Why Anyone Can Be a Writer

As a student, writing has always been a fairly large part of my academic career. From the time that I learned how to write a complete sentence in first grade, it has also been a passion of mine. Writing was a way for me to express myself in a manner that I hadn’t been able to before. Now, I have made the choice for writing to be a part of my career. Long story short, I absolutely love to write. However, I have met many people over the course of my life who have felt the exact opposite; not everyone loves writing the way I do and, I completely respect that. But, because November 15th is national “I Love to Write” Day, I am going to do my best to convince all of the non-writers out there that you, too, can and should become a writer.

Your first question is probably, “Where do I start?” or “What should I write about?” My answer is a simple one: write what you feel. For me, writing is often the best way to make sense of my emotions. If I’ve had a particularly rough day, sometimes just writing it down helps me feel better. Writing can be a great release for a lot of pent up emotions. Whatever type of writing speaks to you personally, whether it be journaling, poetry, songs, prayers, or stories, it can be a way for you to purge those feelings, good or bad. For a person who has little experience with writing, I would recommend journaling. It’s a great way to sort out your feelings and preserve memories that you might have otherwise forgotten. I also like to use it as a way to overcome writer’s block. If I can get myself started writing about something as simple as my day, more ideas will often come to me. Sometimes journaling about things can even give you clarity about a situation that you were struggling with before. Anything can be written about.

The next question you might have is, “Can I still be a writer if I’m not good at writing?” Yes! Yes, you can.  That is usually the number one reservation people have when I talk to them about writing. I struggled for a long time with feeling inadequate as a writer before I figured out the secret; you don’t have to be good. Sure, if you want to write professionally or plan on getting published, you will need a great deal of talent and experience but for personal writing purposes, it doesn’t matter if your word choice is precise or your grammar is flawless. You can write whatever you want, however you want. One of my favorite parts of writing is that there is so much freedom that comes with it. As long as you aren’t writing an academic paper or a published piece, there are no rules. No matter who you are, how you feel or what you say, you can be a writer.

Written by Taylor

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I Tried Creative Writing Prompts and Here’s What Happened

Articles with titles like “What I Learned by Shaving My Head” are my favorite kind. When I click on an article like that, I know that I’m getting genuine thoughts from somebody who is writing about an experience, not just a topic. Nobody wants advice from an inexperienced, self-proclaimed expert. All this to say: you’re welcome. I started to write a cookie cutter blog about creative writing and all the marvelous topics you can find on the internet to help you get started on your creative writing journey, when it occurred to me that I have never actually used writing prompts myself…

So, instead of suggesting you do something I’ve never even done, I decided to try them out. I found a creative writing website called Think Written that provides a unique prompt for every day of the year. I asked three of my coworkers to each choose a number between 1 and 365 and committed to writing about the corresponding topic. Naturally, I disliked all three topics, but for the sake of experiment I went through with it anyway. For clarification, each of the prompts are bolded, my commentary is in normal font, and the actual product is in italics.


89. Facebook or Twitter Status:Write a poem using the words from your latest status update or a friend’s status update.

I don’t poem, so this was a discouraging start. At the suggestion of fellow writing consultant Isaac, I went for the easiest poem of all, a haiku. In a strange twist of fate, it happened to be Isaac’s status that first popped up on my Facebook feed: “This morning, as I sleepily ate my breakfast, I noticed that it kind of tasted like a waffle cone. Y’know, for ice cream. I was eating waffles. I guess they’re called waffle cones for a reason. *facepalm*”

A haiku about waffles; why not?

Waffles for breakfast

Ice cream in a waffle cone

Strangely similar


360. Review: Review your week, month, or year in a journal entry or poem format.

I started this creative writing challenge back on January 8, after having done literally nothing for the first few days of 2016. Oh joy. Since I hate writing poems, I went with a couple of journal entries instead, and this is the weirdness that was produced. I apologize in advance.

Dear Diary,

I’ve been assessing the past week of my life, and I’ve come to a terrifying conclusion: I live a very lowly existence. I have only accomplished three things this week. I’ve gone to work, I’ve cleaned my apartment, and I’ve consumed food. That is it. In my defense, these three things are forcing me into a vicious cycle. I get hungry, so I have to go to work to make money to buy food. When I cook the food, I usually make a mess and I am forced to clean it up. Cleaning then makes me hungry all over again. A vicious cycle I tell you!

As you might expect, upon making such a pathetic discovery, I decided to evaluate my life as whole. I backtracked to examine this past month and I hate to report that my findings are grim; I have spent my time doing only three things. You guessed it. Working. Cleaning. Eating. Panic led me to determine if this is something I have been doing all year long. And it is.

Aside from an occasional scroll through Facebook and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls, I have done nothing with my year except work, clean, and eat. Mozart composed over 600 works in just 30 years of life. Alexander Hamilton wrote 51 of The Federalist Papers essays in six months. Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in less than two weeks. And what am I doing with my time? Working, cleaning, and eating. White crayons contribute more to a coloring book than I do to society. I must figure out something to do with my life!

Dear Diary,

False alarm. Something important occurred to me last night as I lay awake pondering my measly existence. Sure, I may have spent this week, this month, and this year to date doing nothing of significance, but that’s okay. Because today is January 8. The week may be lost but the month and the year are young! Now I must go. It’s Friday night and I have plans.


204. Strength: Think of a time when you’ve been physically or emotionally strong and use that as inspiration.

The best thing that came to mind was the time I was a participant in the I Am Second Race and sprinted past some guy right at the end. This is the essay that memory inspired.

Beating boys is a lot of fun. Now, I don’t mean beating up boys, because that’s just mean. Beating them competitively is something entirely different.

In my heart of hearts I believe that sports are about having fun. Really, I do. They are fun, but they’re exponentially more fun when I’m the winner. In fact, I’ll just be honest and admit that I hate losing. I hate losing more than the Grinch used to hate Christmas. In my early years of playing sports I was taught to believe that any team can beat any other team on any given day (this is especially useful to remember when the Cowboys are playing). I was also taught that competing against boys is no exception to this rule.

I’ve played almost every sport available to me since I was four years old, and I’ve encountered many a male opponent. My all-girls-traveling- soccer team played games against our counterpart all-boys-traveling team on a regular basis. Basketball practices sometimes involved scrimmages against the guys. Driving range competitions at golf practice were usually held between boys and girls. Mixed doubles in tennis demanded that I play with and against boys. And races may give awards to separate gender categories, but when you’re out on the course, everybody is somebody to beat.

I have never once excused a loss simply because the winner happened to be of the male species. Sometimes girls out-run, out-shoot, out-swing, and all-around out-play boys. It’s not a big deal, though the world likes to pretend that it is. Competitiveness is a human trait, not exclusively masculine or feminine. Beating boys is fun; not because I feel like a successful underdog or a redeemed victim, but because winning is fun. That’s all there is to it.


And there you have it; my experiment with creative writing prompts is complete. If you want to give it a shot yourself, here’s the link to Think Written http://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/ I can’t say that it’ll be an easy task or that I would recommend you do one every day, but writing prompts definitely have their advantages. It will be a fantastic way for you to sharpen up creative skills you may not have used in a while, and it will definitely boost your confidence as a writer. If you are capable of writing a poem about breakfast food, you are capable of writing about anything.

Written by Savanna

Image credit: http://40.media.tumblr.com/001f8c42ea985c0a777cc2c7820d2376/tumblr_njtpuc6X5t1sg2aiqo1_500.jpg

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

 

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-

It’s Time to Write

When you’re in grade school, you dream about the last day of school. The countdown to freedom begins about a month in advance, and you are sure to remind everyone in your wake. When the day finally arrives, visions of festivities dance through your head as you sit in your last period class, watching the hands of the clock turn ever so slowly. The final bell rings, provoking you and your peers to burst through the doors of English class. Roars of “No more papers!” fill the halls of the school while teachers sigh in relief at the departure of their students. The celebration is nothing short of your favorite High School Musical number.

Now thacovert you’re in college, you have aged and matured into a nice and refined adult, which caused you to tackle the end of the spring semester with grace and poise. You waited until the very last moment to submit your final writing assignment, not because you procrastinated or watched an entire season of The Office the week before it was due, but because you were truly saddened by the idea of having an assignment-free summer, right?

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited for summer. In fact, I’d be lying if I told you that my inner 7th grader didn’t come out after I submitted that last essay. That’s right. I sang that High School Musical number; I sang it real loud.

If you’re like me, you enjoy writing on your own terms and on your own time. It took years for me to become comfortable with writing specific papers. I never liked being told what or when to write, which didn’t work out so well for me in high school. After spending so much time dreading writing specific assignments, I quickly lost the desire to write at all, which meant that I rarely picked up a pen during the summer. This is one of my deepest regrets.

Although I’m still daydreaming about Troy Bolton and random musical outbreaks taking place in the lobby of the Learning Center, my views and perspectives on writing have completely changed since being in colledownloadge and working in the UWC. Obviously, there is great importance in writing specific assignments for classes, no matter how tedious or ridiculous it may seem at the time. That being said, I believe that it is absolutely essential for us to write for self pleasure as well. I am continually astonished by the things that I find out about myself while writing as a pastime, rather than writing as an obligation. The simple act of putting pen to paper has gotten me through the best and worst times of my life.

So, today, I’m writing this blog for one sole purpose. It’s not to remind you of the good ‘ole days of grade school or to reminisce about one of my favorite Disney classics, but it’s to encourage you to write. Write a poem or a song. Write something non-fictional or down right imaginative. Write in a journal or on a wadded up napkin that you found in the floorboard of your car. Write whatever you want, whenever you want.

Summer is an amazing opportunity to express yourself through writing. There are no specific topics, time limits, or grades. It’s just you, a pen, and a world of possibilities. Don’t take it for granted.

Written by Haley

Words: Not to be Used Lightly

words1

Fluff.

Every student has done it. Every student has written it. More often than not, college papers are stuffed to the brim with the unnecessary. Some people add extra ideas at the last minute to reach that five-page requirement. Others repeat the same idea over and over in different words so the conclusion takes up half a page. With deadlines approaching, we haphazardly stuff words onto the page, hoping the professor will think our ideas are semi-passable.
Writing is hard. We know. Even for famous authors, putting ideas down on paper is still a challenge. Ernest Hemingway said that “there is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Even waking up for an 8am class is easier than writing. With this mindset, however, students often forget the purpose for writing. Words get crammed into paragraphs that students don’t really care about, and papers full of neglected words get turned it at the start of class. And this is a tragedy.
Words are not to be used lightly.
Writing is a transformation. Words, when strung together correctly, can alter the average, spur on the weary, and inspire the great. Words express the ideas within us, the ideas that should be shared. When we fluff our papers, not only are we misusing our education, we are also misusing the single most powerful tool given to humanity. Words have the power2013_speech_4_3-4_3_r541_c540 to tear down kingdoms, to unite divided peoples, and to birth whole countries. Even God Himself began the creation of the universe with four spoken words.
As students, we are trying to communicate our ideas. See writing as an opportunity to express yourself. Be bold. Take pride in your thinking. Share those thoughts for all to see. Refuse to settle. Don’t see a paper as another useless assignment, but see it as the need to build on what others have done before you. Contribute.
Make every word count.

“Wise men speak because they have something to day; fools because they have to say something.”
–Plato

Written by Jenna

To write or not to write…

I intend to journal. I plan to blog. I mean to write down the thoughts that sift through my head, but unfortunately, good intentions only go so far.

Writing for school is simple; it’s due by a specific time, so I get it done. For myself, it is much more difficult. There are so many events, feelings, and blessings that I know would be beneficial to remember, but I can never seem to get them on paper.

So, to write or not to write, that is the question.

Do I just forget wanting to keep a documentation of life? I have so many other things to do; the list is endless. The thoughts I find worth going back over always seem to come when I’m right in the middle of something else, and byjournal-011 the time I’m finished, I’ve forgotten them. School papers, grocery shopping, and hanging out with friends are all more important and limited by time, whereas journaling or blogging is not. “I can do it tonight right before I go to bed,” I think. By that time, though, I’m so tired and already worrying about what else I have to do that I put it off again. As I reread school assignments or little excerpts I’d managed to write, I cringe at how awful they sound: would I even go back and read a journal? Such musing hinders me.
If I were able to make it a habit, though, if I were to write regularly, it would remind me what it feels like when my little brother gives me hugs for no reason. It would show life’s Journal 20 May 2010roller coaster in a way I could not see before. I could go back and remember how my pets followed me around the house, or how my father sacrificed time to be with us. A journal might allow me to revisit the feelings and perspective of another time, and perhaps help someone else going through the same thing. Personally, I tend to live in the present; I adapt to what is happening and how I feel now, and have trouble recalling different times. Writing down life’s occurrences as they come may even assist my memory and recollection abilities.

With this in mind, I choose to write, like I choose to pray, invest, and work out.

Does this sound familiar? Have you been struggling to write beyond the necessary?

Allow me to leave you with a word of encouragement:

“A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” B. F. Skinner

Written By Julia