Good news first: it was my 24th birthday last week!
It was brilliant! I spent the day in London, had a meal with my family, then went back to London the next night and woke up the next day with an apocalyptic hangover.
As Murtaugh puts it so brilliantly, I am getting a bit too old for a few things in life, which means reality should be kicking in for me.
I suppose ‘astonish’ may be a strong word to describe how I feel now that I’m 24 years old, but it sure is shocking how time flies by so quickly. What’s even more shocking is how I look back at myself one year ago, when I was in my second semester for my Masters year, and think about how little I’ve changed. Yet somehow, I’m a year older, and questions sprouted in my mind like a field of daisies.
How on earth does that work out? Should I expect to change so much? Can I really remain true to myself while getting so far in life? Have I done enough to further myself?
I could give you a million answers, right or wrong depending on how they align with my goal and how far I’ve come since last year.
Since 2017, I’ve finished my Masters degree, wrote the first 15,000 words for a horror novel, applied for several jobs and failed, dedicated myself to travelling next year and launched my blog. All alongside carving out a path for myself in which to navigate life and become a better individual.
But something feels wrong: I don’t feel like I’ve advanced enough or changed enough as a person, I’m still in my part time job, earning less than last year, playing video games excessively, and my passion for writing had hit a wall. Since my main goal in life is to write full time, I need to do better.
When I started this blog, I wrote with the idea of letting the inspiration come to you, as I’ve never really believed in forcing out any ideas because that hasn’t turned out well in my experience. The fact that this has been detrimental to me means that I need a new approach.
I’ve always prided myself on being honest about myself; if I have a flaw, admit to having a flaw, if I’m doing well, say I’m doing well. Being honest with myself is one thing, but since if I had a phase in which I lost my motivation to blog and write, and since I became too complacent with that, being tougher with myself is clearly another.
They are two things, however, that should work in sync with each other. It’s up to me to make sure they do from now on.
So here are some changes I’m going to make to propel myself closer to living my dream:
1, Writing from home
As part of my plan to save money for travelling next year, I stopped going into the library and moved my writing office into my bedroom. It makes sense financially; I don’t have to spend money getting the bus anywhere (there are no local libraries in my village), while doing the same things I do there, but here.
Add to that an environment I can control, a bookshelf next to my bed, and all the necessary needs of the internet at my disposal, money, time, and other things are all saved here.
By locking my game and TV controllers away, I can minimise distractions, allowing me to focus more on my writing.
3, Getting up earlier
(That’s not the actual time I set to wake up!)
I made the silly habit of getting a lie in every morning because of how good it feels, which meant I’d stay in bed until about 11am, wasting hours in which I use more constructively.
But no more! If I plan to wake up every morning at say, 7am, jump straight in the shower and get breakfast, then I have a whole day to play with, as opposed to a day minus four or so hours.
It’s also the first, and most important step, to developing and maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern, which will boost productivity.
3, Being aware of what’s in front of me
Knowing what lies in the periphery can be useful, but whatever lies in front of me should often be the main focus. It’s like a film favouring visuals over good old fashioned storytelling. Of course some brilliant image may stick in my mind, but unless that image teaches me an important lesson, then what use is it for other than visual pleasure?
By focusing on what’s in front of me, it stops me getting carried away in thought, grounding myself in reality. When its the right time, then I can let me imagination run free.
4, Seting myself targets every day, and hit those targets
I read in a copy of Writers Magazines about what Terry Gillen calls the ‘Halving Process’, which is aimed at focusing yourself towards a long term goal, such as writing full time. Gillen writes:
‘The simplest way of deciding what you want to do next is to begin with your visualised goal and to ask: ‘What will I be doing half way between now and completing that goal if I am on track?’ So, if you visualise yourself in twelve months having completed the first three chapters of your book, in six months, you probably need to be working on the plot and characters. Halve the timescale again; in three months, you probably need to be well into your research of similar books in the genre, or checking technical and historical facts. Continue this halving process until you get to what you need to do in the next ten minutes.’
That’s where the notebook comes in; I’ll be using this halving process to plot my daily goals, all with my long term goal in sight, recording them in my notebook and ticking them off when I complete them.
5, Maintaining a more positive and focused outlook on life
I saved the most important one for last, because that’s what my blog is about to me.
Getting too carried away with the negatives can be detrimental to my productivity. A positive attitude can turn those negatives into fuel for my ambitions. For example, knowing little about something can be a bad thing if you’re required to know plenty about what you do, but a better way to look at it is this: you can learn so much more than others around you.
Like Rob Schneider says, I can do it. Now I just need to do it.
So this is my pledge. Now let’s get working.
And with that, another brick of my Many-Storied Building has been laid. Thank you all for reading.