I suck. But I’m here.

Hi all,

I haven’t posted in a few days because I have hit what shall now be known as my “I Suck Wall” and I feel like curling up in a fetal position at the bottom of it instead of figuring out how to scale it.

So here’s what happened. Last week, I hit 4500/7000 words of my short story (64%) and I became really uninspired. I stopped caring about my character, about what happens to her. I got bored.

This then triggered feelings of worthlessness and negative thought patterns:

“Who do I think I am writing any way?”

“Who cares, it’s not like anyone except my poor friends whom I force to read my story will read it. And even that’s not for certain.”

“I suck any how. This story is stupid. Someone has already written it somewhere and it’s probably better than mine.”

“Why did I think I could ever be a writer? I can’t even finish a damn short story.”

As you can probably tell from the dearth of posts, I entered the Escape phase where I just didn’t want to deal with it. If I didn’t write on the blog, or email or talk to you Ann, or talk to anybody about it I could just pretend that it wasn’t happening, that it wasn’t a big deal, that I didn’t have time anyway, I’m too busy at work and “trying to keep my life together” (exercising, cooking, cleaning – all activities that an adult should do ANYWAY).

This is a signature Zany move.My Mood

I start off ridiculously excited about a project (see, stars and unicorns). My productivity is high, I’m pumped, the world is glitter and sparkles. I have a spring in my step.

Then, the excitement wanes but I’m still somewhat productive. I’m still accountable. This lasted quite long this time around.

Then I hit the I Suck Wall and that’s right around the time that I start quitting. Hello, quitting my old friend.

Quitting is comfortable. It’s secure. It’s flipping your hair over your shoulder and rolling your eyes and saying, “Oh, it’s not like I cared that much anyway,” (except you — I — did. Do.) But the underside of quitting is that it also feels a little shitty. Like, eating-too-much-junk-food-and-trying-to-ignore-the-weird-sugar-high-and-tummy-aches shitty. A tiny little betrayal.

But, that’s why we have this blog. To quit quitting. So, deep breaths, here I am. I suck, but I’m here.

I am now going to take up your Carol Dweck advice Ann, and let’s see where it takes me. I am going to try to get back into it.

I will keep you posted!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A small scale success story by and for our blog!

Hej there!

It is Friday evening and despite the misleading exclamation point after the preceding two words, mama is tiiiiiiiiired. I am basically writing this mostly horizontal in bed with this Drake song playing in the background. I am exhausted but also simultaneously creatively and intellectually energized after our short Skype call Ann! I am so, so proud of your Google Chrome extension (see previous posts)! I have it on my Chrome now and it makes me happy every time I open a new tab, it’s a little sparkling jolt to my otherwise rote brain. I will be re-reading your thoughtful and educational blog posts – I really appreciated how you linked to all the relevant parts of your process and I am curious to explore things more! SO PROUD! ❤

In terms of my updates, I have now hit 3000 words in my short story writing. This is the first time I have written for this long after the initial euphoria of, “Oh, look at me, I am writing! Creatively! Moi! I love this! I’m so writerly! I have designer glasses! Look at how gleefully and thoughtfully I can put words down on the page. I am an artiste!” has worn off. Have I mentioned how LONG 7000 WORDS ARE FOR A SHORT STORY? I guess not but hot damn, it’s hard to fill out those paragraphs. I know what I want for the ending, I know the scenes I want to describe and the feelings. I basically want to hang out with my main characters and get to know them better. But the actual part of hammering out the words? Hard as eff. The first 1000 words were a breeze. Now I’m in the thick of it and really struggling. But I know, I KNOW, that my previous processes were literally not working. The evidence? NOT WRITING. More evidence you say? This email I wrote myself 5 years ago using FutureMe.org (the blacked out part is concerning an ex-partner).

download.jpeg

I draw your attention to “have you started writing your book of short stories yet?”

Apparently 26 year-old-Zany was really consistent with 31-year-old Zany! I am SO thankful that we (you and me Ann!) have gotten our shit together and I am at least in the MIDST of pumping out my first-ever short story (as of a few days ago) so I can answer 2012 Zany with: “I’m working on it!” as opposed to the usual, “No… but I will! When x happens and this has changed and I earn this much and [insert a billion shades of excuses here].”

So back to my short story process. I realize anybody (myself being first in line) at any point in time can interject and say, but Zeynep, MUST you write 7000 words? Perhaps you’re more of a super-short short story writer. A microstory writer. Or in fact, maybe you just shouldn’t write at all given how much you are complaining about it. Maybe you should go back to your life of doing nothing and wishing you could write more and telling everybody about it.

But no, that’s not an option.

So, onwards I go with the glamour and grace of an old disgruntled donkey clopping forwards dragging piles of shit and muck to a barn somewhere.

Peace!

PS. Here is what 3000 words of pure punching out looks like.

PPS. In all seriousness though, for all my complaining, I am also enjoying this process. I feel like I have achieved both purpose and pleasure in life (even though the actual writing is not always enjoyable).

PPPS. Another mini side-success story inspired by this blog: I am notorious for signing up to really difficult gym classes, paying a shitton of money and not going after the third session. See: Fightbox boot camp March 2016. Wörkout boot camp September 2016. Small group personal training November 2016. I have literally shelled out thousands of Swedish kronor. But, the last three weeks my rule has been: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays you MOVE. It doesn’t matter what, where, when, with whom and how. You fucking move your ass. And the last few weeks I am proud to report that I’ve been to some super fun classes at my local gym (which is reasonably priced) including one that I have been turning up my nose at – Power Step at SATS. Having previously associated any Step-related class with middle-aged women in Turkish gyms, I used to sneer and say it wasn’t “worth my time” because it wasn’t “hard enough.” I totally forgot how seriously they take exercise here in Sweden and how competitive it can get. Power Step was so insane: step up, step down, twirl, step to the side, squat, lift, squat some more, now we plank, now we do burpees, now we do crazy complex footwork like it was a remastered Footloose taking place in a sweaty gym in south Stockholm. I felt like nothing I had ever done before had ever existed, my whole life had become an entire hour of Power Step. I had become One with the Powers of Step. But it was also RIDICULOUSLY FUN and I am so happy that I gave it a chance. And it’s all thanks to this blog which is helping me lower my expectations so I can actually MEET them as opposed to waving at them from the bottom and moping around that I don’t ever accomplish anything.

Alright. Rant of the week over! Off I go!

OVER AND OUT.

Update #4: Part 1 of 7 complete

Greetings from a cozy cafe in Stockholm with a snowstorm raging outside. It’s the never-ending winter but I must admit I am kind of enjoying writing here with candle light and coffee.

As promised, here is a draft of the short story I am working on for my creative writing group here in Stockholm. Although I am behind in terms of the overall project, I promised the rest of my team members that I would have a draft complete and sent to them by the end of April.

Although not very writerly or artistic or mythical, I am taking a very administrative approach to my writing process. I Googled the average number of words in a short story and decided on 7,000 words. I am now trying to write about a 1000 words a day. My aim until next weekend is literally to just PUMP SOMETHING OUT no matter how crappy it is. I will edit afterwards.

The reason for this is that I am usually so paralyzed by anxiety and worrying about having something perfect the first time around that I end up just avoiding the whole creative process altogether and procrastinate.

So, in line with this blog and trying to change my processes that clearly do not work, I am just writing things as they come to me.

If you are interested in reading my current draft you can click here. Obvious disclaimer: it is in VERY ROUGH DRAFT FORM.

Happy Sunday!

xo

Zany

Update #3: Mapping out my life

Hey y’all,

As promised, Ann, here is my blog post about mapping out graduate schools I am interested in and what the requirements are.

I got so into mapping things out visually for school, I also added a sheet about what I want from life. Haha. And then I made a final more “realistic” flow chart with actual dates, with what I am doing when.

I’m not going to lie some of this has caused me a little bit of anxiety, which I think is heavily related to why I procrastinate. But, I think overall it’s a good thing: it means that something is stirring and it’s touching a nerve. And the only way out is through.

So without further ado, here are my “maps.”

1. What do I want out of life

IMG_0813

I first started with the question, What do I want? I felt like I had to add a date because, well, I’m human and wants change. I tried to not think with a scarcity mentality of what I can do or should do or get paid to do but really, just to let it loose and write whatever the fuck I wanted. Turns out, the things I want are pretty simple: a family, to have mental and physical health, to make art, to write and to have a job that solves problems, helps people and is creative. Oh, and a summer house on the Aegean coast of Turkey and a boat (happy shiny golden boat, Ann!).

I then got some yellow post-its and wrote actions I can do (daily, weekly or whenever) to not just “get” what I want but to also to create experiences of what I want in the present. For a family, I can start by not dating assholes and to be a good friend, partner, family member. For mental health I can go to therapy, do yoga, eat well, and exercise. For writing I can… write? Set goals to achieve with writing (hello, purpose of this blog!). For making art… I can make art? Take classes? Have deadlines (hi blog!). And in terms of a creative, fabulous job – well, I can just search for it and maybe get educated for it.

2. Mapping out schools 

This was actually the first visual map I created but I am ordering my maps going from broad to specific. As such, here is the map of the schools that I am currently interested in.

IMG_0810
Pick a card, any card

I decided to color code the most important aspects of the programs:

  • Cost
  • Deadline
  • Length
  • Requirements
  • When and location 
  • Why

This first five aspects were easy enough to fill in with information gleaned from the websites. The final question of why was a little harder – but it helped me figure out my real reasons for applying to certain programs. They ranged from switching jobs, to moving to Canada to just having fun!

I thought this was valuable insight and a starting point for myself for a future decision-making process of either applying or even attending the programs.

Again, I tried not to think about whether or not I could get in or even the costs – both financial and time. I will do that at a later stage.

3. 2017 – timelines 

My final incomplete visual map included concrete dates, activities, goals and how those activities are further conducive to my goals which were written in pink.

IMG_0814

This was a little more anxiety-inducing as I realized I was trying to map out 8 months ahead. And given that one of my original problems is that I plan but don’t do, I started feeling like this was a little bit pointless. So instead, I marked down actual activities (like art classes that I had signed up for and will obviously put up on this blog because I don’t want to quit them like I always have!) as well as a concrete date – for example, for a 10K I am running in September with a goal time. As well as activities I can do in August to prepare in advance for grad school applications (even though the earliest one is due January 2018) by at least writing the letter of intent and statements of intent.

I also realized that mental health and “soul”-health are the core of my ability to not only be happy but also to be able to complete projects and have the confidence in doing so. So I drew a little helpful visual map in the center that highlights the more frequent, recurring activities I need to do to be happy such as exercising, eating well, reading more, listening to good music and going to concerts, meditating.

Anyway, I realize this all looks a little bit all over the place but I think the end result is that I have something visual to refer back to every time I am feeling the urge to escape from the world and myself.

Next challenge: completing my short story for my creative writing group! I will keep you updated on the writing process and progress – if not every day, every couple of days!

Over and out!

 

 

Update #2: Adjusting

Greetings from a cold, windy Tuesday in Stockholm.

It took a little time for me to get back on my feet with the Prime Number Project as I faced some unexpected challenges!

Challenge 1: Bureaucratic barriers discovered

I discovered all school applications required me to have verifiable evidence of my residency status in Sweden. As I am currently in the process of applying for permanent residency, this caused me to drop all school applications until 2018.

I was a little upset, but I bounced back by thinking about the positives:

  • more time to research alternative schools
  • more time to have coffee dates with industry professionals who can inspire me
  • more time to have better quality applications for 2018!

Challenge 2: Terror attack in Stockholm on April 7

As you may have heard, there was a terror attack in Stockholm last Friday. It was really scary and although I am from Turkey, which has had a much deadlier and more frequent occurrence of such attacks, it threw me for a loop since it is in the same city in which I live. Although not an excuse to not complete projects, I ended up spending the weekend with friends and trying to do “normal” activities like exercising and cleaning to get back on track mentally.

Which helped me realize a systematic challenge that I face when completing projects: I get thrown off by external events and emotional ups and downs. I am great at making plans because in that moment I truly believe that the plan will be carried out without any extenuating circumstances, but when those circumstances occur, I tend to drop long-standing plans in favor for short-term gratification.

I will try to take this into account when going forward.

So here is my updated Prime Number Project Plan.

I still like the bite-sized approach to our plans, Ann, so I think I will try to see if I can make it work by switching around the order of prime numbers but still allocating a certain amount of time to complete tasks… since my (our?) original problem is lack of external deadlines.

  • 1 day to map out schools I am interested in, their application requirements and deadlines for 2018 – I plan on creating a visual board and uploading it in my next blog post. (Due: Thursday April 13th) (the purpose of this is so I can have a “plan” for the rest of 2017 and for 2018 of what I have to do by when so I can relax)
  • 13 days to write my short story for my creative writing group (Start: Friday April 14th, Due: Wednesday April 26th)
  • 5 days of blogging: 1 blog post per day (Start: April 27)
  • 7 days of Ashtanga Yoga (Start May 1)

I will keep you posted as I complete tasks!

Looking forward to your next post Ann – and WELL DONE on the shelves! They look beautiful ❤

 

Update #1

Good morning! It’s a glorious Monday morning here in Stockholm and as promised, I am cluing you in on my progress with the PNP.

IMG_0684
View from my office window. I think this is the first blue sky of 2017.

Update

The good news is that I have completed my first task which was to set up my rudimentary website. Check it out here. (Please feel free to give any and all feedback!) It really did take just 1 day, which was as planned. I am feeling proud that it’s at least out in the world and the fact that I limited myself to 1 day allowed me to stop focusing on time-wasting details like font size/layout and just to birth something. I cheated a little and stalked some other personal websites. I’m pretty happy with the outcome. Soon a task will be set up to blog more… but that’s for later 🙂

The bad news is that my 2-day plan of catching up on my design online course did not come into fruition – I worked on it over the weekend for a couple hours, but then let social obligations (and who are we kidding, sheer laziness) get in the way…. ahem, by going out dancing on Saturday night until 3AM and then being too tired on Sunday to focus and being really determined to finish Vikings. Which, I have. And today the TV gets put into storage to be unearthed in the fall. So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, old friend.

And, with a hard deadline looming for a grad school application (April 13th), I now feel I need to switch into my next plan of completing my application. Instead of stressing myself out with only 3 days during the weekday, I have decided to allocate this entire week to it so that’s 7 days. Wish me luck!

Reflections

I feel that the upside to this project is that we have at least set some deadlines that are forcing me to be more aware of how I am spending my time. It’s a case of “shoot for the moon and if you don’t land there you’ll end up among a couple of stars” … so this is me hanging out with a bunch of stars.

I did feel a little bit stressed over the weekend, like I was disappointing myself, and you, Ann, but a part of me decided that that was an unproductive emotion and to get back on the saddle and power on through. Also, who says Prime Numbers have to be ordered from smallest to largest … right?!

I’ll keep you posted on my school application by the end of this week. Here is the revised plan and achieved benchmarks.

– 1 day to finalize my personal website on Squarespace: DONE

– 2 days to catch up with a website design on DesignLab: NOT DONE

NEXT PROJECT7 days to apply to Hyper Island (due date: April 13th)

Revised: 7 days for my application to an industrial design intensive course (Due date: April 20th)

– 11 days of writing my short story for my writing group

– Revised: 13 days of ashtanga yoga

T-2 days

Zany here – I am so excited for our project, Ann! And, hello tiny corner of the internet, if anybody is reading this (insert the tree falling in the forest proverb here).

I thought it might be a good idea for me and my Quitter Monster to have an overview of the tasks that I want to complete during our Prime Number project. As someone who works much more efficiently (if in a somewhat frazzled manner) with looming deadlines, I think knowing what I’m doing and when I’m doing it will help me focus on one task at a time, instead of being overwhelmed trying to do multiple things at once.

My personal launch date is Saturday April 1st, 2017.

So here goes:

1 day to finalize my personal website on Squarespace: if not content-wise, at least having it up and running
2 days to catch up with a website design course that I signed up (and paid for) on DesignLab: the course works more in terms of length of hours and I’ve skipped out the last few weeks so I figured 2 days over the weekend are enough to do the projects and reading. Eek!
3 days to apply to Hyper Island (a vocational degree here in Stockholm in digital media) (due date April 13th): this includes generating the idea, designing the application and running it by friends/people.
5 days for my application to an industrial design intensive course in the North of Sweden: they have a “home assignment” with 5 tasks so I thought I could do 1 task a day. Some include writing, others sketching. (Due date: April 20th)
7 days of ashtanga yoga: I always feel so good about my life and self when I do yoga and the only time I have ever done it successfully and successively was on a 2 week yoga retreat in India. However, in my real life I am consistently making up excuses about wanting to sleep in, and not being in a routine and putting it off until “next week.” I think if I can pull off 7 days in my daily life, I will hopefully want to continue a few days a week.
11 days of writing my short story for my writing group that I joined in January and have not written a single word for: the aim is 1000 words a day and not going to sleep before they have been punched out!

So far I haven’t found anything I would like to do for 13 days straight, but I’ll cross that odd-numbered bridge when I get there.

The three biggest challenges for me are:

1) Being too “tired” after work to do anything except throwing myself on the couch and watching Netflix

2) Not having “enough time”: I frequently blame my work and social life for not having enough time to accomplish my projects while simultaneously spending hours binge-watching Vikings (that Rollo though…)

3) Fear of failure: my internal monologue goes along the lines of, “I should start this project. Why haven’t I started this project? If I had started this project I would have been amazing at it by now. But what if I suck at this? I might as well not try. Because if you don’t try, you can’t fail!” *goes to couch, turns on Netflix to dull the pain of self-failure*

I am hoping the progressive nature of our prime number system will let me complete things in bite-sized chunks while increasing my self-confidence in my ability to finish things.

Ann, I am so excited about this! Looking forward to bowing down to the accountability gods with you!

Love,

Zany