Post-November Update

What feels like a million years ago at the start of November I gave myself the (faintly ridiculous in retrospect) challenge to blog 50,000 words over the course of a month. I am almost certain that I didn’t, er, exactly make it to the magic 50k. I stopped counting about halfway through November when I was distracted by trips away and Pink Training and applying for jobs (siiigh) and the like.

I did publish 35 posts, though- not counting reblogs or guest posts. Buggered if I know what the word count was- WordPress doesn’t seem to have a nice handy “How many words did I write in November?” widget, and it turns out I’m not particularly keen on looking up each one individually. Probably a nice big number, though. More importantly, I got a really good idea of the things I like to do here, the things I want to pursue, and what I can (healthily) commit to.

Left to my own devices I would write every frickin’ hour of the day. The more I write, the more I think about writing and the more issues I want to write on and angles I want to explore. There is no way that I can get through all that and still have time to have a reasonably balanced life. Today I have 54 posts in my Drafts folder in various stages of completion. Fifty-four! If I didn’t have a single new idea for a post, I could keep blogging every single day for almost two months on that!

But that wouldn’t be fun. And the main things that I want to get out of this blog are engagement, community and fun. If it’s not fun for me (and you), there’s no point. So here’s what I’d like to do from here on. It’s not a commitment, it’s ideas. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that when it comes to blogging, ideas are far more useful;

  • I’d like to stick to about five posts a week. I’m tempted- by FSM am I tempted- to write every day. But writing long posts every day is very time and energy-consuming. I like putting a lot of research into my posts. Posting about five times a week gives me a day off and gives me space to go off and research things. The chances that I’ll stick to this are, er, minimal.. but i’ll try and keep any other posts short ‘n’ sweet. 
  • I love, love, love bringing other people into my blog. I have plans for two different interviews with amazing artists in the next month or so, as well as two wonderful guest posts from one of them in that To-Be-Edited pile. I would love to share more brilliant people with you, and to bring in new perspectives on the things that I talk about.
  • Posts that aren’t just writing. Making drawings, lists and the like is fun. I like posting things in a format that isn’t just walls of text like this is. I’ve been mostly stuck with writing over the past while since the death of my MacBook Pro stuck me to things that my wee Eee PC netbook can do. After Christmas, though, I’ll have a brand-new (second-hand, one careful lady owner) MBP to play with. I foresee oodles more pictures, a return to recipes, and some vlogging on top of it all. Suffice to say that I’m counting the days until I can get my mitts on that gorgeous MBP and start making things.

All in all? Although I didn’t make it to 50,000 words, NaBloPoMo was a massive success. I’m really proud of my 35 posts. I’ve loved diving headfirst into writing and communicating. At the end of it, I have oodles of ideas for making the Tea Cosy even more awesome than it is. And- for the first time I can remember- I can’t wait until January. Not bad, eh?

And You Lot? Thanks, all of you, for showing up, reading, commenting, and supporting me on my bloggly endeavours. Go give yourselves a hug from me.


Self-motivation: The Tea Cosy Guide To Getting Things Done And Keeping Your Head Together.

So there you are. Living the dream. You can live as you please, make your own schedules, do what you like. You can work all night and sleep all day. You’re answerable to nobody but, well, whoever it is that you get the money from to pay the bills. You’re doin’ it from home. Woo hoooo!

In the office daydreaming about working for yourself, there are things you never think about. What the lack of structure will do to you. That sinking feeling of not having communicated with another human being offline in days. The fact that spending all day in your PJs is not actually all it’s cracked up to be. The fact that if you’ve no boss on your back about getting your work done, you have to be that person. Living in an ever-growing pile of notebooks, teacups and boxes of cereal. Realising that there are distinct advantages to being in the same time-zone as the people next door.

I can’t claim to be a goddess of self-motivation. But while I’ve spent more days writing in my PJs than I care to admit, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for getting my ass in gear.

Street preacher in Covent Garden with an unusu...

If it works for you…. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Tea Cosy Guide To Getting Things Done And Keeping Your Head Together.

1. Go to bed. Set an alarm.

If you do nothing else, do this. For the first while after I became unemployed, I didn’t. It was nice for the first week or so. Then it was… not. Really, really not. There’s nothing to make you feel like you’re wasting your life quite like the day being half over before you’ve even had your cornflakes. If you’re going to do this (and you are!), then the first thing to know is that 90% is convincing yourself that you know what you’re doing. Nothing like getting up at a sensible hour to help you feel like a responsible adult as opposed to a sofa-bound waster.

2. Make to-do lists. Not just for today.

So you’re out of bed, breakfasted, teeth brushed and wearing something you could be seen outside in. Congratulations! Stage one is complete! You’re probably feeling a slight temptation to plonk yourself down on the sofa with a cuppa right about now. And if you don’t have a to-do list, this is probably exactly what you’re going to do.

So every few days, sit yourself down and think about what you need to get done. Not just today. For the whole week. Write them down. Break them down. If you’re me, you probably want to put little ticky boxes next to them, colour-code them based on urgency, and give them a different number of ticky boxes based on how much time and effort they’ll take. But, y’know, just a list is fine too. I get that not everyone’s like me.

The thing about the To-Do List is that it gets you over the post-breakfast hump. You know what you’re doing and, damnit, you’re an Organised Person who’ll get that stuff done. Huzzah!

3. Have a calendar or a planner. Use it. Make plans.

Yes, I know that you just filled up your To-Do List with all the things you need to do. And now I want you to have a calendar as well? Well, yes. I do. The To-Do List is what you need to do. The planner tells you when you need to do it. And the planner is also where you put all of the non-work things that you have to do. You know that world outside your doors? The one with other people in? That you might need an umbrella for? You should probably get out there at some point. The planner’ll tell you when to do that.

The other good thing about the calendar is that, when you’ve inevitably gone and spent three days in your house eating leftover lasagne sandwiches and having a far more casual relationship with your shower than your friends would like, you know that you have something to get scrubbed up for. Calendars remind you what days of the week are.

And while we’re at it..

4. Have regular things you do. Outside.

There’s bound to be something you like to do. Me, I like roller skating to loud music and a good stitch ‘n’ bitch. Maybe you prefer rugby or street preaching. Whatever works for ya. We’re all different. But do it. Do it every week. Put it in your planner. If your calendar is the thing that reminds you what a day of the week is, having Street Preaching Thursdays or Knitting Saturdays is what reminds you what days of the week are for. It’ll also help you to keep a sense of perspective. Literally, as well as figuratively. I heard once that if your eyes don’t have to look at something more than a few feet away for months, they stop knowing how to. Honest. I read it on this here internet, so it must be true. Don’t let this happen to you. Leave the house.

5. Get some exercise. Clean the house.

Obviously this one depends on your spoons and physical capabilities and all. But if you can? Do! Keep those exercisey endorphins doing whatever it is they do. Do the dishes even if there’s nobody except you there. Seriously. You’ll want to put this one on your To-Do List. If it’s the kind of thing you tend to let slide, then bookmark Unfuck Your Habitat now. And go there every damn day. You’ll be so inspired you won’t know what happened.

Those are my tips ‘n’ tricks. How about you? How do you keep yourself motivated and getting things done, day in and day out? If you work from home or are self-employed or aren’t in paid employment like myself, how do you keep yourself up and doing things and interacting with the rest of the world? Let me know!

A quick BloggyWriMo update

  1. You might, if you’re worryingly observant, have noticed that the little word counters at the bottom of each post don’t seem to be going up in chronological order. That’s because some posts get scheduled and others I publish straight away, and I pop the word count on a post as soon as I’ve finished writing it. What happens to a post depends solely on the feverish whims of my Barry’s Gold Blend-addled mind.
  2. I noticed this morning that I’ve started to rate all of my ideas by how worthy they are for public consumption. Normally I’d post some things, journal others, and not see any hierarchy between the two. Now, though? I’ve got words to get through and journaling that can’t get posted just plain won’t cut it. I’m curious as to whether this will ease off after a few days or weeks.
  3. WordPress is cruel. Here I am, writing away, and my eye is inevitably drawn to the list of possible Related Articles down the bottom of the screen. I may be poised to hit ‘Publish’ until I click on one or three or six of them. And then I’ve no choice but to read ’em all and pick my favourites for you lot. If it weren’t for drafting all of these articles over at 750 Words, I’d get nothing done.
  4. How do people remember to do anything else? In my experience, there are two ways a person can feel when they’re writing. There’s the not-good one, where you’re staring at a sheet and wondering what the hell to put on it with a deadline or a word count looming over you. And then there’s the other one. The one that’s the reason why we do this thing. Where you’re made of nothing but ideas and words, and where you can’t so much as pop out for a glass of water without another one showing up. It’s a wonderful way to be, but it sure does mess with your ability to do anything else. You get swept away in what you’re doing and little things like the time of day escape you completely. On a similar note..
  5. I think this WriMo business may be enabling my inclination to spend all day sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and a laptop. How on earth does a person do this thing and not end up welded to the couch by the end of it? Will I end up forgetting to dress and wash myself entirely and by the end of the month be sitting caked in my own filth in a pile of teacups? Maybe I should get one of those walking desks. You know. These ones:

What’s with the ‘Na’ in NaNoWriMo (and NaBloPoMo)? Why I’m still calling it BloggyWriMo.

NaBloPoMo Participant Icon

NaBloPoMo Participant Icon (Photo credit: Tojosan)

Yesterday evening, after a long day’s writing and posting, I noticed something down the bottom of my Dashboard. It was WordPress telling me that NaBloPoMo is here, and offering all sorts of inspirations. It turns out that, entirely unsurprisingly, I’m not the only blogger to jump on the WriMo bandwagon. Huzzah! Nothing like a great big source of moral support and procrastination to make my day.

By the way also- if you fancy doing a blog WriMo and my ideas about 50k and whatnot seem intimidating, there are totally loads of people who’re taking the month as a time when they’ll write a post a day. There’s no need to worry about word counts if you’re not as mentally masochistic as the likes of me. And yeah yeah, it’s the 2nd today, but shure just throw a couple of posts up today and I promise I won’t kick you off the bandwagon. As bandwagons go it’s lovely and comfy, and there’s plenty tea and coffee ’round the back. While I’m happy to hop on the NaBloPoMo wagon, though, I’m still going to call what I’m doing BloggyWriMo.

Your friendly blogger is just a teensy, weensy bit miffed.

So here we are on the internet. It’s a lovely place, mostly. I mean, there’s a fair bit of it that’s dodgy, there’s definitely areas where you’ll need a bit of eye bleach, and yes, some of the denizens are pretty damn unpleasant. But nobody’s making you go to the Land Of Things That Cannot Be Unseen and I do my best to make this little corner as pleasant as I can.

I’m here on the internet on my sofa in a quiet Dublin suburb. Next week I’ll be WriMo-ing from Glasgow, where I’ll be visiting my ridiculously fantastic girlfriend. Week after I’ll be off in Cork giving a few workshops for Pink Training. I’m not sure where you are, of course, but according to my stats page I get readers from all over.

And here’s where I get smooshy.


NaBloPoMo (Photo credit: marymuses)

That’s one of my favourite things about the internet. I know it’s tacky. But I think that having intercontinental conversations on a daily basis is one of those fantastic things that reminds me that I’m really-really living in a future full of mars robots, cats on roombas and a vaguely decipherable Google Translate. The internet is why I get to sit down in front of my free videophone with a cup of tea and a pile of knitting and catch up with a friend a couple of time zones away.

So why on earth are we describing our worldwide Internet-culture phenomena as national? I hate to have to remind people of this, but the internet doesn’t just stretch from one end of the US to the other. Even this little English-speaking corner is made up of an absolute shedload of different countries and cultures all over the planet. Just because USians are a lot less likely than the rest of us to travel overseas is no excuse for forgetting that the rest of us are here. Right here. Gettin’ all up in your WriMo.

NaNoWriMo (and NaBloPoMo) are no more national than the rest of the internet. A quick scan through the NaNo page shows chapters in places as far apart as Brazil, Brisbane, Russia, Quebec, Iceland, Kenya and, yes, several right here in Ireland. This is one hell of a global phenomenon, and I wonder why we’re specifically not celebrating that in the name.

As for me, I’m gonna celebrate the hell out of being one of hundreds of thousands of people devoting a month to creating for the sheer hell of it. I think- and yes, I’m going to get a little mushy here- that the fact that people all over the world do this is a testimony to how this fantastic internet of ours isn’t just for trolls and dodgy porn. It’s also this amazing tool that we use to communicate some of the most universally wonderful things that we do. Like imagination, creativity and communication.

And that’s why, despite it being a far less sensible-sounding name than NaBloPoMo, I’m still going to call this thing I’m doing BloggyWriMo. It’s a month when I’m writing the hell out of this blog, and in turn reading the hell out of as many others as I find. This mushy idealist has no time for verbal borders. To hell with ‘national’.

What do you think? Am I being way too quibbly for my own good? Or are you with me?

3215 / 50000

Back in town, a Bloggy WriMo

Hey, all!

Coming up to NaNoWriMo as we are, I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t NoWri. I’ve never been one for making up stories. It’s something I admire greatly, the way that someone who can’t hold a note loves listening to great singers. So every November I watch all of the people who are good at making up stories making up their stories, and I think about how that is one hell of an awesome thing to do.

But while I don’t NoWri, I do appear to do a fair bit of BlogWri-ing. So in the spirit of the month, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to see if I can crank out 50k words of bloggitude throughout next month. I started thinking about this a few days ago. Then I mentioned it on my Facebook. Then I kept thinking about it. And as with most things I can’t stop thinking about, I decided that it’d be unlikely to actually kill myself or anyone else, so I might as well give it a go. Shure how bad can it be, like*? I think it’d be fun!

30 days. 50,000 words. Public.

I came up with some rules:

  • The only words that count are the ones I post publically. I can journal as much as I like, but it doesn’t go toward my word count unless I post it in my blog. Everything I write must at least get linked to from the Tea Cosy.
  • I can start thinking of ideas before November, but I can’t actually put posts together. No drafts, nada.
  • The only words that count are those that I write after I wake up on the morning of November 1st. None of this midnight malarkey. As a bit of a night owl, November starts when I wake up on the 1st and ends when I go to bed on the 30th.
  • Words can be about anything, privacy of people who aren’t me notwithstanding. It’s published words. Vlogs count, as long as I transcribe them. This is because I’d like to get back into that, and it’d be a nice change from walls of text.
  • Only my words, though. I don’t get to quote great big paragraphs of text and have that count. All that counts is what I write myself.
  • I don’t have to post the same amount every day, but I really should post something daily.
  • Oh, and if by some delightful happenstance I manage to get myself an excellent job which starts before the end of November and takes up oodles of my time, I am not allowed to feel bad if I need to quit or to tone it down. Because this is an awesome thing that I really want to do, but I get to prioritise awesome things that pay the bills over those that don’t.
Oh god oh god HELLLLLPPPPP

What I have dubbed BloggyWriMo** is, by the way, one of the main reasons you haven’t seen any posts from me this week. Any ideas I’ve had for blog posts have been squirrelled away onto draft titles and idea scribbles in notebooks. Because- not that this actually happens much at all- there is little scarier than having no idea what to write about.

I’ll be looking to talk about everything and anything. And everything in between. If there’s a topic you’d like to see what I have to say on, this is the time to let me know! I’m up for having a go at pretty much anything I know the slightest bit about. If there’s things I used to write about that I’ve forgotten about, topics you wish I’d talk about more, tell me! If, on the other hand, you want me to talk about something less… you might want to look elsewhere until at least December. Fair warning.

Oh, and if any of you want to join me in this challenge, or have your own writing challenges you’d like to give yourself, do share ’em! Nothing like a bit of solidarity in these things.

I think that’s about it? I AM SO NERVOUS! See y’all on Thursday for Day 1 of Consider The Tea Cosy’s BloggyWriMo!

*as the person said right before they took on something that turned out to be far harder than they thought it’d be.

** Is this a Thing that people do? Is there a proper name for it?