“You SHOULD WATCH your own videos,” so I’ve been told.
Funny, how that’s a phrase I don’t expect to hear… yet hear it anyway. And I won’t deny it—at times, I really do NEED to watch my own videos. Why? Because I’m just as human as you are. And as an un-celestial being with only the epiphanies the human mind could ever comprehend, the next best thing I can do for myself is ‘preach to myself’.
Yes, preach to myself. Heck, you do it too!
Every time you coax yourself, reason your actions, and attempt to make yourself feel better, you’re preaching to yourself. Alas, some of our ‘sermons’ are more self-deprecating than edifying. In fact, we have a knack of boasting the torments of hell more than the glory of heaven.
But why do we do that? I’m sure there’s some psychological reasoning but that’s not why I’m writing this today. The purpose of this is to remind both YOU and MYSELF that more than the words others speak into our lives, our own words have a GREATER EFFECT on us.
We preach to ourselves daily. We tell ourselves what we can and cannot do. We decide how to think and feel. And, more so during this season in quarantine—adjusting to and embracing the ‘new normal’—we speak to ourselves more than we speak to others.
So the next time you hear a little negativity in your own voice, switch the channel. Preach only what is uplifting and listen only to what is true! Choose to be a voice of encouragement to yourself because… trust me, it makes a difference.
I’ll be back, I promise—five words scribbled in black ink on a note. They were the first words I read that morning as I headed to pour myself a glass of milk. Stuck to the door of the fridge with a magnet, I thought nothing of it—he had left many notes as such. But that evening and the evenings after, I started to doubt he would ever keep his promise. Until one day, twenty years after he’d left, another note appeared.
Would you like to reconnect?—five words in a sans serif font blinked periodically on a card. They were the first words I read on a chilly December morning as I went to collect the mail. The card made no mention of whom it was from but I had an inkling. Still, I hesitated. My thumb hovered over the green ‘yes’ button on the device. Was this how I wanted to see him again? I decided to accept the request. And, there it was, the chronicles of his life.
I scrolled through the magazine of what he had been up to—the places he’d visited, the parties he’d attended, the food he’d loved, and the people he’d met and then left as digital memories. He was using a different name, or at least, not the name I used to call him. And, after I had flipped through the past ten years of his seemingly exciting and adventurous life, five more words called for action—would you like to chat? I clicked the green button once more.
“Hey Will, how’s it going?”
Will is typing a reply—the device read.
“Hey! Long time no see!”
Could I define this encounter as ‘seeing’?
“Long time indeed. What’s up?”
I wondered if I should bring up the promise he’d made twenty years ago. It didn’t really matter that he left—I moved on. I had my own collection of countries, events, food, and people, in my own magazine of life. But I wanted to know why he left, with no explanation, only to reconnect now.
“I thought about you recently.”
“That explains why you reconnected.”
“Haha! Still sarcastic I see.”
“Why all of a sudden?”
“I made a promise, remember?”
So he didn’t forget after all—those five words that left nothing but expectation. Five words that gave me no reason for his disappearance. Was he finally going to own up to his broken promise?
“Right. What’s up with that?”
“Well, I’m keeping my promise.”
“Are you serious right now?”
“I am back, aren’t I?”
Was he joking? Did he think this was acceptable—that a simple ‘hello, I’m back’ on a device was enough? Did he not think to be a little more courteous—to actually show up in person after all these years? Who gave him the right to hide behind a screen?
“It was nice ‘seeing’ you.”
I wanted to end the conversation there. And I could. All it took was a click of a red button and I would archive the entire exchange. I even had the option to ‘delete’. Then, I could toss the card out and carry on with my day.
“Wait, don’t go just yet!”
“What do you want, Will?”
“Look, I’m sorry all right.”
“Of course you are, Will.”
“Five words are too little.”
“You realised that only now?”
“I mean, on this chat.”
Five words was how the device worked. ‘Five Words’ was what it was called. It was ‘a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’—their tagline on every highway billboard and at the top of every salesman’s pitch. It was designed to reconnect people in a disconnected world. And the rule was simple: only five words—no more, no less.
“I know that too, Will.”
“I have much to say.”
“Then say it in person.”
“I want to, trust me.”
“Right. I’m signing out now.”
“Wait wait wait wait wait.”
“Our friendship was long over.”
“Can you come to me?”
Was this another joke? Did he expect me to take the first step? I was not a pushover—I never was. If he wanted a convenient friendship, he came to the wrong person.
“No. You come to me.”
“I can’t. I’m… I’m sick.”
“Sick? What kind of sickness?”
“Life threatening, the doctors say.”
“Oh. Wow. I’m sorry, Will.”
“I’m not a good friend.”
“You left without an explanation.”
“Let me apologise to you.”
Perhaps I could make an exception this time. Perhaps, for a dying friend, I could put my pride aside. After all, he wanted to make things right… and in person.
“Where are you right now?”
“I left you a box.”
“You left me a box?”
“The Yung Brothers & Co.”
“Yung brothers? Who are they?”
“My lawyers. I’m really sorry.”
I was expecting the name of a hospital. I was actually willing to make the drive. Why did Will want me to meet with his lawyers instead?
“Your lawyers? Why your lawyers?”
“I can’t apologise in person.”
“What do you mean, Will?”
“I’m sorry. I should have…”
“You should have what, Will?”
“I should have said more.”
12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)
Ah, relationships. Oh, how society loves to talk about relationships. We seem to care a lot about who got together with who, who is getting married, and who is still single. Our social media is filled with relationship goals and couple hashtags. But, have we ever stopped to think about our own relationship? Specifically, our relationship with words—the very words we speak into our own lives and the words we utter to everyone else? What is your relationship status with words?
Are You Single?
Are you single because the words you’ve spoken have left your heart broken? Or are you single because you cannot find the right words to say? Are the words you speak onto yourself, and onto others, hurtful and damaging? Or do you choose not to say anything at all, even when something needs to be said?
Let’s start believing in words again. Let’s start encouraging dreams, voicing appreciation, and verbalising affection. Let’s start building a relationship with words. Because words are potent enough to change even the most unchangeable person.
Are You In A Relationship?
If you’re already in a relationship with words, is your relationship healthy, loving, and nurturing? Or… is your relationship abusive and destructive? Are the words you’re speaking positive and uplifting? Or do you allow yourself to be battered by the painful blows at your self-esteem?
Let’s stop with the self-deprecating words that sabotage our confidence and devalue our worth. Let’s stop destroying ourselves and those around us with our very own tongues. Rather, let’s speak life and hope. Because words, once spoken, can and will determine our future.
Are You Committed?
Saying you’re committed means working at keeping the relationship together. It’s about accepting the flaws—that some days, you might make mistakes—but still striving to grow. It’s not about perfection, but loving yourself for who you are.
Let’s never forget how important this relationship is. What we say to ourselves can make us or break us. What we say onto others can motivate ambition or stir insecurities. Though it might sometimes be a challenge to say the right words, let’s endeavour to choose our words wisely. Because words will ultimately define who we are and what we become.
So, what is your relationship status with words? What are your relationship goals? Wherever you are in this journey—single, in a relationship, or committed—start cultivating a healthy relationship with words. Build a relationship that will make you a more fearless, self-loving, and confident individual.
How do you keep going without burning out? How do you stay inspired during dry spells? Where does your determination come from? Have you ever thought of giving up? How do you not give up?
Familiar questions–questions you might have asked, received, or pondered upon. And, important questions too, especially when it comes to our dreams and passions. We all know success comes from not giving up. But sometimes… well…
So, how do we not give up? Personally, I…
#1 Don’t Focus On The Negative
Constructive criticism is great for improving my skill, but outright negative comments aren’t. Comments that are hurtful and mean have the ability to destroy my hopes and dreams. And, because I can’t tell people what they can and cannot say, the only thing I can do is ignore them–turning away from those negative words and focusing on the encouraging ones instead.
Focusing on the positive helps to keep the wheels turning. I often find myself returning to positive words whenever I doubt my abilities and strengths. I would read an old comment or book review and my day would be instantly brightened. Words are powerful. The ones we choose to listen to dictates our path. So don’t focus on the negative. Start focusing on the positive instead.
#2 Set Achievable Goals
‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,’ that’s what they always say. But not all of my dreams have to scare me. Not all of my goals have to be star-high. I need achievable goals too. They sharpen my skills and take me one step closer to my bigger dreams. If all I’m focusing on is the end and not the path before me, I might just trip and never get back up again.
What are achievable goals? They’re not what I plan to achieve in my lifetime. Achievable goals are the books I plan to write before 2020, the number of chin-ups I aim to complete by the end of the year, and the amount of savings in my bank account for my next big trip. They’re small–far from scary–but they bring me closer to my dreams, one step at a time.
#3 Make & Execute Plans
To get somewhere, I need a plan. Setting achievable goals is part of making a plan, but it doesn’t complete the equation. I need to execute my plans too. Perhaps this is one of the most challenging parts when it comes to chasing my dreams. Execution requires me to be disciplined, diligent, and persistent. But sometimes, I’m just too lazy. So how do I counteract this laziness? I choose to do it anyway.
I’ll be honest, some of my blog posts are written at the very last minute–this one included. Despite having an idea on what I intend to write, I just don’t feel like doing it. But instead of calling in sick–giving a lame excuse as to why I missed this week’s post–I do it anyway. I carve out time to write. And by doing so, I don’t give myself any excuses–I stay disciplined and on track all the time.
#4 Celebrate Every Milestone
It’s easy to overlook small accomplishments at the desire to accomplish greater things. But if all I focused on was what I could’ve achieved, instead of what I’ve already achieved, I’m not motivating myself. Contrary, I’m discrediting my efforts for the what if’s and could have’s. And instead of acknowledging my hard work, I’m putting myself down.
I am my own biggest critic. And what I say to myself matters–my own words are as powerful, if not more, than the words of others. So it’s important to give myself credit where credit is due. I may not be able to say I’ve finished the race, but I can celebrate the journey. It is the little accomplishments that will keep me going–the little accomplishments that make the end worth pursuing.
#5 Know My Reason
I’ve written about this before–perhaps one too many times–and I’ll reiterate. Knowing why I write is the key to never giving up. I can religiously practice the four points above, but if I don’t know why I write, I won’t get far. This applies to all areas of my life too–areas where dreams and goals are present. If there’s no reason as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m doing will merely become a hobby. And as you know, hobbies are ever changing.
So, why do you do what you do? What is your reason? If you want to know my reason, I wrote a post solely about it here. I can guarantee you, that if you have a strong reason for your dreams, you will never give up. In fact, it becomes almost impossible–giving up is no longer an option.
If you’re on the brink of giving up, don’t lose hope just yet. There’s a way to stay motivated, driven, and passionate. You may have gone off the road, but getting back on track isn’t impossible. Remember, your dreams are worth chasing. They’re achievable. So don’t stop believing in them. And don’t ever stop believing in yourself.
I think we’ve all wondered, at some point during our creative journey, if genre is important. We question if fantasy sells better, if post-apocalyptic is hot this season, if memoirs win more awards, if our genre – the one we love and consider mastering – is worth pursuing. So, let me just clear this up today. This is a personal statement. I am in no way claiming my thoughts are based on a rule, and I’m speaking from my belief: personally, I don’t think genre is important. What brought me to this conclusion? Why – why I write.
Genre isn’t important, because I’m not trying to be the next bestseller. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be the next bestseller. Heck, if that’s your goal, go for it – I’ll cheer you on! But, personally, my goal isn’t to write the next hit novel. I have no plans to craft what the majority of people want to read. My goal is to write what is meaningful to me and what I think is important to share. And if I end up being a bestseller along the way, that’s a bonus! If not, it makes no difference in my authoring career. I’m still going to write what I want to write.
Genre isn’t important, because I’m also not trying to win any awards or competitions. Again, if that’s your goal, please don’t take any offense at my personal statement. I know what type of a writer I am – far from literary and a fan of simplicity. And through my past experiences, writing for awards and competitions, I’ve found myself pretending. Well, it feels like it – it feels like I’m ditching my voice and writing to suit the preference of another. And I know… that’s not me. That’s not how I write. Though there’s nothing wrong with challenging myself and writing outside of the box, I don’t enjoy doing so for the sake of winning. Personally, it doesn’t feel right. And, well, it’s just not fun – it kind of feels like work.
Genre isn’t important, because it doesn’t fit my writing goals. But of course, the same cannot be said for you. Perhaps your goal is different. Or, perhaps, you’ve yet to find your genre.
If you’ve yet to find your genre, I encourage you to try them all. Play around with bildungsroman, attempt a crime (story), and dive into satire. Don’t limit your ability to be creative just because science fiction is gaining traction, or because zombie novels are adapted into movies. Find your genre by exploring them. But more importantly, know why you write.
Steven Furtick once said that if you have a strong ‘why’, the ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What genre you’re writing doesn’t matter if your why is the force behind it. So, if you’re questioning your choice, I encourage you to uncover the reason behind your passion. If your reason is to win awards, then write to win awards. If your reason is to be the next J.K Rowling, then write to become a bestseller. If your reason is to inspire, then don’t let anyone tell you to write otherwise. And if your reason is purely for entertainment – because you love writing – then don’t be ashamed, just write!
In the big picture, genre pales in importance. Yes, it’s a facet of writing. But, it doesn’t make a masterpiece. It’s the pastel in the background – the base on your canvas. The real art are the strokes on top – the story that stands out and makes a statement. Your story holds greater value – it is your artwork and skill that sells by the millions, not your chosen base colour. So don’t focus on the genre. A good story can be written in any setting, but a bad story finds no success even under a popular label. It is what you say that matters most. And you can’t say anything substantial without a solid why.
I am a person of few words. Well, not in writing. But I’m a person who speaks few words. I think more than I should, and I keep most of my thoughts to myself. For me, it’s difficult to articulate my thoughts without giving them thought. Hence, often times, I just don’t say them. It isn’t something I do by choice. It is who I am. So, why do I write?
I write to share a part of me. It’s safe to say that those who read my words know me better than those I’ve spoken to – that is if you’re not within my minute, trust circle. I find it easier to express myself with literal ABCs – such is the case. And taping away at the keyboard is a peaceful, freeing, and comforting activity. Perhaps such a notion is incomprehensible for the verbal. But this is why I write: to be heard.
I am a person who lives for today. But, I’m also a person who lives for tomorrow. I worry not about my future, yet I live to leave a legacy. It’s ironic, yet it isn’t. I desire to be someone whose name lives beyond the grave. This is something I do by choice. It is fuel for my passion. So, why do I write?
I write to be an inspiration. I don’t know if my words written today, or tomorrow, would make a difference. But if I can inspire one life, I’m achieving what I’ve set out to achieve. If I can move someone to chase their dreams, I’m leaving a legacy. Perhaps not an astronomical legacy, where I’d go down in history, but this is why I write: to change lives.
I am a person with worlds in my head. These worlds home characters, with great desires for an epic journey. They want me to tell them. They need me to tell them. I cannot stifle my creativity, because it simply cannot be stifled. My mind is already crowded as it is, and clearing it is something I have to do. So, why do I write?
I write to take you on an adventure. My stories will not please everyone. They could possibly bore you. And perhaps, only a handful are worth reading. As an author, I don’t know which stories are good and which stories are bad – I cannot predict a story’s success. But when there’s a story to tell, I need to tell it. I will strife to tell it. This is why I write: to breathe life into fiction.
I am a person who is far from extraordinary. I live in a third-world country, grew up in a middle-class family, went to university for a degree, and now hold a day job like the average jane. To some, it seems like I have it all. But an impression is not reality. I’m not a prodigy. I’m not the chosen one. I’m not even sure if I have talent. And this is my actuality. So, why do I write?
I write to give hope. I am a nobody. And if I can accomplish a hint of success, so can you. If I’m allowed to dream and chase my dreams, so are you. If I am persevering, so must you. I don’t know where life would take me – just like you, I’m clueless – but I’m willing to keep honing my craft. If I can see the worth of my art, so should you. This is why I write: to insist that our dreams are important, and to prove that we can.
I am a person whose journey hasn’t ended. I have a long road ahead of me. Or perhaps, a short road – only God knows. But at where I am today, I know there is much to do and much to experience. Today isn’t the end for me. Today could just be the start. In the unknown, this much I know. So, why do I write?
I write to tell my story. As long as I’m still breathing, I hope – through my story – I’m heard, I’m inspiring, I bring forth tales of wonder, and I challenge you to keep your passion alive. I hope to share what I’ve learned, to give through my words, and to leave an account worth reading. This is why I write: to be a living testimony, and to reflect the one who called me.
So, who are you? Why do you write – why do you do what you do? We all have a reason for our passion. I’ve shared mine – what is yours?
Give me 3 words – 3 random words – and I’ll work a story around those words.
This is a writing challenge I aim to do at least once a month. It will be a great way for me to practice writing. And you can join me too, if you like 🙂
To kick start this challenge, leave your 3 words in the comments below. I’ll choose one comment for a short story beginning in February 2016. Once the story is posted, I’ll challenge you to take on the same 3 words and write your own. There are no rules in this challenge. The length doesn’t matter, it could be 100 words or 1000 words. The genre doesn’t matter either, it could be fantasy or fan fiction. Just write to your heart’s desire. That’s what I’ll be doing too.
Feel free to link your own story in the comments as the challenge gains momentum. If I have a favourite, I’ll be sure to feature it. Are you up for this? Let’s have some fun!