Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Writing Tip #4 - Self-Care

This was originally supposed to be part of my time theme of posts, but other things came up. Since I felt it was still an important topic, I wanted to write about it. Here we go!

Any past Tips & Prompts can be found on my website: Writing Tips & Prompts.

Writing Tip #4: Self-Care

Almost every writer has asked this question at one time or another: "How do I find the time to write?" Most writers hope there's some secret that the successful writers they know and love will share with them.

And no, I'm not about to tell you where to find the time to get words down -- that honestly varies depending on the individual. But for those who do answer this question, it tends to boil down to one thing. Sacrifice.

Now, sacrifice could cover a lot of tasks. Me, I tend to sacrifice doing more things with my kids and cleaning the house on a regular basis. I feel guilty about the first, and I internally struggle between frustration and "I don't give a crap" with the latter.

Some people though, they sacrifice sleep, exercise, and relaxation. If they want to get an hour of writing in each day, they get up before the rest of the house wakes, or stay up late after everyone else is asleep. Or instead of unwinding for an hour at the end of the day by watching TV, they hop from the day job to their writing job.

That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Many of us might be able to function just fine with one less hour of sleep or not having quite as much down time as we usually do.

The problem is when that sacrificing becomes excessive. And all concerns for self-care are tossed out the window.

Unfortunately, the current atmosphere in indie publishing only drives writers to sacrifice more, since releasing books on a consistent basis is the best way to gain readers and make a living (and I'm talking at least one book per month). This rapid release definitely works, but to keep it up, you have to hit a certain word count each month. And to do that, you have to sacrifice even more sleep, more down time, and possibly even a lot of your physical activity.

I've read posts where people are working a full-time day job and trying to rapid release. They're sleeping less hours than fingers on a single hand. They give themselves no time to take a break and recharge their mind and body. To keep up with their word counts they're wringing themselves dry.

OK, I know there are people that can keep up with such schedules and thrive on little sleep and minimal relaxation time. Good for them -- they are few and far between.

In most cases, though, the writers sacrificing any time they don't see as worthwhile (including sleep) for a long period of time will start to feel the effects. They'll hit a wall. And in all likelihood, that wall will be physical and mental strain, even injury.

Along with that, it could even lead to burn out, where you just can't write anymore because you've fried your brain. I'm always scared of this one, even at my slower writing pace.

I don't want to sound like I'm lecturing. Believe me, I'm not one to climb on my high horse over healthy living. I need to exercise more (like way more) and eat better. Sometimes I stay up way too late, not because of writing, but because of games or TV. I suck at this whole balance thing, as I've discussed many times before.

But I try to be aware of the self-care I know I need to work on. This also includes realizing what kind of balance is right for me. Some people don't need a lot of down time to unwind. Heck, for some people writing is unwinding.

For me, though, I need a bit of extra time to relax. I have to schedule it in everyday, or I'm going to get myself in trouble. The days I go full tilt, getting tons of tasks done, house, writing, or otherwise, without taking time to breathe and relax with games or TV (or reading, of course) feel awesomely productive. If I keep that up for a few days in a row, though, I ram into a nasty steel wall and I'm out for the count several days in a row with a productivity concussion.

Physical and mental health for a writer is insanely important because if we push our bodies too far, they'll break down. And then how will we be able to write anymore?

I know, I know, sometimes we need to sacrifice to find any time to write. Just make sure once in a while you're taking a step back to reassess how much you're actually sacrificing. Self-care is just as important as the writing itself, so we can keep writing.

You can't write if you're dead.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

So Long, Yellow!

It's been a pretty rough month as far as writing goes. I was pretty sick for almost two weeks, and then after that I had to catch up on a beta reading job (which I also wasn't able to work on while sick). And once that was done, we were already in the middle of painting the living room and dining room!

Needless to say, my brain is melted and completely scattered. We're two days out from finishing the painting, but we still haven't completely put the two rooms back together. This is taking a while because I'm trying to make sure everything is cleaned and organized before it goes back. Unfortunately, that includes a bunch of toys that are rather a mess (I keep imagining the day when the kids are older and we have so much more room in the house because we won't have all the toys to deal with).

So, I figured it would be a good time to have a nice, simple blog post. Yeah, that painting I mentioned. Before and after pictures! I know I should have posted these on Instagram, but silly me didn't think of it until I already had the blog post planned. One of these days I'll get a handle on all of my social media (maybe).

Anyway... so long, yellow! Hello, green.

Living room first. Hubbie had to do a lot of patching in both rooms -- I mean, they likely hadn't been painted since the 1960s, long before we ever owned the house.

Window/front wall. Ignore the messy porch, please.

Wall where we usually have the TV.

And leading to the hallway/front door.

Since I took the after pictures when it was a bit dark out, the lamps are making it look yellower than it is. I can't get away from the yellow -- it's trying to soak through! Lol.

OK. Dining room next. This one needed even more patching, but Hubbie did an awesome job (he did an awesome job with all the painting).

Looking in to the living room. You can see the green better in these after shots because of the lighting.

Another big picture window.

Wall shared with the kitchen.

And there we have it -- from yellow to green. =) I'm so happy we finally painted these rooms. Computer room and front hall will be next! Hopefully this year still, as long as Hubbie doesn't revolt -- lol.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Avengers: Endgame - How Does Time Travel Work Again?

***WARNING: Spoilers ahead! As this post has been delayed a bit, I seriously hope you've seen Avengers: Endgame already. If not, though, this is your friendly warning that there are spoilers up ahead. This movie is hard to talk about without spoiling anything!***

Hubbie partly didn't want to see Avengers: Endgame because he was afraid they wouldn't deliver the pay off after so much build up from the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. I understood his trepidation, but my eagerness squashed any doubts of my own. And I'm happy I went into the movie without that fear because they did a marvelous job of bringing The Infinity Saga to a close (and Hubbie was worried for nothing).

The clear focus of Endgame was to wrap up the story arcs of many of the Avengers -- the ones we've seen grow over several movies. Now, I would have loved to see more Captain Marvel, of course, but I know her story is just beginning, and we'll get plenty more of her in future movies. So, it was nice to see the focus on Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye (Ronin), Hulk, and Thor. The ends of their stories needed to shine instead of being taken over by the newer Avengers.

Not only do we definitely see the endings, we're reminded of the beginnings as they travel back in time. This was an excellent way to show how far they'd all come. It felt like things were coming full circle. And certain experiences when they visited the past had direct impact on their decisions at the end, especially for Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.

Now, I know some people aren't sure what to make of the time travel logic in Endgame. They insist it's not like Back to the Future, but it is a lot to wrap your head around. Part of me thinks they tried to make it too complicated so most people would just give up trying to figure it out and accept it as is (that's pretty much where I've landed -- OK, whatever -- lol). I also realized, after a lot of thought, that this was their way of introducing the Multiverse.

I mean, every good ending also has a new beginning in it, right? They might have ended the stories of some of the characters, but they needed to get the next major arc going, and I think they opened the door just enough to the idea of the Multiverse without leaving people flailing.

Not only did they set up the Multiverse, but Loki's soon to be Disney+ series as well. Even before the directors mentioned that Loki's little escape act with the Tesseract splintered off a new timeline, I realized that that was going to be the whole start of his new series. Super excited about this! I honestly hope that many of the MCU series they have planned for Disney+ will have to do with the Multiverse and alternate timelines. Who knows, for all we know they planted several other seeds in Endgame that we won't realize until later.

Now, well I felt the movie was well done and a fitting end to The Infinity Saga (though supposedly Spider-Man: Far From Home is supposed to close out Phase 3), I did have some qualms.

While I'm all for the female Avengers banding together and fighting as a group (I really, really want more female led MCU/superhero movies), I felt the scene where they all faced Thanos together was a bit too contrived. I'm not saying it shouldn't have happened, but I wanted it to feel more natural, just like when several of the women were fighting together at the end of Infinity War -- that scene worked far better than the one we had in Endgame. I just hope that if the rumors about a female ensemble MCU movie prove to be true, that they gather in a way that makes sense and doesn't feel forced. If done right, it would be amazing.

My last two issues are more worries for future movies.

We all know a Black Widow movie is coming out, which will be a prequel. In Endgame, we see Black Widow sacrifice herself. This is a heart-wrenching moment, especially since she's clearly become the glue that holds everyone together over the five years after the snap. But my major worry is, now that Black Widow is dead, how will a prequel fit into the next MCU story arc? One of the best things about the MCU movies is that they're all interconnected, parts of a whole. And I really do hope that they find a way to integrate the Black Widow movie into the the next arc instead of it feeling like more of a stand alone (and afterthought).

Finally, I'm really hoping Thor isn't in the next Guardians movie. Don't get me wrong, I loved Thor: Ragnarok, and Thor's interactions with the Guardians at the beginning of Infinity War were amusing, but I don't want him to be a major part of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. I fear his character would overshadow the chemistry between the Guardians. So, here's hoping they drop him off somewhere between the end of Endgame and the beginning of Guardians 3.

On the other hand, I'm looking forward to them searching for Gamora! And since it's not the Gamora who was in love with Star Lord, they'll have to go through the whole relationship building again once she does join them. They needed to bring Gamora back, and I'm glad the Multiverse has allowed for that possibility.

That was a lot to unpack. And man, I'm sure I could touch on so many other things, but I think I'll leave it here.

What do you think? Did Avengers: Endgame do justice to the end of the MCU Infinity Saga?