be as easy to read. However, my writing will improve even if I freewrite. That’s why I try to join in with FMF today.

Then again, I’ve started this post a few times already and then stopped after the first sentence or two. I thought my post didn’t matter. Wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t real “content”. But then again, when I started this blog, I meant for it to be my space to let you hear my inner voice. So no matter how distracted I am, I will continue to write. That will ultimately led me to being more mindful and more productive at least in my blogging life. And hopefully in life in general.

#IWSG: Writing in Times of Corona

Today is April 1 and aside from the start of the #AtoZChallenge, it’s also the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I skipped it last month, but today I want to join back in.

I did a lot of writing in the past month. What else is there to do? I mean, I could have spent my month reading, but I still usually read partly for the purpose of blogging about it. So I spent my month writing.

The world pretty much turned upside down in the month of March. Early on, I didn’t see a month full of writing on the horizon at all. Neither did I see COVID-19 coming. In the first week of March, the press at least here was still not taking COVID-19 too seriously. The first cases in the Netherlands were confirmed, but for the most part I still thought this was a far-off thing. A satirical site had a test online about when YOU would contract coronavirus. I had presumably contracted it two days before while trying to stockpile the last packages of fresh meat. I joked about it when having a meeting with my community psychiatric nurse and the facility’s behavior specialist on March 6. We even still shook hands then.

On March 16, schools and restaurants closed for three weeks. A week later, we went on “intelligent” lockdown. This means we are encouraged to stay home and gatherings are prohibited, but going outside isn’t strictly forbidden. My facility implemented a no-visitors policy on March 25.

Just yesterday, we were told that schools will remain closed until at least April 28. Restaurants are closed till June 1 I think.

So, while I’m in self-isolation, I do still try to occupy myself. It’s good that I like writing, huh? For the month of April, I have lots of things I want to write about. I’m participating in A to Z, of course, but I’ve already seen some other prompts that inspire me.

How are things in your part of the world?

#IWSG: Ready, Set, Write?

It’s once again time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. I don’t really feel like checking in on it, but this at least is a monthly reminder to keep at least somewhat focused on my writing endeavors.

This past month was a mixed one when it came to my creativity. Early in the month, I was really inspired and really felt like writing fiction and poetry again rather than just blog posts. I did write one poem and read a ton of them, but my ideas for fiction never made it into actual stories.

I got ahold of a few interesting books on writing. One of them is called Ready, Set, Write and it inspired the title of this post.

Inspired by the advice in this book and others in the Adventures in Writing series, I started stream of consciousness writing in an app called Drafts. Several blog posts and the one poem I wrote this past month, were originally drafted in this app.

Still, I’m not sure I’m ready to actually devote much of my time to writing. It’s a great hobby, but like with everything, I don’t have the patience to practise and want to be at least somewhat proficient at it pretty soon. That’s probably why I keep disappointing myself.

On to the optional question of the month. This month’s question is whether you’ve ever been inspired to write a story based on a piece of art. I have not, as I am very artistically ignorant. I tried to blame it on my blindness, but then I realized there are other works of art besides paintings.

I did however very often base my stories on the fiction I read. This sometimes led to plagiarism. My best story yet, which should’ve become a young adult novel but never got finished, was inspired by a book about a teen whose mother had multiple sclerosis. It followed the same subject but its plot was very different.

How about you? Do you base your writing on works of art?