Recommendation roundup: September 2019

Hi All,

Wow, I am cutting it really close to the wire on this one. But hey, I’ve been busy with my life getting a little thrown up in the air lately (yay, blog fuel), so I’m fine with a bit of a closer shave this time around.

Anyway, to keep things light this time, I figured I’d just share a little about what I’ve been into lately in the hopes that you can find something you like too.

Fire Force

So beautiful!

So, because I’m a giant nerd, I’m subscribed to emails from a few different anime streaming services. And because anime is ridiculous, when they tell me about insane new shows, sometimes I’ll text my brother screenshots of how crazy they are.

This one, which featured a nun, a girl with not enough clothes on for no reason, a firefighter with a wizard hat, a guy with super pointy monster teeth for no reason, a guy with what basically looked like a light saber, and the premise that a group of firefighters have to stop people who spontaneously combust/turn into monsters as its premise, definitely got that treatment.

Except then my anime guru friend told me to watch it, and since I trust her, I gave it a shot.

Man, has this show taken me by surprise.

Besides being beautiful (see above video, and yes, most of the rest of the show is that gorgeous), the plot is actually really good, with mystery, drama, and some nice twists. And while the girl with not enough clothes on for no reason (and a few others, actually) does continue to frequently get into stupid locker room humor situations (come on, anime, seriously) pretty much every episode to the point that it feels almost like satire, honestly, I think it’s probably my favorite show right now. So, if you can get past some almost nudity and stupid humor on occasion, you’re gonna be fine.

Demon Slayer

What is with these gorgeous openers? Seriously.

So, this show has come as another surprise to me. I heard about it from a different friend, and it is absolutely beautiful.

The premise is essentially that when Tanjiro’s sister Nezuko is turned into a demon, he goes on a quest to become a demon slayer, both to save other humans and to find out how to turn her back.

I’ll be honest, it’s pretty violent, so if that’s not your jam, stay away.

But if that doesn’t bother you, this is another great one to check out. The animation is insanely beautiful, the characters are a lot of fun (not going to lie, Tanjiro himself is pretty flat, but I’m hoping for some growth for him in future), and, to my great surprise, it’s actually pretty funny. You know, when they aren’t in super gory demon battles.

Karneval

Okay, so I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned this one before, but as long as I’m on an anime kick, I’d like to recommend this one.

It only lasted a season, and didn’t get through all of the manga, but it’s cute and fun (though also with some violence, mostly up front), and the characters are supremely likable, all in all, particularly in the manga.

I’ll also admit I’m only up to about where the show ended in the manga, but we’ll go from there.

Zumba

So, my sister and I will sometimes take fitness classes through local programs, and this year we finally decided to try Zumba. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a workout based primarily on dancing/cardio mashups. I’ve been kind of curious about it for a long time, but we finally decided to give it a go.

Man, is it fun.

Super sweaty and a good/hard workout? Yes. But also, so, so fun.

It’s also come at a really ideal time for me, because as I’m realizing, when I’m in a rough patch, or even when I’m not, moving and dancing really just makes me feel good. When I’m not dancing regularly, I forget that, so having something that I’m paying for (to make sure I go) that is regularly scheduled has really done a lot for my mental health. The first time I went, not having done much dancing for a while, I swear it was a healing experience.

And now that I’ve got the movement bug again, hopefully I’ll be able to get back in gear and pick up dancing again.

Church

Okay, so this last one is probably the most important, and basically what it is is not the actual practice of going to church (though that is super valuable and important too!), but the people themselves, Christ’s body and bride, the church.

As I’ve alluded to above, I’m in a little bit of a chaotic season, and besides that have been realizing some things in my life that need to get addressed (more on that later). And being able to go to a church where I am welcomed, loved, and encouraged whether or not I’ve even given back anything has meant more than I’m sure any of those people have realized.

Going to church or church events has not always been easy for me. Because I like weird stuff (or violent stuff, or just not typical “Christian” stuff, see above), I’ve often felt a little squeamish or afraid of being “found out,” rejected, or scolded about my weird interests (and to be fair, some people shouldn’t watch the things I do, just like there are certain things others are fine watching that I don’t/shouldn’t). But at the church I’ve started going to, even despite my flaws, even despite coming to church angry or weepy or anything else, I’ve felt so loved and accepted and welcomed in such a non-pressuring way, it’s been amazing.

So even if you’re weird, even if you don’t think you do or can belong, even if you’re angry or hurt or upset, find yourself a good, Jesus-modeling church. Their love, Christ’s love, will set you free.


Anyway, that’s what I’m up to lately. How about you? What are some good hobbies, media, or otherwise that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below. Want more content like this, about my life, faith, or writing journey? Subscribe now and feel free to follow me on social media (though social media and I are on a break, so I may not respond there right away) to stay in touch. Thank you!

Writing proportions, part 3

So, as you may know, I have spent the last two posts (here and here) reflecting on where my writing time goes, why each category is enjoyable or valuable, and how much time goes into each.

Credit

This time, I’d like to do a quick summary of the numbers and dive into the question of whether or not these divisions make sense. As I said in part 1, this is partly because it’s helpful for me to think about where my time goes (both in general and in writing), and partly because as some of you are also fellow creatives, I want feedback! For any of you who have to split your time between different activities, and especially for professional creatives, how does my list compare? Are there areas for improvement? Blatant wastes? Let me know!

Anyway, the breakdown, based on 44 hours of writing time a month (and assuming I’m not currently on a social media break) is as follows….

ActivityHours/moCurrent %Ideal %
Storium1841%20%
Novel writing1227%50%
Blogging49%10%
Writing for money37%10%
Writers’ group614%5%
Marketing12%5%

Now, I’m going to be honest, I hadn’t actually added everything up until I was working on this post, and it’s a little eye opening to say the least! Clearly, I’ve got some work to do.

But it’s also interesting, because I think this is also where the real questions start to come in. For example:

  1. Are those ideal percentages even appropriate for what I’m trying to do/what I want out of my writing career?
  2. Do each of those categories belong on this list? If not, which of them should I reduce or remove?
  3. Are those numbers feasible?
  4. If they’re not, why not, and what can I do about it?
  5. Are there other categories I’m not including or considering?
  6. If not to writing or even if not to these categories, where else is my time going?

For ease of reading since this is already part 3, and since I’ve already put some time into considering questions 1, 2, 5, and 6, we’ll assume that by and large, yes, these are mostly activities I find value in and am willing to keep doing, and yes, I’m appropriately capturing most of my time.

Which leaves us with questions three and four, which ultimately come down to: now that I know how I’m spending my time, in what ways can I and do I want to change it?

Some solutions I’ve come up with are as follows.

Shift time

Looking at those top two categories, Storium and novel writing, obviously there’s a pretty severe imbalance between the two. In fact, the ratio between them is almost flipped to what I’ve marked it ideally to be.

And while I can scoop up some of that time in other areas (see idea three below), it looks like just spending less time on Storium and more on my novel writing could be the solution I need.

That being said, it’s also possible that my numbers are a little wrong. One of the main benefits of Storium that I see is the gift of being able to serve, collaborate with, and generally love on other writers. It has been an immeasurable blessing and honor to get to work with the writers I have, and if that means that ideal percentage slips up a little closer to thirty sometimes, I’m pretty comfortable with that. And, as I’ve been learning recently, Storium also works as an emotional safety valve for me, a place I can go to blow off some steam, work on a focused task, or just get some general enjoyment when I’m getting stressed, so that’s a benefit I hadn’t really considered quite as much that could influence those numbers when real life starts getting tough.

On the other hand, I’d also rather that if Storium is taking more time than usual that that time comes from somewhere else (or is added on) instead of coming out of the novel writing bucket. If anyone has any suggestions toward that end, whether in how to manage time efficiently, how to find more creative time in your day, or anything else, please let me know.

Write more

Since it’s not possible or practical to cut time on some of these activities (for example, the amount of time it takes me to give feedback or meet for writers group or my current speed for blog posts), another easy solution would simply be to write more. As I said above, I’m basing this on a (currently generous) budget of 44 writing hours a month, or 11 a week, with 1.5 hours of work over lunches throughout the week, 4.5 hours on weeknights, and three hours each on Fridays and Saturdays when I get off early/don’t work, and the assumption that I’ll probably lose about an hour somewhere in there to dawdling, conflicting events, or general life.

But, what if I worked for 30 minutes four days a week during lunch? What if I consistently worked for three hours on Mondays and Thursdays, and worked for four hours on Fridays and Saturdays? That alone would add 6 hours a week, or 24 a month! That’s about a 55% increase, which, especially if all pooled towards one or two categories, say novel writing and maybe a little more for writing for money, could make a huge difference in my proportions.

As we’re getting closer to fall, when summer hours at work end, and I’ve got some other pending life changes that may take up more of my weeknight time, I’m not sure if this is entirely plausible, but it is something to work towards, especially as we move on into winter when I don’t want to leave my house/am less busy than in summer.

Increase efficiency

This one is inspired by a couple of things. The first was when I was doing some research on appropriate rates/speeds for freelance work. The second is The Prolific Writer, a podcast I was recently listening to. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t read any of the books by the host or any of his guests yet, so I can’t speak to the proof behind any of their claims regarding the partnership between speed and quality (and in fact have stopped listening to it nearly as much because I was getting a little stressed out/comparative about their claims regarding the speed/quality of their work), but I will say that both experiences have brought up the point of writing efficiently. One of my big problems as a novel writer is that I can be really, really slow. Or rather, that because I’m afraid of failure/putting myself out there, I can be really, really good at finding ways not to make progress. And that’s not to say I never make progress, I just struggle with resistance (look up Scott Pressfield if you want to know more about that term).

But all that to say, what if I could whip up a blog post in an hour instead of two? What if I could spend less time getting distracted by the internet or checking my email and more on just doing the work? Part of the reason I’ve been listening to this podcast at all is because I am fascinated by the idea of writing faster, by how fast I really could go.

If anyone has any tips towards that end of things, please let me know.

So, those are my initial thoughts on how to step closer to where I want to go. I’m still not sure of the finer points of how to implement some of them, or that my estimations are right on any count, but I think it is helpful to at least have a ballpark, and from there to know where to go.


So, how about you? Where does your creative time go? Does it match up with where you want it to go? If so, how have you structured your life or schedule to build in the time you want or need? Which strategies helped or no, and if your current numbers don’t match your ideals, what ideas or strategies do you think would help? Thanks for reading, and if you want more content about me, my writing or personal journeys, and all things nerdy, please feel free to follow me here or on social media using the links below or in the sidebar. Just keep in mind I’m currently on a social media break, so I may not respond right away!