This morning I did nothing. Or I nikste or was busy aan het niksen. The productivity gurus, except David Allen, would probably call it procrastinating because there is also a shitload of work I still need to do. Except I did it consciously. Why? Because I strongly believe in the power of niksen. It makes me more productive, creative, smarter and even happier in the end. I really had to laugh this week because suddenly niksen, according to Lifehacker.com, was the Dutch concept to become happier and live a happy life. Well there is another Dutch word which I think would contribute even more to that and that is called lantefanteren. Basically niksen, but with a small more positive difference you can just do as you please and there is no aim in whatever you do. You can stare out the window, take a long bath, whatever you like. Basically, you let your mind, body and soul wanders in any way that pleases you. So why should you incorporate niksen or lantefanteren in your writing or work routine? Here are 5 reasons! Reason 1: For the fun of it! Yes, just do it for the fun of it! Why should you always be busy? Why should you always “do” something to enjoy yourself? Why should you always create the right environment or sit in a certain position to create peace and calm? Just be in the moment and do nothing J. What more of a reason do you need? Reason 2: It makes you more creative To have time to wander makes me 100 times more creative. Because like taking a shower the moment you let your mind wander and there is no pressure to do or create something, the best ideas pop up. This works brilliantly with writers’ block as well. Take the pressure of your mind and let it wander. And if nothing comes out of it that is ok too, because the purpose was doing nothing at all J. Reason 3: You connect the dots and it makes you smarter By taking pressure of your mind by doing nothing and allowing yourself to do nothing it’s like removing the traffic jam out of your head. Suddenly all the roads are clear. Cars can go where they need to be. This makes your brain go Yi Ha! Suddenly new roads are built, connections are made, solutions pop up and information is stored better. So yes, it makes you smarter and makes new connections. Who would have guessed by doing nothing you become smarter J? Reason 4: It makes you more productive (yes, yes I know it sounds strange) Doing nothing makes you more productive. The main reason is that you give your brain a rest and makes it possible to replenish all the willpower and decision-making energy you depleted by just going on and on and on. Also, it just gives your brain and body a rest so the next time you use your brain and body they are more rested, making you more powerful and energised to do the things you need to do. Basically, you beat fatigue by letting your mind, body and soul wander. Reason 5: It makes you happier So, if the above 4 reasons do not make you a tiny bit happier and convince you to schedule to do nothing once in a while, how about it just makes you happier? To give yourself permission to do nothing, to take all pressure off, to do small things you enjoy just for the heck of it, gives you a deep feeling of relaxation. And when you are one of those people who needs to be busy all the time, the doing nothing might be agony. When you can get back to work you are so, so happy. So, the result in the end is the same. Although in my humble opinion it’s better to enjoy the doing nothing time… Lantefanteren and niksen You read the above and you are ready to do nothing. Only you have worked always so hard, always kept the pressure on or your niksen was always a form of procrastinating and you literally do not know what to do now???? I recommend the following: schedule 2 to 3 hours of niksen-time. Make sure you can be either alone and won’t be disturbed or be somewhere with so many people it will have the same effect (like a nice coffee place). The best place is your home or. When you start and it’s your first time, set an alarm so you do not have to worry about time. When you are more experienced you can let the timelimit go because every time is different. Listen to your mind and body when it tells you enough is enough. And then 1, 2, 3 ready steady go…. Yes just do nothing ….. Enjoy! Niksen: to idle or to muck or literally: doing nothing Lantefanteren: no translation found...: doing small enjoyable things without purpose or planning
A theme of the past weeks has been a lot of people who are stressed out, anxious, on the verge of being burned out or going through life changing events. I think it’s in the air. What I want to share with you is a technique I use when I’m under a lot of pressure or stressed out and nothing seems to help. I came up with it when I was at a point in my life where I hardly could cope with everything. And the suggestions that I had to control my breath, have a mind with empty thoughts when I meditated, stressed me out even more. Now I use the hurricane-technique for everything. It’s a great technique when you’re stuck in a creative process, want to write and cannot write or there are just too many damn options to choose from. And the best thing is, you can do this anywhere, anytime and for as long as you want. The most effective way for me: In bed, right before I sleep. Or in a chair right before a demanding or creative task or first thing in the morning when I wake up anxious. No pressure. No demands. Easy and let go.
Step 1: Be the tornado or hurricane whichever you prefer :)Imagine yourself as a hurricane. A huge swirling wind with a calm eye in its centre. The outside layer of the wind is everything that happens outside of you. All the pressures, demands, emails, other people, anything you can think of. The inside layer of the wind are your thoughts, your emotions, your ideas, your feelings. Because you are the hurricane all these elements are mixed and form a real storm. Let the storm blow. Feel the destruction. Feel it’s power. Feel how fast it swirls around you. Just let it be. It’s ok that it’s there. Just let it swirl. If you do this more often you will start to notice the intensity of the hurricane and the thickness of the layer of wind will differ depending on how you feel.
Step 2: The eyeImagine yourself as the eye of the hurricane. You are the eye. Your emotions, your thoughts everything else are the wind. They are swirling around you. Let them swirl. They are not you. You do not have to control them. You do not have to slow them down. Just accept that they are there. They do not define you. They are not you. You are the eye. Just observe. Sit as long as you want. 30 seconds or 5 minutes or even half an hour. No pressure. If you do this more often, you’ll notice that the size of the eye will vary in size depending on how you feel. When I started this exercise, the wind was literally in face. Now I have kilometres of space around me. Just let it swirl. Everything is ok.
Option a: The eye advanced ;)You can, if you feel comfortable, start to play with the wind. Let it grow, let it go up and down, let the speed vary, calm it down, speed it up. Put some colours in it. Just have fun and play.
Option b: The eye advanced ;)You can also let the wind be and focus on the eye. Make it feel peaceful. Imagine sounds, colours, images. Everything is ok as long it’s peaceful for you. It’s your happy place. My happy place is sparse. Just blue sky, sunshine and some green grass, water and mountains.
Step 3. ReadyWhen you are done you are done. This can be after 30 seconds, after half an hour or even after an hour. When you are done sit for two more minutes without looking on your phone or talking to someone. And that’s it. You are now ready to tackle the world or write your masterpiece or go to sleep.
You are the hurricaneThe more often you practice this, you will start to notice your breathing will become calmer, you will be more at peace and will move more inward. But the great thing is. You do not have to. Easy. No pressure. Just let it swirl around you. You are the hurricane.
It was a privilege to be able to spend a week training with Wim Hof, aka the Iceman. A week which literally blew my mind and let me love the fear. A week in which I met incredible people and learned a lot. Not just from Wim Hof himself, but also from the people who I met on this special journey. So I would love to share these “lessons” with you. All of them applicable on writing or publishing a book as well! Something you should know before you start to reading is that just two weeks ago I was that girl who did not dare to jump into cold water and even in the warmest water would take an hour to get into the swimming pool or sea. Last week I sat in an ice bath, thrice! The longest was 15 minutes and the crazy thing was; it was easy and I could have stayed longer. My conviction is: you can do that too!
By being ego-less you become fear-lessYou're probably aware of the feeling when you are in a situation where you need to do something that is important to you or difficult or scary and you awaken this extra power inside of you. You put on this shield so you can perform or it protects you from what might come. You might even start to work harder instead of smarter. My initial reaction to the ice bath and some of the other activities we did was to tense my muscles and then go for it. Except with the third and also last ice bath I just couldn’t do that because of the breathing exercises I just did. I felt completely vulnerable. No ego was left, it was just me. I could not work harder or do more. Then a miracle happened. All I did was step into the ice bath and sit down. Nothing more, nothing less. It was the easiest ice bath. I just let go and relaxed. No panic, no tension, I was just being in the moment. And I rocked it. When I started getting cold I took control of my mind and directed the warmth where it was needed and let go again. From that moment on, I applied the same principle to all the activities and exercises we did. No tensing up, no putting on an energy shield when it got difficult, scary, needed a lot of strength or got tough. I relaxed and let go. This way I jumped of cliffs, swam in icy water, faced my inner fears and climbed a mountain. By becoming completely vulnerable and letting go of your ego you become fear-less and can climb the highest mountain and face the toughest challenge all with a smile :)
Start before you are ready; Just go for itWhen you want to achieve something. Most of us prepare a plan. Want to know for sure that what they are doing is the right thing and they are ready for it. Well, news flash: life is full of insecurities when you face your fears and achieving your life goal or writing your book are definitely two of them. You are never ready. You just have to create momentum and jump. The moment you create momentum there is no way of going back. Except the voice in your head: “Sh*t, did I just do that?” and before you realise it, you jumped of a high cliff in icy water and all you can do is be in the moment and go for it. So let go of your program and just go for it. No more excuses, just follow your intuition. And no, there are no special preparations or techniques you need to learn before you get into an ice bath or jump off a cliff or write a book. You just need to do it, create momentum and let go.
Love the fear (and do not f*ck yourself in the process)The motto during the whole week was “f*ck the fear” although it was basically about love the fear. Dance with your fears, embrace them, go deep. You do not always need to know where a fear is coming from or what a feeling or fear means. Just embrace it and do not let it hold you back. During the breathing exercises a lot inner demons came to visit all of us. Just by breathing fully in and letting go they were there the one moment and gone the next. Everybody has fears and it is not about beating them or dismissing them (you'll f*ck yourself in the process by doing stupid things). It is about dancing with them, embracing them and not letting them hold you back. And you can do more than you think you are capable of. And yes you can realise your dreams!
Your knee fits into your armpitYes, it’s true. Your knee fits into your armpit, your hands underneath your feet. Basically you are whole and fit into your own body and soul. By using your own body you create the boundaries you need to support yourself. Your body knows and has it's own way of working things out. As is the same for life or any plans you make.
ALL OF US HAVE AN AMAZING STORY TO TELL OR SONG TO SINGAll of us, and there are no exceptions, have an amazing story to tell or songs to sing. And there are so many amazing stories to learn about. Sometimes they are simple and small, sometimes huge and very emotional. By sharing these stories we create a safe environment and common ground to grow. During this week I met the most amazing, crazy people and just by talking to them and sharing stories you create new experiences and new worlds start to open up. And all of us have stories to tell some of them even worthy of a book :). We are all books filled with blank pages which are waiting for stories and songs to sing.
Wim HofIf you are interested in Wim Hof or his techniques or want to experiment with his method, I recommend going to the website and doing the free 3 week online course or download the app WHM on your phone. The cool thing is that almost everything he does is backed up by science. New studies are coming out soon. In the end it’s all about being happy, strong and healthy. Easy does it. Just breathe and love the cold. Hippies anew. PS please do not f#ck yourself by doing both the breathing and cold on your own, in the water or by driving! Following the instructions in the WHM app or from the video's on the WHM website!
Loop je met een steengoed verhaal rond? Tijd om dat op te gaan schrijven! Maar ja, hoe pak je dat aan? Als je het simpel wil stellen zijn er twee manieren om met je boek te beginnen. Met de ene aanpak denk je je boek van tevoren helemaal uit. De Amerikaanse auteur John Irving doet dat bijvoorbeeld. Hij begint bij het einde, en schrijft van daaruit zijn boek. Met de andere aanpak ga je meer te werk als Herman Koch. Die weet vaak zelf nog niet hoe een boek zich gaat ontwikkelen. Koch weet bij wijze van spreken net zo snel als de lezer of zijn hoofdpersonage een moord heeft begaan.
Welke aanpak voor het schrijven van een boek past bij jou?
Kortom: er is niet één juiste manier van een boek schrijven. Dat betekent gelukkig dus ook dat jouw aanpak net zo goed is als die van een ander. Er zijn allerlei cursussen, adviseurs en redacteurs die jou hun eigen methode aanraden. Maar uiteindelijk gaat het erom, dat je een manier vindt die bij jouw manier van werken past en waar jij je goed bij voelt.
Tip: start met het framework van je boek
Ben je nog niet zo’n ervaren auteur? Dan kan het handig zijn om te beginnen met het framework van je boek. In feite pak je het proces dan net zo aan zoals John Irving dat doet. Voordat je begint denk je je hele boek uit. Dus je schrijft alvast inhoudsopgave en bedenkt alvast heel concreet wat er aan het begin, midden en einde gebeurt. Het grote voordeel van zo’n framework is dat je minder snel de weg kwijtraakt in je eigen verhaal. Meestal willen auteurs in hun eerste boek(en) veel te veel beschrijven, en dwalen ze daarmee af van het onderwerp. Terwijl less vaak more is.
En dan: loslaten!
Maar met alleen een framework ben je er niet. Want wat je vervolgens wel weer moet doen is datzelfde framework durven loslaten tijdens het schrijven. Veel boeken hebben namelijk een eigen flow en beginnen op een gegeven moment als het ware zichzelf te schrijven. En dat is helemaal het geval als je boek jouw persoonlijke verhaal vertelt, of in de vorm van een roman geschreven wordt. Maar de combinatie van én goed voorbereid zijn, én durven loslaten en daarmee te vertrouwen op het schrijfproces levert vaak de mooiste boeken op!
Stel je maar eens voor dat je een presentatie moet houden voor een groot publiek. Je hebt een mooie PowerPointpresentatie gemaakt, en van tevoren heb je goed geoefend wat je wilt zeggen. En dan, op het moment suprême gooi je je tekst weg en vertel je gewoon je verhaal. Waarmee je je publiek écht weet te raken, omdat het authentiek is, en geen ingestudeerd verhaal.
Bedenk - voor je van start gaat met het daadwerkelijke schrijven - wat het framework van jouw boek is.Wil je nu echt gaan beginnen met jouw geniale boekidee? Volg dan mijn gratis online training 'Je hebt een Geniaal Boekidee. En dan?'
En wat is jouw manier van schrijven? Ben jij meer een John Irving of een Herman Koch in je schrijfaanpak?
I recently received some requests from non-Dutch readers asking which books are great to read. Hence the blog in English… For me, as in everything I do, I always would like to know what a person likes. Is he or she a romantic, is it for work or general interest, do they like beautiful sentences or prefer the equivalent of fast-food? Personally I have no judgement about what you read as long as you read. When I worked in a bookshop, my most beloved challenge was to find a book for people who did not like reading or did not read much and find that particular book that would make them realise reading could be fun, entertaining or just very useful. I'm a very strange reader. I binge read and I read everything from pulp to scientific works to poetry. I do have my favorites. Below is a short list which could be called my “one-size-fits-all" list. It is international and has something for everyone. In no-particular order: Haruki Murakami is my favorite author at the moment. When I read his books and short stories it gives my brain a massage. Norwegian Wood is a good place to start. Timothy (Tim) Ferris' Tools of Titans. Not a book to read as a story. It contains a ton of inspiration, useful tools, tips and tricks and is just fascinating. I love poetry. The poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade is one of my favorites. It can be romantic and raw. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, a classic from 1937! Basically, the inspirational source of most business self-help books out there. And still valid to this day. The Circle by Dave Eggers. You have to read the book and only then are you allowed to watch the movie. Very good writing on how our world is developing into an age of no-privacy and a real life big brother. In a way it's our modern 1984 by George Orwell. And to give the above list some female balance: An oldie and a book which made an ever-lasting impression and has several story lines: The Temple of My Familiar from by Alice Walker.