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Month: February 2018

Bored & Brilliant Silver Sky Press Style

Bored & Brilliant Silver Sky Press Style

digital-star-school-seminar-poster

Hello! Welcome to the Bored & Brilliant challenge Silver Sky Press style! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ll want to catch up HERE. Last post I introduced Manoush Zomorodi’s galvanizing book and challenge. As promised I’m back with a report on challenge 1 and motivation for challenges 2-7.

Challenge 1 was a simple observation. I tracked my digital usage with the Moment app and the results were fairly mild. My daily average: 10 pickups and about an hour of time. Not so bad compared to my family and friends, a few of whom spent nearly 3 hours a day and had over 40 pickups!

The reaction amongst my cohort ranged from Yeesh, I need to pick up that darn device less! to Meh, who cares how much life I waste? The second response came from my teenage baby sis. Everyone agreed that merely tracking their usage with a sneaky app made them more aware and more likely to fight the itch to check their phone at every spare moment.

“Boredom is telling you that this is a moment for your imagination, for your creativity, for your identity. Boredom is telling you to pay attention to the world.” -Sheryl Turkle

The friends and family I’ve cajoled into this challenge have stopped seeing boredom as a waste of time. They’re open to the possibility that a little more unplugging may be good for their brains. Most think at the very least they’ll be sleeping better. They’ve started working through challenges 2-7 at their own pace, agreeing to give each challenge 1-3 days.

I think the challenges have the potential to be a powerful experience, especially for creative writer types like us. As I work through the challenges, I’m learning a lot about myself. Deep inhale…I’m a Pinterest addict. Since giving birth to a tiny human 17 months ago I’ve spent more time pinteresting drawing inspiration and reference than actually drawing. Which is why the Gypsy Cats webcomic that I’ve been promising you guys is MIA, or rather DOA.

Since beginning the Bored & Brilliant challenge I’ve deleted every time-wasting app and turned off all social media related notifications. This has necessitated a more intentional use of my phone and thus a more intentional use of my free time. I’m being strict with myself: no phone/internet fun times during work hours, digital free time every evening and morning, and a 15-minute time limit on my daily digital binge session.

These self-inflicted rules don’t feel like a punishment. As the old saying goes: There is great freedom within boundaries. And you know what? For the first time in months, I’ve made some progress on my webcomic dreams!

Not only have I found time to create, I’ve found time to think. Seemingly out of the blue I’ve figured out solutions to a few of the gaping plot holes that have plagued my manuscript.

I haven’t given up social media. I’m not turning into a Luddite. But I am embracing a slower pace of life, technological freedom, and a healthy amount of boredom.

If you’re not up for the gauntlet of seven challenges here’s a quick n’ dirty tip that will get you using your phone less and enjoying a few free moments of thought, and possibly a golden, brilliant feeling of boredom.

Keep your phone stashed away and off your body

According to the original Bored and Brilliant sample group, people who kept their phones stashed away and off their bodies, e.g. in a bag or desk drawer, averaged eighteen fewer minutes of general usage and eleven fewer pickups per day!

Have you read Bored and Brilliant and/or tried challenges?  What did you learn about yourself?

In case you missed it, here’s a rundown of the challenges:

The Bored & Brilliant Seven-Step Program

CHALLENGE ONE: Observe Yourself

Track your digital habits – notice and understand your baseline behavior form the moment you wake until you go to sleep by downloading the Moment app (Apple) or the Break-Free app (Android).

CHALLENGE TWO: Keep Your Devices Off and Out of Reach While in Motion

Keep your phone out of sight while in transit – no walking and texting. But it’s not just texting, the challenge includes all tech off during transit, meaning no radio during your commute. What happens when you switch it all off and just let your mind wander?

CHALLENGE THREE: Photo-Free

No pics of food, kittens, kids – nada. See your world through your eyes, not your screen. This is a digital-image detox so avoid all photo proliferation – you can check out images on social media but don’t like or retweet. Just take a long hard look…reclaim the art of taking a ‘mental picture’.

CHALLENGE FOUR: Delete That App

Take the one app you can’t live without and trash it. Life after Snapchat, anyone? If you’re a game addict, it’s time to let go of Candy Crush, Two Dots, or Clash of Clans. You will lose your level, but you will reclaim your life. It might be the Weather app or Wikipedia, but if you have a smartphone then you have one app that rules them all. Don’t worry, it’s not forever, when the challenge is over you’ll be free to re-install.

CHALLENGE FIVE: Take a Fakecation

A vacation in the form of a break from the digital onslaught that exhausts, distracts, and keeps us from thinking beyond the everyday. The human brain needs solitude in order to focus and really think up new and interesting ideas. This challenge is about being in the office but out of touch, if only for an hour.

CHALLENGE SIX: Observe Something Else

Reclaim the art of noticing. Now that you’ve freed up some attention in the earlier challenges you can train it on the little offline wonders all around you. Go solo somewhere public and hang out for awhile. Watch people, birds, or anything that strikes you. Pause and imagine what a single person is thinking and zoom in on an un-inventable detail. Make a series of small observations you may have missed if your nose were glued to a screen.

CHALLENGE SEVEN: The Bored & Brilliant Challenge

In a culmination of all the exercises, you’ll use your new powers of boredom to make sense of your life and set goals.

 

If you would like advice on how to implement these challenges, send me a message.

Peace & Love,

Kayla

 

8 Ways to get out of Your writing rut

8 Ways to get out of Your writing rut

In Minnesota winter consists of two things. Cold and snow.  So, naturally, when I have to drive out in that snowy, wintery yucky, boo-hoo-ness, I spend my ride trying to avoid two things.  Death by car crash, and getting stuck!  Fingers crossed I continue avoiding both this winter.

Though I’ve successfully avoided getting my car stuck, I have been feeling stuck in a ditch in my writing.

We’ve all been there right?  Uninspired, not sure which way to go.  Trying to plod forward but simply spinning our wheels.

If you’re stuck like me, here are some tips to get you moving again.  Are you ready?  Here comes your tow truck!

8 Ways to Get Out of Your Writing Rut

  1. Review: Our stories are big and complex, and holding all that information in your head at once is impossible. By the time you reach chapter 22 it can be hard to remember what went down in chapter 6.  Instead of forcing yourself to struggle forward take some time to look back, and reorient yourself to your story. Then, when you return to chapter 22, you’ll have the traction you need to get moving forward.
  2. Take a break: Sometimes we work on a project for so long that it becomes boring, unexciting and a chore to keep writing it.  We love it, but we don’t want to work on it. Just as in every relationship – absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So take a break!  No, not from writing entirely, but from your project.  Pull out a short story you’ve put on the back burner.  Play around with a fun writing prompt, write a book review, pen a dissertation on the medical benefits of eating snail slime.  Whatever you choose, take a few days to give your story some space.  Make it miss you, make it call you drunk at three in the morning begging for you to give it one more chance, it promises to be better this time.
  3. Skip it:  Some scenes are hard to write.  Maybe you don’t know how you want a certain scene to play out.  Maybe you can’t write such a sad scene when you are feeling so happy right now, or maybe you have zero ideas for this scene and a million for one that happens two skips down your plot road.  Whatever the reason, when you are feeling stuck you don’t have to stay put.  Jump over the scene that is giving you trouble, and come back to it later.  This strategy is particularly good during first drafts, and slightly less advisable the deeper into editing you get, but worth the risk if it gets your writing moving again.
  4. Get inspired:  Has life been dull lately?  Have you been in a rut with your routine as well as your story?  Then you my friend need some inspiration.  Read an epic book, watch a magical movie, visit a museum, or better yet go out into the world and have some adventure.  You’ll come back with new ideas and new motivation to rock your novel.
  5. Create a deadline: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the secret to getting things done is deadlines.  If you’ve got a story section that you have to work through, but desperately don’t want to, give yourself some external motivation.  Create a deadline and stick to it.  If you have to reward yourself with a shopping spree when you finish so be it.  Desperate times, desperate measures.
  6. Bring in a friend:  Authors are often so close to their stories, they can drive themselves into a writing ditch without even realizing they have.  In times like this, writing buddies and beta readers are actual lifesavers. Readers will have insights into what still needs tweaking and will have a fresh perspective a to fill your brain with new ideas.  Plus, nothing motivates you to make sure your writing is top notch like the threat of somebody else reading it, am I right?
  7. Consider why you are stuck:  Sometimes we lose our creative mojo because life is handing us a whole grove of lemon trees.  Are you stressed, grieving, depressed, lonely, angry, hurt, ill, anxious, all of the above?  As much as we wish to, we cannot always turn those emotions off when we’re writing.  Sometimes we are in a life stage where it takes all our energy just to get through our days, and there is nothing left over for our writing.  That’s okay.  You need to give yourself some grace and take care of your body and your soul first.  Then, once you’re thriving again, your writing will be too.
  8. Push Through:  Sometimes there is no magic answer to getting you out of the writing ditch, you just need to floor the gas pedal and hope you can pull yourself out.  Take away the distractions.  That’s right, your phone, internet connection, pets, windows, people, food, books….basically lock yourself in a dark room with no wifi and tell the person with the key not to let you out or feed you until you’ve finished with the scene/chapter/section you’re stuck on.    Nothing like a personal prison to stir up those creative juices.

If you’ve been feeling stuck in your writing, believe me, I feel ya.  Just like everything else in life, writing has seasons. There will be seasons where the words pour easily onto the page and others where you’re stuck in a snowbank.  The good news, at the end of the day, when that book is finished and sitting on the shelves of bookstores around the globe, readers won’t see which parts you struggled with, and which came easily.  They will only see the amazing story you’ve written.  

I hope one of these tips helps you pull out of your writing ditch.  Do you have any tips for getting out of a writers slump?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Stay amazing my friends,