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BEDA 2016

What I Learned From Blogging Every Day in April | BEDA Day 30

30 days, 30 posts. I actually freakin’ did it.

I started this project out as a way to get myself writing again, knowing full well that I would probably quit halfway through, as I have with almost every challenge I’ve started over the last few years. I thought that even if I made it halfway through, 15 posts in as many days is still quite a feat. 6,000+ words in two weeks is nothing to shake a stick at, unless you’re doing NaNoWriMo.

And yet, even on the days where I felt zapped of all creative energy, I wrote. I knew a 100 word post about my weekend was better than no post at all. I got the words down on the virtual page and sent those words out into the world. Sometimes I got 2 hits a day, sometimes I got hundreds. The traffic didn’t really matter to me. As long as I could cross “write a post” off my to-do list for the day, I was happy.

So what have I learned over the past 30 days? A few things, actually.

I can always find something to say.

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence (who hasn’t?), especially when it comes to meeting new people. I tend to hang back in conversations or not introduce myself to people, thinking I have nothing interesting to say. If anything, this project has shown me that I can always find something to add to the conversation. My thoughts are valuable and worth sharing. Even if I have some trouble translating what’s in my brain into conversational English, I’ll eventually figure it out. This is all easier said than done, but I’m working on it. It all takes practice, and I think BEDA was a great exercise.

I don’t always have to fit into a niche.

Everything I’ve read about “the business of blogging” encourages writers to stick to a genre of content and not stray too much, lest they lose precious eyeballs. That definitely works if you want to build your blog into something huge, but when it comes down to it, I’m writing for me. It’s easy for me to stick to travel content when I’m only posting a few times a month, but that gets a bit mundane when I have to post something every day. And when it comes down to it, I’m not a travel expert. I’ve traveled a lot, and it’s one of my favorite things to do, but I still don’t really know how to pack a carry-on. I’m allowed to write about the gender wage gap or tiny houses if I want. When it comes to this site, I’m my own boss. And that’s incredibly freeing.

I need structure.

Generally speaking, my writing output has gone way downhill since I graduated from college. When I was in school, I had deadlines every week and professors to hold me accountable for them. Now, when I want to write a new script, I have no one to answer to but myself. Being your own boss can be great, but I’m a pretty lax manager when it comes to deadlines. With this project, I knew I had to get something out every day, and if I didn’t, my inability to follow through would live on the internet forever. When I go back and watch videos from my failed VEDA attempts, I get pretty embarrassed. I didn’t want to feel that way again. Maybe letting my inner critic drive this project wasn’t the healthiest move, but it helped me get it done. For once I wanted to whole-ass something and throw myself into a creative project as much as I could with a full-time job. And that’s exactly what I did.

As for the future of this blog, I don’t really know what’s in store. I’m going to keep posting at least twice a month, but right now I want to focus on other writing projects. I dusted off an abandoned pilot script a few weeks ago and would like to at least finish a draft of that. Going back to the theme of structure, I’m also hoping to et back in the classroom this summer and start some new projects.

I think I’m coming out of this project with a better sense of who I am as writer and as a person. Sitting down to write every day forces you to reflect and spend some time in your own brain. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s terrifying, but it’s always worth it.

Of course I have to thank you all for reading and supporting me through this project. Whether you left a comment, favorited one of my Tweets, or said something to me in person, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person reading these words. I hope you’ll all stick around for…whatever I have in store for the future.

BEDA 2016 completed. Someone buy me a drink.

Senior Project | In the Immortal Words of Tom Haverford…

Tom 1Tom 2

I passed my roommate in the hall on my way back from the gym this morning. We shared an awkward, “Oh, haha, you’re going to the gym? I just went to the gym!” exchange, and then she mentioned that I’d lost a lot of weight. I’m never quite sure how to react to these kind of comments, so I laughed a little and gave her a confused “thank you” before ducking back into my apartment. She’s right, though. I recently started running, I’m generally more active, and I cut soda out of my diet (for the most part). I’m doing the work and seeing results. Feels good, man.

What does this have to writing? Quite a bit, actually. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been integrating some better habits into my writing routine. I say “writing routine” like I had one before. Writing 20 pages the night before a deadline definitely doesn’t count as a “routine”. For one thing, I started blocking out time in my schedule to work on my script, usually one or two hours a day. If that time is in my Google Calendar, I’ll usually stick to it, regardless of where I am that day. While I still enjoy the occasional page dump, it’s a lot less stressful to chip away at a script a few pages at a time. I also find it much more productive to work at a desk or table rather than splayed out on my bed. When your bed is the centerpiece of your tiny room, it’s pretty hard to ignore the temptation to get under the covers and write. I for one can’t sleep and type at the same time, so my bed isn’t a particularly productive place.

The most important part is just doing the work. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but scripts don’t write themselves. There are some days when writing is fun and some days when it feels like a chore. I’m learning to power through those crappier days. I never quite felt like I deserved the grades I got in high school and college because I didn’t feel like I was working hard for them. In a lot of ways, I was skating by on natural talent. I can’t really do that right now. I’m happy with my first drafts of my episodes, but they’re far from done. Rewriting isn’t always fun, but it’s necessary.

46 days til graduation. YIKES.

Enjoyment

Blog, I have been ignoring you, and for that I am truly sorry. To be fair, I’m not where I thought I would be when I started this blog a few months ago, so I’m now in the process of figuring out what to do with this thing. It’s time to be honest with y’all. When I created this blog, I was seriously considering transferring to a different university. I was unhappy with how my freshman year had gone and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in the major I chose when I applied to this school. I started this blog as a way to chronicle my transfer process and the transition once I got to the new college of my choice. Upon returning to school, I realized that I didn’t want to leave and wanted to find ways to make the most of my university experience, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing when I haven’t been blogging.

So, here’s what you need to know about my life right now.

In 58 days I’m going to London to study abroad for ten weeks. I’m incredibly excited and incredibly nervous. Luckily, I’ll be joining several of my high school friends over there, which makes me much more comfortable to go over there. It’s always nice to have some familiar faces when you’re in a relatively unfamiliar place. I’m excited to travel and see everything that London has to offer. I’ll probably spend a fair amount of time stalking British TV stars. Probably not. Ok, I totally will. It’s been ten years since I was last in the UK. It’s time to get back.

While I’m waiting to go to the UK, I’m taking five pretty difficult classes. It probably wasn’t wise to load up on classes while I’m preparing to leave the country, but it was the only way I could stay on track to graduate. Two literature classes in one term is not exactly the best idea, but it had to be done. I feel like a lot of the university process, or at least my experience with it, is waiting. You wait for summer, in my case at least you wait to go on study abroad, you wait to get a job, you wait to graduate. I feel like I need to stop waiting and enjoy the moment. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you have a fair amount of planning to do.

I’ve also been participating in the Channel 4 New Year Revolution for much of this month. The little challenges I get every day have really helped with the whole “staying in the moment” goal. You can check out my videos and posts on the challenges on my YouTube channel and Revolution page.

I’m going to go enjoy the moment by finishing my chicken tikka masala and heading over to choir practice now. You are all wonderful people. I hope you know that.