Here Comes the Sun // some thoughts on summer

6:00 AM

Today is my graduation ceremony. I'm not one for big shows of such things. I like the quietness of moving on, of finishing something great. The silence and peace is reward enough for me.

But it does only happen once, and it's made me think a lot about how special this summer is. Someone at my local congregation told me, "This summer will probably be the first and only summer you'll ever have where you don't have to worry about work or school."

And that's true. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I'll be getting ready for college. But I'm at a unique transition from one type of school to the next. I'm not yet working full time with a career job.

Point being, this will be the first and only summer ever where I don't have the weight of school responsibilities on my shoulders. And I think that's both special and neat.

But you know what else it is?

An opportunity.

When presented with a good, once in a lifetime opportunity, I tend to do one of two things: plow into it with everything I have, or freak out and not take advantage of it.

But since the very reason this summer is special is because it's naturally stress-free, I want to take as much advantage of that as possible.

SO! Whether you're like me and just graduated and have a couple of beautiful months ahead, or whether you're still in high school or long graduated. Here are some ideas to make your summer special.

TRY SOMETHING NEW. The opportunities here are endless. Never been canoeing? Go canoeing. Never ice skated? Ice skate. (it'll feel amazing inside.) This summer, my main "new" thing is bullet journaling. I've been thinking about trying my hand at it for a while now, but I finally took the step and got a dotted journal Thursday night. So far, I'm loving it! I'm hoping to use it as a planner when I go to college.

TAKE ON A NEW PROJECT. And I don't mean something small, though a small project is perfectly fine. But I'm talking large scale here. Have a book you need to write? Write it. Need to deep clean your room, purging all your belongings, going through all your clothes, sorting books and reorganizing, etc.? Do it. And come tell me about it because that's what I'm in the midst of right now. I made a list in my bullet journal for the different parts of my room I need to tackle. Having little boxes to check off my list makes the massive project seem much more manageable!

TAKE ON AN OLD PROJECT. Maybe you have been working on a massive project--for five years, and you haven't really gotten anywhere. Now's a good a time as ever--better, actually--to rededicate yourself and give another go at it. Maybe it's a book you want to write or edit, or maybe it's a massive classic novel you've been meaning to read, or a scrap book or musical piece you've been wanting to learn to play.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF. I guess this can apply to all three suggestions above. Find something to push yourself. You've got time: take advantage of it. You might think you're too busy, but trust me. You have more time than you think. I've been reading This Changes Everything by Jaquelle Crowe, and the chapter I read yesterday talked about the different spiritual disciplines God commands of us. That really got me driven and inspired to put some of those into practice in my life. I memorized Psalm 119:11 last year, but I didn't really take the application to heart. This summer especially, but for the rest of my life, I want to be more dedicated to scripture memory, as well as reading and praying daily. As she says, these things are not just commanded of us, but they're done out of joy. And my heart is eager to serve Him!

I hope this post might have gotten your gears turning, or at least made you think about the summer ahead for you! I'm also doing Camp Nano in July, and I'm going to write another creepy middle grade novel. I'm super pumped about it. It's got forests and monsters and all that fun stuff. I can't wait to write a first draft again!

Do you have any summer plans? Any books you want to read? Write? Are you doing Camp Nano in July? Do you have any big projects you want/need to undertake?


Writing in the Cracks

6:00 AM

You know how I was so confident last week that I would post Saturday? As you can see, that didn't happen. SO. I have decided to alter my schedule a bit. Since this is a common struggle for me, I'm going to start posting on either Saturday or Sunday. That way if I don't end up getting it in time on Saturday, I can just put it up Sunday. Kind of a grace day concept. :)

Anywho. Just a minor update there! I had lots of graduation stuff going on and had written a partial post, but completely forgot to finish it. Let this be a mini note to give yourself grace. When something just isn't working for you and your schedule, try altering it or changing things up a bit instead of beating yourself up about it and trying to force it to work.

I have a new story idea. It came out of the blue last Friday, and it already has a journal dedicated to it and a 15 page document on my computer.

The unique thing about this book idea is that I've already started writing it. I don't really think of it as a book I'm currently writing, because I'm deep in edits for The Dream Walkers and it's not even a book I was planning to write next. Yet it rose from a topic that means a lot to me.

I've been trying to pin it down. Why am I writing this book? There's an idea I've had for several years that I am crazy excited about. I have so many pages of ideas, and I've brainstormed and made pinterest boards and All the Things for it. There's another idea that I want to write for July Camp Nano this year, similar in genre to the book I wrote a year before, The House at the End of the Lane. 

Both of those ideas, and countless others, have been around much longer. They're more fleshed out, and I've had a lot of time to think about and get excited for them. In other words, I have plans for them. And the funny thing about this book is that I have absolutely no plan for. At all. I don't know if it's something I want to publish. I don't know if I'll write it this year or in twelve.

But I do know that I need this story in my life. The main character is facing some of the same issues I am, in a different sense. And she is how I'm answering a lot of pressing questions. My book writing and planning process is very God-directed. I'm waiting for Him to lead the plot along. And the other day, when I got two very vivid scenes, I decided to write them. And just like that, I've got 5k of this random book that I only got the idea for a week ago.

Seems pretty random, doesn't it?

God is so cool. He takes our plans and tosses them out the window. He has much better ideas for us, if we are willing to hear His voice.

Part of me wants to dive headfirst into this idea. The other key pieces of the plot are just out of reach. I know if I tried really hard, I could probably get to them. But I realized something. This book is different. The idea is coming in a way no other has ever come before. And, as a result, this book is special. I believe God has a plan for it, and I'm going to trust in Him and His timing.

Write in the cracks. That's what came to me as I was writing up a note to explain how this project would work. Editing DW is top priority. But this book isn't going to be forgotten.

Long story short, you can work on more than one book at once. If you get tired of editing (does anyone not get tired of editing?), have another project that you can fall back on. Something that you don't just brainstorm on. Something that you can actually write. A way to unleash that creative desire. It's beautiful. It's healthy. It's new.

Write in the cracks of your life, in the bits of time you find waiting for you. Let writing bring you joy! That's part of why we do it, after all.

Do you work on multiple books at a time, or just one? 


The Importance of Discipline

7:00 AM

Hello, lovely writers! 

If you follow my blog, you might have noticed that I've been absent the past two weeks. Neither of those absences was intended or planned, yet they happened and I don't have much excuse.

But I have been reflecting on it, and thus comes a post :) Bear with me. It's a good message (I hope).

See, life is only getting crazier. I'm graduating. I had classes to finish up, deadlines on a number of things. I have a job, and not to mention being one of seven children, oldest of four younger siblings. Unread books sit in piles on my dresser and desk, and my younger brothers are pulling at my sleeve every other minute begging me to come play with them.

My hands are filled to bursting, and it's nearly impossible to keep things from slipping through my fingers. I've been wondering for a while what would happen here at the blog after I left for college. It's my hope to keep posting weekly, but it might not happen. I don't know yet.

But I do know one thing. The past few weeks have taught me that if you want to do something, you have to make a decision to do that thing. (Yes, I know. I could have used better wording but you get the meaning.)

Another word for that would be discipline. It takes discipline to do things you don't necessarily want to do in the moment. But you have to decide beforehand that you're going to do those specific things. Otherwise, your motivation will be like coffee brewed through already used week-old grounds. You're left staring at brown tinted, mold flaked hot water and expecting yourself to drink it.

That's not fair for anyone.

I want to note really quickly that discipline is done out of love. Discipline does not equal beating yourself up when you make a mistake or bashing yourself and treating yourself horridly. That's punishment, and that's quite a different matter. Discipline is self control. It's commitment.

Discipline has a partner, and that would be called motivation. It's that warm gooey feeling in your bones that helps you get stuff done, come up with ideas, and be generally productive.

But while we can discipline ourselves with relative ease, such is not the case with motivation. So how do we get motivation? How do we fix the lack of motivation syndrome? This is something people have been wondering for ages, and since no one else has come up with a solid answer, I think it's a somewhat safe assumption to make that there is no fixed cure. But if we look at what motivation is, that might give us some ideas.

#1: Motivation is a feeling.

This is key. Feelings cannot be forced. They come and go as they please. Motivation is as tricky as any.

#2: Motivation can be jump-started. 

Just like seeing your best friend fills you with happiness, or watching March of the Penguins makes you cry, motivation can be triggered in you. You just have to find the right materials to produce that response. Some people make to-do lists. Others use a reward system. Some use both. Find what works for you, what gets you fired up to write or blog or edit or study or whatever it is. Find what helps get your motivation churning and use that to help you out in low spots.

#3: Discipline can operate solo. 

When none of your tactics are working to create motivation, when nothing seems to fill you up and make you want to do the thing you're faced with, discipline comes to the rescue. You've decided to write that chapter, and by golly you're going to do it. It doesn't matter if your eyes are drooping and you really want to pick up that new book that just came in the mail. You made a choice to write a chapter. And what's more, you said you were going to do it. On paper, out loud, to a friend, whatever it was. You are committed. It takes discipline to keep to commitments, but if you do keep to them, you'll find that it's not just your writing that improves. Your attitude will. You will. You as a person will develop a stronger character and a good dependable backbone.

But you want to know a secret? Sometimes, if you simply do the Thing, if you feel like you really don't want to do it and can barely manage to work up the willpower, holding yourself accountable and doing it often brings that feeling of motivation back. It's not always the case, but you never know when simply doing the Thing instead of stalling will stir your love for it again.

I'm making a commitment to post when I can, and even though this week is going to be just as crazy as the last, I'm not going to chicken out. I'll see you guys next week :)

Do you struggle to motivate yourself? What are some methods you use to inspire motivation in yourself?


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