Finishing the writing challenge

I’m behind again on Sarah’s prompts due to other writing projects I’ve been working on. Some of them longer term, some of them came up just this week. So I’m going to attempt to do what I did last time and do a 2nd omnibus post answering the last week of prompts.

25: Behavior

What are your favorite activities? What are your most dreaded activities? How do you balance them throughout the day, week, or year?

Favorites: Reading, writing, thinking, drawing (though I am not skilled at this), taking pictures, learning something new, running.

Dreaded: budgeting, cleaning, learning something new, applying for jobs, going to big social functions, scheduling my life only to have the whole planner go out the window, job interviews- I always think of the best questions, answers and things to say after the interview.

All my dreaded tasks are really important ones to do too. And I’m still working out just how to make some of them more enjoyable. I do clean, I do budget, and apply for jobs. And a lot of them are self-care tasks…which I am notoriously bad at because for the longest time I have not felt worth caring for. That’s less true now, but I still need to build those tasks I don’t like into my life more…now that I care more about myself.

26: Books 

What book turned your life upside down or around this year?

If you can’t pin it down to just one, make a list of books that you read this year, and sort out the top three to five that really affected you. What were they, and why did they influence you? 

I don’t know that I’ve read a book in the last year that’s turned my life upside down, it’s been awhile since that’s happened. I suppose I need to read more often. “Quiet” by Susan Cain really changed my life a few years ago and I revisit the book now and again.

I just started “The Complete Guide to Science Blogging”, which I think will be helpful to me as I pursue online writing more and more.

But most of the reading I do is on the internet, though I am trying to make room for books, both fiction and non-fiction alike; I just haven’t read anything that really sets my world on fire this year, that’s really blown me away.

27: Hidden Lessons

Often I find the things I struggle with the most are the things that teach me the most. What event or circumstance has had a big influence on your life? What did you learn from it? How did it change who you are?

I struggle with connection. Figuring out how to be seen is a real struggle for me. I don’t often feel like I’m worthy of attention or being noticed. I just passed 2,000 followers on Twitter and I have made very real connections through that, but I still am not great at interacting with other people in real life. I just feel like I’m always missing some key component.

With that as a background, depression has had an outsize influence on my life. And learning to manage it, rewire my brain to think a little more optimistically have been things I’ve learned. I’ve become more compassionate and empathetic because of it too. A better listener. and writing about it is how I initially started my digital presence. Nothing else was working in my life and so I started writing online just to have something on the record, something that I could point to to say “I’m doing this” even if it wasn’t much.

It’s lead to me writing about science- something I love doing. Finding the infinite and complex stories is a lot of fun. And I really like doing things online with communicating science. I have even written about mental health in academia for some websites.

In short, it’s woken me up to something that I hope I can make a profession of.

28: Take Care

How do you take care of yourself? 

Writing, running, taking one day off a week- even though that last one is hard sometimes..I know I’m a lot better for it. Managing my energy.

29: Strange and Wonderful

What are some of the things that make you strange, weird, and wonderful? What makes you feel different? 

I often find that the things that make me the weirdest are also the things that prompt the closest friendships. Once I discover another INJF who giggles to themselves while writing into a tizzy, I am so grateful to learn about someone else… like me. 

When has this happened for you? 

I’m slow. Deliberate. It takes me a lot of time to process things and make decisions. And that deliberative process seems anathema to today’s world of fast-paced moving. It’s not that I can’t do things quickly, it’s just I prefer to have space to consider things before making a decision.

This makes me take in information, listen, a lot more than many. I’m an INTJ by Myers-Briggs which is apparently rare (& I should note the MB test isn’t really scientific, I hold the typing loosely, though I really am an introvert…that is quite consistent in every assessment I’ve ever done).

I am also a podcast addict. I don’t tell a lot of people that though I know it’s not uncommon for people to like podcasts. It still feels weird to tell people what I listen to for some reason. It’s so great meeting a fellow podcast afficionado.

30: What Have You Learned?

During this writing group, one woman wrote in and said that the practice of writing unlocked so much for her, “even if she only wrote down just one word or phrase a day.”

What have you learned about yourself during this writing process? What feels good to you? What surprised you? How has writing for 30 days changed you? 

I know I’m late in finishing this, but just getting it done late is better than never. It’s closing a loop in my head. And I think that’s important for me. Closing loops and I try to do that as much as possible now, even if it can take a long time for me to do so with some of them.

I also find that I need to think quite a bit before I can really figure out what to write. that I outline posts in my head better than spontaneously (how I’m writing during this post).

It’s also true that this has made me reflect more on me, on what I think, how I feel about myself and just what is inside. I do think about it, but writing really brings out what I really think better than anything else. Things look different on paper- or on the internet than in my head a lot of times.

And even though I haven’t been as consistent as I want to be, I really have made writing a habit and one I want to continue. I hope I can develop a skill of writing better and quickly at the same time.

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Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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