Motivation, that elusive beast… until you find a friend at least!

Okay, can we take a moment to appreciate my rhyme in today’s blog post title before we continue? Motivation, that elusive beast, until you find a friend at least? I didn’t even plan for it to happen, it just did, and it works so well for what this post is about: using buddies to inspire you to finally get shit done! (Go me!)

Okay, moving on…

Motivation, that elusive beast... until you find a friend at least! | Five reasons friends are great when your thoughts on a task move from excitement to frustration | post and illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Friends who are as blind as I: click on the photo to be able to read/zoom the text.

Wanting to do it but lacking motivation

I feel like we’ve all been there – whether it’s as bloggers or creators or gym-goers. We have the things we need to get things done, we know we want to do it, and yet we just can’t get ourselves to actually put it in action. Somehow, what starts as motivation and excitement for what’s to come slowly drifts into this feeling of impossibility.

I mean, look at this blog. I’ve planned launching atypicalnarrative since… November of 2016? I had the design done, knew what content I wanted to create, had plenty of ideas, even had a stockpile of drawings to pull from. But for some reason I kept feeling like I couldn’t do it. I would have moments of inspiration where I would work of things, but then it would all fall away and I would end up putting it off for another day.

It took me four months to publish my first post and, I’ll be honest, my main motivation was the fact that my good friend Josette launched her blog: Made of Mint. I had one of those “shit, if she can do it so I can!” moments. (And here we are, two months later, already struggling to keep it up.)

But hey, you know what that made me realize? Sometimes the best way to get things done is to brings your friends along for the ride.

Friends to save the day

After I published my first blog post, I realized I needed something (or someone) to help me keep things on track. I took to Twitter to request a blogging buddy and Inge and Iris both volunteered. We came up with a set time, an hour or so on a certain weekday, and devoted that time to motivating each other, discussing our thoughts, and getting shit done.

And you know what? Best decision I ever made for this blog. While I did have a lapse in content this past month, I am finally back on track after reaching out to Iris once again for our weekly blogging sessions (we took a hiatus while Dave was here).

You see, having a “blogging buddy” (or writing buddy, exercising buddy, etc.) is great for so many reasons:

Motivation, that elusive beast... until you find a friend at least! | My current blog buddy and motivation trapper: Iris @ eattrainread.com | post and illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

my current blogging buddy: Iris @ Eat Train Read
(and her cat, Fury, of course)

  • Schedule: Setting aside a certain amount of time each week to dedicate towards what you want to do is so, so beneficial. Knowing that Iris and I are going to each devote a certain hour Mondays and Wednesdays towards blogging automatically puts me in the state of mind of getting things done.
  • Accountability: Of course, sometimes it’s tempting to just shrug your schedule off because you’re not feeling it. This is a lot harder to do if you have a buddy. Even if you can’t actually devote that hour as you intended because other things get in the way, it’s a lot harder to abandon it completely because you know the other person is counting on you. (For example, this week Iris had to work on an essay so couldn’t devote our hour to blogging, which was fine, but she still made herself available to chat with me which meant I still felt supported.)
  • Soundboard: Sometimes its nice to get feedback about a post before publishing it into the wild. Whether it’s struggling with what to write, worrying about a controversial or taboo subject, or just wanting someone to proofread, it can be great to have a buddy around. While Iris and myself don’t actually trade posts that often, we do often talk about the content we’re creating and share our general thoughts on the matter.
  • Motivation: Obviously this is a reason, otherwise this blog post wouldn’t make sense. Beyond the internal motivation that comes with having a buddy, you get external motivation as well. I love that when Iris and I are done with our hour we usually mention what we’ve accomplished and congratulate each other, even if we didn’t do all that we wanted. It helps you recognize your successes instead of obsessing on all the things left to do, which can sometimes be difficult depending on your state of mind.
  • Inspiration: I mean, geesh, without a blogging buddy I wouldn’t have this post, would I? haha. But no, even beyond that, you may find that your discussions with your friend may help you come up with something new that you hadn’t thought of.
  • Friendship: Lastly, and I think this is one of the best things, having a partner working with you towards your goals really helps build up a friendship. I considered Iris a friend prior to this blogging buddy business, but I feel it even more so now that we’ve worked together towards our goals. We devote two hours every week towards working together and I enjoy the chats that go with it – even when they go outside the blogging realm. ❤

I mean, I think you get the gist. Having a friend working with you towards accomplishing the same goal makes capturing the elusive beast of motivation so much easier. If there’s something on your list that you’ve wanted to get done but haven’t found the time/motivation, consider asking for a buddy online. I highly recommend it.

(And now, back to our regular schedule of nonsense content because this whole “tips/advice” post makes me a little squeamish. Since when do I feel able to recommend how to do things to others? I’m no role model!)

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What do you think? Has anyone else had success wrangling their motivation with the aid of a partner? What kinds of tasks do you feel you need help getting done? If anyone is looking for a yoga, C25K, or art partner, let me know. While I’m working on sticking to a daily schedule in which they’re included, I’ve been pretty hit or miss on my own so far. 

Uprooted: the book that makes me say “FIVE FUCKING STARS!!!”

Read This Books! Uprooted by Naomi Novik, the book that makes me say "FIVE FUCKING STARS!!!" | Review and Illustration by Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

How did I feel about Naomi Novik’s Uprooted after finishing it? Well, let’s refer to my notes, shall we?

SO FUCKING GOOD! FIVE STARS! I finished with a huge ass smile on my face. I just, ahhh.

Hm… I’m not sure if that really encompasses my feelings. Let’s take a look at my Goodread’s review.

FIVE FUCKING STARS!!!!!!

Is this book perfect? Not necessarily. But I loved every second of it.

Okay then. There’s my thoughts on Uprooted. I gave it five stars and it makes me want to say “fucking”. That’s good enough for those who just want my general thoughts, but for those who want more…

Warning: There is some mild spoilage below. Nothing that I would consider to ruin the plot of the book or anything like that, but if you want to go into it knowing only what the blurb reveals, you may want to turn back now or read the headings but nothing else.

The unlikable but likable characters

I am a character-focused reader so of course I have to start by discussing the characters. And let me say, while I didn’t necessarily like the characters of Uprooted, I loved them. 

Think about that a second. I didn’t like them but I loved them. Seriously, the fact that Novik could make that happen makes her a queen in my book.

You see, the characters definitely had their flaws. The girl who the stories focuses on, Nieshka, was quite annoying and irritating at points with her defiant attitude and reckless actions. She was, in many ways, a Special Snowflake (warning for those who can’t stand the type) and though it was great seeing her stand up for herself and do things of her own accord, it would’ve been nice for her to think about the possible consequences of her actions before running into trouble at every possible moment.

And the Dragon? The guy who lives in a tower and kidnaps a girl from the nearby town once a decade? Well, he was definitely a cranky old man with no patience. There is no limit to the amount of verbal abuse he spews at Nieshka throughout the book and, really, it would’ve done him good at times to break himself free from his traditions.

But hey, you see all that? You see all these issues with these characters? I DIDN’T CARE!

Yeah, Nieshka was stupid at times, but it meant things kept happening! The book kept moving! There was always some nonsense going on because she couldn’t just leave well enough alone.

And sure, the Dragon was a bit of an ass, but I totally understood it! If some girl came in and totally disrupted my way of life after decades of doing what I have to do as the HBIC wizard of the land, I would be pissy and short-tempered with her as well.

For me, there was just a perfect balance for these characters to be unlikable but likable. They had their flaws (don’t we all?), but there was enough understanding on my part to still root them on.

And that’s not even getting into the other characters. Let’s just say for those of you who want strong friendships in a book: Kasia, Kasia, Kasia. I love that girl

That magic stuff

Haha, come on, don’t you remember my Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them review: Fantastic beasts, boys, and magic… It doesn’t take much to win me over? I’m a sucker for magic in stories.

I think my favorite thing about the magic in this story is how… evil it was. (That’s not surprising, huh?) I loved that The Woods was this mysterious place full of dark magic where people would disappear and the trees themselves couldn’t be trusted. And that even when the wizards used magic, it was often to fight (even at times against themselves). It didn’t seem like the magic was just used for the hell of it. It was ruthless and intimidating in many ways, and I think that’s a good thing.

I also liked the contrast that appeared between Nieshka’s and the Dragon’s magic. While it did make her seem a Special Snowflake in some ways, it was quite intriguing and I enjoyed watching their different types of magic come together.

I’d say the only thing that didn’t work for me at times was the consequence of using magic. This was one of those stories in which using magic exhausts the wizard, and using it too much can be deadly. And yet at times it seemed like wizards were using magic after magic after magic with some minor fatigue but nothing as serious of a consequence as one would expect. I mean, obviously I don’t know the daily limit to a wizard’s power, but boy, were they put to work.

Oh, and I would’ve liked Baba Jaga to make an appearance or to dive deeper into her story. I wanted to know more.

The bow-chicka-wow-wow

Lastly, let’s end this review with a word on the romance.

I am not a romance reader. I prefer stories without and will steer away if I know a book focuses heavily on the love with between two MCs. Luckily, this book isn’t like that.

Novik is sort of a tease. She gets you excited about the romance that takes place within this book, but then it pulls it apart… and the puts it back together… and then pulls it apart. I actually found myself disappointed when the romance was separated and excited to see what would come when reunited – such a rare thing for me!

There just seemed to be the perfect balance between allowing some intimacy to form between these characters without pulling away from the action of the story. Things happened, as things do, but they always turned back to the trouble at hand.

Plus, the fact that neither character ever sacrificed their identities for the other? That they were both stubborn and did what they felt needed to be done without letting their love and affection for each other get in the way? Loved it. I feel like it’s needed so much more in the stories I read.

(Though I will say wow, I’m not used to reading adult books. Some of those scenes were a bit intense… haha.)

So that’s it! My long, ramble on Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. Is it a perfect book? Not necessarily. It is sitting high on my favorites shelf? Absolutely. It’s a book it seems readers either love or hate, so hopefully you end up on the love side with me.

And, if nothing else, it’s got a pretty cover. (Well, the UK version anyways.)

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Want more of my madness? Don’t forget you can follow me elsewhere:
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Have you read Uprooted? Let me know what you thought below! Disagree with me on anything? Anything else you loved that you think I missed? And if you haven’t read it yet, do you think you will? What can I do to convince you it’d be a good life decision?

Have I found my art style yet?

One of the hardest things about illustrating again is attempting to figure out my “style”. I try not to think too much about it because I believe in many ways it can be counter-productive, but I would be lying if I said that part of me doesn’t want to be able to look at my work and see traces of consistency.

Of course, the funny thing is, oftentimes when I post my illustrations on the blog or on Instagram, my friends will respond and say “Your drawings are so you!” or “I can always recognize when one of your illustrations pops up in my feed.” How do they recognize my style when I don’t? To me, the illustrations I posted in my last art update, were sort of all over the place. Some had dark outlines, some had lines in their hair, some had (bad) coloring, etc. I mean, variation is great and I like each of those pieces for one reason or another, but to me it was still very obvious that I was just trying to get used to creating again.

I’m happy to say though that with this next batch of illustrations, I see a consistency and I really like the results. And it’s not even because most of my illustrations are based on the same photo shoot, though I’m sure that helps. I just see a connection here between each image where even though they contain different personalities and looks, they all represent a similar style.

That being said, this batch of illustrations is from January and I can assure you that changes are still taking place, especially as I experiment with adding colors to my work. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I like still being able to see my growth each month as I reflect on earlier pieces and it’s encouraging to know that my style is making itself known.

Illustration based on Feb 17 Vogue: Dior Ad || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, Dior advertisement

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Dangling Modifier" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Dangling Modifier” as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Small Wonder" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Small Wonder” (p. 168) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "At Attention" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “At Attention” (p. 165) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Far and Wide" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Far and Wide” (p. 163) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration Based on January 2017 Vogue: "Moment of the Month" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, January 2017 ed, “Moment of the Month” (p. 98) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on February 2017 Vogue: "Business as Usual" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, February 2017 ed, “Business as Usual” (p. 164) as photographed by Willy Vanderperre

Illustration based on November 2016 Vogue: "Gray Lady" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Gray Lady” (p. 205) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on November 2016 Vogue: "Flower of the Flock" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Flower of the Flock” (p. 207) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on December 2016 Vogue: "Eye to the Ear" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, December 2016 ed, “Eye to the Ear” (p. 241) as photographed by Josh Oline

Let me know what you think! Have any thoughts on the illustrations above? Any comments on my style or your question to find your own? I know a lot of creatives who read my posts are writers so would love to hear from your perspective as well: do you ever think/worry about your style when writing or are you too caught up in creating to notice? I’m curious!

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