Three Ways Students Can Balance Their Writing and Academic Lives

Pursuing an educational goal and keeping up with your creative writing isn’t the most easiest task in the world. School can become so overbearing that it forces us to prioritize it over our creativity. Although this choice may seem responsible at the time, it’s really an avenue towards a more stressful dilemma: unproductively.

In order to keep myself from feeling unproductive, I do the following three things:

 

1. KNOW THY SCHEDULE

In fiction, thieves usually spend a bit of time scoping out a territory before infiltrating it. They discover all the possible entrances, emergency escape routes, and the precise moment the guard jabs his finger into his nose.

Ok, you wont be doing any of that; however, it’s still a good idea to analyze your day-to-day schedule.

You may also want to spend some time (I recommend a week) learning your instructor’s routine:

  • Do they arrive early, late, or on time to class?
  • Do they open the doors early?
  • Do they give breaks midway into their lecture?

Analyze your routine, too:

  • How long does it take you to study? (If you have to, time yourself)
  • What are some of your other responsibilities?
  • When do you have breaks?

 

2. BATTLE PLAN

Now that you have a general idea of your academic week, see if you can squeeze some writing in. Can you…

  • Write during class breaks?
  • Get up really early to write?
  • Take a ten minute homework break to jot down some ideas?

Come up with a monthly wordcount goal and break it down into chunks. Also, see if you can schedule small writing sessions during the day.

 

3. EXECUTE

By following the above steps, your current dilemma may shift from “I don’t have time to write” to “I’m too darn tired to write!” The solution to this problem is simple: suck it up and write.

 

SOME EXTRA TIPS

  • Don’t prioritize your creative projects below your school work. Make them equal.
  • Carry a notepad with you (or some word processing device) to jot down ideas that you may have throughout the day.
  • Find time to read for fun.
  • If your schedule is ruined by some unforeseen circumstance, don’t freak out. Reschedule and keep writing.

 

What do you think? If you could add something to this method, what would it be? If you tried this method, how did it work for you?

Do You Know What “Draft” REALLY Means?

Let me tell you what I discovered after two continuous weeks of editing a short story.

We all know what happens during the first draft. We just sit and puke “creative vomit.”

What do you do with vomit?

No seriously…

Do you sit down and pick out the orange carrots and sweet peas?

No! You flush it.

The purpose of the first draft is to get a general idea of how you want your story to go. Then you go to the second. Is that draft perfect? Of course not.

Time for the third edit. Perfect? Nope. Fourth? …You get the idea.

So when can you finally label a manuscript “my final draft” or “my finished draft” or “ready for publication?”

Never. There will always be a draft! A-L-W-A-Y-S!

You may now throw your computer at the wall.

Don’t let this bit of information discourage you. The trick to overcoming a draft is knowing when to say “enough is enough.”

Enlightening, right? You’re welcome.

 

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? Why do you think it happens to you? Lets talk in the comments!

Basing Your Reading Habits off of Reviews is so…Grade School!

reviewsThe following conversation actually took place. Names have been changed to protect the Innocent:

Elf: My gawd, you’re just now reading that!

Alien: …yeah…

Elf: Even after the movie came out? Didn’t it spoil everything for you?

Alien: I didn’t read the book when it first came out.

Elf: Why?

Alien: Because the reviews were so bad.

Elf: …You base your reading habits off the opinions of others?

Alien: …Well…yeah.

Elf: Dude…that’s so grade school.


 

I’ve noticed a trend in the digital book market. It goes something like this:

  • 5 out of 5 (overall stars) – gets a book a lot of attention.
  • 4 out of 5 – almost the same as 5/5
  • 3 out of 5 – Makes people uncomfortable. They have to check the reviews!
  • 2 out of 5 – automatic skip
  • 1 out of 5 – You’re basically invisible
  • 0 out of 5 – You’d be lucky if someone accidentally clicked on the cover

Am I wrong? You’re free to disagree.

One day I was browsing through Amazon looking for a decent book to read. I found one, sampled it, liked it, and bought it.

Then I noticed it had a poor overall star rating.

One reader wrote a long review on how the author’s writing style was amateurish, that their characters were cardboard, and the manuscript was in need of a professional editor. The icing on the cake was this last part, “don’t waste your money on this rubbish.”

This reader’s review was declared the “most helpful” and one user thanked the reviewer for saving them money and time. I doubt they even looked at the sample…

Ok, the reviewer is entitled to their opinion. But the commenter…

Reviews are opinions of another reader. I’m not suggesting that we should do away with the starring/review system like some totalitarian regime. However–we (as mature readers, budding authors, and authors) should be adult enough to form our own opinions / decisions based on our own judgments.

At least give the author the courtesy of reading their synopsis and a sample of their work. It’s free! Still want to read the reviews? Go for it! But don’t base your reading / buying decisions off of them.

…it’s so grade school!

 

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

What’s Your Opinion: Is YA Fiction Becoming Repetitive?

Is young adult fiction becoming repetitive and unoriginal?

I stumbled onto an interesting debate about a week ago that deals with the above question. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to beimages appalled or intrigued. Then, after fifteen minutes of reading the debate and scratching my head, I eventually said, “Y’know, Desiree, this would make for a great discussion.”

The debate starts like this…

The first debater (the one who believes YA is repetitive) said:

“I love to read YA books, and young adult books such as the Hunger Games and the Fault in Our Stars aren’t just for young adults anymore. Everybody is experiencing the thrills and emotions of young adult fiction. However, it is hard to find good young adult books anymore. Why? Because every author has decided that writing a young adult book exactly like The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars is the best way to attract readers and make money (and if you’re lucky, get it made into a movie).”

Then a second debater challenges the first by stating:

“The authors of books such as Hunger Games, Divergent and Fault in our stars are writers of young adult books. Authors are writing the books with the same concepts, because young adults like these books. They are very popular and yes, high on demand. Young adults love to read these books because, what would happen if you always write about the perfect life? What is there to relate to? Even just simply reading these books, your mind enters a completely different world, of creativity.”

If you could participate in this debate, what would your opinion be?

*Click here to see how the debate turned out