Three Books That Have Helped Me Become A Better Writer

Need inspiration? Having trouble finishing a scene? Need help creating spellbinding characters? Or do you need help getting started? Well here are a few books that I have read over the years that have helped me with my writing.

#1: Spilling Ink: A Young Writers Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

I was first introduced to this book during my Sophomore year of high school. I was attending a week-long writer’s workshop and The Young Writer’s Academy hosted by Penn State College. It was my second summer going, and we used this book as a handbook to help us create stories with more substance in it.

It’s a fairly easy read and has funny sketches throughout the book. What really drew me to this book was the fact that it was authored by two of my favorite childhood authors.

I was obsessed with the Amazing Day’s of Abby Hayes series by Anne Mazer when I was in elementary school, and for a few years, I dubbed purple as my favorite color because of it. Now it’s orange in case you were wondering.

In junior high, I started reading the Olivia Kidney series by Ellen Potter, and it’s a wacky series, but in a good way.

Essentially Spilling Ink goes into creating outlines, making spellbinding characters, starting your first draft, editing, and plotting. The author’s also share their experiences as writers and give samples of how to set up a scene and create a character with substance.

At the end of each chapter, there is a writing exercise that encourages you to practice what you’ve just read. Most of them are really fun, and they are flexible enough to where you can deviate from the prompt a little bit.

#2 The Writer’s Idea Book: How to Develop Great Ideas for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Screenplays by Jack Heffron

I actually found this book while looking for another book online and decided to give it a try. What really caught my eye with this book is that it has eight-hundred writing prompts and it covers most of the different styles of writing.

This book was also helpful for days when I was experiencing major writer’s block and needed an idea to help me exercise my mind until I was able to get my gears back in motion. The chapters are about medium length, and there are a lot of them, but most of the pages are writing prompts.

The one thing that is a downside but also gives the book character is the chapter titles. They are exciting and make you want to read further, but if you are trying to zero in on something it makes it harder because you have to read a page or two of the chapter before you realize it wasn’t the chapter you wanted.

It’s definitely a book to have in your writer’s toolbelt though, and it covers pretty much everything that you need to know about writing.

#3 On writing: A Memoir of The Craft by Stephen King

I was given this book as a high school graduation gift and let me tell you it’s hilarious! Stephen King has undoubtedly had an interesting life, and there was never a dull moment in the book. We even used it for a class during my sophomore year of college.

Aside from witty stories this book goes into detail regarding the dos and donts of writing. He also goes into the importance of having a writing quota and making sure that you keep writing every day. He even recommends that after you finish a novel, you let it sit in your desk drawer for four to six weeks before editing it.

King also gets right to the point and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. His advice is easy to understand. What I like most about it is that I feel like I’m experiencing what he experienced to get to where he is today through reading his memoir. It really humanized him and helped me understand that you have to work hard if you want to make your novel a reality.

These are just a few books that I’ve found helpful. I have a whole pile of Writer’s Handbooks that I still have to read. Such as Bird By Bird by Ann Lamott, Manual of Style and Usage by Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Reading these kind of books are important because they are written by authors who have published. They are passing down their knowledge to us, and we need to soak it up like a sponge.

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10 Things You Need To Start Doing Now If You Want To Make A Career Out Of Writing

As an amateur writer, I’ve looked to published authors over the years for advice on what to do if I want to make a career out of writing. Obviously, I haven’t officially made a career out of writing yet, but that doesn’t make me any less of a writer than the next person.

Here are the ten things that every writer who is serious about making it as a writer needs to do.

  1. Learn To Be Patient 

Patience is something that you must have when trying to get your work out there. When you submit to publications often times you won’t hear from them for weeks, months, or not at all.

When submitting to a publication, you should always take note of their estimated response time to your submission. Don’t bombard them with e-mails asking about the piece you submitted unless it’s a week or two past when they normally respond back to people about their submissions.

Sometimes someone from the publication will respond back to you and sometimes they won’t. It all depends on how big the publication is and how many submissions they get. More than likely they will only e-mail you if your piece is being published in their journal.

2. Edit! Edit Edit!

There are two approaches when it comes to editing for short stories and novels.

For short stories, once you have written the piece, it’s best to let it sit a day or two before editing it. That way when you go back and look at it, you’re fresh and ready to cut it down.

It is also beneficial to have one or two eyes objective eyes on the piece. It’s always good to give yourself enough time for this process as it will strengthen your chances of getting your work published. Especially for a contest.

For novels, you should let your story sit four to six weeks gathering dust before you dig into it. Especially if it’s the first draft of a book. At that point and time, it’s still your baby and your not ready to look at how bad it really is.

Having others look at your novel is also a good idea. Having an editor look at it as well is a good idea unless you are broke like I am in which case it might be best to find a mentor (preferably one who has published a novel in the genre that you are writing) to take a look at your work.

3. Get To Know Other Writers

Connecting with other writer’s is the best way to immerse yourself in the world of writing and meet people who are as serious about writing as you are. It is also an excellent way to meet published authors and receive words of wisdom from them.

Critique groups are a great way to meet other amateur writers. Usually published authors are the ones who host these groups so it will be more organized and goal oriented. It also gives you a chance to gain more beta readers.

Writing conferences are another way to meet published and unpublished writers. You can also make connections there and get an idea of what agents are looking for. It’s also a fun experience and makes you feel less alone as you all know being a writer can be very lonely at times.

4. Blogging

I used to think blogging was dumb mainly because I didn’t understand it and felt like I had nothing to say. But, through writing this blog I’ve found that I have a lot more to say than I thought I did.

Blogging is a way for you to share with others what is going on in your life. It is also a place where you share your wisdom and experiences that you’ve had. Blogging can be very soothing to the mind, and it helps reduce stress.

It’s also another way to connect with people and find others who have similar interests as yourself. Blogging gets your name out there and shows prospective employers that you have a voice and are using it meaningfully.

5. Focus on one thing at a time

As I stated in my previous post sometimes, I have a hard time focusing on one project at a time. Often times I just go from one project to another. Well no more. Sure having a bunch of novels sitting on your desk is an accomplishment, but having drafts, and unfinished pieces gathering dust under your desk is too much.

While your mind enjoys the rush of delving into a new world, it’s time to reign it in and focus on the projects that you’ve already started. Because what good is a bunch of drafts and unfinished pieces going to do you when you have nothing to show an agent?

You might be thinking how am I supposed to not work on anything else while I’m letting my manuscript sit for a few weeks? Instead of delving into another novel focus on shorter pieces to submit to journals and contests as you can. Yes technically it is creating another story, but it’s not a three hundred something novel. It’s 8-20 pages at the most and is your way of building a rapport for yourself as a writer.

6. READ!

Read anything and everything! If your submitting to a journal than read pieces that they have published in previous issues. Cater to the needs of the publication while still retaining your voice and making your story still yours.

Each time you read you gain more knowledge whether it be useful or not. It’s also important to take it what you are reading and really focus in on the level of detail the author goes into when describing characters and scenery.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to reading is to not compare their writing to yours. Every writer is different and while you can take into account the things that they did to make them a successful writer remember to be yourself when writing your own novel. Don’t mimic another author because you think it will be your ticket in.

7. Be Tough

Writers need to have a thick skin if they truly want to create a masterpiece. You cannot be defensive of your work to the point where you are not taking in constructive criticism and suggestions.

You also have to take some advice with a grain of salt. For example one of my classmates read over one of my pieces for me, and he suggested that I make it so that in the end all that has happened to this character was all a dream. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea, but it wasn’t something that would fit really well with my novel. Instead of going into all the reasons why it wouldn’t work I simply smiled and said, “Now that’s an idea.” It’s short and nice and won’t make the person who is looking at your piece feel uncomfortable about making future suggestions.

Do not be afraid of red marks all over your manuscript. While you may be looking at all of them and thinking, “Oh my god I suck! I should not be a writer,” you should be thinking “Well I have my work cut out for me, but I know I can do it.” Because you can do it.

8. Kill Your Darlings

This is something that goes hand in hand with being tough. Much like your first crush who never even knew you existed you have to be able to let go of it at some point. First drafts are rarely perfect and no matter what you think there is always room for improvement.

This is also why it’s important to give yourself some time between finishing your novel and editing as it will make it easier for you to let go and see things clearer. A first draft is like learning to talk for the first time. At that point, you are still trying to figure out what the meaning of your story is and who your characters are.

If you think about it, the first draft is kind of like an extended outline. Most of your scenes will be choppy, and a lot of your dialogue will be filler. Most of the time you will realize that your character is actually pretty dull and whiny unlike one of your side characters who are pretty much stealing the show.

9. Write Every day

No excuses! If you are serious about writing then it should be a part of your everyday routine. Even if it’s just a few words scribbled on the back of a receipt or a story idea that’s been tossing around in your mind for the past few days.

Right now I’m so tired that I feel like I could fall into a twenty-four-hour coma, but instead, I’m writing this blog and edited six chapters of my novel today. I understand more than anyone that we all have our obligations, but you need to make time to write.

Writing should be an extension of you and when you are finished writing you should feel refreshed, frustrated, happy, or sad. I know that’s a bundle of emotions I just put down there, but writing can be very emotional and at times can be taxing especially if you are going through writer’s block.

10. Active Rest 

While it is essential to keep your creative chakra’s flowing daily it is also okay to take a break from it. And when I mean break I mean a few hours or part of a day. Unless you feel like you need a whole day which is understandable because I have had those days Even then you should at least try to see if you can catch a flame.

When I need a break from my writing or feel like I need to take a step back because I am not getting anything done I usually read, watch a movie or tv show, play video games, or go on a walk. Most of the time I am ready to get back into it after clearing my mind, but sometimes I just can’t seem to come back from it.

The important thing is to not force yourself. If your mind and heart aren’t in it,` then take a break and go back to it. If you still feel the same then give yourself more time off. But, don’t let days go past or you’ll make a habit out of it.

Another way to break through writer’s block is to look up writing prompts online, or go through unfinished pieces and see if you can pick up where you left off.

While I do not claim to be an expert on what it takes to become a full-fledged writer, I am confident that all the things that I have mentioned will get your one step closer to your goals. I know that it will get me closer to my goals because I am in it for the long haul no matter how long it takes.

 

Who Is The Persevering Writer?

Hi all,

As some of you may have noticed, I have decided to sign my name to my blog, and I included a widget to my Instagram which I just started back up yesterday that follows my life as a writer. It’s also called the Persevering Writer.

When I first created this blog I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be good enough and that no one would be interested in what I had to say. Even though I only have a small following base, I’m still very grateful for those of you who take the time to read my blog.

It was actually a friend of mine who convinced me to attach my name to my blog. He told me that I should be proud of what a write and not care so much about what others think. So I did it!

I hope that you all continue to follow me and my journey in accomplishing my goals. I hope to grow as a writer and a blogger over time welcome any suggestions or tips from people in creating a successful blog.

Stay tuned for my next post on Friday! I have no clue what it will be about yet, but I have the whole week to figure it out.

The Wandering Mind

Growing up with ADHD I always had trouble when it came to focusing on what I was supposed to be paying attention too. Often times in school I would space out and miss a lot of important instructions that teachers gave us. My classmates and friends would be exasperated with me and tell me to pay attention more.

I couldn’t help it though. School was boring for me as a kid, and all that I could think about were the various stories that were playing out in my mind. That and thinking about how many snacks and books I could buy with my allowance.

As I got older, I learned to focus more in my classes mainly because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have graduated.

When it came to writing, however, I found myself bouncing from one project to the next. I would complete one novel and then move on to the other, and before I knew it, I had thirteen books in various stages of drafts and some not even completed.

I suppose I figured that I would let editors worrying about the editing plus the thrill of working on a new project always excited me. It was like discovering a new world that only I knew about.

In the past year or so I began to realize that I needed to stop moving from one project to the next and focus on one at a time. So I made myself a promise that I wouldn’t work on any new novels until I finished with the growing pile I already had.

Well that only worked for about a month and then before I knew it I was writing another novel and now I’ve got myself wrapped up in another one after finishing that one. I got so into those novels that I was barely working on my edits for Anarchy.

I knew that I had to make a change, so I sought out some help from published writers that I met through taking workshops and from the Penn Writer’s Conference 2017. I decided that what I need what as mentor.

One of my contacts connected me with a woman who owns an independent publishing company and is a published author. After speaking with her, she was able to help me set some goals for myself and gave me tips on how to focus on one project at a time.

For example, let’s say that like me you have a 500+ word manuscript to edit and wanted to get it edited by the beginning of June. Then take a week or two ironing out the plot and begin my rewrite by mid-June. Hopefully, I can finish it out by August or September.

So here would be my daily goals each week:

  • Monday
    • Editing of Anarchy (1 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (30 min.)
  • Tuesday
    • Editing of Anarchy (2 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (1 hr.)
  • Wednesday
    • Editing of Anarchy (1 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (30 min.)
  • Thursday
    • Editing of Anarchy (2 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (1 hr.)
  • Friday
    • Editing of Anarchy (1 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (1-2 hr.)
  • Saturday
    • Editing of Anarchy (2 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (2-4 hr.)
  • Sunday
    • Editing of Anarchy (2 hr.)
    • Fun Writing (2-4 hr.)

Of course, this schedule varies between other obligations and is adjustable. Once I finish with the edits of Anarchy, then more of my focus will be on writing versus editing. I’m implementing this new plan starting today, so fingers crossed I can reach my goals.

I would love to have a professional editor look at it once it’s done which is why I’ve been putting aside money to be able to hire one in the future. With Anarchy being such a big manuscript it’s going to cost a lot of money to edit. For now, though I will rely on Grammarly and with assistance from my beta readers and my newly found mentor who has agreed to help me edit my short stories free of charge since I’m a recently poor graduate with impending loans to pay.

If you are a writer like I am who has trouble on focusing on one project at once, I suggest making goals for yourself and connecting with published authors to seek out their wisdom.

The Great Escape

After a long day at work, it was such a relief to come outside to such a gorgeous day. I knew that the weather was supposed to get nicer later on this week, but because I’ve been so used to being tricked in regards to the weather I went out there wearing three layers which consisted of a wool cardigan, a sweatshirt, and a light winter jacket.

By the time I got to my car my cheeks were red, and I was sweating like a pig. The first thing I did was take off all my layers, bring in some outside air into the car and open all the windows.

Since I was already taking my mom to the cemetery to pay respects to a friend of hers that passed away a few years ago I figured that it would be the perfect time to go for a walk. It was a little windier than I would have liked, but it was nice to stretch out my legs and not have to be bundled up.

Once I was outside, and in the open, it was like all my worries had broken away from me, and I felt like a completely different person. I wasn’t thinking about the time and how much of it I had.

On the drive back something happened that I’d like to think was fate giving me more of a chance to enjoy myself and feel free. Or at least that’s how I want to see it. The truth is I got lost and missed a turn somewhere trying to get back home without using the GPS.

Aside from the one trucker who was riding up my ass for a few miles the drive was peaceful and with the wind blowing in my hair, I felt as if I’d entered a new dimension that I had been shut off from for centuries. The only other thing that would have made the ride even better was if my car suddenly took off in flight like the car in Harry Potter In The Chamber of Secrets.

Or better yet if I was soaring through the air like a bird with nowhere in particular to go. If not for my mom and the fact that I promised to make dinner that night I think that I would have kept going. It’s a scary thought, but also one that I’ve had for a long time and to see it played out like that right before my eyes, I felt a sense of bliss that I never thought possible.

Even after GPSing the route back to drop my mom off at her house I was still on that high the whole twenty minutes that it took me to get her home after going off course. It wasn’t until I reached my house where I live with my grandparents that I the high began to wear off and I realized that I was back to being a caged bird.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. Aren’t you being a little dramatic? Maybe I am, but the thing is that’s how I’ve felt my whole life. In fact, the only time I seem to be free is when I’m driving or away from home and everything.

When I got home to start making dinner, I felt so empty, and it was like the drive I had been on was nothing but a dream that I dreamt up.

While there is nothing I would like more than to pack up all my writing supplies and clothes and go off into the unknown, I know that it’s not something I can do. At least not right now.

But, one day I will break free and see what else is out there and be able to do what I love when I want to and make a career out of it. It’s going to take some time, and I know that I have a long road ahead of me, but I will make it.

I always do some way or another. In the meantime, I will let myself indulge in walks and car trips where destination and time doesn’t matter to feed the hunger to run away within myself.

#WritingComesFirst

First off, let me just say that this is my first time using a hashtag ever. I know that must seem lame that a twenty-five-year-old has never used a hashtag, but I guess it’s because I’ve never been really big into Instagram and all that kind of stuff, but I suppose if I want to be a writer I’ll have to work on my branding.

As writers, we eat, breathe, and sleep writing. Ever since becoming a writer I have struggled with what to put first in my life. For the longest time, it was my family that always came first, namely my mom and in some senses is still true.

Then it became school, and then after that, it was a combination of school, family, and writing. Now it’s family and writing. But, sometimes I find myself feeling guilty because I think I’m not devoting enough time to writing even though I do write every day and then other times I feel like I’m neglecting my family and friends in favor of writing.

It’s something that has been weighing on me for a long time, and I’m starting to realize I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I am a good writer and the fact that I still find time to work on writing despite the fact that I work 7.5 hours five days a week, go to the gym four days, a week, and squeeze in time with my family during the weekend.

But, if I had to choose, then I would choose writing all the way. As a kid, I was pretty lonely because I was always the weird and quiet kid that no one wanted to be around. My parent’s always argued, and for the longest time, I had a terrible relationship with them. If not for books I’m not sure I would have made it through it all.

Which is one of the reasons why I decided to become a writer? I want to be there for people who are like me and take them away from whatever situation they may be in even if just an hour or two a day. I want them to know that they aren’t alone and that someone else has felt or experienced the same things as they did.

Blocking Out The Noise

One of the most frustrating things about being a writer is finding a sanctuary where you can work on your writing noise free.

Unfortunately, no such place exists for me especially living in the noisy city with my grandparents. I would much prefer a beautiful house out in the countryside or a cabin in the woods where the only noises are nature made.

But alas it will be some time until I can have something like that which is why I struggled over the years finding ways to block out all the noise.

At first, I tried earplugs, but then I became paranoid that if the house alarm or smoke detector went off in the house, I wouldn’t be able to hear it.

Plus I knew a co-worker who got one of them stuck in his ear. He got it out, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Then I tried just tuning out the noises or picking a time of day where there was less noise which seemed to be never. Especially when you have neighbors who seem to be partying all day or ones who leave their dog chained in their backyard to bark miserably because they want to be played with or walked.

Plus with my ADHD the noises made it hard for me to focus and I spent more time being aggravated and annoyed than writing. I even tried writing about how it made me feel to get it all out, but even that didn’t work.

That’s when I decided to try and create my own noise to counteract all the sounds around me. At first, I used YouTube, but all the commercials were a pain, and I kept having to pause in my writing to skip the ad.

So then I gave Pandora a try, and yes it has commercials as well, but at least it’s not after every song, and once you get in the zone you don’t even notice them.

Once I got that squared away, then I had to deal with the distractions inside the house. Since my grandmother is retired, she wanders around the house all day and even when she saw I was writing or I closed the door she’d still come in to bug me about things that could have waited until later.

I tried to explain to her that I didn’t want to be bothered while I was writing and even announced when I would be writing, but still, she kept barging in.

Eventually, I ended up having to put up a do not disturb sign which seemed to do the trick for the most part. She still comes and bugs me at times, but at least she knocks first now.

If you’re a writer like I am who had the issue of blocking out noise or pesky family, I suggest you try some of the things I mentioned. It really helps.

What are things that help you block out the noise?

The Right Way to Submit To a Publication

Aside from doing research for my novels, I have also been looking into journals and publications so that I can submit my short stories too. My goal is to build up a rapport as a writer and hopefully get one or two things published before I pitch my novel idea at the Penn Writer’s conference next May.

And even if I don’t get any nibbles, I won’t stop trying. I have submitted to publications in the past, but with school, work, and other things it got pushed to the back burner. Now that I have graduated though I have more time to put energy into doing research on publications and creating stories to submit to them.

Of course during the week it does get a bit hectic, but usually, toward the end of the week and on the weekends I have more time to work with.

Here are a few tips that I have learned in terms of finding a publication that is a good fit for you and your work:

  1. Make sure that the journal publishes the kind of work that you are writing.
  2. Even if they do not publish the genre in which you write, don’t be afraid to explore a different style.
    • But if you are adamant that you want to stick to one genre then find a publication that is seeking what you are writing.
  3. Check their archives to see if you can view past short stories they have published.
  4. Under submissions read their guidelines carefully as they will tell you what they accept and DO NOT accept.
  5. Also, make sure that you are submitting during a time when they are accepting submissions.
    • Most publications accept submissions during the fall, winter, and spring, however, some take them on a rolling basis.
  6. Always check to see which format they accept submissions. If you send it the wrong way, they will ignore it.
    • Most journals have an online portal that they use for people to submit through.
    • Some journals prefer you to e-mail your submissions.
    • A select few accept submission by mail. However, most publications are phasing that option out.
  7. Almost all publications also expect an author’s bio.
    • In this bio, you will talk about yourself as a writer and mention other places you have published or competitions you have won.
  8. Some publications might ask for a cover letter, but most of the time it is optional.
    • If you choose to submit one make sure that you are putting forth your strengths as a writer and telling the publication why they should publish your work.
  9. Always make sure to read all the instructions on the submission page. They are there for a reason and answer most of the questions that you will have.
    • This does not mean that you can’t e-mail the publication if something is unclear, but most likely you won’t hear back as they are busy people.
  10. It will take a long time for them to get back to you. Not days or weeks, but months. Be patient and don’t hound them with a bunch of e-mails. They will most likely ignore them anyway.

Don’t be afraid to submit to a publication because you think that your work isn’t good enough. If they don’t end up picking your piece, don’t get discouraged. If you really want to know why your piece did not get chosen most of the time, you can e-mail the staff, and if they aren’t too busy, they will give you some pointers and notes on what you could do to improve your work.

Submitting your work has it’s up’s and downs. You may get a hundred rejection letters before you get a letter that says Congratulations. It’s all part of the writing game. The most important part is that you are trying.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

research_logo.png

One of the worst things about school projects is the research. That and working with a group who totally sucks. For the longest time, I hated any forms of research because most of the time I would never find research on the topic that I wanted to write about.

That and it can be really frustrating. A lot of abstracts can be misleading and after reading twelve pages and only getting one sentence out of it that pertains to your paper- if you’re lucky- you realize that the source was bogus.

Throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school I hated that teachers picked out topics for our papers or gave us a list of topics to talk about. But when I got to college and we got to choose our own topics I found it even more frustrating. There wasn’t a lot of information out there about the things that I wanted to write about,, and half the time I’d end up having to choose a different topic or angle.

I’m so happy that I don’t have to deal with that stress anymore. But, my hate for research really impacted me especially when it came to using it for writing or other things that I needed in my adult life. I figured I could just skim through things and that would be enough.

Sadly, I learned the hard way that research is something that is beneficial and that it’s not always stressful and bad. In fact, it’s helped me make better decisions about things and gain more knowledge in subjects that I did not have before.

A good example is of when I needed to figure out what the overcoat was called that women in medieval times would wear over their dresses. Through some research, I found out that it was called a redingote.

For Those of you who don’t know what a redingote is here are images of a shorter one and a longer one.

Had I not done some research I would never have known the proper name for the coat that women wore over their dresses in order to keep warm or make a dress seem more fashionable.

Another form of research is through reading books that are similar to the kind of things that you want to write about. I’ve been reading the Game of Throne’s books and learned a lot about the language as well as their terms for certain things.

When I read the first game of thrones novel, I noticed that when they described a soldiers attire, they would call it “mail.” At first, I thought that maybe it was something that they wore on their uniform, but then I realized that mail was another term used for the attire that men wore during the war.

Jon Snow mail

Currently, I am reading the second book in the Game of Thrones series and the term morning star kept coming up during the jousting matches. At first, it was only used when describing one of the characters, and I thought that it was the name of that character’s weapon. Then I noticed that it was also used to describe another character’s weapon. So I looked it up and found out that it’s a weapon that has a long staff and a spiked ball at its end. It’s similar to a mace, except the ball isn’t dangling down on a chain.

morningstar

Another non-medieval example is off books that use fashion terms such as Gossip Girl, The Clique, and Pretty Little Liars. I’ve never used many fashion terms in novels, but when I read those books in junior high and high school, I had a hard time imagining what they were talking about and ended up having to look it up.

A good example is of Miu Miu heels. I had no clue what those were because the only shoes I wore were sneakers. Of course, I knew they were some type of shoes because of the word heels, but I’ll admit that when I thought of Miu Miu heels, I imagined shoes with a cats face on it.

miu miu heels

When I read the clique series the main character, Massie Block talked about crimping her hair all the time which I couldn’t even imagine. Apparently, it’s essentially, waving your hair mainly at the ends, but some people do it from the top as well.

crimping

Back then I hadn’t even known about the concept of straightening hair or curling it. I was always behind on the trends and didn’t hang out with many fashionistas. In the morning I woke up ran a brush through my hair and threw on a T-shirt and jeans.

Had I not looked into all these things then I never would have known. I’ve also learned over the years that you shouldn’t be embarrassed for not knowing what something is. Often times people would make fun of me for not being up on the trends, and I would feel self-conscious about it or feel like I was dumb.

Recently, though I’ve learned that it’s okay not to know about everything because discovery can be a powerful thing. If everyone knew everything, then life wouldn’t be fun.

Don’t be afraid to research things or ask people what something is. Sure they may poke fun at you, but if they’re a good person, then it will be jokingly and not used as something to make you feel bad. Just because we leave school, it doesn’t mean that we stop learning.

The Quota

Most writers have a daily or weekly quota of how much writing they do or how many words they complete. For me, my quota is 13,000 words a week. With work and other obligations, it’s a pretty fair quota, and it’s one that for the most part I know I can meet.

Of course, there are some weeks when I may be a few words short of my quota. As much as I try not to be hard on myself, I do get upset if I cannot meet my quota. But, then I remind myself that even though I may be 100 or 500 words short of what I wanted to write for the week, I should be proud of myself for being able to write as much as I did given my busy schedule.

It’s good to have a goal, but even if you do not meet that goal all the time you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. We’re all humans, and we all have other things going on in our lives such as work, family, friends, exercise, active rest, etc.

Primarily we are writers, but we are also people who crave affection, need to make money to survive, and make room for other interests. As writers, we tend to be introverted and spend most of our time locked up in our rooms and office, but sometimes we need to get out of that space and be around others.

The same goes for skipping a day of writing. There are times when I get home from work and have to run a million errands. By the time I get home, I’m so tired, and it’s about time to call it a night because I have to be into work at 7:30 a.m.

Or maybe you and your friends decide to hang out and by the time you get home you have to pick up your mom from work because she doesn’t drive and by the time you get home you have just enough time to prepare your lunch and feed the cats before it’s time to get ready for bed.

It kills me sometimes when I skip a day of writing because I feel like a big part of my day is missing. Writing is an extension of myself, and when I miss a day, I don’t feel complete. But, then I remind myself that even if I wasn’t writing that doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible writer. It just means that there is more to my life than writing.

Don’t stress out too much about quotas and goals. They are important, but if you get yourself too crazy over them then it takes the fun out of doing what you enjoy most, and you start to feel like you are back in school again.