The distance between my first job and my second is about a 50-minute walk. It’s getting sunnier but at times the wind is what hurts the most. Despite that, it’s great to have a chance to see the city above ground and to get some fresh air, especially being cooped up for 8 hours. During this time I like to listen to some pump up songs. At the moment, my current obsession is some very particular Kpop songs and a few edgier tunes. Continue Reading…
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There is a student in my class who is spending a year in Toronto with his family. He told me that it was his dream to come to Canada and study English. He failed nine times in the past five years before getting the timing right. It was then he mentioned his simple method of achieving his goals. All he does is keep a notebook with his goals written down with the steps to achieve them and some notes about his feelings about his journey.
“Remember: you will never earn the same rewards as others without employing the same methods and investment of time as they do. It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price. The person who “wins” at something has no real advantage over you because they had to pay the price for the reward.”
— Epictetus, A Manual for Living
There are times we can feel the overwhelming power of jealous and the great sense of failure when we size ourselves up with others who are deemed “successful.” Normally, I’m on my best guard when I let my own thoughts react to these situations but it was a special combination of “highly specialized individual” and the “undying thirst for knowledge.”
Then again, a good verbal barrage and the art of hijacking the conversation so you are the center of all things are usually what sells it home, especially giving it a few days to think about. To be honest, it started off as a friendly sharing of knowledge of literature and the love of books. I deeply wanted to get into the concepts and ideas of how stories are so great. It was on the topic of Russian literature (outside of popular culture, I knew little first hand) and French literature.
When it got to French literature, my brain connected towards to a recent purchase of The Count of Monte Cristo and how I wanted to see if this other person had read it and had an opinion of what the interwebs were saying about the new translation from Penguin Books was recommended as the best to read. I had only gotten the Modern Library version so… I wanted an answer if it was still worth it.
I never got that answer.
Supposedly, it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. Nope, it’s not 21 days apparently as we once thought before so… more days, more fun! Don’t worry, it’s just numbers being thrown around, so it shouldn’t really matter at all because we should focus on that aspect too long. It’s good for a visual so you can see what the heck is going on (like having a physical calendar to cross each day off whenever your successful so you can have that gratification in completing something).
The days can be daunting but if you don’t get one down, you’ll never get to day two or day 66 or even… day 500. It’s all about routine and so… maybe it’s just wise for you to stop now and just open up that word document you have been putting off and just write out 500 words… no wait, make it just even 250 words. Yeah, that’s better… just do it.
It’s taking a long hard fight to realize that excuses are the enemy. That and blaming. While all that energy is being put into that pile of useless thought, we could be finishing that screenplay, doing push-ups, or finishing that book you left two months ago.
B-b-but, I’m just suffering from a block! I can’t get into the FLOW! It’s just a struggle! So, it’s okay for me to complain about the pain so I can deal with it… Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?
To laugh is to live your life with a pinch of insanity in a mundane world.
There is a lot of theories how and what we find funny. We have the classic of slapstick but something that isn’t as appreciated as it once was years ago. It’s childish for sure, but it’s still in existence. The pleasure in the pain and misfortune of others.
There’s that theory you probably encountered in your own self-study of the writing arts — what is a comedy but tragedy plus time.
I love comedy. I love humour. I have my own limitations and I have my own set weapons I tend to lean on a daily basis. But there’s nothing as powerful as the prepared mind to be unprepared and loose and ruthless in the search for the perfect full circle.
There’s nothing like the completed circle. The sense of a closed loop that brings the whole conversation or story altogether in a neat little bow. And to do that requires the technique called the callback. And for me, the ability to generate a laugh through this method is the greatest satisfaction.
There is an idea that multi-tasking is the way to go. I know I can’t do it. I remember reading somewhere that it’s actually mono-tasking on steroids. Whatever the case, it’s almost impossible to keep track on things if I’m flipping back and forth between various things at the same time. Especially, if you have your phone sitting beside you and the notifications is on.
Our brains, as it seems, just can’t handle it all. For me, when it comes to prep work and planning my schedule, it’s, even more, a mess so the best thing to do is get it down — on paper or app. That way it becomes an external brain.
Recently, there was almost an impromptu debate between myself and a colleague over the notion and merit of teaching students the writing styles of different types of paragraphs. In our program, there are a few types of paragraphs required to teach for students — “example”, “process”, “reason”, “persuasive”… etc.
My colleague had decided that it was useless to teach these types of writing because it was pointless and wasn’t really freeing to the student. I thought there was some truth in it because using some parallels from screenwriting, I believed that in the long run, students would benefit immensely when they got to the next level.
And here is where we divided in our own thoughts. The colleague thought because I was a native speaker so I could learn to change and adapt freely. Whereas the learner could be forced into a habit of writing in such a limiting way. I explained that all of us learned a similar way of writing when we were in elementary school to high school, following a strict format before having total control of how we formed and phrased our words.
Students needed to hone and focus on a particular intention. I am simply hoping that by having them focused with a particular intent on their writing, it could influence the purpose and goal they are achieving. It isn’t a strict style. It’s simply a restraint on them to aim for a particular result.
Of course, I didn’t get to finish the debate as we switched gears into another conversation when another teacher walked in, but the thought kept me intrigued.
I know writing a particular way seems so strange. Demanding the students to strictly write a topic sentence as a declarative sentence seems almost harsh. But, I need them to have those constraints and to respect the format of whatever I have told them to do. As long as they got the format down correctly — the aesthetic of the paragraph and even margins on the left, and remembering to indent — I’m was almost confident they were paying attention to the purpose of what I’m trying to get to do.
Concise and effective writing. Efficient enough to hit the required marks to serve the purpose of what they are trying to achieve. Yes, we don’t jump into a writing piece to say, “I’m going to make this a process paragraph!” or some shit. I understand that. I’m just letting them know that for now, they are going to have to write in this really constraining way so that it can allow their creativity to flow.