Monday, August 26, 2013

Never Say These Things to a Writer

Being a writer can be hard, we all know this. What makes it even more difficult is when we are confronted by people who don't always know how to respond to your passion for writing. So, today I'm going to have a little "fun" and list some of the worst things to say to a writer; most of these have personally been said to me.

1. "Oh, you want to write? What else do you want to do?"

Um...did you not just ask me what I want to do or what I do? I understand writing isn't the highest paying job and at some point I'll have to go out and find more work, but consider for a moment that, just maybe, I want to focus my attention on writing, not another profession. After all, that is what I responded with first, not becoming a secretary or nurse.

2. "Stop planning so much and just WRITE!"

Okay, I'm not saying that no writer ever gets stuck in a rut and doesn't *purposely* put off their work. However, unless that's the obvious, particular issue you're addressing, never EVER say this to a writer. Planning and research can be the most time-consuming part of being a writing, and you should never rush into the writing until you're confident that your story is ready to be written. I've had people say something similar to this dealing with other things I work on as well, and let me tell you, I want to fly through the roof when the words hit my ears. If you don't want to be written into that writer's story and killed off, take some friendly advice and take an interest in their research - don't push the writer.

3. After hearing about the story concept: "Oh, that sounds like 'such and such' story/movie!"

Unless you've read the written manuscript and it obviously contains identical plot points and characters (plagiarism), don't say this. Just don't. It's insulting and discouraging to the writer. Think about it - a lot of stories have a similar premise or similar qualities in characters, but they can be completely different. Writers (should) know how horrible plagiarism is, and more than likely they're thinking something 100% different for the direction of their story than you are. You are not their mind, they are not yours - stop pre-judging.

4. "You write (genre)? I never cared for (said genre)..."

Ah, good. Thank you for taking an interest and then squashing me. You may not intentionally mean this in a bad way, but watch your words before you speak. Personally, I know not everyone cares for fantasy or has read much of it, and that's totally fine; everyone has their own interests and are completely entitled to their opinion. However, instead of saying "I never cared for fantasy," try just saying something like, "I never got a chance to read much of that genre," or instead ask the writer what her favorite authors/books of that genre are. Be sensitive.

5. "Can't wait to see you on the bestseller's list!"

This is just a personal preference. While sometimes this can be very flattering, and personally makes me blush, it can be a daunting thing to say to a writer. Someone at my church said something similar to this (several times, actually), and I wanted to hide. For me, it puts on wicked pressure because I'm shy to let anyone read my writing (I know, not a good quality) and then I end up feeling I'm going to let people down. Try switching this statement to "I can't wait to see your book on the shelves." To me, that's much more encouraging :)

6. "You want to do what? Write? Oh, that's tough. You can't expect to someone do the work for you."

Oh, really? Rats. I was hoping I wouldn't even have to write all the words; I thought there was a secret robotic mechanism for authors that wrote down their ideas into stories.
I had something similar said to me once (and no, I didn't respond as I fired off above). If you have the deep-setted passion for writing and getting your work published, whether you're an introvert like me or not, you WILL work vehemently towards your goal. Everything is difficult at some point, everyone has to work hard to reach their goals. Don't try to discourage me by saying I can't do it; I'll laugh in your face when I personally hand you a published copy of my book. (No, I wouldn't do that...I'm not that mean. It's passion and determination, that's all. ...Really.)

We as writers can also learn from this. These statements said aren't just limited to those who aren't writers; at least a couple of those said to me was said by someone in the creative field. When you meet a fellow writer or author, think before you speak and consider if you'd want the same questions asked of you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Should We Use the Word "Aspiring?"

So far, no one has come out and said they don't agree with my little logo above about being an aspiring author. However, I have read multiple blog posts from other writers who discuss this particular word, the meaning, and the dangers of it. What I've come across is that most people really despise the word and look down on others that use it. While I completely see other blogger and writers' points, I'm here to give encouragement, not beat others down just because they use one little word to describe themselves that someone else may not agree with. Let's begin with considering the word aspire, which according to Webster's Dictionary means to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal. What is it you seek as a writer? To simply write? To be published? To gain fame? To get your story out of your heart?

I refuse to say I aspire to "write" when people ask what I do or what I'm planning for college. I already write; I've written a novella and am working on an even bigger story at the moment. I am a writer, whether people like my words and want to publish them or not.

So, shifting gears for a moment. Shouldn't I be using the word author the same way if I wish to take on the mentality of not caring what others think of my passion? In one way, yes, I should. Webster's says that an author is one that originates or creates (don't those words give your heart a thrill?) or the writer of a literary work, as a book. A writer is simply one that writes. I'm a writer, and so therefore I'm already an author. Just to clarify, I'm not intending to be presumptuous and hope no one would take me for being so, but by this definition, am I not right?

Today, however, we associate the word author with someone who has a work already published, and that's an acceptable term. Therefore, let me clarify what I personally mean when I say I'm an aspiring author; what I mean is that, though I'm a writer and creator of stories, I'm someone whose goal is to get my work out on the shelves, to spread my stories to others. I haven't accomplished this goal as I would like because I'm in the "newbie" stages of being a writer, and I don't have anything published. I am constantly trying to gain knowledge of the subject of writing so as to better my stories, better my craft, and gain experience. I am aspiring to become the best writer, or author, that I can be. In one sense, I will always be aspiring.

When I say I'm blogging for aspiring authors, I'm not attempting to bring anyone down, to tell them that they aren't already writers. If you write, having a passion for telling your story, you are a writer. I gear myself towards those who are also in my stage of writing or haven't picked up the pen yet - I, as a "young" writer, wish to encourage them with my own personal experiences with writing.

Don't be condescending if someone uses this term, but instead applaud them for the efforts they give forth in pursuing their dreams of becoming a writer. Using the word "aspiring" doesn't mean you have to categorize someone in an "always try and never 'win'" situation; we are always aspiring to become the best that we can be.

***Just a reminder I will probably not be posting between 10:00AM-11:00AM in the following 2 Mondays as I'll be on vacation, but I still will be posting on Mondays. In the meantime, check out the new tabs at the top of the blog underneath the header. :)***

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm Going on an Adventure

Hey all,

I'm going on a three-week "vacation" to my friend's house starting Monday. I still plan to post the next three Mondays, however I have no idea what my schedule will be and so it more than likely won't be between the regular 10:00AM - 11:00AM.

I'm sorry to throw something different out there again right when I was getting into a regular schedule, but again, keep checking on Mondays :) Thanks!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Help

Last week my mom and I watched The Help again. I think this movie might just make it to my top 10 favorite movies - of course, the main character being a writer adds about 100pts extra.

First off, for those of you who haven't seen this movie, I want to give a warning that there is quite a bit of language. (You can check out IMDb's ( content advisory on the movie if you prefer to read the content before watching something). A few of the words said aren't always mentioned in a swear-form, and others are said because it is relevant to the time, but at the same time it doesn't hide the fact that the language is there. Anyways, just wanted to point that out :)

Again, this is a movie review, and I haven't read the book so nothing will be said on that matter. I always try to avoid major spoilers in my reviews, though I will say there are a few plot points I mention in here. They don't really give anything away, however.

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (love the nickname, Miss Skeeter) has just returned home from her 4-year college and finds a job with the local newspaper writing a column of household cleaning tips under the name "Miss Myrna," which she argues is at least a start. To help her write the column (since Skeeter isn't much of a household person), she enlists the help of Aibileen, a black housekeeper. Through this, Skeeter comes up with the premise for her breakthrough book - a book from the point of view of "the help." A dangerous idea, for both her and the black women who serve the southern families, she eventually recruits only two maids - Aibileen and her friend, Minny. However, as the story goes on and the truth behind the treatment of these women unfold, Skeeter and the maids find the courage to stand up to the prestigious, racist Southern women of prominent families.

Emma Stone plays Skeeter and is phenomenal; Emma has a unique edge in her acting abilities that makes whatever character she plays come to life with realism. Skeeter is a different character compared to her social circle of friends; she's independent, not focused on chasing down a husband, and sees the world through clear eyes (or wants to, at least). Awkward but confident, I felt a connection with her immediately as she pursued her writing dreams relentlessly and took a stand against the common view of everyone around her.

Viola Davis beautifully played Aibileen Clark, a quiet, sad maid who loves the babies she raises for the "white folk." Aibileen turns her focus not on the way she is treated, but in making sure the babies she cares for know they are important, despite the fact that their biological mothers don't seem to care for them. I'm sure many of you have at least seen her catchphrase floating around: "You is kind, you is smart, you is important." Her change from keeping silent to speaking out is both a bit chilling as you feel her pain and thrilling as you want to stand alongside her.

Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for her performance as Minny Jackson, and well-deserved it was. Minny was the maid who has trouble keeping from "sass-mouthin'" and can manage to laugh despite her circumstances. A to-the-point, strong character, she brought the best element of comedy to the movie - but careful. You'll face her wrath if you burn the fried chicken.

Other characters to note are Hilly Holbrook, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a spoiled, racist character and best friend of Skeeter, and Celia Foote, played by Jessica Chastain (who was nominated for an Oscar in the role), a real Southern, bubbly woman who ignores the issues of black and white and treats everyone with kindness, though she's hated by most in the town for reasons I'll leave untold.

This is a solid movie. It has plenty of comical moments, made brighter by brilliant actors and actresses, but it also addresses the serious issues of racism during the 1960s. This movie certainly opened my eyes a bit and reinforced how disgusting the racial issues were - and still are in some places - in especially the South (the movie takes place in Jackson, Mississippi). Entertaining and thought-provoking, the story is a must-see.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Know When to Write : 5 Motivation Tips to Keep Yourself Writing

On average, I can write about two chapters without having too much trouble with fluidness, but when I hit that third chapter, something breaks down. Sometimes I'm tired and my brain seems to refuse to work, or I just have to sit back and think about what I want to come next. Sort of a "you can only see so far in the headlights" moment. However, that action of stopping my fingers on the keys brings my thinking brain to a halt, and unless I have a really good feel on where I'm going, I get hit with writer's block.

What do you do in those situations? Well, one option is to walk away, give it a rest for a while and work on other things. However, is this really the right solution? Sometimes it is. There are times you just know you have to stop and take a break or you'll shut down. However, when I completely stop and walk away, I often lose my motivation to go back to writing, and that feeling can last for days. So the real question is, how do you know when to walk away and when to keep plugging along?

My advice: always take 5-10 minutes, or even longer if you prefer, to push yourself to keep writing. If you aren't already to the point of pulling out your hair but determined to give up then and there, this is going to make you lack in your discipline. Here are some suggestions when going the latter route of plugging away:

1) Using an example of the computer, since that's where I do my writing, don't even lift those hands off the keys. Someone wrote that simple piece of advice on a blog once (apologies I don't remember where!), and it stuck to me. I tested it out: the next time I had writer's block, I kept my hands on the keyboard and within just a few moments I was back to writing. The next day, I again hit a wall with the story, but this time I lifted my hands off those keys. Wham - motivation and inspiration gone; I felt tired and wanted to walk away. So, keep yourself poised on those keys (or around that pencil if you prefer paper) and simply wait until a word comes to mind that will get you started back into your great story.

(apologies for the incorrect link on this graphic)

2) Take a limited break. Set a timer, go do a quick chore, step outside for a moment, or grab some brain food. You might just feel reenergized to get back to that story.

3) Set a deadline. For me personally, being under a deadline adds pressure. I don't care for the feeling of the clock tick, tick, ticking away in my brain, screaming WRITE, YOU FOOL! However, I know that some people have the opposite personality and do their best work when given a deadline. Ask a friend to hold you accountable (you can determine on something like a set word count/number of pages or amount of chapters) and ask within the day or week if you met your quota. Knowing someone is going to ask you a specific question about your work will urge you to get the job done. (This is also perfect if you have a writing assignment for school or want to become a regular blogger.)

4) Remove distractions. Something drawing your eyes away from the pages? Remove it! If it's a picture of friends in a frame on your desk, reminding you of the hangout at the game you're missing, hide that frame in your desk drawer. If you're writing on the computer, exit out of or at least minimize those internet windows behind your word document. If you're phone keeps sending you text alerts, turn it off. Flee from temptation and focus on your writing!

5) Promise yourself with a reward. Hey, treats aren't just for dogs! If you come to a point in your story where you're truly stuck on a particular scene, whether you're not sure what should come next or a character is giving you trouble, determine something special to do after that scene is written. Try these suggestions if you're unsure:

-- You can't listen to your favorite song until you get through that scene.

-- If you get through that scene, take a quick break and browse some inspiring and calming pictures on pinterest.

-- You can take a break and go for a walk in the sunshine afterwards.

-- Go buy that new notebook or buy a cheap book for your kindle if you have one (yes, keep this money reward cheap - it is, after all, just one scene or blip, and I don't know about you, but I haven't been finding any extra money in the backyard trees of late).

Knowing for sure whether you need a break or need to keep plugging along doesn't have any definite answer to it. You'll often feel it deep within yourself whether you really do need to take a quick nap or if you're just being lazy and need to keep plugging along. Just don't lose hope and don't let yourself fall into the rut of bashing your work over one little scene. Everyone struggles at some point; you just have to climb over a few rocks to get to the peak.

What's your technique of staying motivated? Will you try any of these techniques? (If so, come back and share how they worked for you!)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Changes and Announcement

Changes? What? Again?

Yes, I'm afraid so, and I apologize. Only this last week I told you of the new address change for my blog. Well, today I had an opportunity give out the link to my blog to a friend, and I also signed up for something (which I will explain in a moment), and I just realized how ridiculously long it was. So, now, officially, the blog URL is I'm sorry for inconvenience!

Now, on to the announcement, and thankfully it is something exciting; I just signed up on Bethany House Publishers to become a reviewer for their books! Each month or so I will be receiving a free review copy of a book, and I'll have a month to read and review it on my blog. I'm excited for this little opportunity to get myself reading more (who doesn't love a free book?) and to be able to share some new book reviews with all of you. I don't have to receive a new book every month if I so choose, which is nice if I find myself getting a little swamped between my own writing and classes, but hopefully I will be able to keep up with it and have fun. So be on a look out within the next couple of months for some regular reviews!

**Remember to come back to the blog tomorrow between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM for a new blog post; since I've been changing things so much lately, I'll give you a little sneak peak at the post title, which is: How to Know When to Write: 5 Motivation Tips to Keep Yourself Writing.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Change of Address

Hello, everyone! I just need to let you guys know that the URL address for this blog is no longer It has been changed to A bit easier to remember I figured, and in the future I might take my name off as well, but for now I'm keeping it as I've just shown you. Thanks, all! Hope this didn't confuse anyone.