20 Minute Blog Posts

In order to re-build my writing habit, I’m going to write 20 minute blog posts.

The key to writing anything is the same as anything else – you’ve got to put in your time. For writing, that means sitting down and… well, writing. I usually write on my computer. I love writing by hand, but for this exercise, speed is your friend. You can get down more words and edit easily on your computer.

Next, I set a timer.

If you know me, you know I’m a total Time-Nazi. Strong words, I know. Self proclaimed! I can’t help it. I am strict with myself when it comes to timing. I pride myself on being on time to appointments, and I notice the same in others (or lack thereof). Setting a timer allows me to focus. It’s like doing a work out – if you know you only have a few seconds left and your muscles are burning, you try your hardest till the end.

20 minutes is not a long time. So you gotta write like a motherfucker to get as many words out as you can! This pressure is a good thing. I prefer writing for time, rather than words. I know plenty of bloggers and authors who recommend writing 1000 words every day. I’m not quite there yet. I usually only get between 300-500 when I write for 20 minutes (no judgment zone!)

Am I happy with my 20 minute pieces? Hell no! This is an ART FORM. Writing anything good takes a lot of time and lots of editing! Same thing with art – painting, drawing, whatever. Do you want to show every sketch to the world? Absolutely not. The goal here is to get the creative juices flowing and start getting a feel for your writing strengths and weaknesses. And simply to build material.

For my old blog, I used to write every morning for 20 minutes. I would collect all of my writing, maybe at the end of the week, and edit it. I ended up cutting most of what I had out. Then I would re-write parts and try to string them together.

Sounds like college, right? A well written piece is about eloquently making a point. It’s about connecting ideas and illustrating them beautifully and clearly so that your reader knows what you’re trying to say (and maybe even learns something).

In my personal opinion, it’s better to have a short excellently written piece than a longer flowery-worded mediocre piece. Time is limited my friends! It’s seriously our only real resource. Time is on your side because you get to choose how you spend it.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ― Mary Oliver

All of this to say that this may be the only way to get me to start up another blog. I am feeling drawn to writing, the practice, the process itself. I realize more and more everyday that my art career depends on it. I would like to be able to write articulately about my paintings and my process.

Both the beauty and sometime pitfalls of artwork is that it is so subjective. A painting is interpreted in as many ways as people who view it. I’ve read that titles of paintings can deter collectors from buying and turned off viewers. However, I think the stories behind paintings are important. In the same way that the editing process behind writing is.

So, to review – if you’re interested in writing and you simply can’t get yourself to start, try this:

  1. Come up with some stupid or silly or fun blog name.
  2. For 20 days write a 20 minute blog post. With or without editing!
  3. That’s right! Now that we’ve reviewed the rules for really awesome writing (write like a motherfucker and then edit with help like a boss) – we’re going to BREAK the rules.
  4. Have fun! Just write a stream of consciousness if you aren’t inspired on a particular topic. Trust me, you will never write a word if you set requirements for yourself before hand. I am victim of this everyday.
  5. I almost forgot the most important part. DRINK COFFEE! LOTS OF COFFEE. ❤

Now that I’ve written for 20 minutes, I’m going to pat myself on the back and move onto drawing. As the days move on, I’d like to write some about what inspires me to paint and the direction that I would like my work to go. Until then, happy writing.

P.S. This blog post is 754 words long. I did some editing after my 20 minutes.

Writing Exercise: A Manifesto

This is a re-post from my previous blog.

Similarly to my 12 Commandments post, this is a writing exercise that I find enlightening and fun. I initially wrote this piece, my manifesto, when I was in a counseling program a few years ago. I was surprised and surprisingly satisfied with the results – so I highly recommend trying to write your own manifesto and keeping at it until you have something you LOVE. Seriously, this might become your battle cry. Or maybe it will save you when you most need saving. Dig deep and don’t be shy.

To start, review the following if they are confusing to you or you want to get clear on the direction you’re headed in:

  1. When I did this exercise, the focus was Deconditioning. The short version: training yourself to respond differently than you already do to specific stimuli.
  2. Writing a self defining declaration. A reason to get up in the morning.
  3. Optimistic statements versus affirmations. Developing a positive mental attitude and describing what you DO rather than saying what you are.

Guidelines for writing your manifesto:

  1. Shake your body. Or do something weird like vibrating your lips to get out of your usual headspace. Make a noise, this will shock you into the present moment.
  2. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  3. Write. Write a self defining declaration. Draw on times you felt most like yourself.  Write about what you DO and where you are going, what your life is about.
  4. DON’T STOP till the timer goes off.
  5. Edit as you see fit.

Here is my self defining declaration written in 20 minutes:

Stille Wasser sind tief” my mother says to me in German. I am as calm deep blue as the ocean, embracing ever-changing tides, weathering storms, and washing up on sandy beaches. I am fascinated by the world around me, exploring the activities and ideas that speak to my authentic self.

I am creative and optimistic in my outlook on life . I exercise this through not subscribing to clicks, but rather cultivating my own tribe of vagabonds, rabble-rousers, and misfits. “Prost!” we cheer as we clank biersteins, champagne flutes, whiskey shooters, and martini glasses. We keep it classy at our underground sweaty parties.

I choose to do things with intention: if you can’t get out of it, get into it. Act how you want to feel. Fake it till you make it over the moon and you are so high you barely know which way is up. Redefine success for yourself. I do things because they light me up. I love myself like my life depends on it. I seek out Fun Type B because I won’t rest till I know myself inside and out.

I love fiercely. I ride my bike and feel the wind in my hair as it breaths on my neck and whispers “freedom” into my ear. I act like I may only live another year, fueled like I may live another 300. I strive to accept myself as I am today. I explore my sexual and sensual nature, knowing that in the depths of these waters are multiple orgasms: because Life is That Good. There are  experiences of ecstasy and unity waiting to be had that currently may seem unimaginable.

I play because it makes me strong. I aspire to be a ninja-woman with cat-like reflexes and motivate others to celebrate their bodies through movement. Do it because it needs to be done. I am an idealist, wandering, but not lost.

Love, strength & vigor!

Writing Exercise: 12 Commandments

This is a re-post from my previous blog.

I’ve tried a lot of different things in my life. I mean, I’ve read more self help books than I can count and many of these include hours of writing exercises. A few years back I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. I was working with a woman at the time, a friend of mine, who had also read the book and wrote her own 12 commandments – like Gretchen. I thought this was a brilliant idea and decided to do the same.

I had not reviewed these in a long long time until today. I am posting them here because this is one exercise that I have found interesting, telling, therapeutic, revealing, fun, challenging, and rewarding. I feel like I am coming back to myself when I read the list. I also like that it isn’t set in stone. This is simply another opportunity to reflect – is that still me? Or do I have an edit that feels more important?

Knowing yourself, knowing what you stand for is one of the most powerful things in the world. These things inform my experience everyday.

Whoa, could I get any woo-ier?!

OK, the 12 commandments already:

1) Be Authentic. Be yourself.
2) Forgive, you do not have to forget.
3) Face your fears.
4) Express gratitude.
5) Pursue life opportunities wholeheartedly.
6) Listen.
7) Practice makes better: Enjoy the process.
8) Act how you want to feel.
9) Be patient and compassionate.
10) Be here now.
11) If I can’t get out of it, I’ll get into it and learn something.
12) You are exactly where you need to be.

Love, Strength and Vigor!

To Blog or Not to Blog?

This is the blog space that I will be using to write about my travels.

As is my nature, I will undoubtedly stray from the topic on hand to discuss personal dilemmas, inspirations from the road, and inevitably self help issues. If you aren’t familiar with my first blog, It’s all in the Blanket, it appears that it’s a topic I simply can’t leave alone.

The main goal of It’s all in the Blanket was to document and track my goals during 2012 – 2013. In September of 2012, while doing my annual review during my birthday, I decided that I would create a blog. It would span my 27th year and during those 365 days I grew to sincerely love my writing time. At one point, I was so determined to maintain a 2x/week posting schedule that I began to get up at 5AM in order to get my writing done.

The only reason I mention my previous blog here is that upon reflecting on my writing experience at the time, I am reminded that some of the most rewarding things are the hardest to accomplish. Writing does not come naturally to me, it’s an activity that I respect and admire. It often causes me great anxiety to publish my own words, but my belief in the process is what allows me to do it.

All of this to say, here’s to my new writing space.

‘The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings.’  ~ Lewis Carroll

Former Blogs:

Bicycle trip across the USA 

Bicycle trip through Utah to Taos, New Mexico

Goal and Self Help Blog

Planning the next adventure

Nothing gets me more excited than planning an adventure.

Travel seems to fill my life with meaning. All of a sudden, to do lists are important and the deadlines for each item exude a new urgency. Even the mundane tasks feel more significant because the days which they will need to be performed are numbered. I savor every moment in my own bed, I contemplate the significance of having a closet and chest of drawers, I marvel at the amount of dish ware my house holds.

Soon, I will carry a spork as my only eating utensil. I will have a single backpack and one pair of pants. Laundry will be done in a sink or with me in the shower. On second thought, maybe just under a hose. My art supplies will be contained in a neatly packed pouch, rather than spread out on the desk or the floor. I will wake up in the mornings and head out to see things that I have never seen before.

It is exhilarating to imagine the new life and experiences awaiting me. It brings me the greatest appreciation for my life in the present moment and presents a melancholy for leaving it behind. As my bedroom and my studio are sorted through and organized, I begin to ask myself why I’m leaving.

Look at this beautiful space I have created! Why would I want to go anywhere else?!

I longingly touch my paint brushed and count the unpainted canvases. I stare at postcards and images that have inspired me for years and realize that I finally know the exact piece I will create based on them! And so my nights become restless and the inspiration flows.

I try to take advantage of every moment – work, attend appointments, find subletters, figure out the mail, clean out my space, see friends before I go, get tickets and reservations in order – and hopefully, paint with a feverish passion like I may never paint again.

I recognize how lucky I am. This is not just my dream come true, it is so many peoples dream, realized or not. I feel it in my bones and it fuels me to do the work and appreciate the moments at home and abroad.