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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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goals

Evening Thoughts (8)

1. I know exactly what I want for myself, both personally and professionally.

2. When you know what you want, settling for less is not an option.

3. Holding true to that seems both simple and easy to do.

4. It is simple, and no, it’s not easy.

5. There will be days when you feel worthless and insecure, unsure and hopeless.

6. You will probably over-think things and give yourself a really bad headache.

7. ^^^ Don’t beat yourself up about it; just breathe, get through it and get active.

8. The thing to remember is that you don’t have control over how things will unfold.

9. ^^^ I know, that’s really annoying.

10. Just have faith, patience and focus on what you can do, like rearranging your room or create a new work of art.

11. ^^^ I know, easier said than done.

12. The alternative is to compromise yourself and your values; in short, to settle for less.

13. Don’t settle. Hold out for better, even if at this moment, you don’t think you deserve it.

14. You deserve it.

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So, I neglected to write a blog post yesterday……

…….breaking my resolution (of sorts) to post one a day. I won’t bore you with the details on why it didn’t happen yesterday, but to make it up to you, for today, I’ll post two.

This exercise of writing a post per day has been a challenge (which is partly why I chose to do it), but it’s also been fun. And because I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing something – anything – every day, I’ve been able to go back to my novel and continue editing, revising and re-writing it.

The observation that writing (like any other creative outlet or sport or subject) can only be improved by practicing every day is not lost on me. I’m exercising that muscle, which has been dormant for several months now. Because the topics I chose to write about were random and, for the most part, not planned, I was able to shape my thoughts, provide links where needed and get out what I wanted to say (and, hopefully, with an ironic twist of humor).

A few years ago, a book called The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron came out. One of the exercises she recommended doing was to write three pages, every morning. It didn’t matter what you put down – the exercise itself was about using your stream of consciousness and writing down whatever pops into your mind.

I suppose my blog resolution is sort of like that. And I’m one day away from really making this a habit. I may scramble, wrack my brain for ideas and get it in under the wire, but this has been an experience that has lifted my creative block and I’m going to continue doing it.

Some posts will be long, some will require research, some will be about questions of an ethical and philosophical turn.

It’s gonna get interesting.

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So, I’m always learning something new……

……..even about things that I’ve known how to do for years. Like, constructing a scene more efficiently or embedding links into a post or even about an historical event.

This is a good thing. It keeps me on my toes, it helps me keep an open mind and allows me to adjust and adapt.

It’s not always easy to do, but if you want to do your best and bring out your best work, that’s the way to go. It can be painful, there may be much gnashing of teeth and grumbling, but in the end, you’ll get a result that may surprise you.

And it could even be better than you expected it to be.

This is the goal.

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So, I’m finding this ‘blog post a day’ challenge……

……..er, challenging, to say the least. Not from a lack of ideas, but from a plethora of them, some requiring more attention than others. Which means I’ve got at least three or four posts that I’m working on, fleshing out, trying to fully realize what I’m writing about before I release them into the world.

It ain’t easy.

The initial excitement is starting to wear off and the reality of maintaining it is starting to set in, but I am starting to find a little joy in meeting my daily goal. It’s only day 7 and I have another twenty-four days before this becomes a new, established habit. Par for the course, I find that I’m questioning myself, my self-discipline, my own ability to keep this goal.

Then I remind myself.

I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep, either to friends or family.

I should hold that standard for myself.

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So, it’s occurred to me……

……that many of my heroes, male and female, as varied and different and wonderful as they all are, had one thing in common – they had no fucks to give.

This is a huge and empowering attitude. It’s also incredibly freeing.

The opinions of others are like hooks in the mind, designed to keep you in your place, either real or imagined. I’m very familiar with those hooks – the ones that say you aren’t good enough, not talented enough, not worthy. Being trapped by those feelings is painful, but the thought of being free of those feelings is terrifying.

Because what replaces that?

Whatever you choose to put there.

This is not to suggest that you ignore your responsibilities (rent, bills, groceries, car) or any other obligations. We will always have those – they are a part of life and there is no getting around that. But it doesn’t mean you should ignore the hopes and dreams and aspirations you have for yourself. It doesn’t mean that you need to put them aside, neglect them, forget about them.

And for me, that was renewing my interests in drawing, painting and theater. It was choosing to take up the violin, something that’s been on my mind since I was twelve. It was signing up for tap dance lessons, even though the last dance class I’d had was ballet at six. I’m good at the first three, I’ve been practicing those pretty much my whole.

Violin and tap dance are things I suck at, mostly because I’ve never done it before. I’m terrified of sucking at it, I mean, really, who enjoys looking like an ass when trying something new? But the absolute joy in my heart when I strike a perfect solid note on my violin or the endorphin rush after an hour of tap dance are things I want to float on forever.

That means having no fucks to give.

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So, part of my goals for 2017……

…….is to write one blog post per day, with a minimum of five per week. In a previous post about this subject, I’d indicated that I wasn’t counting the first week, as I was considering it more of a dry run. After some thinking and mulling over, I’m going to alter that thought.

It takes anywhere from 21 to 30 days to create a new habit. The best way to start is to go small – remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This makes the new habit easier to keep and when you’ve succeeded at establishing and keeping that new habit, you can build on it. Whether it’s becoming more physically active or learning a new language or even cutting out or reducing certain elements from your diet, taking small steps is better than not taking any at all.

To that end, my goal is to develop a habit of writing a blog post every day. It could be long, it could be short. Topics could range from something I’d been thinking about for years or just stumbled upon that day. Historical or current, books or films – if something about the subject resonates or is off-putting, I will find a way to put it down in words.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to you, that you find something in what I write inspiring or amusing or motivating. This is my opinion only, but artists of all backgrounds and disciplines want us to experience their work, be affected by it and come away with a new thought.

That can only happen if the artist puts in the time and effort to better themselves at their chose craft.

My decision to write a blog post every day is part of my effort in that discipline. This post is the seventh one I’ve written since January 1st. I suppose, technically, I could take a couple days off and still meet my quota, but that’s not how to create a new habit.

So – my goal is one post every day, no weekly minimum. There may be more than one per day, which is just fine with me.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t start on the first day of the year. The important thing is to find a goal you want to make for yourself, pick a date and start. Hold yourself accountable, find a support group, remind yourself why you are doing this and go for it.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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Recommended*:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

*To be updated as I find more relevant suggestions. JJB

So, this is post Number 3…….

…….on this second day of January. I’ve been thinking about those New Year resolutions that seem to fall by the wayside, even with the best of intentions. I don’t like making promises I don’t know if I can keep, so I rarely make them (which means, if I do make a promise, you can bet your last dollar it will be kept). This goes for resolutions, which, to me, seems like glorified promises to oneself.

So, I’ve decided to make goals. Easier to break down and manage.

One of those goals is to write a post on this blog once a day and no less than five posts in one week. So far, I seem to be meeting that goal. But this week won’t count – I’m calling it a dry run on an experiment. The less pressure I put on myself to produce any kind of writing, the less inclined I will be to stress out and ultimately quit (which I don’t like doing – it ranks right up there with promises. See above).

Part of this is to challenge myself as a writer (always something one should strive to do, in any of the arts). Part of it is to develop better writing habits (if I do it every day, the better my writing and creative muscles will grow).

I’ve been reading a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, but that’s only half the equation. The other half is the act of writing itself.

Writing one post a day will be a challenge, as I’ve mentioned, but it’s a goal I’m determined to keep. I’ll probably panic (what topic do I write about today? Do I wing it? Do I plan it? Ack!!), which is normal, but I know I’ll come up with something.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could write for six hours solid in a day, work on a play and be gainfully employed. If I’ve done it before, I can do it again. It’s just a matter of setting a goal, managing my time and applying discipline (which I think I’ve mentioned somewhere else on this blog).

I know I can do this.

What creative goals do you have for yourself for 2017?

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So, it’s Day 2 of 2017……..

……..and so far, so good. I’m alive, I have a place to live, I’ve got clothes to wear and food to eat. I have friends who funny and witty and supportive. There’s not a lot more to ask for, when those are very real and very priceless things to have in life.

Of course, as good as it is, I want to expand and improve on it, to strengthen what I’ve got and work on what’s weak. You could call it self-improvement, I suppose, and that’s all right with me, as I’m always striving to be my best, most authentic and truest self. Goals are helpful in this regard – they serve as motivation to achieve a specific result and as markers to show how much further you might have to go.

My goals for this year are varied. Some are practical (because being practical is a good thing, even for a creative person), some are whimsical and some are just explorations of what looks like fun.

This year, I am determined to learn how to tap dance. I don’t expect to get on a level of Gene Kelly’s caliber or even Debbie Reynolds (who learned for Singin’ In The Rain in just 90 days what Kelly had done for years). What I expect to get out of it is some exercise, some fun and a new skill that may carry over into something else. You never know until you do it where it will end up leading you.

I’m also equally determined to learn how to play my violin. I can hear the notes and pluck the correct strings with my fingers and get a (somewhat) accurate recreation of what I had just heard. The actual playing of it with the bow, however, is slightly problematic – my fingers don’t like the placement when holding the violin itself.

How do I correct this, in order to play the violin as it is meant to be played? How do I learn to dance with my tap shoes in a graceful pattern?

Three words – practice, practice, practice.

How do I manage to find the time to practice? Self-discipline.

As with anything else in the arts, you become skilled with practice and you are always learning, but it is the self-discipline that separates the wannabes from the achievers.

Still waiting patiently, the violin waits.
Patiently, the violin waits.

So, it’s the first day of the New Year……

…….and so far, I’ve got something accomplished.

Well, okay, some of it was accomplished on Friday, but getting it done before January 1st was a huge goal and I met that with a little timing, a little planning and a trip to the next city over from where I live. Now I don’t have to worry about it and that’s how I like it.

My other accomplishments are on the mundane side and could easily be classified as daily tasks, but I always feel better getting them done anyway. In other words, the horses have been fed, the cat has been adored and laundry is being…..laundered.

The rest of my goals for today include working on my lines for a one act play that I’m in, taking a nap, working on my novel, both editorially and narratively, and my two act Ancient Greek Comedy.

These are, I feel, reasonable goals to meet.

I have some thoughts on resolutions and goals and why keeping them can be such a pain in the ass, but that’s for another post.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, that peace and love find you and that you take as many steps as possible to achieve your dreams, whether it’s to travel to another country or learn a language or earn a degree in a subject that inspires you.

Best wishes to you all.

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