NaBloPoMo: a lesson in priorities

I do have a reason for not blogging for the last few days per my NaBloPoMo commitment. It just isn’t a very good one.

See, I’ve been a bit under the weather, and also dealing with a flare up of this stupid neck/shoulder/arm pain thing I have. Being sick and in pain depleted my focus, energy, and willpower. On top of that, the pain thing is often aggravated by working on the computer.

All of those things would be really fantastic reasons for not writing here… except that those things didn’t stop me from getting plenty of other stuff done–including other stuff that aggravated my exhaustion/pain. I had volunteering commitments at 826LA that I managed to still go to. I had a skype interview that I am fairly certain I still did well on despite being sick. And the list goes on.

I can’t even say I’ve avoided computer tasks all that much–I’ve still read blogs and mucked about in the Friends of Captain Awkward Forums. When the pain was at its worst, much of my typing was done one-handed/on an iPad, but still… if I can write epic forum posts with far-less-than-ideal text input methods, then I could just as easily write blog posts the same way.

What it comes down to is this: yes, I have had less energy/spoons to spare for these last few days than I would have liked. But I didn’t have so little that I couldn’t post here if I made it a priority. But I just… didn’t.

Sick day

So I took a sick day from work today. I don’t feel like getting into details, but basically, I woke up feeling like hell, and after relaxing and napping I’m actually feeling mostly better. That said, I would like to stick to taking it easy tonight and not push myself to write a bunch. Especially since I have tutoring and a literature-themed dinner party to which I am bringing this  tomorrow [because my friends are amazing and my life is ridiculous], and I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I’ll feel okay and be able to enjoy it.



on productivity, motivation, goal-setting, and how to be [more] awesome

I started developing self-improvement programs for myself back in middle school.

Back then, my goals were mostly school related, and I got into a habit of going into a self-improvement frenzy at the beginning of every school term. THIS quarter/semester was going to be the best ever, because I was finally going to be super organized, start all of my long term projects long before they were due, and so on. I would obsess over setting up my new notebooks and binders, complete with careful labels and color coding. I’d go through my planner and write in all the due dates and exam dates we’d been given.

Invariably, I would finish all of this organization work and find myself restless. I had all this energy right this second–I wanted to put it towards making the term amazing.

Also invariably, by a few weeks into the term, my detailed plans would be beginning to unravel, just a little. I’d write down the homework assignment, but in my class notebook instead of my planner, and then I’d bring the wrong notebook home. I’d forget to write things down altogether. I’d shove papers into textbooks or random folders instead of into the right section of the right binder.

I still managed to get what I needed to done the vast majority of the time. So at the end of the term, I’d have a lot of empty planner pages and messy binders, but I’d also have my A’s.

semi-productive procrastination

I knew that this evening I wasn’t going to be getting home until after 8pm (had yoga after work), and that by the time I’d eaten dinner and played with the rats, it would be late and I would be getting tired. I knew that I was going to have maybe an hour of productive writing time in me, and whatever post was going to happen today had to happen in that time period.

During yoga, I had an inconveniently timed Exciting Post Idea, which I quickly realized was actually more like a series of posts. And even just the first one alone was probably going to take more thought/mental energy than I could muster this evening. But I was excited about the idea, so I spent the precious writing-planning time on my commute making notes about those posts.

NaBloPoMo, WP Blogging 101, and Why I’m Here

About two years ago, I started a blog.

It was not the first time I had done so, or the second, or the third. I’d had both a burning desire to write and a debilitating fear of sucking at it since elementary school, so naturally I’d been creating and eventually abandoning online writing outlets for myself for as long as I’d had unrestricted internet access.

And while those early efforts certainly had some value—as silly as it sounds, I am entirely serious about my frequent assertion that discovering livejournal at 14 changed my life—nothing ever really stuck. And if I’m being honest with myself, while I may have said otherwise at the time, I really didn’t expect this latest effort to be any different. I had resigned myself, on some level, to being too much of a coward, too damaged, too insecure, for my writing to ever be anything more than a childish hobby.

But then two things happened.

Immigration policy ranting

As I think I’ve mentioned here before, though I do work a full-time job, I also tutor part-time and take freelance gigs. At the moment, my main ongoing outside writing gig is doing a specific type of writing/legal-assistant work for an immigration lawyer. My job is to take all of the evidence submitted for applications for visa/greencard special circumstances waivers and write a cover letter summarizing them/highlighting the most compelling bits of evidence, ideally building a narrative about this person’s life and/or accomplishments that meshes nicely with the requirements for their particular waiver.

I got this job initially because of my science background. There are special immigration waivers you can get based on having special skills, and this particular law office does a lot of those sorts of applications for scientists. The lawyer I work with posted an ad looking for a writer with science knowledge who could explain the importance of these scientists’ work in a compelling fashion, I answered the ad, and the rest is history. In the past year, I’ve averaged about two cases a month, and they’ve largely been successful. And I get paid. It’s pretty cool.