Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Love Essays

It's official: I'm a Hanoverian!!

Yesterday, I had my freshman orientation at Hanover College.  With my class schedule and summer reading locked and loaded, I'm more than ready to graduate high school.

Before our August experience this fall, however, all first years are required to read This I Belive II: a collection of personal essays from people like Yo-yo Ma to Tony Hawk to midwest farmers.  The essays collectively describe what each person believes in, and how those beliefs helped shape them into the successful people they are today.  It's a super interesting read and is truly inspiring.

But as I cracked open this book, I realized how much I love books like this.  I recently read Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Bossypants by Tina Fey--two of my most adored women ever.  Both of their books center around hysterical essays about a huge range of topics.  Their essays are short and sweet, but they linger in your head for a while.

Books written as essays are seriously so cool because the essay format alone is appealing--the author gets to their point quickly, discusses their point briefly but effectively, and closes out on a (usually) positive note.  You can read one of the essays in about 10 minutes tops.  And these essays stay with you--they teach you about life, love, and everything in between.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When You Want to Give Up on Your Novel

DON'T.

When you started your novel, you were super excited about this amazing journey ahead of you. You were ready to conquer the challenge--you were willing to write every day, meet every deadline, and finish this thing once and for all.

But when it boils down, writing a novel isn't that easy. It takes time--time that you probably don't have. With school, work, and family, how are you supposed to make time for a silly writing project?

If writing a novel was easy, everyone would be doing it. The truth of the matter is that writing a novel is hard work. You're going to want to give up. It's easy to throw everything away and never look back--but what about your goals? You've always wanted to write a novel. Why would you give up on that dream?

If you're willing to stick it out and trudge through your novel, you may pick up the momentum again later. Even when you hit dead spots in your writing, keep going. Here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Give yourself gold stars.

Whether you use actual stickers or a different reward system (like ice cream.........), make it work for you. Whenever you reach your goal (a total word count or an allotted writing time), reward yourself. It'll keep you motivated towards reaching your goal.

2. Think ahead.

You don't have to write in order. If you've plotted your novel (which is super helpful when it comes to writing, and if you haven't plotted it you should try), you can skip around. Play around with different scenes that you really want to get involved in now. Then, when you're feeling a bit more creative, go back to the less interesting parts and connect your story.

3. Look back.

You've already accomplished more than most people can brag on. Good for you! You created this story and you made the decision to put it to paper. You deserve to be proud of yourself.
Whether you've written 5 words or 5,000 words, you're on your way. Keep going!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Best Playlist for Writing

Over the past few years, I've had my fair share of writer's block.  There have been several days where I sit down at my computer and wonder how I will ever get a 12-page essay or a 250-word newspaper article down.  But whenever I do have that moment of utter despair, I have my near-perfectly crafted writer's block playlist.

Whenever I just can't seem to get any creative juices flowing, I always turn to this collaboration.  I have added and removed thousands of songs to try and get something that sticks.  In the time that this blog post was written, I actually switched out 3 songs for 2 new ones.  This playlist is always changing to keep up with my mood and the way my brain reacts to this muse.  The hope is that this music may help you in your creative journey--whether you're writing an essay, a poem, or even a novel.



If you have any songs, artists, or albums that help you get your creative juices flowing, I'd love to hear about them!  Maybe your music can inspire others to start their work, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The First Romance Novel I Actually Liked

I've never enjoyed romance novels.  I've always been critical of Nicholas Sparks and EL James.  I've always thought romance novels were boring and cringe-worthy.  But then I read Jojo Moyes Me Before You.

Many of my friends were reading Moyes's New York Times bestseller, and I wanted to get into the action.  I assumed it would be the same old cheesy screenplay BS.  But it wasn't.  Me Before You actually proved that I have emotions--it made me laugh and cry, of course, but it also completely changed my view on romance books.

Louisa Clark and Will Traynor's relationship was so incompatible that I thought several times, "This is going to end terribly."  The novel asks one poignant question: What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?  Their tale of heartbreak reminded me so much of real relationships that it didn't even feel like I was reading a book--let alone a romantic one.  I loved every second of it.

Even if you're not a fan of romance, I highly recommend picking up Me Before You.  It was truly an incredible read, and I can't wait to see the movie adaptation.