Change up sleep routine

It’s pretty scary to realise you prefer to sleep early and wake up early based on old tweets you have done. Then somehow you slipped up and you find yourself sleeping later.

And how much later, you might ask?

Try three hours after your supposed sleeping time. It’s well beyond midnight, mind you. Then you got to wake up early for work. What’s worse is when you go through this kind of sleep deprivation for longer than two months with no end in sight and you don’t even know why. Your mind just refuse to sleep early.

This isn’t doing me any good. The long term effect of this sleep deprivation includes making one feel very tired, depressed and lack the motivation to do anything.

It’s probably why my consistency when it comes to writing or blogging in general has fallen off the cliff. And I suspect it’s the root of my problems. Been having trouble trying to write the short stories that I have planned. All those writer blocks…

So I decided to change up my sleeping routine by turning in before 10pm starting today. And I’ve got an excuse to do that now. Need to wake up an hour earlier than usual for my military reservist training tomorrow.

The moment

It’s my belief that everyone would have a certain moment in their life when they realised something only after an event have long passed. And at that point in time, you would be in this weird situation of being simultaneously aware while still unwilling to accept the fact. The fact that the moment is already here. Slowly but surely, you accept the situation and move on with your life.

In my case, it was this realisation that I’m in my thirties only after months have passed since my thirty-first birthday, had achieve some stuff but not quite made an impact on the world. There is this doubt lingering at the back of your head whether you have enough time to achieve what you want in life and that people knows who you are. At the same time, you also know you have done your best and is ready to give your younger self some advice.

Now, in terms of personality, people can find me behaving still like a man-child on certain things because of my idealism. Seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses is still pretty much the thing I do. The inner-child in me is still pretty much alive when it comes to taking on new challenges and seeing new things. At the same time, certain aspect of my personality have changed as a result of the real world smashing in and slapping the idealism and inner-child around. So parts of my mind has been hardened by challenges it faced.

And it’s a constant struggle to keep that hardening process at bay because once that happen, it could potentially erode your ability to see the world differently and be creative. As a creator, I would hate for that happen.

Well, the biggest change that you grudgingly accept when you enters your thirties is your stamina and physical capabilities is no longer like in your twenties. Excessive sitting down makes you tired. Excessive standing makes you tired. Eat too much and you feel sick. Work too long you feel like sleeping for days. And if you are a gamer? You will find that your reaction times in first person shooter games drop dramatically. So you end up dying more often. And lastly, your weight just keep piling on despite your effort to exercise.

But it’s not the end of the world.

This moment, this very act of being aware of your age and proud of what you have achieved, is cause for celebration. At least, you didn’t fumble through life aimlessly. You are still alive. You have also gone through enough life challenges to enable you to make better decisions for your future as you enter your mid and late thirties. And maybe give you enough confidence to do the thing you really want to do as well as increasing your potential good impact on the world. It’s also a moment of your life where people can at least start taking you slightly more seriously than when you are in your twenties or teens.

For me, I will still keep doing what I do because deep down, I’m a minimalist when it comes to interests. The only problem to deal with is how to find the intersection of all my interests so that I can do and put out my best work for the rest of the world to enjoy.

The well has dried up but it’s okay

You have just finished work and arrived home. In a bid to make yourself healthier again, you decided to reset your workout routine. And you thought, Monday is a good day to mark the start of your new workout routine. A quick run around your neighbourhood seemed to be the right choice.

After you’re home, had your shower and dinner, you realised you are doing everything else but the one thing you should be doing. Maybe you have to paint a piece of art. Maybe you have to prepare a new set of musical beats for your upcoming song. Or maybe you have to write an essay.

Not wanting to feel like a failure, you tried to get yourself to do that one thing. Seconds went by. Then minutes. Then hours. As midnight draws closer, you recognised the futility of the effort. There was simply nothing you can draw on from inside of you to do it.

And you know what? It’s ok.

Maybe you are really mentally exhausted and couldn’t do it. Or maybe you are really out of ideas. Whatever the situation or issue maybe, it’s important not to blame yourself for this failure. Trust yourself to deliver. After all, you have been doing it for a long time, right? The skills are there. You need to be kind to yourself and catch yourself before you go deep into that “I hate myself” speech.

And what you probably need also is a change up in the environment to put yourself in the right frame of mind to continue. In my case, it was as simple as going out of my room to get a cup of cold water, switched on the air-conditioning in my room and sit back down.

That’s how I break free from my initial writer’s block and write this. It may not seem much but I hope this help anyone who’s suffering some kind of creative block.

Writing on a touchscreen is just…

Writing is still writing no matter the platform. It’s all about getting the words out, to give them a physical form be it on the screen or on paper. You can write on a piece of paper using a pen. You can write using your smartphone. You can write on your laptop or a desktop computer.

But what I have discovered is that writing on a touchscreen just feel weird and difficult. Some people no doubt won’t have any problems. It’s just not the thing for me.

I got the iPhone X. With its 5.8 inch, nearly edge-to-edge display, it’s way bigger than the iPhone 6s and 7 plus display I used in the past. That means with apps like iA Writer, I can see way more of the text with the keyboard below. The Super Retina HD display meant that text are sharp and clear. Writing on that device had been a joy.

Yet, whenever I tried to write long form, like a short story, my fingers do get really tired from attempting to hit the keys. My fingers are rather fat. Combine that with hyperhidrosis, it means either wrong keys are pressed and I need to hit delete or that the key presses aren’t registered like it should. It slows down my writing by a lot, which is irritating in a way if your thoughts is faster than the words appearing on the screen.

The other issue I have with typing on a touchscreen was the lack of tactile feedback. This is one of the reason why I prefer to write using a keyboard. The sound my finger hitting the keys and the clacky feel when you press the key just feels so good. I know you could enable haptic feedback on the phone such that every key pressed will give you a vibration. But that vibration is missing when you set the phone to silent mode via that switch. Not only that, vibration requires the motors in the phone to work hard and cause faster battery drainage. For the iPhone X, that vibration mode is no more and what you get is simulated keyboard clicks, something that you won’t hear if your phone is on permanent silent mode.

The third issue I have is having to deal with the weight of the device while typing. I know smartphones are small and consider rather light. After all you carry it in your pockets everyday. But it does become heavy when you are holding it in your hands for long period of time as you type. And that particular use case happens quite often if you are writing a long article, an essay or stories. Notes taking is fine actually because those are short burst action and probably won’t be doing it over 1 or 2 hours.

So those three reasons are why I will always prefer to write on a keyboard. And in order to do writings on the go, a portable typing machine is needed. Thus, I decided to reuse the 13inch MacBook Pro (2015) that was in storage. The 15inch MacBook Pro that I’m currently using is just a tad bigger and heavier than what I would like. You know what? Without the keyboard cover, typing on that classic chiclet keyboard is rather delightful. I could type equally fast on it.

And now I’m curious about what’s the primary device that you use to write everyday? And why.

The platform doesn’t matter until it does…

Writers these days are spoiled.

They are spoiled because recent development in technology has given rise to online platforms that allow writers to put their work out for the world to see. From Blogger to WordPress to the more recent Medium, writers are mostly free from having to deal with middleman that served as gatekeepers to the big publication houses.

But those platforms actually don’t matter.

They are just tools, just like the pens and papers, nails and hammers, etc. The platforms don’t dictate your writing. Only you do. As a writer, your main job is to write. To put the ideas that are swimming in your head out into words for others to see. If you aren’t doing that, then no platforms is going to help. Just like the pens and papers that are going to sit in some dark corners if your hands don’t reach for them and use those tools.

And after you are done writing, only then the platforms matter. You have to use them to publish your work out for the world to see.

If you don’t understand the rules of the platform, you writings aren’t going to see the light of the day even if you hit that publish button. The platform’s flawed algorithms are going to decide that your writings aren’t worth anyone’s time and don’t bring them out for the world to see. And algorithms can change depending on the platform owner.

And now, the time you’ve spent on writing that great piece of article, essay or poem is wasted because no one is reading it.

So your role as a writer now has more responsibilities.

You have to go out there and reach out to other writers on the platforms. To comment on their writings, to like their writings, or just to say hi. Only then, you leave a trail of breadcrumbs that hopefully grab someone’s attention and bring them to your creations.

And being on just one platform isn’t enough. Neither is being on many platforms. You have to be on the right kind of platform that has the right kind of writers and readers that will contribute to your growth as a writer.

Now you see, the platform doesn’t matter until it does…