Writing challenge day 2: My breakfast today

Today I’m going to have overnight oats for breakfast which I made yesterday night. I was actually very excited to wake up and have breakfast before I even went to sleep a couple of hours ago…

So what is overnight oats?

I had oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds mixed with unsweetened yogurt. Mix mix mix… Then I had soy milk poured into the mix. Mix Mix Mix again until everything is well blended. I put that in the fridge and left it overnight.

Today, I’m gonna take it out, put a bit of coconut shreds into the mix and have it like that.

For flavour, I can also use dates, dried cranberries, honey or sliced banana… however, I usually keep it very simple.

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Writing challenge day 1: What I wore yesterday

I had to attend a workshop that required formal attired, hence I picked the items that could present me in a smart casual style.

So I had:
– a white blouse with embroidery of flowers on the front
– a plain black jumper
– jeans
– sneakers in a neutral tone
– an oversize coat.

Google Mobile Sites Certification

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Freewriting Edition n: the five Cs in my writing

What I aim to achieve for my writing and how I’m going to address it:

Confidence
Before writing anything, I will start with “I want to….” (e.g. I want to tell readers about the publishers of this story) or put in a question to prompt my thinking (e.g. “What do readers need to know about the story?”). This tip has helped me so much with overcoming the writer’s block, as well as keep my thoughts from being disconnected when I had to take a break.

Because I start from what I’d like to communicate, rather than speaking from the third person, I feel that I’ve owned my messaging (which is manifested in my written words), which gives me the freedom to express it more easily.

Clarity
My writing is a reflection of my thoughts. So until I have clarity in my thinking, my writing will be murky, foggy and muddy.

Many people use mind maps, or list, or post-it notes to visualise their ideas very clearly. They will all help.

Now that I’ve realised this. Before I write anything with a computer, I will sketch on papers the key things I want to say and draw lines between each point. I will actually (re)plan out what the structure of my chapter or key points to be included in each section. In fact, I have a big wall of post-it notes with the structure of my thesis. And my handbooks are now filled with handwritten notes of what I want to say.

Coherence
I find this is one of many challenges with writing, especially dealing with (1) a large number of words (40k words for a Master’s thesis) which have been written (2) throughout a long period of study (2 or more years for a Master’s thesis). Somewhere along the way, something will get derailed very easily.

What I am trying to do now is always go back to my research questions, and make sure whatever written down will point back to the research questions. I would also like to finish the whole thesis, take a few days off and go back reading everything with a fresh mind. It sounds like an unbelievable luxury to have especially in the interest of time that I’m currently coping with.

The other tip I’ve learned (which I haven’t had any chance to do) is getting someone else to read the writing and critique.

Conciseness
No one wants to read something that has no focus and goes on and on. Once I’ve completed the whole thesis, my mission is to cut down all the unnecessary parts!

Captivation
Tell the story! So easy, yet so hard.

I have read papers that are so easy to read and give me incredible motivation, and papers that I can’t even finish the first paragraph (cos I can’t understand a thing!) I strongly believe that the impact of your work lies in the receiving end of how it’s perceived and understood. So what’s the point of hitting all the technical marks, yet the readers don’t find it interesting?

This gives me the courage and confidence to keep my writing very simple, reducing the pressure that I have to sound academic by using sophistical words…

This episode of freewriting has taken me longer than I had planned. But hey…

Colours

“Prominent kinds of meanings with which colours have been attributed: in particular, colour symbolism and colour naturalism. The former is illustrated with examples from the Middle Ages, with traditional associations between colours and values or ideas—such as the conventional adoption of particular colours for various saints and other biblical characters in art works or broader associations such as, for example, ‘black’ with ‘death and sin’ and ‘white’ with ‘purity and divinity’ in Western traditions. Colour naturalism, in contrast, is situated against the backdrop of a loss of conventional, or semiotic, uses as colour became more of an embellishment, a way of achieving naturalistic effects, of recapturing the world as it appears to the eye.”

The Language of Colour: an introduction
Theo van Leeuwen (2011)
Reviewed by: John A. Bateman

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van Leeuwen’s colours and Fairclough’s discourse dimensions

This is a 10-minute reflection writing.

In Theo van Leeuwen’s 2011 book The Language of Colour: an introduction, he pointed out that there are three organising dimensions informing the social semiotic investigation of colours.

First, the semiotic resources of colour themselves. What materials are colours made of? What technologies used to produce the colours? What’s the characteristics and textuality of colours.

Secondly, the cultural practices of which colours are used and developed as a communicative resource. What is the message that the colours want to convey?

Thirdly, the societal practices of semiotic change, as the values and meanings attributed to colour within changing practices also change. How have the colours been traditionally, conventionally and symbolically perceived? Does one colour contain different meanings when put in different cultures and contexts?

These dimensions fit in well with Fairclough’s three-tier of the social theory of discourse.

AUT Writers’ Retreat Day 2

Here are some reflections of Day 2:

I attended the morning workshop. The first half is about Writing your paragraph, and the second half is about Peer Review.

Key takeaways:

  • Have a purpose for your paragraph. Use the first sentence as the statement to communicate the purpose of the paragraph with the readers.
  • Use questions to prompt yourself. For example, I put “What do I want to tell the readers about this article” as the headline for the first paragraph. By answering that question, my first paragraph will come together.

Decide the structure of the paragraph, do you want to bring the readers to a point, or do you want to expand an idea? Have someone to read your writing. It will trigger questions and tease out assumptions that you made subconsciously. Before leaving your writing, always put down what you’ll want to do next so you don’t lose the chain of thoughts. These workshops are highly recommended! So important to be reminded of the basics and best practices in writing.

My realisation:

  • When I OWN what I want to communicate, writing will come more naturally and easily. This comes in 2 ways:
  • I have to know what I want to say exactly
  • I have to know how to say it (How will I say the same thing to a friend?)

Explain explain explain! Articulating addresses 2 issues:

  • It will be easier and faster for the readers to grasp the topic
  • The pressure to meet the word count will be lifted.

Have a clear structure helps A LOT. Visualise the structures, using post-it notes or drawings or whatever. Break down the writing into smaller portions. Plus have a clear purpose for each paragraph. The writing will come much easier.

What I’ve done today:

  • Headed to the beach for a walk
  • Read through the first article that I’ve picked
  • Made an outline of what will go into the analysis. Feeling like I can write it much easily now.
  • Have written about 900 words for a new article. Better than I have ever achieved in a couple of hours.

AUT Writers’ Retreat Day 1

This year, I’ve been very fortunate to be able given a space in the Writers Retreat at Long Bay.

Here are some reflections of Day 1:

You’re not alone.
Ever wonder why you’re struggling so much with your journey and whether it’s really just you? Well, I’ve talked to a few people and they are as slow as I am. They all talked about being carried away with work and life and no time to study. Sounds familiar?

Some people even encounter with terrible things such as their supervisor passed away… who would have thought.

Get tips and tricks

  • Use a time-keeping app (Focus Keeper)
  • Free write. Don’t get it right, get it written.
  • Write as if you’re telling a friend
  • Plan your writing, in the discipline of time, as well as in the discipline of length
  • Know yourself: maximize your productivity during the hours that work for you. In other hours, do something else
  • Trick yourself: do easy tasks, write just about anything…

Write for the ones who read it
The examiners are all who matter. Of course, you’ll want everyone to read your thesis; however, the examiners are the first to pass.

Cultivate that habit to write
This is everybody’s problem. So… trick yourself! If you have to, con yourself into writing using different tips and tricks.

Personally, I think self-discipline is key!

Get rid of the attractions
Emails, phones, messages… turn them off.
I’ve gone extra lengths to block myself out of social media, online shopping sites, and even the work website. Until… I had to actually be able to view Youtube videos for writing and I couldn’t. And I do actually need to use the work website for a work email and couldn’t as well.

You will also underestimate the amount of writing you have to do
I’ve experienced this myself and I’ve heard from people now. Writing time doesn’t mean you will sit down and start writing. It involves getting into the momentum through reading, thinking, conducting a few rituals. Not surprisingly, to some people checking social media and making sure they’ve got on top of everything is part of the ritual. For me, it’s about actually putting my head into thinking what I want to say through my writing.

Remind to self: writing time DOES include editing and proof-reading, multiple times. And time is not always on our side.

Sometimes you have to trust the journey
One of the goals that I set for myself is finishing the Methodology chapter (currently at 7k over 10k word counts). However, I was so struggling with identifying exactly what my methodology is.

Had a chat with Jennie over dinner and told her about my struggles. She suggested me completing the analyses, and trust that the methodology will rise up from the work. She said: sometimes you will have to trust the process.

I remember vividly Helen had said this to me, on multiple occasions, but it hasn’t really sunk until now that I’m actually getting into it.

What I’ve done today:

  • Consolidated the word counts, currently at 25k over 35k – 40k mark
  • Read more articles and publications on methodology. I think now that I’ve got a hang of how the methodology can come together. As I was reading, I have also added key points to my drafts.
  • Have made a decision that I’ll ditch 2 analyses that I had picked. So I had a look around and have decided on what will be the replacements.
  • Got myself into some work stuff and wasn’t pleased about the lost time…

This post is for Glenn

Glenn is a technician at Te Papa Museum who was mending the support desk when I came to him asking for help.

So I was scheduled to give a presentation at a conference this morning at 11.45AM. Thanks to my awesome time management (??!!), I only managed to pull the presentation slides and script ready by 2AM the previous night.

When I checked in with the conference organiser, she told me to come to the Speakers’ Prep Room during morning tea and someone would sort me out.

So there I was, coming to the Speakers’ Prep Room at 10.45AM, merely an hour before I was due to go to the stage. There, I found Glenn.

I asked if he could load the presentation slides for me and while saying that, I’ve also prepared myself that okay if he says it’s too late, it’s fine. I’m just going to bring up my laptop and roll with it.

To my surprise, he said “Of course” with a very very very big smile.

Then my slides were uploaded, I tested them, feeling happy. Then I asked: do you know if there’s any printer around that I can print my script?

He said there are printers but the fastest thing to do is he will have to print it for me, and it will take about 15 – 20 minutes. And he asked me to come back, just before coming up to the stage and collect my print-out there.

And I thought, hmmmm, that sounds a bit risky. What if he forgets to print out for me then, do I have to wait then? What if when I come back, he’s not there anymore, who am I going to ask. Etc and Etc.

So I say: I can wait if that’s alright with you.

He hesitated a little, probably evaluating how important it is to print stuff for this random person compared to perhaps a million other things that he’s supposed to do now. Right at that point, 2 men walked in and asked him about their presentations.

I sat down on the bench and just waited for them. Fortunately, their questions were answered very quickly. Glenn then stood up and said: alright now i’m going to print this for you. It’s gonna take 15 – 20 minutes. And he ran away.

So I waited and waited. The nerves must have been kicking in that I started to feel impatient and anxious. I stood up and started walking up and down the room. The clock now shows 11.15AM, then 11.20AM. I’m thinking: hmm what if he gets caught up with other things on the way. And I waited and waited. I heard footsteps running up and down and I wanted to rush out to see if it’s Glenn coming back. But then I thought: Be cool, be cool. It’s okay. Don’t show your nervousness! The footsteps come again, but it wasn’t him! I tied up my hair. Checked myself in the mirror. Touched up my lipsticks. Smiled to myself in the mirror. Turned left and right and see how I looked like. Pulled my sleeves, adjusted my shirt. I sat down again, thinking: when is he going to come back!!!

Finally, Glenn appeared and he rushed in, panting, handing me the papers and jokingly said: HEY! Wake up, don’t fall asleep.

We laughed it off and I said: wow the printers are so far away eh?!

He said: You know it’s one of those things that you have to go through. Plus this is Te Papa, you have to go here, and there, pass this and through that. I have to use two passwords and ask someone to check me in. Well….

Then at that point, I realised … Glenn was a stranger to me a couple of minutes ago. I asked him to do me a favour that he could easily just decline to help. I wouldn’t even mind if he did. Instead, he helped me, ran around and jumped through a few hoops to help me print some papers that I totally can live without. He was neither being difficult nor being challenging about the whole thing. He did just help me and didn’t probably realise that gesture had given me so much confidence and a little peace of mind.

Reflecting back, this experience has grounded me and reminded me to always be helpful to our customers or clients, or just anyone in need.

Thank you Glenn of Te Papa!