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Journal Thrive

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

Hands down the best thing that happened this year was getting our Finnish residence extended. I love Finland, and I’d like to stay here forever. My reason for naming this the best thing, though, is even more basic than that. Our lives aren’t going to be disrupted, at least for another several months when we have to re-apply. We don’t have to abandon the things we have going — Katie’s education, her art career, my writing career — to relocate to another continent and start everything over (again).

The world right now is in such a state that I’m less happy about things that happened than I am over things that didn’t. All I crave right now is stability, something I’m constantly working toward. Just to be able to live life without having to periodically justify my existence. Finnish immigration is seriously a pleasure to work with, they’re nice people and have always been incredibly kind and helpful, but the process is still stressful.

All of this comes down to money. Shifting away from my current publishing niche, learning new skills, and doing better at marketing my work feeds into that. Stepping up my game means earning more, which in turn means less stress over whether my immigration status will be renewed. The best thing that happened this year is that I get to continue pursuing my goals into next year.

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

How would you answer this question, reader?

Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!

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Journal Thrive

What Do You Usually Order in Your Favorite Coffee Shop?

Fancy coffee isn’t a big thing in Finland. Most coffee shops serve brewed coffee, tea, and pastries. You might find espresso and cappuccino. There’s one chain that does Starbucks-esque stuff, but they’re far outside the norm. In my favorite coffee shop I order a normal coffee and a pastry called pulla, which is just the Finnish word for bun. It’s a bread that’s similar to a cinnamon roll, except it’s made with cardamom and isn’t particularly sweet.

Coffee shops in Finland are drastically different than In my favorite coffee shop those in the United States. There’s no wifi, for a start. You don’t see people parked for hours with laptops. People go to meet up with friends and chat. When people are alone they’re usually reading the newspaper or a book. Many places have a lunch buffet, which is a single-option serve-yourself entree, usually with boiled potatoes and a vegetable.

To-go options aren’t a thing, either. If you see someone walking around with a coffee cup in their hand, you know they’re a foreigner. People get ample coffee breaks to sit and enjoy their beverage. Coffee shops serve coffee in real cups, not cardboard. They serve pastries on real plates, with real metal utensils. When you’re done, you bus your own table, too. No leaving a mess for someone else to clean up.

What Do You Usually Order in Your Favorite Coffee Shop?

How would you answer this question, reader?

Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!

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Journal Thrive

What Are You Most Excited About These Days?

This question seems a bit of a cheat, as it comes at the end of the year. I know that not everyone gets excited about Christmas or New Year. I’ve been there, and haven’t always found the holidays to be something to look forward to. Fortunately I’m at a point in my life where I can enjoy them.

Earlier this week it was my wife Katie’s birthday. I always look forward to that, because I get to spoil her. Today is Finnish Independence Day, which is seriously my favorite holiday here. You don’t do anything other than light candles, eat cake, and watch television. Watching other people party is the most Finnish thing you could possibly do.

Aside from feasting over the multiple days of Christmas and watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve, I’m excited about the things I’m going to accomplish in the coming month. There’s a lot on my plate, but I’m energized in a way that I haven’t been for a while. I’ve regained my passion for writing, and because of that a lot of other things in my life have begin to fall into place.

What Are You Most Excited About These Days?

How would you answer this question, reader?

Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!

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Journal Thrive

Do You Use Incremental Goals to Track Writing Progress?

Today’s question asks whether you use incremental goals to track writing progress. Are there weekly, monthly, or quarterly benchmarks that you measure your goals against? For my part I set goals appropriate to the project. With my current work-in-progress I have a dedicated bullet journal to track daily word count along with weekly and monthly benchmarks.

Based on my outline, I also have benchmarks for how far into the story I should by certain rough dates. The books breaks up into four sections of roughly equal length. Allotting myself 90 days to do this, I know that I’ve got more-or-less 3 weeks per section, and that by the 45 day mark the second section should be done. 

What’s surprised me are the number of people who responded saying they don’t track anything. They wing it. Some people seem to think that being organized in any fashion is anathema to the creative process. If that works for you, good luck and godspeed. I’m of a like mind with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”.

Incremental Goals to Track Writing Progress

Okay reader, I want to hear from you. Do you use weekly, monthly, or quarterly objectives to track your writing progress? You don’t have to be a participant in The Merry Writer game to play along here!


The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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Journal Thrive

On Being an Overly-Analytical Writer

Hi, my name’s Berin and I overthink things. Part of this comes from being a project manager. Some of it stems from living with an anxiety disorder. Another chunk comes from having executive dysfunction. It all comes down to need for well-organized information and processes in order to function and feel like I have some semblance of control. Today I’d like to acknowledge that I’m an overly-analytical writer, and talk about that a bit.

When I decided to write a novel, I didn’t start by creating an outline. I didn’t even begin with a project plan, you you might expect. The first thing I did was to develop a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). My project plan and the dedicated bullet journal came after that. Be grateful that my initial posts didn’t go into great gory details on those topics; I really wanted to write a 12-part series on laying out a bullet journal for novel writing.

(I still might, later, but it’s a whole other project on top of the novel and the blog.)

On Being an Overly-Analytical Writer

It’s okay to laugh, but it’s how my brain works. Honestly, getting the “heart of an accountant” stuff out of the way means that I can try to lean into the “soul of a poet” part as I write. It establishes a quiet, distraction-free space in my mind so I’m able create.

The SMART goal can be summed up as follows:

  • Specific: I am writing a 50,000 word first draft of a Gothic-inspired literary novel.
  • Measurable: I will write 600 words per day and chart my progress.
  • Achievable: It fits with my lifestyle, my other work, and my capabilities.
  • Relevant: This goal fits with my other goals and the life I want.
  • Time-Bound: The deadline for completing the first draft in February 29, 2020.

These are not ridiculous things to have clarity around before taking on a major endeavor like writing a novel. What I’m glossing over are the days of mental chaos that I had to tame in order to get to this concise summary of my objectives. I have to be overly-analytical about everything so that I can prioritize what’s important and chuck out the things that are so much noise and clutter.


Progress Report: Day 4

  • Today is day 4 of 90 on my journey to write the first draft of a novel.
  • Yesterday I wrote 630 words, bringing the total to 3,784.
  • That puts me 1,984 words ahead of my target goal, based on writing 600 words per day.
  • I’m currently working out of chronological order, writing the introduction scenes for each of the major characters.

Notes

  • Today is Katie’s birthday. As is traditional, I am making meat loaf and roasted Brussels sprouts at her request. She’s asked for pineapple upside down cake instead of a traditional birthday cake, so I will be making that from scratch.
  • To fit in with the subject of this post, I have to clean the kitchen before I cook. There can’t be so much as a coffee cup sitting in the sink. Ingredients and all necessary implements have to be staged. It just makes things easier.

Thanks for Visiting

Comments? I want to hear them! Questions? I want to answer them! Leave a message below and let’s chat about writing!

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