Tags: intrinsic motivation
As teenage writers, we have to deal with another obligation other writers don’t have to deal with as much: college. And our futures. How can one possibly find time to write when there are other issues like having a life, getting straight A’s, and completing activities that boost one’s impressiveness to admissions counselors?
Hey, don’t give up on writing just yet. The simple fact of it all is: colleges want to see your passion. If writing is your passion, stick with it! And besides, it can help your academic standing as well. I’ve listed some practical, real-life examples that could also further your acumen as a writer.
- Milk the CR/Writing portions of the SAT. These two sections were my biggest point-getters; math was my downfall. Still, you have that smug sense of superiority when you see the brainy math children struggle with the nuances of the English language. These reading and writing sections count for 2/3 of the test, after all!
- Self-study for the AP Lang/Lit tests. Your school doesn’t offer the class? Take matters into your own hands. Buy a few study guides, look them over during winter break, and talk to your counselor about ordering the tests in January, once you get back. The tests themselves are not hard if you’re naturally a good writer and voracious reader; AP English isn’t a class that needs to be taught as much as, say, AP Chemistry. It does cost money to take the test (some schools offer it for free—I know mine did), but getting a 5 and letting colleges see your intrinsic motivation is priceless.
- Become a leader and a writer. Does your school have a newspaper? A literary magazine? A yearbook? Get involved! If it’s too late in the year, ask about writing freelance. There’s always next year to apply for a staff position, and by then, the adviser will have built a good impression of you. You have a definite advantage over your peers when cranking it up for deadlines, soliciting businesses for ads (hey, you’ve been selling yourself in query letters, haven’t you?), and writing tight, informative articles. You’re already ahead of the learning curve, so it’s time to shine. Oh—and if your leadership helps your publication win competitions, all the more power to you.
- Look for writing-related internships or jobs. Some papers hire teens to do freelance reporting. Others print a mini-newspaper written by teens, for teens. A few even look for contributors to neighborhood-themed blogs. Thanks to the convenience of technology, you can often update a blog from the comfort of your own home. When you take the ten or fifteen hours a week that you once devoted to mindlessly scrolling on Facebook and put it towards something useful, you can see results that’ll help you get into college.
- Don’t give up! Colleges like to see you stick with a hobby—so even if agents didn’t like your first manuscript, don’t give up on writing entirely. Do what you can to build up your resume while staying involved, even if that means writing short stories or poems. Who knows? Winning a prestigious award would be a great way to demonstrate your skill. And if all else fails, self-publishing doesn’t hurt either; I know a girl who self-published a book and put that on her resume. Hey, though it might not count for anything in the literary world, it’s still something.
So my schedule this semester rocks. I’m taking two English classes – Myths of Britain and Intermediate Fiction I – an Arabic class that is turning out to be way cooler than I thought it was going to be, and my very last general curriculum requirements. It makes me ecstatic. Because after this semester (or so the hope goes) the only classes that I will be taking are classes that I want to take and am not required to take. I will be filling up my mind with all these lovely things that I want to fill my mind up with. Like I said – it makes me ecstatic.
But something about my creative writing class hasn’t been sitting well with me for the last couple of classes. I couldn’t figure it out, not for the life of me. My professor is pretty kick ass, my classmates are pretty amazing. There is nothing wrong with this class.
Except, you know, writers are snobs.
Now, before you all jump on me with all kinds of indignant shouts and protests, let me finish! Or correct myself. Writers have a reputation of being absolute snobs. When a person who is not a writer thinks of a writer, they imagine the starving artist, the person who has a superior insight into the human condition, the person who has been gifted by some divine light to put life on a page for all (or some) people to view with a renewed sense of being.
But I’m a writer, and I certainly am not any of those things. I have a talent (maybe) but I practice, a lot. I read, a lot. And I don’t think I have a superior insight into anything. I write what I know, what I feel and what I learn. I write what I imagine, what I fantasize and what I imagine other people fantasize. And I don’t like being put into a category that is elitist and snobby.
And that’s what bothers me most about this class. Because, accidentally (or purposely), the professor and my classmates have put themselves up on a pedestal. They have decreed (yes, it is a strong word) that they and their writing colleagues and better, in some form or another, than the common man. And that doesn’t sit well with me.
Do you guys ever feel that way? Am I weird to feel this way? Please – do tell!
Posted by Sumayyah (Cross posted to The Raven Desk)
Are you supposed to be writing?
Now, don’t expect a happy encouraging post here. The job of this little post isn’t to assure you you can “do it.” It is to make very clear that some people just can’t.
We’ve all come in some kind of contact with them. We either know them personally, have heard of them, or… shock… read their (sadly) published novels. They are the ones that make us say “Hey, listen, the people who are meant to do this don’t need you taking up our agents’, editors’, publishers’, readers’ time. We have a hard enough job as it is.”
These are the people that have no business writing.
They are the ones who have grand ideas of what writing a novel is. They proclaim to the world that in a year or so they’ll have enough life experience to write the next great American novel but, in fact, it is simply that they don’t have the natural inclination to start as soon as the story hits them.
They pretend that the moments of writing must be perfect… the laptop computer must be new or the notebooks unsullied with grocery lists or the new pens have the smoothest writing in dark bold ink.
They bring hot beverages and soft music, to smother themselves in the writing mood they pretend must be there.
They are the ones who think writing a book is an easy way to make money from home, just write and submit. Unfortunately for the readers, these non-writers sometimes succeed.
Their ideas of writing fiction are simply fictional.
These are fakes who want to get noticed, not writers who live and breathe their characters, and how these characters are affected throughout a novel. We talk to our characters as if they are real, play the music that fits their moods, torture ourselves for hours at the desk chair telling their stories. We are the real writers, be we published or not.
Take this quiz to see if you are really a writer or are writing a novel for reasons other than ones you should…
And I say it here: I’d rather be a real writer and never be published, than a fake one who forces the readers out there to read my garbage. But that’s just me… sadly.
Who is this lady that is not you? you all may ask. That is Monica Geller. And she has a message for all you college writers that are returning to school. She knows that you have your time cut out for you. You’re probably taking four (or five, if you’re really insane) classes. You might have a job that sucks ten hours out of your week. If you’re really cool, you probably have to go to the gym at least once a week. Then there’s friends (please, tell us who invented them?). And papers. And studying. And of course, your highest priority, the writing.
But how do you plan on balancing such a hectic lifestyle. How will you do all of that, sleep, eat and keep a tight grip (or loose, your choice, really) on your sanity.
Monica Geller is here to solve your problems with a simple suggestion. PLAN. Preferably with a color coded schedule that works in bathroom breaks, snack breaks and eating times (sleep is flexible). Because if you do not plan, at least a little, you will never have time to do anything of value or merit. Your life will be one huge mess after another and you will never get anywhere.
So Monica Geller implores you to plan. Schedule. Have a vague idea of what your day is going to be like. Or all is lost. Really.
Posted by Sumayyah (Cross posted to The Raven Desk)
I usually don’t blog on Tuesdays aside from the teasers, but I’m not writing either, so I figure, why not, right? I’m sitting in my friend’s room, blasting music, and staring at a scene chart that was going so well until recently. I’ve been staring at this scene chart for the past two days. I’ve been trying to restart The Scion for the past two weeks. Up until a couple of minutes ago I had no idea what my deal was.
Then it hit me: I’ve been slumming in the ghetto of self doubt. -faints in shock-
I’m not one to doubt my writing abilities – and I don’t say that to sound braggish or pompous. But I’ve always firmly avoided self doubt because it’s crippling. It’s so crippling, in fact, that some writers become drug addicts and alcoholics to drown it out. So I block it out, and just write until I send my work to betas. Then they send me comments and I improve my work, because I know it’s in me to make the work better.
And while this isn’t the first time I’ve been hit with self doubt, it’s the first time its been so insidious. It took me two weeks to figure out that it was burrowing its way into my skull and blocking the Muse and the Voices. But now that I know? Now I can fight it, now I can do breathing exercises and now I can look into the mirror and do corny self confidence exercises. Because, self doubt is a writer’s worse enemy. Too many commas is fixable. Too many adverbs is fixable. Run on sentences are fixable. Not having faith and trust in your own ability to not only write well, but improve (always improve) is something that will stop you in your tracks. It makes a difficult occupation nearly unbearable.
So do what you have to. Listen to self esteem cassettes, sing your own praises, have lengthy conversations with yourself. But whatever you do – never, ever lose faith in your ability to write well and to improve what you may not have written so well!
contributed by sumayyah daud and cross posted to the raven desk
It’s time to NaNo.
Yes, it’s November again – time to attempt the crazy, impossible task of writing a novel in “30 days of literary abandon.”
Alyce has explained the basics of the insanity that is NaNoWriMo https://teenswritingforteens.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/you-must-be-crazy-nanowrimo-2009/ here so I won’t repeat what it is to you. Instead, I’m going for tips – and this is from a first time NaNo-er, so I’m learning more every day!
So, the first tip which seems to be the most important is to make sure you write at least 1670 words a day – if you’re going for the 50k goal, that is. If you’re going for 100k then you
are mental will need to adjust that figure. Personally, I’m going to attempt to do more than that for if – and let’s face it, probably when – I run out of steam and start panicking.
Secondly, find some people who are also doing NaNo for support. Not necessarily people who you know in real-life – I have yet to convince any of my friends that they should be doing NaNo, and there’s only seven hours ’til kick-off here! – online people are just as good. I have some of my lovely twiftie friends taking part, and have joined my region on the NaNo forums. I’m actually going to a kick-off meet up with the local WriMos tomorrow – which should be exciting! (Obviously, if you decide to do that, remember all the internet safety stuff you’ve been taught. :) ) Support makes you less likely to fail because – well, people will know you’ve failed, and that doesn’t feel too good.
Download a calendar. Even if you just use it for your desktop, I’d get one – there are loads on the artisans section of the forums and on DeviantArt too – and they’re great for motivation. Motivation is key.
Find sites like ‘Write-Or-Die’ – a nifty little website which forces you to write. I’m serious. You may not produce your finest quality work, but this is NaNo – it’s quantity over quality. Go and get scared into writing!
Now my next is just how I feel, and I know people who disagree, but I would suggest not planning. Planning means you have expectations – expectations which may not be fulfilled when trying to write 50k around all the usual school/work/life/other writing commitments. I have a basic idea, but no real plan – I’m seeing where the magic of NaNo takes me.
Last point – plenty of caffeine and chocolate. My chosen source of caffeine is Diet Coke – and I’m stocked up ready :D
Good luck to everyone who’s taking part, I hope you all win – leave a comment here with your tips, and your NaNo username if you’re signed up and want some buddies! I’m NKD on there, and always looking for more friends to motivate me!
Only a few hours to go…get read, get set, NaNo.
I am a self professed dork. Perhaps this makes me less of a dork, or more of a dork, but either way, I am a dork. It’s one of those things I say with a grin and a laugh and revel in. It’s a part of me that I really love because it gives me the excuse to be quirky, or weird and forces me to push the limits of my imagination more than I think I might have otherwise. As a dork I’m confronted with amazing creativeness everyday in gaming experiences, fanfiction readings and general interaction with other dorks and non-dorks alike. Because of this, I constantly push myself to go above and beyond the creativity that I encounter, to be more original, more vivid, more astounding than what I’ve seen.
More than once I’ve reaped the benefit of this. Tonight, is one of those nights.
For the past three weeks I’ve been stuck on the plot for my next work in progress. I kept trying to start but it wouldn’t flow. A few days ago I realized that my biggest problem was two fold: 1) I was seriously lacking in world building and 2) one of my plot points had effectively taken away anyway for my main character to have motivation. She was invested in the storyline, but for the first act and a half she was just kind of floating along in a ‘oh, that happens? so what?’ kind of way. Even world building – which I was having a hard time with – wasn’t fixing this problem.
Then, I watched the Guild Wars 2 trailer. I saw a piece of concept art pictured in the trailer and bam! it was like being hit with a bus. I suddenly had a new dimension to what I wanted to write. I had motivation. I had not one world, but two that were forced to coexist and constantly battling against one another. My character was not only invested in the conflict, she was a part of it, a Prime Mover in everything that was happening. I knew why she was, how she was and what she was.
And though I’m still ironing out plot points and character flaws and I need to rewrite much of my story arc, I’m ecstatic. I know what my worlds want, what my character wants, and I’m starting to understand how it all needs to happen.
The moral of the story? Never underestimate yourself. I’ve written about listening to your characters – but a central part to being a writer is understanding what you can give to the worlds that you create. And how. Draw on your experiences, your personality, what you love and hate – these are things that you should listen to. And just like when you listen to your characters, when you listen to yourself, magic is bound to happen.
~Sumayyah (x-posted to the raven desk)