Confidence to Write Freely

I’m kind of scatterbrained. This is my third attempt at writing this blog, and honestly, I’ve written over a few thousand words by now to no avail. I just don’t think that what I’ve written is good enough. I keep looking at the points I’ve made and wonder whether they’re valid or relatable. I’ve written about how to be assertive, how to find peace in every moment, even about how to find hope when life is a pain. What I’m experiencing is a form of writer’s block. Funny thing is, I’m sure many people have already written about writer’s block, so what other points could I make about it? How can I find something new to say about it, despite knowing my thoughts are hardly original?

First, that line of thought is entirely wrong when approaching writing. Everybody is unique in their own way. So why couldn’t my point of view of writer’s block help somebody else? It’s not for me to say whether my thoughts will hit the exact pressure point needed. Nobody else will repeat my same words in the same place at the same time, so I’ve already found originality here and now. Sure, when it comes to stories, one has to avoid copying other works. But given individual perspectives and styles, as long as one isn’t lazy, almost anything can be original.

Second, I’ve subjected myself to an opinion that I have to achieve a certain quality of writing. However, I’m the only one who’s read what I just wrote. I don’t know what other people would think about it. So how can I accurately appraise the quality of my work? Whether we judge ourselves too harshly, too highly, or not at all, there are several perspectives that have to be considered. Yet I never even tried to get feedback about my work. How am I to say my writing isn’t good enough, when my opinion of this will be different from someone else’s? This is why writer’s groups are wonderful things. I can’t count the times (well, I can, but I’m crazy) I’ve brought an excerpt of writing to them, insisting it’s the worst piece of garbage I’ve ever seen. I completely expected my group to tear it apart, and I would understand. Even so, they always assured me otherwise; sure, I made mistakes, but they weren’t as bad or as all-encompassing as I thought. As it turns out, many writing mistakes are easily solved with a little know-how. I was surprised to find that even if I didn’t know how to fix things, I could just ask, and I’d get help with no judgment attached. Weird, right?

My starting approach and my tendency to over-criticize are just two of many big things that hold me back from writing (also planning, at which I’m horrible). They also stop me from other creative activities such as making art or music.  However, the best weapon I’ve found is that even though I might not be happy with my abilities now, I won’t get any better if I don’t try. I can’t get input on the perceived quality of my works if I don’t get it critiqued by others. The saying, “practice makes perfect” might be aiming a little too high, but practice at least provides progress.

So if you’re reading this right now, trying to get inspiration to write, I say to you: Go! Be free! Write whatever comes to mind and filter it all later! And then filter it again, and again, because writing is a process that is always in motion. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first draft or your fifteenth, writing can always be developed. There’s another adage that says, “a penny for your thoughts.” If, indeed, thoughts are that cheap, why cling on to them like a miser, when you could cast them into the furnace to develop and refine them into a great big, copper pinnacle of creative completion? Or why not use them as currency and include yourself in the great economy of imagination?

Go! Write! Say what only you at this time and place can say!

 Written by Isaac

Photo Credit:

https://wallpaperscraft.com/image/bird_ocean_flight_sky_clouds_5689_3840x2160.jpg

 

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National Handwriting Day

For most people, the art of writing by hand is a common skill which feels almost instinctive; yet it’s also a personal form of self-expression. The methods and manners by which people write by hand can infer much about their personality, mood, interests, or even their personal history with the craft. I, for one, was taught to write in italics. Consequently, my handwriting is a sloppy mixture of cursive and print. Though it may appear unreadable to some, my handwriting is just that: mine. At this point, it’s such a natural habit that it would be difficult to change, it wouldn’t feel right. Just as thumbprints, birthmarks, and eye color are unique to every individual, handwriting is a craft which though universal is uniquely adopted and changed by each person who learns it. Though capable of being closely mimicked, one’s handwriting cannot be replicated by another individual. As unique as a speaking voice or gait when walking, handwriting is a personalized activity.

According to the ever-reliable hub of miscellaneous information Wikipedia, the act of recording information with written or inscribed words has been practiced for thousands of years. Long before the time of Jesus, even! Of course, over the centuries documenting words has evolved from hieroglyphics and pictographs, to calligraphy, to typing on the latest edition of Microsoft Word. While handwriting may not appear to be a skill for those who are required to learn it, not everyone experiences the privilege of expressing themselves via the written form. Though easily learned, writing by hand is a gift. In article found in The Wall Street Journal, journalist Gwendolyn Bounds states that when children learn to write by hand, swift improvement in motor skills occurs.

In this day and age, typing is all the rage. It’s required for class assignments, daily activities, jobs, and is considered the more efficient method of recording words even when it concerns personal hobbies such as writing poetry. Writing by hand is rarely required in 2016, except when signing one’s signature. Yet many people would do well to try writing by hand for a change. Personally, I find it relaxing, even stress-relieving to spend a few minutes writing by hand. There’s satisfaction in using a seemingly mundane skill to create something pretty. It’s a method by which everyone, despite their abundance or lack of talent, can create something both lovely and useful. Though the act of writing by hand may be scarce these days, pencils and paper still abound. Seize your tool and begin handwriting!

Written by Karoline

Photo Credits: https://media.azpm.org/master/image/2013/2/1/spot/writing-hand-spotlight.jpg

A Motivational Quest

I stand there frozen in fear. The stairs in front of me seem incredibly daunting and I wonder how I will ever overcome them. Once again I ask myself why on earth I would want to do this. To answer that question I mentally run through the process that got me here. It all started last night when I read an article about how great running up and down stairs is for bodies. I then decided that a stair workout sounded like a great idea and figured I would try it out the next day. That decision led me to where I am now: standing petrified in front of a horrific looking flight of stairs. Doing this workout seemed like a great idea beforehand, but for some reason I can’t seem to find the motivation I need to actually follow through with it now that I am here.

Perhaps you have experienced a situation similar to the one I just described. Or maybe you can’t relate to that at all. As it turns out, you could be the type of person who really doesn’t like to work out and you never really care to find the motivation to do painful physical activities. In that case, you might better relate to an academic struggle for motivation. If so, just think back to a time when one of your professors assigned a paper for your class. You procrastinated for a little while, but eventually came to a point where you knew you had to write that paper. You sat down in front of your computer and prepared to write, but as you stared at the blank computer screen you just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to begin writing. The entire writing process felt painful and foreboding; how could you ever build up the courage to take on such a task?

Finding motivation can be a very difficult endeavor. Even those people who are balls of energy that never appear to need any extra motivation sometimes hit a slump. There have certainly been times when Arnold Schwarzenegger struggled and didn’t want to go work out. At some point in his life, there was a period when Beethoven had trouble getting started with a symphony. Yes, I tell you even Hitler had days when he couldn’t seem to work up the motivation to attempt to take over the world. It happens to the best (and the worst) of us. But this is no reason to fear! On the contrary, together we can work to overcome those dreary days when your enthusiasm has hit rock bottom. Today, I am here to give you six tips to gather the motivation you need to begin even the most formidable mission.

  1. Make your task incredibly easy to begin.

When you are beginning to embark on a fearsome venture, start with something really easy. Do not tell yourself that you begin writing when you are finally typing words; tell yourself that you have already begun once you turn on the computer. Do not start a work out by lifting weights; instead, start it by tying your tennis shoes. Do not say that you start getting out of bed when you leave your bed, say that getting out of bed begins when you turn your alarm off. This mindset makes it much easier to get over the hump of beginning a task. Instead of having difficulty beginning, you will find that the difficult part is actually continuing. However, by then you will have already begun your mission, which will greatly enhance your motivation.

 

  1. Focus on your goal.

If you have a goal or a reason for doing something then it will be much easier to make yourself do it. For example, if a man is attempting to do a workout, he can focus on how he wants to better his health. Instead of thinking about how much running stairs hurts, he can tune his mind to emphasize the benefit of running those stairs. Doing this allows him to remember why he wants to work out and then use that knowledge to fuel himself.

 

  1. Stay positive

The more negative you are, the harder it will be to get motivated. If you keep telling yourself that you hate writing and that your paper will probably turn out badly and that having to write a paper is just ruining your life, then you will probably never find motivation to write that paper. That is exactly why you have to change your outlook from one full of negativity to one full of positivity. Remind yourself how well you can write (even if you don’t think you are a great writer). Remember that writing a paper will only take up a few hours of your life, which really isn’t that bad. Stay positive, and it will be much easier to find the elusive motivation that you seek.

 

  1. Reward yourself.

What better way is there to get yourself to do something than to place a reward at the end of the road? When you set aside time for a project, allocate a little time for something you enjoy as well. That way you can treat yourself to a reward after you finish. Then, when you are trying to motivate yourself you can remind yourself that there is something to look forward to after you are done with your difficult task.

 

  1. Use peer pressure to your advantage.

When you are preparing to tackle an unsettling enterprise, enlist the help of your friends. Tell them all about what you are going to do or even post about it on social media. Ask them to hold you accountable so that you do not veer from your course of action.

 

  1. Watch the Shia Labeouf Just Do It video.

Seriously, just watch it. You think this is a joke, and on one hand it is, but it actually leads to a very helpful tip: get motivated by watching or reading something that you find inspiring. Although it may not be the Shia Labeouf video, you should still attempt to find something that appeals to you personally. This will help to inspire you and raise your motivation levels dramatically.

(Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0)

 

There you have it: the six things that I have found to be the most helpful when I am trying to find motivation for a task. Doing these things can be extremely beneficial in your quest for motivation. Just remember, even though it may seem impossible, you can do it. Just like the Little Engine that Could thought that he could, I know that you can.

 

Written by Nathan

The Beauty of Road Trips

I love road trips. Whether there is a set destination or not, the path I take to get from point A to point B is entirely up to me. I could leave the day before and get to stay an extra night, I could leave a couple of days early to extend my drive and visit other cities and towns, or I could simply leave late enough to get there just in time. The options are endless when it comes to the route and duration. Of course road trips are fun when I am by myself; however, when two or three others join in, the entertainment never stops. (Plus, we can switch out drivers whenever one of us gets tired.) No longer is it only me singing along to the radio while trying not to fall asleep, but it is a whole car full of crazy, tired, and delirious people jamming out to the random stations we can find in backwoods towns. Friendships are strengthened and memories are made on road trips.

road

In this age of technology, it is quite easy to simply take a selfie, put a hashtag about the moment, and save that memory forever. However, as effective as that method is, I would like to recommend a different one. Throughout a road trip, I journal about what has happened so far. Although that may seem a bit inconvenient and time-consuming, I find that it further solidifies my experience. When my pen connects to paper, the sights, smells, and thoughts that occur suddenly become more and more real. After I return home and reread my entries, it is as if they had just happened the day before. There is something magical that happens when I write things down. When looking back, I also learn new things that I had not noticed before. Although I do not want journaling to take up precious time during a road trip, it is a simple way to combine all that happened. Journaling is not only great for road trips, but also for all experiences; so JOURNAL! Write anything and everything down, whether good or bad, because there is so much to learn from memories. I definitely recommend any and all road trip opportunities.

Written by Maddison

Photo Credits:

http://www.theflashpack.co.uk/wp/if-you-could-go-on-any-road-trip-where-would-you-go/http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrB8qAHU_tVUwkA8SCQnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBxNG1oMmE2BHNlYwNmcC1hdHRyaWIEc2xrA3J1cmwEaXQD/RV=2/RE=1442562951/RO=11/RU=http%3a%2f%2fblog.carchex.com%2fcost-cutting-tips-for-summer-road-trips%2f/RK=0/RS=hwEMsu1hqPfUHhB0lK2XskV1LWM-

Music to My Ears

Music and writing are nearly synonymous to me. When I am writing just about anything, be it for school or for fun, there is usually music flooding through my headphones or the speaker on my phone. It doesn’t particularly matter what kind of music it is; it can be my favorite rock group or an instrumental piece of video game music (yes, I am a nerd), but the right music sometimes helps me set the mood for a scene or find more creative ways to phrase something.

When a person writes a song, he or she is stringing abstract sounds together into something coherent and meaningful; when a person writes a story or paper, he or she is doing the exact same thing. In this sense, technically, anyone can write either a poem or a ballad.

However, it is only when the heart and soul get involved that something truly magical takes place. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what changes, but what would ordinarily exist without purpose suddenly becomes full of life. This is something that both English and music professionals can testify to. Musicians regularly spend months recording, planning, and tweaking their songs before releasing an album, and authors of novels might spend months, perhaps years, on a rough draft alone. Their creative work quickly consumes their lives, and a part of their being can be said to permeate the finished product.

Most people, teenagers and adults alike, know what it’s like to become immersed in a song or to sing the lyrics at the top of their lungs in the car or shower. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could experience such passion in our own writing, even if it’s just for a class paper? After all, if we are trying to accomplish the same goal as a musician, shouldn’t we feel the same way they do? And shouldn’t we see a notable, positive change in our writing?

Yes! Heart and soul are essential to a good paper. Professors notice when you care, and, knowing that, you may find yourself hating a blank word document a little bit less.

How can you add some personality to your paper? The best thing you can do is write about the things you love. If you’ve followed the Dallas Cowboys since you were small, but you try to write about the Philadelphia Eagles, whatever distaste you harbor for the Eagles will most likely evidence itself, especially if your professor was born and raised in Pennsylvania. The same is true for any topic you choose; if you love your subject, your writing experience will improve.

Now, I’m not saying you should write about something completely unrelated to the general subject matter just because you love it; your religion professor, for example, likely has no interest in reading a paper about the Dallas Cowboys. However, the ability to take a professor’s prompt and stretch it to its furthest boundaries shows your ability to think critically and, therefore, helps increase the credibility of your words.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, for a paper you love will almost certainly be music to your professor’s ears.

Written by Catherine