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Ally on: Being a Teen Writer

20 Sep

I feel like it’s time for a little heart to heart here guys. I just need to get this situation off my chest, because everyone else seems to have an opinion about it and so here’s my two cents on teen writers, and being one.

First off, we get a bad wrap. At least I thinks so. We can’t write anything ‘good‘, were shut ins, we drink large amounts of tea, and on top of all of this people seem to think that were just writing for fun. FUN? Whomsoever thinks writing is fun has obviously never done it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people and when I tell them I’m a writer they’ll say over exuberantly  “Oh that’s cute!” or dreadfully, “you aren’t going to college for that are you?”. With either response you might as well of just spit in my tea and walked away.

I’m not taken seriously, and i know it. Heck, everyone knows it!

If you’re between the ages of say… 13 and 20 and drop the ‘W’ bomb you’re whole ship is sunk. You automatically become the out in space, unrealistic dreamer who obviously doesn’t have his/her head on straight and clearly, ever so clearly needs to be steered in the right direction. I can’t tell you how often my Grandmother has throw out the topic of engineer, or chemist, or (if you absolutely must) biologist when I bring up writing. And it isn’t that those aren’t good jobs, or that I couldn’t do them (or don’t want to) it’s the fact that you don’t even give writing a second thought.

No one has EVER said to me (other than fellow writers) “Why Ally, you should keep writing! You could have a future there.”

And I’m not asking for handouts, or compliments, honestly. If you want to tell me I suck at writing and am a failure and that I’ll never amount to anything in the field… fine. But don’t just skim over it like it isn’t even worth a comment, like since its worthless to you it’s worthless to me, because it’s not.

And i think that’s where the big misconception is. People think this is just something I do. They think that it’s worthless.That it’s all the papers you throw away at the end of the school year (sure you used them once, they meant something once. But no one else will want them, and eventually you’ll realize you don’t need them, and you’ll just toss it out with the trash)

But it ISN”T LIKE THAT.

Writing is something that you have to commit to. ESPECIALLY as a teen! School, sports, friends, family, clubs, a part-time job, applying for college (if your a Jr./Senior), and church (if your into that) is all on a teen’s plate. Add writing to that and, well, you could just about drop dead at the end of the day. At least I could. I suppose this isn’t just teens, but every writer with a life. (haha, what life?). What I’m saying is it’s easy as a teenager to steal every spare moment of  the day to just catch your breath, but teen writers don’t and that’s what people don’t get.

Most of the time writing isn’t fun, and we have to MAKE time to do it. We have to force ourselves to do a lot of days. And anybody who writes will tell you that isn’t easy. You have to take yourself very seriously to do it.

I take myself seriously, and I just wish other people would to. I’m not asking you to tell me I’m amazing. I’m just asking you to give me chance.

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Just Add Water and a Fun House Mirror!

15 Jul

So yep… here is me. Back from my FINAL vacation this summer, I SWEAR! This was the last one. And the last prolonged blogging absence I will have in the coming months! So yeah, vacations over!

Wow… that sounded like an oxymoron.

Anyway, I decided to tell you all that vacation is a good thing for writers. Especially ones who don’t write on vacation (like me). Why? That sounds even more like an oxymoron than the last one.

Because we need brain food. Seriously.

Where do you think you get all your ideas from? They aren’t coming out of thin air despite how it may seem. All ideas come from other ideas. Everything you’ve ever written (and will write) is a collection of every movie you’ve ever seen, every book you’ve ever read, every piece of art you’ve ever seen, and every experience/conversation you’ve ever had.

And since we writers write everyday (ehm. Yes everyday… *cough*) we are constantly pouring out those experiences and taking less of them in by comparison. Things that we do everyday like go to work or school, eating breakfast, or riding a bike, those often times don’t give us any new information. Without new information how can you create anything new? You are drawing from the same stagnant pool of ideas 24/7! Without any new flow of information to mix up the waters (shall we say) you end up with a bunch of new but similar ideas or rewriting old ones.

Not good.

That’s why it’s important (in my opinion at least) for writers to be getting as much new information as possible at all times. And it doesn’t have to be something big. Sure, going on a weeks long vacation to Oregon (a place I’d never been before) that is great! Fantastic! But, you can’t do that all the time. So, getting new information needs to be more accessible, and you can make it that way just by enacting small changes in your life.

For instance:

Instead of watching an old favorite switch on a new movie or show

Likewise for books and music

Take a walk/ride your bike to a neighborhood you haven’t been in before

Try something new: pick up a guitar or play a piano, take some photos,bake something, play a sport, or get your hands on a sketchbook

Re-paint your room to give you a new outlook on your life

Clean out a bookshelf

Try reading a different genre (you might just like it!)

Basically, just do something new, something that will spark new neuron pathways in your brain because it hasn’t experienced it before!

Being creative is about taking in as much of your surroundings as possible and then warping them into something else entirely. Like fun house mirrors! So, there you have it, your job is to become a fun house mirror!

So what have I done in this post? Mostly I’ve made myself feel better about not writing, and you know, maybe I imparted some useful advice. Maybe…

Vacation Kills Me

21 Jun

Vacation always sends me to fiery doom.

Ironic? Indeed.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy vacation. I do, it just kills my writing. And honestly it makes no sense. I have extra time to write. Super duper loads of extra time just piling up around me, so instead of writing, I do what? I sit around and muse on nothing. Well… not nothing. To be fair with myself, I have been thinking an awful lot about how  my story is going to go. But, that’s just brain building.

I haven’t gotten anything on paper… or… umm on-screen.

Instead, I sit on the beach, watch House, Rizzoli & Isles, and Burn Notice in the hotel, and also I take pictures. Lot’s of pictures. Too many pictures.

So, I’ve been on vacation for a week and a half now and have manage to do nothing but muse on plot possibilities, and write this post.  Sad isn’t it? I’ll just be glad when I get back home to my desk. Where I have a schedule and I can focus. The beach is also not conducive to electronics so transporting my lovely laptop out their wasn’t really an option anyway. Even if I could focus among the seagulls and screaming children.

The worse part?

I return home for one week from our family vacation, then I go on my own little vacation to Oregon.  I’m telling myself I’ll write while I’m there, but let’s be honest.

Anyone else have trouble writing on vacation?

Winter Break is Not WRITERS Break…

23 Dec

Hey there folks! My winter break has begun, and hopefully that means I’ll be getting a lot done. Here, and writing/reading wise.

Anyway, I just wanted to drop by and let you all know what is going to happen with the site (and yeah, okay, I’m going to ramble a bit about writing…) As, I was saying, The NI awards are going to be finishing up in the next week and a half so what I’m going to do this week (probably Sunday) is a couple of the author awards. Best blog series, most inspirational blogger, etc. I have to whip up those badges on Photoshop at some point in the next day or two, so no promises.

Secondly, HOLY CRAP! I have a ton of writing to do. Since my week of finals was mostly consumed by procrastinating on studying, idly perusing good-reads, and baking very sugary foods to keep me up at ridiculous hours to study before finals since I procrastinated diligently studying for finals, and organizing myself I didn’t have much time to write.  So this week I also need to get that done.  I just have to sort out what it is that I need to work on… ugh. I’m mostly dreading opening up THE SHADOWS THAT FELL. It. Is. A. Disaster! So that leaves me with two other choices CARVE (which I’ve been putting off doing since before Nano) or A LIGHT THAT SHATTERS (TSTF’s  prequel). Both are entanglements of disgustingly lengthy proportions, that will surely come out as blah.

Besides all that I also have to finish the final Beta Reading version of my friends manuscript (which, by the way, I’ve had for two weeks, and haven’t  even touched) I am pathetic, and totally lazy I think I just need to get organized.

Besides all of this I also have to do my summer reading project. YES MY SUMMER READING PROJECT. I am so good at procrastinating that I have put it off until winter break. Lucky me my English class doesn’t start until second semester.

Yes, I’m busy. Yes, it’s because I procrastinate. And, No, I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

A sad bit that.

Collage Brainstorm Your Novel!

13 Nov

Hey all, today I thought i’d do a post on a plotting/brainstorming system i’ve been messing around with.

I call it Collage Plotting.

People learn and perceive things in a lot of different ways, and that leads to different ways of processing information and, thus to different ways of plotting/brainstorming. No two brains work in exactly the same way, and so i’d thought i’d share a method of plotting/brainstorming that is a bit different from the norm.

I started using the collage for my novel CARVE. I was finding it very difficult to write out what was happening. With CARVE, I had a ‘feeling’ for the novel. A kind of atmosphere that I couldn’t project properly into an outline, and so I took the age-old saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words, and began (unknowingly) creating a cool method for plotting.

And here is the result of CARVE’s growing Collage outline:

So, as you can see it is pretty self-explanatory, you COLLAGE YOUR BOOK. For me it’s taken out a lot of the pressure of planning, it allows me to free form my ideas and just slap ’em on there! It’s more or less the inspiration page for your book!

I’ve found that this is really good to do if you’re stuck planning, or if your stuck in the middle rut of writing. It helps you remember why you wanted to write the book, and does a really good job of inspiring you!

I use OneNote from Microsoft 2010 to create my collage from photos I see online, or from quotes I hear that I think go well with the book. But, if you don’t have OneNote I would recommend going to pinterest.com. This site is basically a collageing site that allows you to snag photos from other people’s collage’s or just anywhere on the net (giving the rights of those photo’s to their respective owners of course!).

It’s been a great resource for inspiring me, and always has something  new to see whenever you log in.

So, check out pinterest.com and if your feeling very generous, add me as someone you follow (nkeda14) and I will add you. The inspiration will just keep growing!

I hope you all try this out!

What do you all think? Yeah or nay?

Novelist? Nah, I’m a “World Traveler”

17 Sep

Every time you sit down at your computer/notepad/brown paper napkin and place your hands on the keys/pen/crayon you are practicing an art. I know a lot of people will argue that writing is a skill, and sure, I can see where they get that. Actual WRITING, the way words are strung together is. It can be learned formulated, and shoved into a lovely little grammar book that any one with a highschool education can comprehend. But, writing, the poetry of description, the way the sentences flow into on another, and form a story. Nay, a reality, something that grabs you by the throat and makes you visualize, and become part of a world created solely by the author. That is an art.

The fact that writing is an art makes it unimaginably difficult. Because, artists never really know what they’re doing. Okay, that didn’t really make sense. What I’m trying to say is that art is a free form of expression. Often times it’s raw and messy. It tends to wind down side paths and under logs, and over brooks until we finally come to realize the point. Or what we had begun in the first place. In other words art is never fully realized until finished. We never understand the path we had to walk down until we look back behind ourselves.

You’d think that after the first time we sojourned down this road we’d get it. We’d have our path all set out for us. So, the next time we wrote or drew or composed we’d know exactly how to do it, and how to accomplish the finished product in the most efficient way, but we don’t.

Every novel, is different. There is no certain way to cover the terrain in a direct route. In a lot of ways its like being a world traveler. Every country is different. You don’t know how to communicate in every language, you don’t know what the hotels/restaurants/people will be like! Every place you go, every novel you write is different. There is no certain way of determining the best places to stay, or the right things to write. You have to revisit the place (draft the novel) over and over again to get a feel for the terrain. Then, when you write a different novel you have to start all over again!

The important thing is that you do go back. The first time you write a novel is tough. You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have any idea why the thing is so crappy when your working so hard. Just like going to a new country can be frustrating and confusing, but you still go. Why? Because you love it. You love to travel and see the beauty of exotic places. Just as novelist love to write no matter how greatly it frustrates them.

Don’t give up on your novel when it gets tough. Just like there are rough neighborhoods in every city your novel will have rough patches. Things that make you despise the whole thing, when, in reality the entirety of it has the potential to be good.

In other words keep traveling friends. I’m sure you’ll find you love your city. And your novel.

PS: Sorry this post is late I tried to post yesterday but I was staying out in the country with my grandparents and lo and behold no wifi was to be found!

Why Writing Is Like Zumba Dancing

29 Aug

Hey, all I just got back from my Zumba class (I’m totally bushed, as you can imagine. An hour of nonstop Zumba will do that to you.) As I was Zumbaing away (if that’s a word) I got to thinking that taking a Zumba class is a lot like writing a novel.

The thing about Zumba (or any dance class for that matter), is that it is supposed to be fun. People do it because it is fun. But, Zumba also happens to be a lot of work. Writing is kind of the same. We do it because its fun, but it is also a ton of work! Most people (or me at least) go into Zumba just to take a dance class, and have some! Same with us writers. When we first start to write we’ll do it just because it seems fun 🙂

And then it starts to become work. We realize that it isn’t all fun and games. That we’ll sweat, and tear muscles, and get tired and be generally sick of  it every now and then. They’ll be times when we have to force ourselves to go to class/write, and there will be times when we want to zip on over to our lab tops/studios early.

The important thing is that we realize that what we are doing IS FUN. Yes, IT IS FUN! Or, it should be. If writing/zumbaing isn’t fun (most of the time) for you then you shouldn’t be doing it. Or, at least, be doing it the way you are. A lot of times I think we get stuck in ruts. We force ourselves to write our manuscripts everyday (which occasionally has to be done of course) because we HAVE TO. But, why? Why force yourself when you can look forward to it?

My point: If writing isn’t feeling fun for you right now then switch it up. Work on something new that will be fun! Try doing a warm up flash fiction or do an interview with your MC. Do something that reminds you why you started dancing/writing in the first place! Or maybe just take a week off!

After all, if you don’t love it, why do it?