When The Snowflakes come back (NaBloPoMo Day 30)

photo credit: snowflakes5-horGG via photopin (license)

Is it over already? 30 days? Of all the years that I’ve done NaBloPoMo, this time around has been the least “bleh”. Though it’s also ended in the most protected posts.

Now that I don’t have to expose my writing on the internet anymore, I can go back into my recluse and focus on writing college essays. Clearly, I’ve spent some posts writing drafts, but finally, there’s no pressure to post on a regular basis. (I’ll remove the password post-college decisions)

But even as I’m starting to think about college essays again, I’ve been wondering about the benefit blogging really had throughout high school. Though obviously not as consuming as most extracurriculars, I definitely do spend a non-trivial amount of time editing and writing each post, without a specific aim, without a specific focus. I never considered myself one to have extreme writer’s block, but whatever benefit I derived from simply churning out words month after month without too much concern for quality clearly isn’t evident. College essays definitely require more anecdotes and reflection, sometimes to the point that it hurts, and sometimes, I’m happy to hide behind vague ideas on this blog.

On another note, I surpassed 200 posts somewhere in the middle of the month.

Another idea that’s been buzzing around in my head is the true value of hastily writing something, specifically, on BSing it.

I rarely ever start writing something with the mindset of BSing it, but I often do take ideas and spend 2 or 3 times the number of words explaining it than necessary, often to reach a word count. Even then, I consider it writing badly, not necessarily BSing.

But what about writing BS in order to get to the good writing? Whenever I desperately need to write something I don’t want to write, I go to Write and Die, set a timer for 15 minutes, and force myself to let the words flow. More than often, I’m pleased with the end result ever time I get to the end of the 15 minutes. At the beginning, the ideas are jumbled, with sentence fragments and short paragraphs taking away any structure the writing originally, had, but as time goes on and on, the ideas become more refined, often just through starting over and rewriting, and something semi-coherent is left at the end.

Depending on how much I care about the resulting work, I either edit it, or leave it as is. Generally, I spend way too much time editing writing for it to be an efficient use of my time on schoolwork (especially considering that it rarely gets read), but I also spend an inordinate amount of time “editing” posts on this blog that maybe should have just been structured better to begin with. Sometimes, I read back on stuff that I didn’t edit, and it’s completely understandable and coherent, and it’s difficult to figure out what the value of fine tuning every word really was. Sometimes, I read back on works that I wrote in middle school that I know that I spent hours poring over and editing and rewriting by hand…and they’re embarrassing to read. (Cue Stories from Middle School)

This is a realization that I reached a bit too late, but not all writing has to be concise and clear in order to be effective. At one point, I thought that my blog could serve as a diary of sorts, where I could post about every day. As with the reasoning with NaBloPoMo, maybe the pressure of posting every day would force me to edit and closely look over my pieces. Yet at the back of my mind, I knew this wouldn’t work. Online, I would constantly self-censor my work, leaving out important details that I would simply find embarrassing, even if they looked seemlessly benign to an outsider. As a result, I started using Google Keep to store these diary-esque entries. And since they weren’t public, they were often 15 minute unedited blips that jumped from topic to topic.

That’s when I realized that it didn’t have to be perfect and public in order to be valuable.  There’s a place for public writing, and there’s a place for private writing. And then there’s college essays.

Happy December. (For anyone on WordPress, it’s only December when there’s officially snowflakes on your blog. This is always a nice end to NaBloPoMo)

Fun Fact: In the quest for discovering the value of leaving writing unedited, and for writing posts without an outline or any structure of sorts, I decided to leave this piece unedited (Once a complete word was down, there was no going back) and unstructured (Once an idea came to mind, I put it down.) .


Giving Thanks: 13 Reasons Why Not

photo credit: 17082050 via photopin (license)

A complement to my post last week, Thirteen Reasons Why in honor of Thanksgiving.

  1. Anyone who has ever said any variation of “Please let me know if you need anything” and follows through when I do ask.
  2. People who send me random things online, whether it be sites, articles, pictures, random, etc.
  3. My parents, for constantly reminding me to get more sleep and for bringing me fruit whenever I’m working on homework
  4. People who I can nerd out with and still be someone accepted (aka people in every
  5. Late night Google Hangouts
  6. Anyone with a car – because of the rides and the conversations that happen during those rides
  7. Anyone who actually gives a damn about something substantial
  8. The existence of paper, the medium of writing and origami
  9. Finding the perfect song to match my mood or to work with
  10. Being in a bad mood, realizing it’s just because of water deprivation, and then drinking a bunch of water
  11. Opening WordPress and finding out that someone has left a new comment
  12. Young adult novels that expose me to the serious issues and petty drama of other people’s lives .(Also, crushes on book characters)
  13. All the larger privileges I’ve been born with that allow me to indulge in these tiny wonders.

Potential ideas I thought about writing about today but didn’t


Is this picture relevant to the post? Not really.

After yesterday’s post drained me a bit emotionally, I wasn’t willing to put a similar level of effort into today’s post. I’ve been keeping a list of potential post topics outside of my Google Keep in my notebook.

Here’s a sample:

  • My diary entries from 2009 and 2010 from this same day.
  • Favorite recently read books
  • Why yesterday’s post got the most views compared to the other posts I wrote for Nablopomo
  • How sympathy and humor can both help make the best of a bad situation
  • Random doodles in my notebook
  • What’s really sacrificed with sleep deprivation
  • Another “Stories from Middle School” (It’s the last one I really have.)
  • Vague ramblings about education
  • Why fixing the system is more important than fixing the people in the system.
  • The problem with practicing too much + not receiving any feedback (from an education system standpoint)
  • Thoughts on community organizing and activism
  • Reasons I’m thankful for having trichotillomania
  • Getting people to care about things
  • Problems with climbing up the meritocracy
  • Reflections after rereading various works (Stop Stealing Dreams, 13 reasons why, Paper Tigers, Disadvantages of an Elite Education)
  • The gods of high school
  • Whether acting more fake is the solution to actually becoming more authentic
  • This article

Hoping this list will help with another day of writer’s block.

Songs: Bouncing around various songs by The Script (She Is, Superheros, Science and Faith)

Scheduling, Time Efficiency, and the Elections

I’ve been trying this new thing out where I plan out my entire night before I start working. Write out a basic list of things I need to do with an approximate time on it, fit it into a schedule, and stick to it.

Here was my plan for tonight that fell apart after 8:00.um

Previously, I just had a list of things that I needed to get done and getting a certain number of them done was considered successful. However, even this was relative

This schedule has motivated me to stay on task, but I tend to take too long transitioning between tasks. A 5 minute “break” switching in between assignments can easily turn into 20 minutes, which can easily turn into an hour obsessing over election results on the computer. 1

I’ve noticed that I can generally focus well for up to 2 hours before some stubborn unwillingness to work kicks in. (This also applies to when I’m using the Pomodoro technique.) If I genuinely try at something, my brain will start hurting and it takes a while to recover.

Problem though: When the schedule doesn’t go to plan (like today), is the option to stay up later and risk losing sleep or transferring the stuff to the next day? The most urgent stuff was all at the top, so it got done, but what about the stuff at the end of each day that doesn’t get done because there never seems to be enough time?

Pretty sure the answer is some more clever re-ordering and becoming more efficient. Increasingly, I’ve been feeling guilty for choosing sleep over arguably more urgent things (and still feeling tired during the day) and my productivity is nowhere near its max.

Inspirations for this post:

Song: Pandora.

  1. While everyone else was panicking about HERO, I had my eyes glued to school board election results. Not a happy day. 

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4.5/5

“I might not be in love, but I’m in like. I’m in serious like”

Maddy spends all her days at home. She goes to school online, and only her nurse Carla and her mom visit her regularly. Everything she touches has to be sterilized, and there is an airlock in her house. Because her condition, SCID, means that even the slightest contaminant can kill her and that she’s essentially allergic to the world.

But after her birthday, a new family moves in next door. There happens to be a boy: Olly. And immediately, he catches Maddy’s attention. You can guess how the story goes from there.

I read beforehand that this book would be good for people who enjoyed Eleanor & Park (and who doesn’t), and it’s true. Because it’s pretty much the same story. Another lopsided romance novel between two misfits involving family issues. Plus a plot twist, which was foreseeable near the end.

This non-unique premise didn’t stop me from putting down the book every few chapters or so to squeal at the adorable-ness, that intensity of having a first crush. The feeling of slowly getting to know someone, the chats at 3AM in the morning, the lack of words when you finally meet them. The little notes Maddy writes to herself that unconsciously reveal her feelings. All these emotions are hyped up even more since Maddy has had barely any encounters with guys to this point, much less guys her age.

But all that youthful giddiness is mixed in with family issues, personal conflicts about what is worth dying for (literally), dry and sarcastic one-sentence summaries of classic books, journal entries, and the hum-drum of everyday life from someone who’s confined to her room. Maddy is likeable and intelligent, and I kept laughing at her conversations with Olly through out the book.

All in all, a book with multiple layers and a refreshing and quick re-introduction into (unrealistic) realistic fiction.

Personal notes:

  • This was the first physical book I’ve read for leisure in a long, long time. Most other books I’ve read on my Kindle. But I happened to see this in my school library, and it was faster and easier to get than the OverDrive copy.
  • Maybe reading this book the weekend college apps were due made this a lot more enjoyable. (I managed to read this in front of my laptop without getting distracted.)
  • Crushes on book characters >>> crushes on people

Song: She Is, The Fray

And it begins again: NaBloPoMo 2015

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Because for some reason, I only find posting every day for a month slightly terrifying.

Before the jumble starts again,  some (more) meta thoughts about writing.

  1. I talk to myself. A lot. Interesting stories, potential ideas, assorted non-epiphanies, I’ll tell them over and over to myself until I realize I’m wasting my time. (This does wonders for my productivity…not.) And most of the time, no one else hears them. I distinctly remember being stopped in the middle of the hall in middle school by a friend and asked “are you talking to yourself.” At a board meeting a few weeks ago, as I was coming back from the restroom, an adult came up to me and asked “are you practicing your speech?” That’s when I realized I was whispering to myself about nothing.
  2. Comments have been dwindling down on this blog more, and more and more, this has been a place to post cleaned-up versions of theories. As soon as something is typed out, I generally stop trying to convince myself of it.
  3. Note to when writing the rest of my college essays: Writing them backwards (e.g. from stories -> thesis) DOES NOT WORK. YOU WILL GO IN CIRCLES.  I am speaking from personal experience. It hasn’t been drastic for blog posts…but IT WILL LEAD NOWHERE IN COLLEGE ESSAYS. (Clearly, I learned this the hard way.)
  4. The one major difference between college essays and (my) blog posts: anecdotes. I would always write a draft of an essay before realizing that it lacked something…personal. The reflection parts sounded pretty much the same, but the narrations reminded me of the writing I used to do in middle school.
  5. At the beginning of 8th grade, my English teacher showed us this TED talk. Since then, I’ve like seeing literature as a way for (warning: non-epiphany ahead) people to reflect their humanity at each other.
  6. I’m not exactly sure whether I write well when I’m tired.

Same disclaimers as last year (and the year before that):

  • The day isn’t over until I say so. Depending on the situation, the day may start from midnight, or it may be defined by when I go to sleep. (Also don’t be surprised if I change the times on these posts so they’re within the hours of the day.)
  • Because I’m going to be writing about whatever comes to mind, some posts may be password protected. My main reason for doing this is to know who’s reading each post (sucks for all you silent lurkers out there). I’ll probably tell you the password if you ask.
  • Motivation comes to me sporadically. That means that even though I may have the drive to complete NaBloPoMo today, that state may not hold a few weeks from today. A little extrinsic motivation would be nice, ahem.

Song: Slice, Five for Fighting

Blogging Existential Crisis: NaBloPoMo Day 30


This is how I’m feeling:

(no but actually, I’ve had this song on repeat the entire day.)

In other news, this is my second time experiencing the last day of NaBloPoMo. And just like this day last year, I’m feeling remarkably unaccomplished. [post from last year] I wasn’t nearly as invested in it this year, and the only thing I really accomplished was publish a good 8 posts that had been sitting in my drafts folder.

And go through a blogging existential crisis.

I was looking through some successful blogs, and I realized that blogs like theirs had been my original inspiration for starting my blog. And while they had gone about growing their following and joining the blogging community, I had crawled into the hole of claiming that this was a “personal” blog and spending hundreds, if not thousands, of hours meekly writing my own posts.

I suddenly wished that I had one of those successful blogs with a loyal followership and tons of comments on every post and a personalized site with pretty graphics and regular features and professional looking photography and everything. But I just hadn’t spent the time doing that. I ignored most of the advice I heard early on about blogging, namely to have an ideal audience in mind and write about a few topics consistently,  because  1) I didn’t have a particular area of expertise, and 2) that sounded like too much work. Why couldn’t I just write about whatever came to mind?

Now, nearly 2.5 years and 150 posts later,I still don’t have a good answer for 1), but  I can pull out a couple common themes throughout my posts, namely, math. school, and like, high school nerd life. I don’t know. If I have the time, I may give this blog a major revamp and start treating it more seriously. Or I’ll just wallow in blogging-existential-crisis pain. We’ll see.

In the meantime…

Potentially interesting statistics from NaBloPoMo 2014:

Posts: 30

Word count (not including today) (including titles, tags, etc.): 12,975

Difference in word counts from NaBloPoMo 2013 and NaBloPoMo 2014: 3648 (whoops)

Most popular post: Not something I wrote during NaBloPoMo.

Second most popular post: Ditto (hint: it was because of all the sophomores in WHAP)

Most popular post written this month: If you’ve never failed a test, you’re studying too much 11.05.2014

Least popular post written this month: Recommended Reading, 11.19.2014

Most popular day: 11.25.2014 (thanks again, sophomores)

Least popular day: 11.20.2014

Countries reached: 53

Most obscure country: Guernsey

Total ad revenue: $0.00

Goodbye NaBloPoMo, and happy December.

  1. Last year, I published my last post for NaBloPoMo past midnight with a sigh of relief and randomly went to another blog. I noticed the snowflakes falling on their site and became intensely jealous. I spent the next hour figuring out how to get them on my blog, and the next week, I obsessively changed my theme and background, trying to figure out how to make the snowflakes show up the best. This year, they came automatically. (thankfully) 

Weekly FAQ

Why have so many of your posts been password protected this week? 

First off, there’s only two that have a password. Of the others, two were written in a rush and don’t really have coherent ideas. And one wasn’t written by me. You’re welcome.

Can I still read them? 

Sure, though I’m not sure you’d want to. Just ask me for the password.

Are you ok?

Well, the cold weather is causing my eye to start puffing up and my nose to start running and my throat to start feeling scratchy. The week before Thanksgiving break is approaching, and the two days before the break have historically been horrible. (Last year, I had a test and mental map due the Tuesday before break, and overnight, a cyst appeared that nearly shut my right eye. Fun.) Also, I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Hence the crabbiness and lack of writing. Let’s just call it seasonal adjustment.

Are you sure you want to keep doing NaBloPoMo?

Yeah, why not. (Actually, don’t answer that.)