2020 was a relatively stable year for me. It wasn’t my best year, but it definitely wasn’t my worst. And if anything, it was better than the two years prior to that. Admittedly, I didn’t achieve much, but it went a lot better than I expected despite the pandemic still going on here in the United States.
In 2018/19, I didn’t use a planner or an agenda. I kept reminders of my appointments on my phone’s calendar app and I’d keep notes in my Evernote app. But this year, I wanted to try using a planner again just to see if it helps me in any way.
I bought my planner from Five Below. There’s a note page in the beginning followed by monthly calendars. Each monthly calendar is followed by a page where you can write lists, notes, events and priorities. And then after all that, there are weekly spreads. After each spread is a page to write more lists, notes, priorities, plan for the upcoming week, and a weekly habit tracker. There are a few more blank pages at the end followed by stickers that you can use to remind you of days when you have appointments, birthdays, lunches, etc. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for when searching for a planner, but this seemed good for me.
At first, I wasn’t really sure what to write in my planner. So, I marked important events/appointments. I wrote a list of states I’ve traveled to, though I’m not really sure why since this will probably be an odd year to travel. And today, I wrote a list of possible goals I could work on. I came up with more than I expected actually. And, I didn’t really create stretch goals. I tried to keep them reasonable, something that I felt like I could easily achieve. For example, I read 3 books last year (towards the end of the year, and one book was really short). I haven’t really kept up with the habit of reading, so I thought 5 books seemed achievable.
Here are the list of goals I came up with:
– See what it’s like being off meds completely and continue if sustainable.
– Consistent body weight of under 150 lbs.
– $1K+/month in passive income through music streaming/downloads.
– One year in Conscious Growth Club.
– Read 5 books.
– Grow my one Instagram account to over 10K followers.
– Release 2 more songs on Spotify.
– Finish Success Triggers, an online course.
– Finish DAI, a webinar series on living an abundant life.
The goals I came up with are within the scope of the current circumstances I inhabit. I have other goals in mind, but I’m not sure if I’ll achieve them this year. For example, I would like to move out to someplace with relatively warmer climate. I would like to lose weight, but I’ve been consistently gaining over the past 3+ years while being on antipsychotics. So, even losing 5 lbs this year would be amazing for me.
I thought about learning another foreign language, or continuing to learn Korean. But, I don’t know if I’m really interested in that. I did purchase a cheap Udemy course on Spanish, but I’ve only dabbled into it here and there. I’m not entirely opposed to learning, just kind of on the fence about it.
I thought about doing more 30-day trials of various habits. One idea would be to make music every day for X amount of time with the goal of coming out with a song at the end. Another trial would be, if I find myself drawn to the idea again, to spend 5 minutes learning a foreign language. I mean, it is only 5 minutes, so it wouldn’t be so hard.
This month, I was actually going to hula hoop 5 minutes a day. Unfortunately, I could only last 30 seconds the first day because it hurt more than I expected. I used a weighted hula hoop, that’s why. And, I haven’t hula hooped in forever. However, I’m tracking it as a habit to see if I can build up to 5 minutes. I haven’t been doing it every day though after realizing how painful it is starting off. 😅 I mean, that happens. Sometimes, you have to reject an idea when it doesn’t go as planned.
I want to do more 30-day trials this upcoming year. It will take me some more brainstorming to come up with some good ideas. I could even repeat previous 30-day trials such as blogging every day or reading books every day. I just thought it’d be more interesting to try new habits.
Steve Pavlina did a few 365-day challenges. He exercised every day for 365 days, and he blogged every day for over 365 days. He said it serves as a positive reference point. It sculpts your character. I’m not even used to 30-day trials, so I think I’ll hold off a few more years before I attempt a meaningful 365-day challenge. It’d be interesting to try one time though.
Beyond 2021 (after COVID-19 subsides), I thought about traveling to each state in the United States. I’ve been to 19 of them for sure. Though, some states I just stopped in for maybe an hour before moving on to the next state (such as when I went by bus to Florida with family for a cousin’s engagement). I want to spend at least a week in each state. That’s achievable in a year, though I thought I’d want time in between to just chill at home. So, I thought in the future, I could achieve this goal within 2 years. I imagined vlogging/blogging about it or sharing pictures to capture the experience. Maybe I would go with a friend or with family.
I don’t know about this year, but eventually I would like to try to become vegetarian again and then even vegan. I stopped just because I thought maybe I’d stop hearing voices if I ate animal products again. I thought maybe I was missing something. But you know, it’s been over a year of me eating meat again, so that definitely did nothing for me other than blending in with my family more. These things happen when you get sick, so I’m trying not to be hard on myself. But, I’m realizing that I don’t have a real reason for eating meat other than it just feels convenient now. The reason I say I want to work on this goal beyond 2021 is because hopefully by then, I’ll have moved out and it’ll be much easier to work on as a goal living by myself vs. living with other meat-eaters.
I thought about writing a book a few months back, but I’m not really sure about the idea now. I could write about my life experience with hearing voices / being possessed, whatever you would like to call it. Maybe I could do this in November with NaNoWriMo. They challenge you to write a novel, but I could just write a non-fiction. I’ll hold off from the idea for now.
I think once I join Conscious Growth Club, maybe I’ll be able to come up with some more aligned goals. I was briefly in CGC back in 2017 when it started, and I opening myself up to new ideas I never thought of before. I had to quit shortly after unfortunately because that was the year I became “sick”. But now that I’m feeling relatively stable, I’d love to give it a shot again and see what I could learn.
I think buying the $5 planner was worthwhile. Right now, I have a tab open for Success Triggers. So after I publish this blog post and drink some water, I’ll watch the next video and review the study questions. I only have 9 more lessons to go, so if I continue doing this every two days, I can finish by the end of the month. And then finally, I’ll know if it was helpful or not.
I think if COVID-19 subsides by this year, I’d like to travel downtown and try going to a new place once every week with one of my friends. I was doing this at the beginning of the year. My friend and I went to Reading Terminal, then Chinatown, and then suddenly we heard the news about COVID-19 and we cancelled our plans. But if things turn around, I’d like to visit as many places as I can downtown.
Anyway, those are my plans for 2021. It’s not anything crazy. Nothing super ambitious (at least I don’t think so). Just simple goals, aligned with what matters to me, and that will benefit me both in the short-term and long-term. Most of my goals are experiential in nature. I don’t know if I’ll have materialistic goals this year since I’m trying to build up my assets first. Maybe in the future, I’ll have a goal of buying a car or buying a house. But, I don’t see a real need for it now.
Recently, I completed my challenge of reading 20 pages or more of books every day for 30 days. It wasn’t always easy to stick to the challenge, but I made it through. I’m not going to mention any particular books I’ve read, because I don’t really recommend them. They were just okay.
The first week was fairly easy. I used a tablet. I chose a book that I thought about reading for a while, and I guess because of my curiosity, I was able to read a fair chunk of the book in the first week. Each chapter was roughly 15 pages. So, I would read two chapters every evening usually. I figured it would be better to complete a chapter rather than read a third of the way through and then have to refresh my memory of what I read.
By the second week, I was getting bored with the book. I thought I’d find some interesting insights by then, but the story seemed to be dragging for me. So, I’d read one chapter, and then would switch to another book to finish up my 20 or so pages.
Eventually, I finished the first book (thank God). I mean, it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t as great as all the hype I’ve heard about it. And, I was just glad I could finally say I’ve read it, and could decide whether it was good, okay, or just plain bad.
The second book was more interesting to me. It was a self-help book. I didn’t really learn anything new about myself per se, but I thought some of the exercises in the book could help me in the future if I ever decide to embark on ambitious goals or dreams again. It helps you solidify plans and take action. And also, the chapters were longer, so I could finish my goal of reading 20 pages easily by just reading one chapter. So, that was a relief.
And then eventually, I started on my third book. There was one particular day that was stressful for me. I was feeling tired earlier in the evening, but I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. I knew I had to finish reading 20 pages. I really struggled this day. As some of you know, I experience something like hearing voices, but more intense. Basically, the voice kept distracting me from the text. I would read a sentence, and not even comprehend it. And at one point, I was reading each word one at a time, really emphasizing it in my head. But the next second, I would literally forget the last word and would not correlate any connection between the words. It was horrible.
But still, I didn’t want to fail just because the voice was getting in the way. So, I soldiered through. I hardly understood the text, but I kept going and finished the 20 pages anyway. And no, I didn’t go back to re-read. I don’t really find that necessary, unless you’re studying something, or unless you think that you will gain some valuable insights.
Speaking of not comprehending the text, there were some times when I would read the first book (an autobiography) and would either zone out or just not really absorb what I was reading. I didn’t go back to re-read those parts either, for the most part, unless I felt like I missed something interesting. I like to just power through and move forward. If it’s a text I really enjoyed, I might re-read it. When I just continue reading the next thing, I feel like it might teach my brain to focus and if it misses something, oh well. Maybe that’s not how the brain works… But anyway, that’s just how I read. I’ve heard others advise something similar, of not going back to re-read something, but just to move on.
After the 30-day reading challenge, I think I read the very next day, and then missed like two days of reading. The first day was because my hearing voices experience felt intense and I didn’t really feel in the mood to try to concentrate on reading. So, I didn’t push myself. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were out, so I was tired and didn’t feel like reading. I thought this was strange because I thought the habit would stick, right? Why wasn’t I in the mood, even if I was tired? Like, I didn’t even have a thought of, “Ooh, maybe I should read, even just a little bit.”
Well, I guess it had to do with the tiredness because the next day (Black Friday), I felt the urge to read. I felt pretty stable, not tired or overwhelmed by voices. It’s still too early to tell the overall effects of this reading habit and what it has done for me after, but I’m hoping it’s like a habitual urge or something. Does that make sense? I mean, I just hope that I feel more inclined to read than to just play games or to just watch videos in the evenings.
I’ve mentioned this before, how if I could re-do the challenge, I would read less pages, maybe 10 or 15. Even 15 is ambitious, considering I was barely reading a book a year. 5 pages is an easy goal. Maybe that would have been nice. Though, I did finish 2 books within the 30 days by setting a higher target. I don’t even think I would have finished a single book if the target was a measly 5 pages. I might have just gotten bored with the first book and abandoned it altogether. But because I was reading at least 20 pages a day, I thought, “Well, I might as well finish another chapter.”
I’m not officially doing another 30-day or any kind of challenge for reading. But, I think on days when I’m doing fairly well, or even if I’m feeling a little tired or overwhelmed by voices, I can set a soft goal of reading 5 pages a day. It’s not a lot to commit to. I remember pushing through, struggling to understand what I was reading when the voice particularly distressed me one day. So, I think it will help me build up strength and power through, doing a task despite how I’m feeling. And, maybe it will teach the voice, “I’m not gonna give in just because you’re acting out.” I think of the voice as a child. So, maybe reading like this every day despite how it acts will discipline it. That’s my wishful thinking.
I’m not a disciplined person or anything when it comes to these 30-day trials or challenges. I try to make them as simple as possible. I actually tried to tag coloring to my reading habit, which I did do successfully for I believe 24 or 25 days in a row. But then, I had a bad day of just feeling tired and overwhelmed by the voice the next couple days (after finishing reading for 30 days). I added coloring days into my challenge, so I thought I’d spend a few extra days reading and coloring together. It didn’t pan out that way. I should have just stuck to reading. That was me not keeping things simple, which I should have done.
I recommend, even if you think you can do more, keep a baseline. Don’t push yourself to do more. Don’t tack on more goals needlessly. I thought I was being clever by planning out evening activities to distract me from hearing voices. But, it became a checklist of things to do in the evening before sleeping. And, it kind of took the fun out of those two activities (reading and coloring). I think it’s better to stick to one goal or one habit at a time. Because then, even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment, you eventually grow to enjoy it or learn more about it or just naturally do it anyway. But when you’re juggling two or more goals, you never fully focus on doing your best with just one. Eventually, you could build up to do more. But when you’re first starting off, it’s better to choose one goal to focus on.
I was trying to read every day as a coping skill, and also I guess as something “productive” to do. And honestly, it worked pretty well for me. The voice didn’t bother me most days. Though, the voice still bothered me when I was tired. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to fail my goal.” But, the voice will play devil’s advocate and say, “Sleep is a priority!” I hate when the voice tries to justify doing things differently. Neither option is wrong per se, but if I want to read, let me read in peace. I take a while to fall asleep anyway, even when I’m tired, so I might as well accomplish my goal. That’s my line of thinking.
I want to do more of these 30-day trials or challenges so that I can build up some discipline, and also assert my power over the voice. I want to show it, “I’m gonna do this thing, and whether you agree or not, it’s gonna happen.” I’m so tired of the voice influencing me just because I don’t want to deal with it. It’s my body, my mind, let me do what I want.
Honestly, I don’t really feel accomplished after reading for 30 days. I mean, it is something because I have had trouble sticking to habits and goals in the past. And, I finally completed an intentional 30-day challenge. I feel satisfied that I read a couple of books and will probably finish one more by the end of the year. But, it’s not anything great. I don’t feel elated or surprised. I’m more so like, “Yeah, that’s a thing I did.”
I am glad that the voice did, for the most part of this challenge, calm down in the evenings. Though now the challenge is officially over, it tries to convince me that I don’t have to read. And yeah, it’s true, I don’t have to read, but I still want to read. I still want to have a long-time habit of reading, so that I can finish reading all those books I was curious about or will be curious about in the future.
December is approaching soon, and I don’t yet have a 30-day challenge set in stone. Maybe I will research a few ideas. I did think about writing a book about myself and my experiences with hearing voices, so I thought of doing something like NaNoWriMo but for non-fiction and in a different month. I thought though that maybe I should give myself more time to plan it out. Some other 30-day trial ideas include some form of exercise, practicing piano again, producing music, livestreaming, drinking more water, and blogging (again, because I did do this last August to September, but it’s no longer on the web). I’m not really leaning toward a particular goal. I do want to do something though.
As I’ve been going on with my 30-day reading challenge and have been keeping up with Steve Pavlina’s NaNoWriMo challenge, I’ve been thinking more about writing a book of my own. I hesitate to start it early or to make it too challenging. But, it’s been a goal of mine for years to write a book. Just over time, my ideas on what I should write have changed.
Currently, I’m thinking of writing about my life experiences with and after having psychosis. I don’t know how much of the past I’ll really include. I think my focus will be on how I’ve handled the challenges of dealing with psychosis when it first happened and all the changes it brought since then. When I compare my life from after psychosis to before, they almost feel like complete different worlds in terms of the way I’ve operated. I want to focus on what’s relevant to me now. So, I have a general idea of what I’ll write.
Writers usually set some sort of goal to write a certain amount of words or pages per day. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll set aside 30 days to write, but I thought I could write 1000 words per day. Though, then I wondered if this would be too ambitious given my current difficulties in keeping up with my reading challenge. I thought 1000 words was achievable because of how much I write in my blog posts. But, maybe writing for a book would be different. So, I thought maybe 500 words would suffice. It’s little enough that I can free write that much, but big enough that I would have 15000+ words by the end of the 30 days. That would be a significant chunk for a book. The only problem is if I want to guarantee that it’s longer, then I’d have to continue writing beyond the 30 days. But I guess after 30 days, it would be more ingrained in me to continue writing, right?
I thought about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. On one hand, traditional publishers, especially if they’re focused on mental health-related books, can help me reach a wider audience. Though, I might not make much money this way, especially as a new author (well, if you don’t count the short eBooks I’ve published on Amazon).
With self-publishing, there’s the well-known Amazon KDP. However, they take a large commission (30% for eBooks priced $2.99 – $9.99 and 65% for books priced outside of this range, not including the small fee for each time someone downloads an eBook based on its file size). So, I looked into other options.
One idea is to sell direct. I’ve been looking into PayHip. I haven’t tried it out yet as I do not have a digital product prepared. But from what I’ve read, you don’t have to pay any monthly or annual fee to use it, and they only take 5% of your sales. Plus, you can set your own price. I thought it’s worth a try. I’ve seen other YouTuber authors use similar services to sell their own eBooks, and they don’t always have a large subscriber base either. So, maybe it would work for me.
I was watching a YouTube video last night about how this one guy advertised his book and made about a $300 net loss. But then, he ended up converting those readers into $100,000 in other digital product sales and coaching calls and coaching program sales. So then, I thought I could set up something similar. I might add a coaching service to my website for example. I would try to start something simple, something that I could easily implement and build up from there.
I have a few different purposes with writing a book. One, it would help me to reflect and understand my experiences better. So in a way, it’d be kind of therapeutic. Two, I’d connect to and possibly help others who are either going through a similar experience themselves or are curious about these topics. Three, I’d create another passive income stream for myself, And four, there’s the possibility that this could open up other opportunities for me.
The part that I’m concerned about with writing this book is the potential criticism or ridicule I’ll receive. I think I can generally handle it. I have dealt with negativity when I started a body hair positive Instagram. For the most part, I get a lot of positive feedback. But sometimes, there are those who are plain ignorant or stupid (that’s how I label them). So, I guess if anything, I’ll just be more so annoyed/angry at the negativity then fearful or sad. When people spew their idiocracy, it usually has less to do with us and more to do with their twisted beliefs.
Ideally, I’d find a way to redirect that anger into something more productive. I’m reminded of Earthling Ed, a vegan activist who can get his views across without sounding crude or demeaning. Like if someone asks “but where do you get your protein”, which is sometimes considered to be a stupid question in the vegan community, he calmly suggests sources of protein in plant-based foods rather than rolling his eyes. I’d like to develop this kind of mindset myself.
So as you can see, I’m still in the process of planning how I’ll write the book and how I’ll publish it. This is a goal I’d like to reach before I turn 30. There’s no specific reason other than giving myself a deadline to accomplish my goal and make it a reality.
I think that the journey of writing the book will be enjoyable in itself. It’s like writing a blog post, but lengthier. I feel so relaxed and thoughtful when I write, especially when I type. And then, I enjoy going back and reading what I wrote in the past. It’s interesting to compare your past and present, and to track a moment in time.
I will probably hold off from writing my first draft until next year, 2021. I’m thinking about embarking on a different 30-day challenge (or well, trial) for the month of December. I want to build the momentum of completing 30-day trials so that when I get down to writing, I will actually commit to the 30 days. I don’t want to stop in between and give up. I want to ensure its success.
I know a few people personally who have published books of their own. And honestly, some of them are not even the type to write. Some of them have never even written anything online in the past. So if they could do it, then I certainly can with my writing experiences.
Before I embarked on my 30-day reading challenge, I thought I could start with reading 15 pages a day. Eventually, I settled on 20 pages. Even if this was doable, I think I should have chosen a less ambitious habit to build. If I could go back, I would have started with 5 pages. I know, that’s 25% of the goal I set. But, the point is consistency. If you’re not hitting your goal daily, you’re more likely to drop the habit and not commit to it long-term. It might even end up demotivating you.
The reason I initially chose 15 pages a day (and the increased it to 20 pages) was because I wanted to guarantee that I could finish a book within the 30 days. I ended up choosing 20 pages so I could finish it in less time. But, I didn’t really think about the fact that I haven’t finished reading a book within a month in years. This is quite an ambitious goal, and for someone who has not executed ambitious goals for a few years now, is it really a good idea?
As I continued with reading every day, I thought about how much easier it would have been if I chose to stick to 10 pages instead. And now, I’m saying that I should have set it even lower, to 5 pages a day. Why? Simply because 5 pages seems so accessible to me. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, it’s easy to get started, and most likely I will continue and end up reading more anyway. It’s like telling yourself to walk around the block once, but you end up going two or three times once you start moving. Or floss just one tooth, and you end up flossing all your teeth. You want to start off so small that you will definitely not say no.
If I didn’t read more than 5 pages a day, I would have still finished reading 150 pages that month. That’s more than what I’ve been doing for years. And after getting used to that, I could increase the goal by a page each time. I could slowly build up from there.
The biggest problem I’m facing now is, how long can I continue reading 20 pages a day without giving up one day? It feels like a struggle. I had to start finding ways to make it easier for myself without reducing the number of pages. I want to stick to the goal I set. I don’t want to compromise.
So, I’ve been reading multiple books. I read a chapter of the book I started with, and then switch to a newer book that has more of my interest and that I consider to be a “lighter” read. I also sometimes read books earlier in the day so I don’t have to read too much in the evenings. It kind of goes against what I originally planned. That’s because another reason I set a goal of reading more pages is because I wanted to see how effective it was in terms of my mood and my experience with hearing a voice, especially in the evenings. If I read only 5 pages, I might not see much of a difference. And if I read earlier in the day, I’m not really going to experience the potential benefits it would yield to me in the evenings when the voice is more active. So, there’s a toss-up.
Still, I could have set a goal of 5 pages, read more when I started off, noticed the results, and decided to read more or less depending on the upcoming days. Now, I feel stuck with this goal of 20 pages per day. I want to complete it because I want to have that sense of accomplishment of sticking to a goal no matter what. Even if it’s boring or I’m not feeling particularly good one day, I want to be able to see through to the end of it.
A lot of times, I give up on a goal because it seems too boring, or it seems to take up more energy. I think if I can stick to a goal despite it not being exactly how I want it to be, it can help me to become more disciplined in other areas. For example, I’ll be more willing to take on certain tasks that I might have to do in the future that I might not be interested in but will benefit me. Or, I might get into other activities good for my health such as exercise, even if I’m not into it at first.
I think it would have been better if I also built up more accountability or a more social aspect to the challenge. Sure, you’re building up your own knowledge. But, there’s something about sharing and connecting with others that helps you to stick to the goal. It’s like having a workout partner, or a study buddy. Even if you don’t look forward to the goal, you’re likely to look forward to hanging out with that person.
Right now, I’m reminding myself of the reasons why I started this challenge:
– I wanted to find a long-term habit that I’d like to develop in the evenings beyond just playing games on my phone.
– The habit might help me better deal with my experience of hearing a voice.
– My sleep might improve if I’m reading in the evenings before I go to sleep.
– I could gain more knowledge.
– I could develop better communication, coming up with more ideas based on what I was reading.
– I might develop a skill.
– It could help me with eventually writing a book of my own.
– I could share what I’ve learned with others.
– I could build up discipline.
– My mood could improve.
There’s a lot of potential benefits. I’m hoping that the more I remind myself, the more I’ll want to continue sticking to the habit.
I want to note that in the first week, I had no trouble sticking to the habit of reading 20 pages every evening. The second week was harder. I was starting to get bored with what I was reading. And also, I was not feeling particularly well one day.
This can happen with any 30-day challenge. Imagine if you set a goal to go to the gym every day for 30 days. Then one day, you feel sore. Or, you get sick. Or, you just lack energy. Do you still go? It’s easy to excuse yourself and skip a day when you think of those situations.
Sometimes, there’s a legit reason to quit. For example, if you get injured and you need to rest to heal, of course you should stop exercising for a while. However, boredom is not really a good reason to me, at least for a 30-day challenge. You have to stick to the 30 days to see the real benefits, and to maybe grow interest if you’re lacking it. Some people find learning a foreign language to be boring in the beginning, but once they’re able to actually communicate with others in that language, suddenly it becomes a whole new world.
I initially told myself that if I read 100 pages of a book and didn’t find it interesting, I could stop reading that book and move on to another one. My bored feeling didn’t come 100 pages in, but 200 pages in. I still wanted to finish the book because I thought maybe I’d find the later parts interesting. Plus, then I could say for sure whether this book was worth it or not.
Also, I think about all the time I spent playing games in the past. I spent so many hours on it, only to stop and not really gain any benefit from it. If I could do that with games, why couldn’t I spend a little more time finishing reading something and seeing where that leads? Worst case, I don’t learn anything new and dissuade others from reading it.
I do want to continue sticking to my 30-day reading 20 pages a day challenge. I have about two weeks left. I wish I was more disciplined, but hey, it is what it is. I have to accept where I am right now. If 20 pages becomes too difficult, I might reduce the number of pages. I somewhat feel as if I shouldn’t be lenient with myself. But, I don’t want to stress myself out. The whole point in the beginning was to find a relaxing activity to do before bed. At the same time, I don’t want to fall short of my goals. Ah, what a dilemma…
Next time I embark on a 30-day challenge, despite it saying “challenge”, I will make it easier on myself. It’s more like a 30-day trial, not a challenge. I guess I’m using the wrong word here. Trial is more fitting because you’re testing something out to see how it is. Then at the end of the 30 days, you decide if it’s right or not for you. I think a challenge is more like pushing your limits, and that’s not what I’m seeking to do.
Well anyway, I surpassed 10 days of reading 20 pages a day. I don’t know exactly what day I’m on now, though I should hit 2 weeks. That’s an accomplishment, even if I don’t hit 30 days (though I still hope to hit 30 days!). Even if I fail, it’ll be a lesson for me in the future. I will have a better idea of how to form my future 30-day trials.
Don’t be afraid to start over, because as they say, you’re not starting from scratch this time; you’re starting from experience.
I revamped my blog, partially out of convenience, and partially because I wasn’t satisfied with my old blog posts. I figured I could rewrite them or repurpose my old content if it had any potential.
Of course, I thought about the downsides. I wouldn’t have my old posts published on my page proving that my website existed for many years. And, it would take me time to build up content again.
However, I realized that those downsides were not really much of a problem. It’d be nice to start over with the idea that the quality might be higher than if I left all of my old blog posts up. And if I had to show anyone my old blog posts, I could always show them my saved archives. (I highly doubt that I’ll need to pull my archives though.)
People start over all the time. They embark on new careers, retake courses, move to new places, or end long-term relationships. In some cases, it can be scary to lose what’s familiar or feel disappointed that you’re “not moving forward”, but you only have everything to gain by trying something over again.
When you start over, you have previous experience to guide you. You are aware of the mistakes you should avoid. You are more in tune with your values.
It’s not a failure to start over. It’s a journey that never ends. It just changes and transforms. When you are trying something over again, the experience is different. So, it’s not a waste. You are always learning something new.
For weeks, I’d have the itch to write. I’d think, “I want to blog, but I don’t know what to write about.” Then, I’d try reading other blogs or my old posts to see what I could write. Usually, I’d end up with nothing.
Yesterday though, I wrote three blog posts and scheduled them to post on three consecutive days. I don’t know exactly how this surge in writing happened. But when it does happen, it’s rather nice.
I guess when you hold onto an intention, eventually you yield results. (I also started reading books daily recently, so perhaps that has got the wheels spinning in my head.) I would write, even when the idea seemed insignificant. I even wrote a blog post on coloring. Most people might disregard it, but I published it anyway. It might be helpful to someone someday. Who knows.
If you have a goal of posting on your blog daily, it’s nice to sometimes write several posts a day and save them up. Then, you can take breaks in between (if you want). You can go back and review what you wrote, to make sure it still seems good. Or, you can focus on other content creation such as YouTube videos or social media posts.
I suggest that if you write a bunch of blog posts in one day, schedule them out. I spread mine out to one post per day. Some people might schedule the posts farther apart, like two or three days, or even a week. There’s been some debate on how frequently you should post. I think daily is okay, but some people say weekly is better for increasing readership. You can always experiment. I don’t mind posting daily because I feel like most people stumble across my posts through searching Google anyway.
Usually the more you practice something, the more you improve. I can notice some improvement in quality between my old blog and my revamped blog. I remember at one point more than two years back, I was posting frequently, just whatever was on my mind. I still do that now. But when I look back at my archived posts, I don’t see much content or value. I was pumping out content, like some social media influencers would suggest. My ideas seemed somewhat unclear. If it seems unclear to me, I can only imagine how it comes across to you as the reader. I still focus on quantity, because quality is something that is improved over time, especially with writing. But, I try to make sure that I have some point in what I write.
I’ve always wanted to publish a book, one that would do very well or be impactful in some way. I always thought it was a big goal. I have self-published a few books already, just to experiment with passive income. I took down two titles, one which was created out of uncopyrighted material from other bloggers, and another which was based off an old blog post I wrote. The last one, which I’ve kept up, was a short book with 100 beginner/intermediate Korean phrases/sentences. It sells maybe one copy per month. I didn’t put too much effort into it, in terms of the writing or promotion. If anything, I’d like to revise it. But, I’m not particularly invested in the idea.
I’ve had many ideas for books over the years. When I was younger, I thought about publishing a fictional story. Post-college, I leaned more into non-fiction.
These days, I think about writing a book about my experiences over the past three years or so, specifically about life with and after psychosis. I’ve debated about it. On one hand, I want to help others who have experienced something similar and educate those who know little about it. On the other hand, I wonder how much I should actually share. There’s some details that may be important, but I feel embarrassed to share. Though, there’s probably many authors who have felt the same. They probably skimmed over the details or just dove straight into what they wanted to share.
Recently, Steve Pavlina started writing about his participation in NaNoWriMo, which is an organization that promotes this event where you write 50,000 words in the month of November for a novel. At the time, I already planned to read for the month. And also, I didn’t have an interest in writing a novel. However, I did think about how I wanted to write a non-fiction.
I don’t really talk about my experiences with psychosis online. I mean, I’ve mentioned hearing voices. I’ve talked about mental health and coping skills. But, I never actually explained to strangers or even friends on the internet about what was going through my mind when I was experiencing psychosis. I never talked about the ups and the downs and how it affected my mindset.
I wondered if now is the right time to draft the book. I guess it’s never too early, technically. It’s better to document things early, so that you can always look back and see where you were. But when I think of a title like “Life After Psychosis” (the current title I’m thinking about), I feel like I should have accomplished more. I feel like I should be more stable, more independent, etc. But then again, this is real life, not fantasy. Sure, maybe life would look much different in a year or two, or even five years from now. But, this is my life now. This is my reality. This is my experience. I shouldn’t dismiss that.
I don’t want to dive straight into writing. I think I’d like to research it more. And also, I’d like to dedicate a 30-day challenge to it, writing at least 1000 words per day. Right now, I’m focused on my reading challenge (and my “coloring” challenge, if that counts). I also have other 30-day challenge ideas such as doing an Instagram Live each day, exercising daily (something short and simple), and trying various methods for improving my sleep (30 days to better sleep challenge). I’m not in a rush to write the book. Though, it’s definitely something I’d like to accomplish, hopefully before the time I hit 30. (Wow, 30-day challenge before 30! 😆)
I was thinking about going the self-published route. Though, working with a mental health book publisher wouldn’t be a bad idea. They’d definitely know how to market better. I’m not doubting my abilities, but for my first book, the publishing route might be nicer. I’m open to either of these options. I’d like it if it reached a wide audience though.
This would be the first time that I’d be writing something so long that is my own original content. I mean, I’ve written plenty of blog posts in the past. But, a book typically requires structure and organization. It requires more planning so that it will be cohesive and simple to read.
I remember writing fan fictions in the past. I never really organized them well. I just started with the story and went in sequential order, adding chapter by chapter. I never finished the stories, though. And, I couldn’t just jump ahead or go back. I had to continue where I left off, because I was publishing it online and my readers were expecting that. If I wrote it all beforehand, which I never thought of before, then I could have waited to publish it after I finished.
I think if I write this book, I’ll just write whatever ideas come to mind, similar to how I write a blog post. I’ll worry about the editing later. I have a few friends who might be able to help with that too. So, I don’t have to go it alone.
So, writing a book is on my bucket list. I didn’t really have a bucket list for the past two years because it was hard for me to accomplish goals. But recently, I’ve been becoming better at it.
I also think that because I’ve been getting back into blogging, I think of writing more. I think about having more of an impact through my writing. I think about reaching a wider audience of readers. I think about how I can help. I think about how other books have helped me in different ways, or have sparked something in me. And I think, “I want to do that too!”
I don’t know when I’ll start this goal, but now that I’m publicly announced it, you all know! Feel free to share your advice or your encouragement. I’m not going to work on publishing a book right away, but the idea is there. Everything in our reality was first an idea. Well, with the exception of the voice I hear maybe… which is another story. But anyway, I hope to bring this idea to fruition before my 30th birthday. 🙂
Typically, I have 2-3 hours to kill in the evenings. This is after I finish eating dinner. Right after, I watch a little bit of TV and I might play Candy Crush or check social media. And then after, I brush my teeth, take a shower, and change into my pajamas. I try to record something I accomplished or experienced as positive that day. Then, I go straight to my evening activities, which involve less gaming than before and much more coloring.
These days, I think a lot about coloring sheets. I’m not even that great at coloring, but I enjoy it so much. It’s a relaxing activity to help me wind down during the evenings.
The reason I took up coloring is because I wanted to have an activity to help me relax specifically in the evenings. I experience hearing voices, and it used to be pretty active in the evenings. But when I started reading in the evenings, it quieted down. And then one day, I had the idea to color. When I started that, I noticed that the experience was even better. It’s only been a few nights of coloring, but so far, it’s going well. I find coloring to be a good coping skill.
Coloring hasn’t always been the ideal coping skill. Previously, I couldn’t always focus on coloring. My mind was so active. I was focused on other ideas or activities that required more energy. I could only color for 15 minutes or less before I was distracted.
But these days, I’ve been coloring for up to an hour or longer. I don’t really create much nowadays besides blogging. Maybe that’s why? Or, maybe I just needed to do it for a specific purpose or time of day. Not sure exactly what the difference has been between then and now.
The same happened to me with reading. I don’t know if it’s because reading on a tablet is easier. But, now I can read more on a tablet than I can with a hard copy.
Though, I guess I’ve been able to be more selective of what I’m coloring, and I enjoy the medium I’m using. I use dual tip markers, one side with a brush nib and the other side with a fine point. The colors appear vibrant. I can print out whatever sheets look enjoyable to me.
I’m trying to find more engaging material for me to read in the evenings. I started with one book, but have been feeling bored with the text lately. Just to make sure I read at least 20 pages a day, I’ve been reading earlier in the day. It wouldn’t be a problem if I was more engaged. Maybe 20 pages is pushing it. I thought about reducing the number of pages, but I like the idea of sticking to my original goal. So for now, I’ll split reading in the morning and evening just to complete the 30-day challenge. Then after that, I can adjust.
The long-term idea is that I would spend at least half an hour of my evening reading. I don’t really do much else in the evening at the moment. And, I feel like I’m doing something growth-oriented. Reading stimulates my mind.
If my sleep were better, I’d probably just stick to coloring and maybe finding another hobby. Then, I could sleep at 9 PM and wake up at 5 or 6 AM. If I were to wake up that early, I’d spend half an hour to an hour reading. But because my sleep is a bit of a mess right now, I don’t do any of that. I try to stay up later to compensate for typically waking up so late.
That’s another problem I have to troubleshoot. For now, I’m glad I figured out 80% of my evening activities. The other 20% I want to solve is finding alternative activities to turn to as well. I’m not entirely opposed to gaming, but sometimes I feel like I’m not really being social or learning anything. I guess I could argue that coloring isn’t really teaching me anything either. It’s just a fun side hobby. So, maybe I won’t rule out gaming entirely. Gaming has its own benefits.
I think I have to eliminate this mindset of whether I’m using my time in the most efficient manner. Honestly, I don’t even spend my time efficiently during the day. And, life is more than just being productive all the time. Besides, even the most successful aren’t productive 24/7. They rely on self-care, such as going for walks, or reading rather than working straight away, or even just enjoying a nice dinner with friends.
Plus, we never know where certain activities will lead. Some people make entire careers out of gaming, sports, reviewing books, teaching people coloring tricks, networking, and more. So, why am I trying to limit myself? If it’s an activity I enjoy and it’s not harmful to others, it should count for something, right?
I think my next goal after my reading challenge will be to find ways to fix my sleep. I was trying a few different ideas, such as sleeping later. I’m getting mixed results so far. I think part of it is that I worry I might wake up too early, and then what do I do? I have to sort out that gray area.
I’m glad that my evenings are a lot calmer than before. I’m also glad that the activities I’ve chosen feel good to me. I’m not just doing things for the sake of doing things. I’m choosing activities that align with my interests. I hope this positive trend continues.
I don’t consider myself a good writer. I think I’m okay. Maybe I’m above average because I tend to make few spelling or grammar mistakes and I get my point across. Also, I’ve been blogging for many years. And, I’ve done pretty well in school whenever I had to turn in a paper. Regardless, it doesn’t matter much to me to be the best writer. I just want to be able to provide some kind of value in what I write.
I think if I put more effort into fleshing out and proofreading my posts, they’d be higher quality. But typically, I don’t spend much time editing. If I do edit, it’s usually as I’m writing. I mostly write, taking a few breaks in between depending on how long it is.
I had a professor back in college who somewhat influenced my academic writing. He taught us to just write whatever comes to mind. And after you do that, then you outline the main points. Then, you re-organize your paragraphs and put them in a logical order. Then, you add/remove parts. You might update your thesis based on new information. You might update your conclusion. You do this a few times, and put an appropriate title, and bam, paper. And basically, your first draft and your final draft look nothing like each other.
I took the part where he said just write anything that comes to mind to heart. You don’t know where your idea will go until you let it take form. So, I just write whatever is on the top of my head. And as I write, I organize.
The major difference is that for the most part, my first draft of my blog post looks like my final draft with some tweaks. That’s it. I know it doesn’t have to be perfectly organized.
For a book, it’d be different. I’d definitely spend more time organizing my thoughts and trying to make it more cohesive. That way, the reader can more easily digest the material. It makes sense in this context.
But (for me at least), a blog post is more like a conversation. You just start and see where it leads. And as you gain more ideas, you share them as you go.
Sometimes, I add headers. I might have some structure. Maybe I’m creating a list. Or, maybe I’m sharing a specific set of steps for a method I use. But otherwise, I’m just going through a series of thoughts.
Here is the breakdown of my blogging process:
Title / Idea
I usually write down what I plan to discuss. Even if it’s vague, I write this down as a pointer. So for this blog post, I wrote, “How I Write Blog Posts.” I got the idea of “How I Write” from a Steve Pavlina article. He talks about not only writing on his blog, but about how he wrote his first nonfiction book. I knew I would talk specifically about blogging, so I titled it this way.
Sometimes when I’m writing a blog post, it’s not exactly clear what I’m writing. So, I let the first written title/idea guide me. And then after I finish writing, I go back to the title and see if it still makes sense. If my ideas changed as I was writing, then I’ll change the title to something more fitting.
Sometimes even, I have no idea what I’m writing. So, I leave the title blank and free write a general idea. Then when the idea hits me, I write a temporary title, revising it later to what feels most appropriate.
Some people like to create a title that can be a keyword or phrase that is entered a lot in searches. I try to think in terms of that sometimes. But, I feel like lots of topics can be searched these days. There’s billions of people using the internet, right? So someone’s bound to search what I’m writing for, if not now, in the future. I’m not so concerned about this consequentially. I’m more concerned about using a title that accurately describes my blog post. I feel that if you have an accurate title, more people are likely to find it valuable.
The post itself
Like I said, I write whatever comes to mind. I revise as I write. If I word something strangely, I go back and try to find a better way to say it. It’s like I said earlier, I write like it’s a conversation. I want to find the best way to express myself in the moment. The only difference is that if there’s any filler words or awkward sentences, I’ll fix it. But otherwise, I try to let it flow naturally.
I don’t always read my blog post word-for-word. There are people who do that, and maybe their posts end up better than mine because of the extra effort they put into it. But, I basically just skim over what I write. Because it’s still fresh in my mind, I can mostly tell what I wrote. I’m just basically trying to figure out if the order makes sense. Would the second paragraph come across better if I insert it as the fifth paragraph? Does the first item on the list make sense?
As I skim, I’ll try searching for typos or weird grammar. Sometimes, I miss some because I don’t spend a lot of time doing this. I might catch them after I publish the post. I think that’s okay, because most people can understand my writing regardless of these tiny mistakes. If I catch it, nice. If not, it’s no big deal. I guess that’s why I spend so little time on it.
Categories / Tags
I add the post to at least one category. If it doesn’t fit in any particular category, I’ll add a new one that I think I might write about in the future. Sometimes, my posts fit multiple categories, so I might tick off more than one. This is just to help organize my material better for future reference. Also, readers who are curious about specific topics can search those posts more easily.
I also try to add tags that I feel people will search for. So for this post, I already have the title, “How I Write Blog Posts.” I might reword that and add tags such as “how I blog” or “my writing process” or “my blogging process”.
I don’t use any specific keyword tool or planner or anything. I just come up with ideas of my own usually. I might search for certain phrases on Google and see what else comes up. Otherwise, I don’t spend more than 1-2 minutes on this.
After revamping my blog, I started adding featured images to my posts. There’s something nice about having a visual element to your blog. It might give a better idea of what the post is about in addition to the title.
I’ve been using royalty-free images for the most part from websites such as Pixabay and Pexels. There was one post when I used a photo I took. If I don’t have a photo of my own, I’ll use a free image. They have tons of images on those two websites alone, so I haven’t used any other websites for free images yet.
Pictures within the post
One time, in addition to a featured image, I sprinkled images throughout the post. I think I’m more tempted to do this when the post has a lot of text. It’s not necessary, but it might make the blog post more appealing.
I think eventually, I’ll probably add more pictures of my own to specific blog posts. I might add a progress chart for a 30-day challenge. Or, I might show the different steps for creating certain DIY projects.
For short blog posts, I don’t usually add additional images to a feature image. I just feel like for some longer blog posts, it could add some more pizzazz. It’s not necessary. It just depends.
Publish or schedule
Typically, I post right away. Otherwise, if I published another blog post that same day, I’ll typically schedule the post for the following day. I used to just post soon after writing/editing, but nowadays, I try to space out my posts. I think it makes it easier for a fellow reader to have one post to look forward to each day rather than five posts in one day and none for weeks or months.
Overall, that’s how I generally write a blog post. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. It’s good that I don’t overcomplicate the process because it’s probably the main reason I blog as much as I do. I enjoy the simplicity of the process.
I could even make it more simple by removing the categories, tags, and images. But since I’ve already learned about those elements and I enjoy adding them, it is part of my process. New writers can skip these parts and just go straight to writing.
One area I still need to work on for blogging is finding a nice way to wrap up my posts. Sometimes, I feel like I’m lacking a conclusion. I just thought of this problem as I was finishing up the skimming process of this post.
Anyway (awkward transition, I know), that’s how I write my blog posts. It’s pretty intuitive. I feel like anyone can blog because you can create your own process for writing. It doesn’t have to be like mine. It just has to make sense for you. Whatever satisfies you works.
It’s been over a week into my 30-day reading challenge. I initially thought of reading 15 pages a day, but decided to bump it up to 20 pages a day because I wanted to make sure I’d finish the first book I would be reading in less than 30 days. But now, it feels like a bit of a hassle.
Sometimes my Kindle miscounts the pages (repeating numbers). I think it’s because I changed the settings of the font text, size, and spacing. Maybe under default settings, the pages would work just fine. But, I adjusted the pages so that I could read the text more smoothly.
A chapter of the book I’m currently reading tends to fall under 20 pages. I find most chapters to be around 15 pages. So if I set the goal to be 15 pages, easy, I’d just read one chapter. But since it’s 20 pages, I have to read more. And, I don’t like to leave myself hanging in the middle of text because it’s like listening to a quarter of a conversation and waiting until the next day to hear the rest. When you do that, you generally have to go back to refresh your mind. It’s better to finish a section at a time, even if it’s longer. So for days, I’ve been reading two chapters at a time. I didn’t mind this at first. But, I guess I’m getting a little bored of what I’m reading. So if it weren’t for me challenging myself to read at least 20 pages, I’d stop after one chapter.
One way to troubleshoot this problem is to just read another book. I do have other books checked out that I had yet to read. I tried this a few days ago. The second book I read was a little strange to me though. Interesting, but weird writing. There are a couple of other books, one I know to be good but never quite finished, and another that I anticipate to be good. I could read one of those texts.
Another solution is to read one chapter in the morning and another chapter in the evening. It might be easier to split the time. Sitting for an hour reading the same text requires some mental effort and concentration. But if it’s for 20-30 minutes at a time, it’s easier to complete.
A combination of both ideas is good too. I could read one book in the morning and another in the evening. I will probably end up doing this. I can read the book I’m currently reading first thing in the morning, and then read a new book in the evening.
Of course if I want to do this, I’d have to make time in the morning. This morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I still felt tired, so I tried to go back to sleep. But I didn’t fall back asleep for some time, so I got up and started researching things on my new tablet. And then, I decided to continue coloring a sheet I printed out a couple days ago. I didn’t really think to maybe read instead. So if I wake up early like this again, I can read.
I guess even if I don’t wake up early, I can read after eating breakfast and changing my clothes for the day. It doesn’t have to be the first thing I do every morning. Though, that would be a nice way to start my day. Sometimes, I don’t feel like getting out of bed. So if I have my tablet next to me, I can just reach for it, sit up and start reading. Then when I am more awake, I can get up.
A couple nights ago, I got into coloring. I don’t know what sparked the idea. I just remember searching for markers on Amazon and looking up adult coloring sheets one day. So far, it’s pretty fun and relaxing. I decided to add this as part of the 30-day challenge: read, then color (in the evenings). I started getting into the more “difficult” parts to color on this one sheet I’m working on, so I don’t know that will go. They’re really two separate challenges going on, but it’s just easier for me to extend the reading challenge and finish both by the end of the month. And then, I can decide if I want to continue both habits. I guess it’s still early to tell, but I think that I’ll continue these two habits.
There’s only one other person I know who is doing the reading challenge with me. Though, I believe they decided to wait to start on November 1st. I started early, because well… I had everything set up, and I wanted to do something to distract me from hearing voices, so I thought why not.
It’s nice to have an accountability partner. I check-in with them about my reading habits. I sometimes tell them about what I’m reading. Or, I learn about books they’re interested in. I can share my thoughts about the challenge with that person, and we can encourage each other to continue reading.
I also know of someone else who is doing a 30-day writing challenge. It’s with NaNoWriMo. He’s writing his first novel. He’s also been doing a 365-day blogging challenge since the end of last year. So, that’s also encouraging for me. When I see him making progress on his challenge, I think that I can also progress in my own challenge.
That reminds me, there used to be an app called Lift. It’s now called Coach.Me. I tried looking it up, only to discover that it’s not compatible with my current phone… boo. The reason I liked this app was that you could find other people who were completing similar habits, or you could see your friends’ progress and check in with each other. I think it’d be nice to do something like this again with my reading habit. It might motivate me to see myself completing a 10-day streak, and then a 15-day streak, 20-day streak, etc. I’ll have to find another app to use since I can’t use it. Maybe in the meantime though, I could print out a November calendar and keep track for now. I could mark it with a big red X for reading, and a big blue O for coloring. 😁
I think it’s still too early to feel the benefits of reading 20 pages of a book daily. I guess the major benefit is that I don’t have to focus on hearing voices. And also, reading on a tablet seems to be helpful. There’s something about a screen that allows you to take the focus off hearing voices and tune into what’s in front of you.
I guess also, the book I’m currently reading has inspired a new idea for me., which is working for a crisis helpline. I found out there were volunteer opportunities for just a few hours a week. I think that’s pretty doable and easy. I can see if I enjoy it, and think about getting paid for it if I do. It can also give me some experience later if I decide to coach people virtually.
I’ve deliberately avoided naming the books I’m reading. I only want to name them after I’ve finished reading them and can for certain say that they were enjoyable books. And also, if I were to recommend them, I’d have to think about applying for Amazon’s affiliate program again so I could get a commission. 😂 (I’ve never made any money through that program even though I’ve tried in three times in the past, just a disclaimer… I guess not enough traffic or interest.)
I remember when I was reading books back when I was living in Korea, I would take notes. I would write down thought-provoking quotes or outline the main ideas. I didn’t do that with this particular book. There’s a highlight/note feature on my tablet, but I haven’t used it. I think if I were reading a book with a certain purpose (e.g. improving my success with habits), I’d use the feature. But, the book I’m reading now is simply an autobiography. If I’ve learned anything particularly useful, it’s already in my head through story.
I haven’t really thought about the long-term effects of reading daily, other than I can finally say, “I’ve read X books (since Y / this year / over my lifetime).” I don’t know how many books I’ve actually finished before this reading challenge. I can remember some, like certain book series, or ones from a particular author. And then, there are the many books I’ve read in my childhood. So I guess if I’m going to keep track, I’m going to count it from now on. Maybe I’ll save a list on my computer. (In fact, I created a spreadsheet for this just now.)
I didn’t read this morning, so I’ll probably read two different books tonight. I hope it goes well. I have had trouble completing 30-day challenges in the past. Starting late this summer, I’ve succeeded at two other informal 30-day challenges. So, I’d like to stick to this challenge too.