A New Look and Blog Updates

As you might have noticed, I’ve updated the look to 411 Junkie. Not by choice, mind you. I loved the look I had before, but for whatever reason, my menu bar just stopped working with that layout. No clue why. 

This was the next best thing. Yes, it’s a WordPress theme, one of the Twenty-somethings. I’ve used it before so if it looks familiar that’s why (and I’m going to say that you’ve noticed because that means you visit my blog often enough to notice and pretending that you’ve noticed will make me happy and you know, what? It’s kinda of my blog so . . . yep). 

I am also giving the 411 Toolbox a makeover (scheduled to be done within these next fourteen days–days because it sounds longer than two weeks. Trying to psych me out!). I stumbled on the coolest thing this past weekend when insomnia hit. Now, I’m always looking for ways to improve my blog (just because it’s my belief that you can never not improve, you know? That there is always something new to learn). So, if you’re a blogger or if you’re learning about blogging . . .  actually, if you’re looking for ideas, advice, or just tips and tricks on finding a way to get passive income, you really need to check out Pat Flynn’s website, Smart Passive Income

So I subscribe to his emails and in one of his emails (is SPI Weekend Digest) he mentions ways to improve your blog with his post “10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Improve Your Online Business or Blog.” This lead to a website grader which lead to another great website! John Saddington’s website john.do. And I liked his Colophon. I’ve thought of doing something similar for a while now and two things stopped me. One, time. And two, I didn’t know how to start other than “About me.” And I love how inclusive he is and so that was my inspiration.

There will be a few more changes (hopefully) by the end of this month. There are things I really want to get done, that it’s about time they get done, and I’m picking this month to get them done. I’ve said I’d get things done before and never did (and hopefully this time will be different, you know? With me being more focused and stuff), but for some reason or other I feel motivated to do so. And I never ignore my instincts so . . . this month. May. Some changes. For the better. Hopefully. Most likely.

And I never ignore my instincts so . . . this month. May. Some changes. For the better. Hopefully. Most likely.

 

Random 411: Thoughts on the new year (so far)

So, here we are. Twenty-four days into 2017 and I’m wondering if I’ve been productive enough. You know, if I’m off to a good start or not. And as always, I’ve thought a lot about this blog, what it means to me, and what (if any) are the plans for its continuation into 2017. Should I still do it? Should I keep doing things the way I’m doing it? Should I scrap it and start over? I mean, what’s the point? There are millions of blogs out there covering all kinds of topics. And I tend to focus on movies, television, and books reviewing them at my leisure, but there are so many out there. There are so many better ones out there, why do it? What am I contributing this fine industry that is entertainment? And the internet for that matter.

For me, it started off as a jumping-off-a-cliff type of thing. I wanted to get used to writing for an audience. Before this blog, most of my writing was done on an academic level so only my professors and very few classmates got to read what I wrote. For the most part, I did pretty well as far as grades go. I felt like I needed to take the next step. Or a different step. My research papers, essays, creative writings are, more or less, decent on a collegiate level, but now what? Do I try short stories? Do I participate in contests? Do I submit papers to the school journal?

These ideas terrified me if I’m being honest. I suppose they would intimidate anyone who has never considered writing for a bigger audience. A different audience. The court of public opinion (is that being a bit dramatic? Maybe, considering I don’t really have that many followers (when compared to others, that is). Anyway, I needed to take a step . . .  somewhere.

Blogging was all the rage around 2012. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was all the rage earlier than that, but that’s when I stepped into the blogging scene. And because I’m such a data junkie, I took a look at my stats from when this blog was first published on WordPress.com and then moved to WordPress.org in 2015. I was expecting to see lower numbers than I have. I’m not saying I’m doing immensely well, but for someone who was expecting to see maybe a hundred or so views and visits, I did not expect the 1,449 views and the 899 visits in 2016 alone. I’ve gone from publishing 11 posts in 2012 to 367 posts in 2015.

So, what does this mean? I have no clue. Back to my initial point. Why?

I googled “Why do people blog?” I did this to see what reasons are floating around out there. I know your reason is only as good as your reason, but I was curious to see why others do it.

ShoutMeLoud.com published a post listing the top 10 reasons why people blog and those are solid reasons. Things like networking, connecting with like-minded people, self-promotion, to name a few. One reason did appeal to me, though, because it aligns with why I started. To satisfy your creative side. To quote the section on this reason:

To Satisfy Your Creative Side

Sometimes your mind is abuzz with creative ideas, which you are not too sure of, expressing openly, you have a lot of fear of their acceptance, or you are not too sure how to start something like that, blogs are the best option for unleashing your creative ideas.

It not only gives you readers who might admire your work piece but also gives your confidence a boast.

One also has liberty to write semi-professionally.

(Remember to take a look at the complete list of reasons)

Is my mind abuzz with creative ideas?

Perhaps. Okay, yes. I mean, there are these tiny thoughts that populate my mind constantly and while I journal regularly, some thoughts just want to be heard, or written out loud.

Do I have a fear of acceptance?

I would like to answer this one with a resounding YES! because that seems to be the case, right? I wanted to jump off a cliff, so to speak, and get comfortable writing to an audience. But truthfully, I don’t completely fear acceptance. It may be more like I fear rejection. I fear ridicule. I fear negative comments and feedback.

So, where does that leave me?

411 Junkie started as a way for me to voice my thoughts on the information I gather from daily living. To put them into a post. To send them into the internet, curious to see who actually reads and responds to it. To see who provides feedback.

So it’s going to stay that way. Except, I’m going to open up the floor to include anything and everything worth sharing. Focusing on movies, television, and books is advice given by many individuals who gave advice on how to make a successful blog or how to turn your blog into a business. While I find this to be very good advice, I guess my definition of success is a bit different. I’m not set out to make money with this blog (although, maybe, perhaps, one day, I could use it to help me freelance some stuff. Maybe. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there). And considering the walk-through I just gave myself, my definition of success, the purpose of this blog, was to give my inner musings an outlet.

So, here’s to 2017! To being amusing, random, and freeform!

Blogging 411: Frustration!

So, I just discovered that some of my posts are getting posted to my “inactive” blog and not this blog. It’s this app I tell ya, but I’m sure it’s partly operator error.

Because of this discovery, please excuse the random posts that will pop up because I’m moving them over.

Your patience is much appreciated.

NaBloPoMo15: Wrap Up!

What a month!

Can you believe in 30 minutes it’s December 1st? That is, for folks in Hawaii Standard Time. I realize that half of the world is already into December 1st. The point is, can you believe it’s already December?

Where did the year go?

And just 30 days ago, National Novel Writer’s Month started.

Stats! (59)

Total words written (up until that “59” marker after stats): 14,878
Total Daily Posts: 29
Average words per day: 496
Longest post written: November 6 at 1,378 words (NaBloPoMo15: That Biggest Fear!)
Most words written in a day: November 6 at 1,378 words

Did I accomplish my goal?
Even though I didn’t really set goals except for posting daily, I do feel I accomplished what I set out to do. I wrote everyday and I posted 29 out of 30 days (and only due to operator error which was forgetting to click “Publish” before closing my computer).

Any takeaways?
Loads! This is my second year participating in this event and I love the chance to work and focus on writing. And now that I’ve met my goal of posting daily, it’s time to work on content. How to improve my writing.

And that’s not just for blogging but writing in general.

I also appreciate looking back at what I wrote and deciding whether I could have done something different. I haven’t gone through that process yet, but as the year comes to a close, I know that I’m going to be analyzing what went on this year.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I love having an excuse to write everyday, to think about life everyday, and to think about how I want to spend that day so I can write about it.

So, fellow writers and participants in this annual event, how did you do? I hope you were able to accomplish your goals this month and had fun doing so.

Until next year!

411 Junkie: Unplugged

In the past five years technology has almost tripled in efficiency and productivity. We have continuity across all devices, whether it’s your laptop, your smart phone, or your tablet. It’s amazing! You can continue to work on your research on your phone even though you’ve shut down your computer and have gone mobile.

You can call your friend who is on her yearly trip to Europe, or some place exotic, and talk to her via video chat. Technology is amazing. We’re accomplishing things we’ve never done before.

And yet …

And yet, there are times I feel too connected.

You receive a text from your significant other, but your hands are busy at the moment soaked with dishwashing soap because you’re cleaning the kitchen so you don’t check your text. But two minutes later your phone is ringing because you didn’t text back.

You receive notification from your Facebook feed and ignore it because you’re reading your assignments. A couple of minutes later you receive another notification from your Twitter feed and ignore it because, again, you’re reading your assignments. And yet, another minute later you receive a notification that five emails have come through.

Are we too plugged in? Too connected?

Quite simply, we are. Or at least some of us are. I know I am, that’s for sure.

I have a two Facebook accounts (one for my blog and other personal), I have a Twitter account, an Instagram, SnapChat, About.me, Google+, and I won’t even tell you how much emails accounts.

You’re crazy!

I am.

And I’d like to say that I am able to manage all of it in a way that I create balance in my life. Most times I do, sometimes I don’t.

But I do believe now and then you have to unplug.

And how do you do that?

I admit, it’s challenging, but here are a few things I do to unplug.

  1. I make it a point not to touch my phone or any mobile device when I’m eating, especially if it’s at family dinner – Call me old fashion, but accepting phone calls or watching TV during dinner time was strictly forbidden when I was younger. My parents made it a point to sit us all down for dinner and that was all we did. Eat dinner and talk about our day. No phone calls were taken and the television stayed off. I keep this tradition to this day, especially if my family is eating out. I’m serious. My phone stays in my purse. So does the iPad.
  2. I make it a point to schedule down time – I schedule at least an hour or two of everyday when I turn off all electronics. No TV, no computer, no iPads. My phone stays on only for emergencies and I only answer it if it’s family during this time. This is hard during the week since work takes up most of the day and I am a part-time student whose classes are online, but I definitely do this on the weekends. Instead of waking up and turning on the TV or booting up the computer, I grab a book or a magazine and read. Or I grab paper and write letters. Or I grab my journal and write. The important thing is to stay offline during this time. 
  3. I make it a point to go outside – I know this sounds simple enough but when I first thought of this, I realize just how hard it was for me to actually step outside. Half the day would go by before I realized I hadn’t set foot outside. To change this habit, I started scheduling it with my down time and instead of reading in bed, I’d take my book outside. I’d leave my phone in the house and just sit outside for 30 minutes or so.
  4. I make it a point to wear a watch – Even this sounds simple enough, but how many times have you pulled out your phone to check the time and then saw your email notifications or your social media notifications and decided you’ll just skim your email or just check to see why Facebook flagged you. Before you know it, it took you ten minutes to check the time? If you wear a watch, you won’t have the need to check your phone or any of your mobile devices.
  5. I make it a point to get involved – This may be hard. It was hard for me. I’m introvert and spending time by myself is easy peasy for someone like me. Attending community meetings was a step out of my comfort zone. And it took me a while to actually speak up and contribute at these meetings, but I found myself going two hours without a computer or phone. And the bonus is I get to meet interesting people. Getting involved, whether it’s a community meeting, or volunteering at the local hospital, is a great way to unplugged and instead make connections. Real connections.

In a world where people are heavily reliant on their technology to get through the day, I believe it’s even more important to unplug now and then. And if you’re an active user like I am, unplugging for days at a time may not be realistic. Instead, take it in stride. Thirty minutes here, an hour there. Unplugging helps you reconnect with yourself and others. Unplugging support a healthy and balanced life.

 

Week Ending: A week of writing

This upcoming week will be the final full week of National Novel Writing Month and all its equivalents, including National Blog Post Month. The goal for novel writers is to hit 50,000 words towards that novel by November 30th, 11:59 p.m. The goal for National Blog Post Month is to post to your blog everyday.

Well, I am happy to say that as of right now, I have managed to post 20 out of 21 days (even though I wrote that one post on the day, operator error did not post it). I have also written 11,488 words averaging 547 per day. I was thinking about those numbers, feeling pretty good, when I realize these numbers did not count all the writing I have been doing for school.

And I realized this when I was going over this week’s study schedule for my classes. It is finals week for Intro to Social Psychology and our final is a comprehensive exam with twelve questions. Each question has a word limit of at least 300 words each question, not including citations. This is a whopping 3,600 words! It is also mid-terms for Ancient Greece History. Our mid-term is a short paper with a word limit of at least 1,000 words, not including citations. This work alone puts me at 16,088. This doesn’t include the weekly form posts I need to turn in for each class. Each post has a word limit of at least 250 words. which comes out to 1,500 words so far, if I’ve been following correctly.

I am not including any of the letters I wrote or the endless social media communications. I’m only counting writing where writing is the goal and intent. And that is still a lot of words.

In the end, I know it’s not really about the numbers, at least it’s not that way for me. And I am not posting these numbers to brag, but to show how much writing we do without thinking. What I love about this annual event is that it allows me to focus on writing. It allows me to be aware of writing and how much writing I am doing and if I’m writing at all.

There are eight more days in the month. The home stretch. The final sprint. There is Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the crazy holiday season still left on the list of topics to push your writing.

And while I’m not writing a novel, I am still rooting for all those who are.

And while I have a lot of writing ahead of me this week, the importance of free writing or creative writing is just as important as academic writing. I see academic writing as a way to practice structure and prefect content that is to the point whereas creative writing pushes the limits of your imagination and storytelling.

I hope to accomplish both.

So, with eight days left of this wonderful event, best of luck to my fellow participants! Cheers to writing!