Got thinking paralysis? Write with a pen

Aah, the oldie-goodie of writing on a piece of paper with pen. It brings me back the memories of being a student, jabbing essays after essays, exams after exams on paper, for two hours or so. The wrist gets tired. But the flow you’re getting pushes you all the way to the end of your essay, fast. It’s a bit more unimaginable now to think of pulling out an essay, handwritten, on a topic you may not love, within just two hours. I’d get nervous! So cheers to that Flow. Because this ecstatic flow isn’t something that comes by as easily now that we have the more convenient option of a laptop, delete, and move.

People are coming up with questions such as how can I write faster. Because you know, now we have to write content for the web. The more the merrier. Forget thoroughly researched a topic. All you need is a solid idea and an authoritative tone and an article published once a week. Continue reading “Got thinking paralysis? Write with a pen”

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Writing is walking

In Wanderlust, a book solely explores the experience and the ideas of walking, Rebecca Solnit wrote a single line of narration at the bottom of the page that goes horizontally across all pages towards the end. Unable to skim, one needs to walk with the line, one page at a time, one step at a time, towards the end; a reading done with two pairs of eyes walking along the designated path on a designated journey set up by the writer.

The writer, too, walks the path, first exploring and studying the weeds of thoughts, then trimming them down into a beautiful concrete pathway to welcome the readers. Along the process are a stumble, a balancing, and an act of mediating and meditating with the body, the mind, and the Earth.

“Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.”

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Setting Up Sonic Environment for Productive Writing

All you need is a headphone.

Stephen King once said that you should close your door and your mind and don’t let anyone in. This door can be imaginary. And many writers have suggested similar feats, advising that having a specialize corner, table set up, a consistent time of the day, or an opening routine can help set up the right mood and mindset. The whole point is to eliminate distractions and stay focus. But with internet n our hand, our world is pretty much open 24/7.

The space can be humble … and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world that you mean business. Stephen King

Setting up your phone and/or laptop on Airplane Mode is, to me, the simplest and most impactful way to regain the control back from our devices.

But when your mind is running around like a 2 year old, put your headset on and turn on this calming water sound. At least for me, I’ve found this works. There are good varieties of natural aural sounds you can find on YouTube, from this calming forest sounds to truly hypnotic wind sounds. Some may prefer minimal bird songs, others prefer the crackles of fireplace over bubbly water sounds or haunting snow storm music. It may take a while to find the right one, but of course don’t let it paralyze your primary mission.

Continue reading “Setting Up Sonic Environment for Productive Writing”

How to Practice English from Podcasts

A thank you note to Krista Tippett’s On Being

I was one of the few lucky Indonesians who had the chance to study in the USA, to be immersed in English in and out of school and to have their life transformed by this powerful and unifying language.

All of us international students gleefully absorbed this language into our tongue and practiced it proudly in our daily life like a badge of honor. Slowly but surely English made its way deep into the minutes of our life that we even began to speak English to our fellow Indonesian friends, so spontaneously, fluently, and confidently. It’s a common case. Whether it’s a chat on Messenger, a meet up at the bar, or a social gathering at a coffee shop, more often than not, English would become the primary language. (And there should be a legit ethnographic research on what encourages this happening!)

So we walked our daily lives with English words sliding out from the tongue and then we went home only to find our own language is slightly…dull.

It’s a startling realization that you either deny to understand or you embrace it entirely by immersing yourself deeper in English language. But it’s not a rare scenario that many of us eventually get much better and more comfortable writing in English than in our own language.

There are many reasons for this happening; from the fact that its proper use is never enforced in public life, or that our national language isn’t deeply rooted in our history thus forgoing the cultural attachment to it, to the fact that as a nation we are not big literature readers. Or it could just be a pride thing.

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Making the most out of your smartphone as writer

The magic of writing with two thumbs

Despite having multiple notebooks for different purposes, I am pretty convinced that I still write probably more on my phone. By phone I mean my Gmail, Monospace app, Evernote and Google Keep. And by write I mean from blurts of thoughts to stories of hundreds of words.

I use my phone quite religiously to record any thoughts that transit in my mind. Single lines of morning thoughts, jotting down ideas, ideas that are boiling in my head ready to be polished, plenty and plenty of awful first drafts. My phone, being almost literally one of the closest things to me, has turned into a candid recorder of my mind at its most tender, fresh, and raw state. And this is why my phone plays quite an important role in my writing life.

Our friendship started when I was still in college, stuck writing in Word doc when I then laid down lazily on college dorm bed and begin writing on my Blackberry. Surprisingly, I wrote probably 800 words uninterrupted within just 15 minutes and they actually flowed pretty well. I was surprised by this comical reaction from the mind as if it was just hiding this whole time and now excited to be found. Perhaps it’s the informal feeling of writing on the phone that makes the process itself less rigid. It could also because writing on phone has a slower pace than typing on a laptop, which permits our mind to explore ideas a little bit more. Whatever it is, I was pretty hooked by its impact. So whenever I began to feel stuck, I immediately switch to my phone to unlock more creativity.

Continue reading “Making the most out of your smartphone as writer”