Tag Archives: Practice

The 6AM Writing Challenge

1 Nov

Today, I wake up earlier than the neighbours, earlier than the sun and even earlier than the birds. It’s dark outside and cold inside, but I’m smiling. This is the first day of my 6AM Writing Challenge and so far I am doing well.

November is known by aspiring writers as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which writers can take part in a challenge to write a novel (50, 000 words) in one month. I had thought about taking part in NaNoWriMo, but decided against it. My main reasons for taking part would have been to develop a daily writing practice and to prove to myself that I can write a whole novel in a month if I put my mind to it. However, I already developed a daily writing practice with the help of the 120 day “Do What You Love” Challenge, and my main ideas for a novel require a lot of research and planning: it would be a waste of time to start without the necessary information, and a shame to rush through something that requires more attention.

Although I decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I still felt that I needed a writing challenge for November, and what I needed the most was time to write. Up until now, I would write for fifteen minutes right at the end of the day, and would not set aside quality time for writing, even though my schedule allows for a couple of hours of ‘free time’.  I therefore decided to make use of these hours for writing, but the only way of fitting in these hours into the day was by…waking up earlier.

So here I am, scribbling away as the neighbourhood and nature sleep. For the whole month of November I will be waking up at 6AM to do one hour of writing before starting the day. The 6AM Writing Challenge won’t be easy (I love sleeping!), but it is the only way for me to fit writing into my day.

Whichever creative challenge you are participating in this month – be it NaNoWriMo or your own personal challenge – I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to finding out how you are getting on!

 

The 117th Day

4 Sep

“Do you write?” someone asked me today.

A few months ago, I would’ve mumbled a sorry excuse in answer to their question – something along the lines of “I love writing, but….”.

Today, I am able to say “Yes, I write. I write every day.”

This realisation hit me with shock, surprise and a feeling of immense well-being, like jumping into freezing water after a hot sauna.

I write! I said to myself.

I write every day! I exclaimed in my head, barely believing my own words.

I love writing and I write every day! I repeated over and over again.

I am no longer the girl who “does not have time to write”, or the girl who “has run out of inspiration”. I am no longer envying those with a regular writing practice or wondering when I’ll finally start creating something.

Now, I make time and I invite inspiration; I keep up a regular practice and I am creating every day.

Every day, I put pen to paper. Every day, I invent, or describe, or tell. Every day, I do what I love.

Achievement

NB: This is my 117th day of the 120-day “Do What You Love Challenge”.

Three Months of Doing What I Love

11 Aug

Three months ago, I started the 120–Day “Do What You Love” Challenege, in which I decided to write every day for 120 days. The creator of the challenge – Pollyana Darling – recently sent me a few questions about my progress, and I’d like to share my answers with you.

 

 

Have you completed your challenge every day in the last forty days?
No, there were a few days when I did not write. I can give all the excuses I want about it, but the truth is – I simply did not make the time to write. In my last month of the challenge I must force myself to write, even when circumstances make it difficult to do so!

Have you noticed any repeating patterns in your creative/learning process? If so what are they?

For the whole duration of the challenge, I have written mostly in the evening before bed. This means that I didn’t have as much time or energy to write. I have yet to learn to prioritise writing as my first activity of the day!

How have you broken through any challenges you have faced?

1)       The challenge of motivating myself to write every day.

2)       The challenge of setting aside time to write every day.

3)       The challenge of letting myself write what I feel like writing, without setting myself limits or giving myself rules.

What is your relationship to doing your Challenge each day (what do you think/feel about it)?

I love it! Writing gives meaning to my days. I look forward to the moment when I can sit down and write; I really enjoy these moments of creation.

Has your relationship to your activity changed over the last 80 days?

Yes. At first, it was difficult to get into the habit of writing every day and now I cannot imagine a day without writing.

Have you noticed any improvements/changes in your activity since you began the Challenge? If so, what?

I have noticed that practice is the only path to good writing.

What are you doing differently now that you didn’t do before the Challenge (can be related to the Challenge or not)?

It’s not what I do that is different, it’s what I think that is different. The challenge has made me realise that writing is a very big part of my life and I am now accepting this completely. I think writing, so I live writing, so I am writing.

How do you feel about finishing the Challenge?

It is not finishing the challenging that arouses the most emotion in me, it is having started it in the first place that gives me the most joy.

Source: The Keep Calm-O-Matic

First Solo Yoga Practice

28 Feb

I attended my first yoga class ten years ago, yet had never, during all these years, practised yoga alone, without a teacher. Until today. Inspired by John Archer’s post Thoughts On Yoga, I had my first solo yoga practice at home this evening. The experience was truly amazing.

I fell into the practice very naturally; my body told me exactly what it wanted me to do. I flowed from posture to posture, without thinking about what should come next, letting myself be guided by what my body was drawn towards. It was great to have the possibility to stay in postures for as long as my body needed it, rather than following the rhythm of a class, which we do not always coincide with. Being able to listen to my body and do postures in my own rhythm and my own order made me get exactly what I wanted/needed from the practice. Not having any external guidance in a teacher made me tune in and pay more attention to what was going on inside me.

After the practice, I felt rejuvenated; I regained energy and was in a positive mood. I felt healthier and my mind was very calm. I am extremely grateful to have discovered this new way of practising yoga, and I look forward to continuing this profound ‘solo’ journey.

The Extraordinary Ordinary

23 Jan

“If I died today, I’d be happy with the life I’ve had,” my friend said at the age of eighteen. “I’ve had everything I needed: a good education, a roof over my head and food in my belly”. Her words have stuck with me since. At that age I had never heard anyone be grateful for such ‘basic’ things; most of the young people around me measured their happiness in clothes, in popularity, in money, in parties, in status, in partners. In my school, students avoided being ‘average’ at all costs. Now, this trend is spreading like a disease across the continent.

In Western society, being ‘happy with what you’ve got’ is often interpreted negatively as ‘settling for less’. Leading a life of calm contentment and simple pleasure is considered as lack of ambition, laziness, cowardliness and generally being a bore. We have become obsessed with the idea of ‘a life worth living’, which has come to mean living fast, achieving lots, having wild adventures and ‘trying everything once’. With so many opportunities and options open to us, we have come to believe that the way to enrich our lives is to fill them up with as many things as possible. “Quantity, not quality” seems to be society’s current motto.

The American golfer Walter Hagen famously said: “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way”. He recognised that we should make the most of life, but his vision of the way in which this can be done is very different to what we witness today. His quote evokes a life of slow and calm movement. The pleasure he portrays of ‘smelling flowers’ is one that represents the simple pleasures of life. Hagen is encouraging us to appreciate the everyday things, and in doing so to turn something ‘average’ into something amazing.

Those who have tried this know that it takes effort, patience and courage to love the smaller things in life. Yet the rewards are much greater. When we realise that even plain objects are beautiful, that even ordinary events are meaningful and that even (so called)  ‘unexpeptional’ people are precious, we learn that everything we experience is a gift. Nothing and no-one is average – everything and everyone is exceptional. When we see the miracle in everything around us, we begin to love everything around us. Calm contentment and simple pleasure become our saviours; they are what give us energy, hope and happiness.

Most of our life is made up of what we call ‘everyday’, ‘mundane’ or ‘routine’ things. Therefore, we may as well make friends with these constant companions. When we stop taking things for granted, we realise that the ordinary is actually quite extraordinary.