“If my poems had a say”

Prompt: Poems and notes to you

I wonder what my poems would to tell me,
if I ever gave them the chance to talk.

“Spare us your sunflower keyboard,”
they might say,
“your tea cup words,
your jumpers,
the scarves around the spelling.

Let us convey the fury under your fingernails,
your unwashed face,
everything that makes the soot in your stomach glow like embers.

Or maybe just give us
a break.”

I’m attempting OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month) this month!
I’m gonna put the M2 Musings project on hold, and see if I can manage to stick to a short poem a day, based on “official” prompts. Let me know if a post a day is too much, though! I have no clue how long I’ll be able to keep this up, but I’m excited to give it a go!

Are you doing OctPoWriMo this October? Have you tried any other writing challenges? And what do you think of challenges like these, anyway?

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

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Tricking Motivation Pt. 2

More motivation talk! Hopefully, yesterday’s post was helpful to you, even though I’m aware none of my tips are in any way groundbreaking. It’s always nice to be reminded of things we already know, though, so view these two posts as gentle reminders to not eat and work in the same space and to take a breath if you’re stuck.

In today’s post, I wanted us to have a look at how to keep motivated when you’ve first started writing, so basically, this is more about focus than motivation. Sometimes you need to just buckle up and move into the library to do what you need to get done, and long sessions of work can be tiring and unmotivating. When you’ve found your designated workspace, you’ve got all your notes and research ready and you have your schedule/deadlines in front of you, how do you stay focused on the task at hand?

4. Listen to your “work music”
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A lot like finding one place to work can help kickstart your brain, finding one playlist or a type of music that you only listen to while working can help keep your brain in “work mode”, for as long as you need to focus. Personally, I always put on this video/music, when I need to stay focused.

I don’t know why, but there is something about this that makes me forget that time is even passing, and that might be the point of having a playlist to work to; it has to make you disappear into your work and help you not get distracted by every single sound around you.

5. Make sure your phone is out of sight

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I am an avid smartphone user with no desire to completely cut my phone out of my life. I appreciate how social media keeps me connected to my Norway friends when I’m in England, and my England friends when I’m in Norway, and I frequently use it for study purposes, with for example translation programs and online journals. However, after reading this article about how “the mere presence of a cell phone can distract you by diminishing your attention span and cognitive ability, even without using it,” I tried out just putting my phone behind my laptop screen or computer monitor while working, and it made such a difference. By not having my phone next to me I didn’t feel the need to check any social media apps once during my work session, and it did make for a more focused session. After trying it once I started incorporating it into my work habits, and I can honestly say that it has changed my focus while working for the better.

6. Keep your breaks sacred 

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Of course, you need to spend more time actively working than you spend on a break, but breaks are very important in a balanced “study diet”. Schedule short breaks throughout your working session; I like to work for twenty minutes and then give myself five minutes to just sit back in my chair and stare out the window for a while. Whatever intervals work best for you, remember to be productive during work-periods, and properly relax during your breaks. Working like this will most likely let you keep going for longer, instead of just powering through hours upon hours without letting your brain rest at all.

Question of the day: How do you stay focused during long sessions?

-Andrea

Tricking Motivation Pt.1

Motivation is a funny thing that often rears its head at the most inopportune moments, like on a long car journey or at 1 AM. Motivation does not care about deadlines and timetables, it’s doing its own thing

Of course, we should all be doing our own things, and following your heart should always be encouraged. Motivation doing its own thing, however, is not awfully helpful when you’re getting close to the end of the semester and are desperately trying to meet all those deadlines that pile up. As I have now officially handed in the last assignment of my BA, (stay tuned for a post about the last stretch on that piece!) I figured it would be time to share how I’ve tricked myself into feeling motivated (when I really didn’t want to work) these last three years.

This post will be split into three parts, and in this first part, we’ll just have a look at some easy ways to find (or make) motivation before you start writing.

1. Make yourself a workspace

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My number 1 tip for how to be productive and get started with what you need doing, is to have a designated workspace. It might be difficult to differentiate between workspace and relax-zone, especially if you live in halls, where you eat, sleep, relax and try to get work done, all in the same room. Choosing a part of your desk that is for working only,  finding a cafe you never go to for anything but work or a spot in the library, will often help kickstart your brain if it’s a bit sluggish and work-shy. Personally, I cannot work in my room. For this, the library has been my saviour these last three years. The amount of time I’ve struggled for days with assignments at home, only for the words to flow out of my fingers the second I’m sat by a library computer is ridiculous, but at least it means the work gets done. Having a designated workspace also means that you can take proper breaks by leaving said space, and I’m all here for the most productive breaks, as this means you can get back to work again quickly!

2. Make sure you have all your notes ready

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Oh, how I’d love for my notes to look like this (I’m aware the notepad is blank, but I appreciate the aesthetic, okay?), but I’m pretty sure no one’s desk ever looks this clean while working. A girl can dream, though.
However, what I’ve found to be useful while “faking it ’til you’re making it” in the motivation department, is to make sure you’ve got all your notes and research ready before you start typing. Find all the books you need in the library, print out those essays (you can always plant some trees later), highlight and colour code your notes if you need to – just have it in front of you. Flicking through stacks of paper is less likely to have you switch your internet tabs to social media, something that might be tempting if you’re looking through online research while working. Also, colour coding makes you both look and feel prepared, which is never a bad thing.

3. Set your own mini-deadlines

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I “found” this skill while working on my BA dissertation this year; make small, in-progress deadlines for yourself throughout your projects. There is almost always a correlation between the deadline and the workload; if your uni lecturer or teacher or whoever is assigning you work has given you a long time to finish a task that most likely means you need that time. Make deadlines for yourself, like when you want the idea fully formed and finished, when you want the first 500 or 1000 words done, or when you want your first draft complete so you can spend the rest of your time just reworking what you have. Making yourself a schedule with small deadlines as you go along can make a big assignment or piece of work seem a lot more manageable and easier to get started on.

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Of course, these tips aren’t just for finding the motivation to finish assignments; it’s for getting all kinds of work done, for revising or studying, and for any sort of writing in general.

Question of the day: How do you find motivation when you need it?

-Andrea