So…what now?

I mean, technically I’m not done with my project. But the closer I get to the end, the more I think about how, despite all of the long nights and drawn-out papers and peer review workshops, I really enjoy having a creative outlet. Whether that’s been an amazing 325 course or one of my classes for the minor, I’ve always enjoyed my English-based classes the most because they give me a chance to express myself, or whatever it is that’s on my mind.

But I didn’t major in English. I’m going into a writing-intensive career, but it’s public relations for sports teams. There’s only so much creativity you can add into that before it becomes unnecessary and superfluous. I don’t think I majored in the wrong thing — I certainly like what I do — but how do you keep up with creativity in writing outside of school? If it’s not on your checklist for work, when will you write that essay about your favorite day of the year?

This is probably just some pre-graduation crisis I’m going through right now, but it feels very, very real. I love writing, and I love creating things. But I feel like I don’t have the same outlet to express myself in the future, and that scares me. I don’t want to lose any of that.

Is there anyone going into a similar career (or career without a lot of writing) that feels the same way, or knows of a way to keep up with writing outside of school? I’m sure there are a million ways, but I’m just not sure what they are.

Is it really crunch time or does it just feel like crunch time?

I feel like regardless of how much work I put into a paper, or my homework, or a project, or whatever it is that’s causing me overwhelming stress at any given moment, I always tend to hit panic mode toward the end. I’ve literally written entire papers before, had them done days before the deadline, and just spent so much time tweaking or experimenting or doing surgery on them that I find myself working right up until the deadline.

I think this is pretty emblematic of who I am as a person, in both a positive and negative way. I never think anything is done, ever, which is a pretty horrifying trait to have because I never feel satisfied with something until it’s turned in and Canvas is closed and I literally do not have access to the document I’m trying to tweak.

On the other hand, this is really good when I’m applying to jobs, because my resume is completely nit-picked to as close to perfection as a semi-decent resume for a 22-year old hopeful can be. Right now, though, this is not the case. Right now, despite working on this project for months and compiling as much information as possible an interviewing people and completely reshaping my project, I’m in panic mode. I’m in the furiously-typing stage, the stage where you incorporate and un-incorporate the same source approximately 10 times before deciding to cut it all together.

Yay!

I know my project is in a good place, and I know that I’ve done a lot of work for this. But my biggest battle right now is myself, I think — so maybe it’s time to close the laptop and take a nap and pick it back up tomorrow, when there’s less time to panic over every little thing.

Update: I still can’t navigate Wix

It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman trying to use Wix to build a website for my Gateway project.

(Technically, that really was only like a year ago, so I’m not too removed from that experience but that’s not my point. )

They make it look so easy — cute little blogs with photos and buttons and interactive features that make you go, “Wow, this person really knows what they’re doing!”

And THEN.

Then you try to build your own little interactive feature, and suddenly it’s like I should have gotten a degree in computer science. I try to customize a button, and I’m on YouTube watching “How to” tutorials for an hour, which is approximately 59 minutes longer than I’ve actually spent building my website.

I remember last year thinking that I’d need to budget myself 100,000,000 hours of time to build my website for this project. Or, I’d find a way around building a website — maybe I’d like, magically become good at music and make like an album, or a movie! (Turns out neither of those things are things you magically become good at.)

So, here we are. Battling the never-ending battle with Wix. Building my interactive features one painful click through the navigation process at a time. And it has been an absolute joy. But, on the bright side, the website IS coming along — and it WILL end up looking good, regardless of how many YouTube tutorials I have to watch.

(Side note: I am accepting any and all tips and tricks for Wix.)


I need to drink some coffee & relax

Normally, I feel so good about picking what material to put in a project and what to cut.

I know what adds value, what adds context, what adds a little extra flair and creativity to a project to give it some spark. Typically, this isn’t the hardest part of writing for me — this is the part that makes a story what it is, and generally, I’m good at telling stories.

With this project, though, I feel like I’m drowning in how much information there is. How many infographics are too many? I’ve done interviews, but how do I incorporate them in a way that adds the right amount of flair, and doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path? Does everything make sense together, or is it just a mishmash of information? How do you choose what to include when you’ve got a million different things to choose from?

I think I’m doing the inevitable by trying to protect my project too much, and not giving it the freedom it needs. I know I just need to let it flow, to make decisions that feel natural and include things that I think make sense. It’s important to trust your gut when writing, and not the image of how you picture the “perfect” project turning out in the end. Nothing’s perfect anyways, right?

I want to relax moving forward and just let the project drive where it needs to go. I think we looked at something earlier in the year about how we’re the horse and not the rider (rider and not the horse? I think it’s the first one.) We’re here to help get our audience to a place, not to control the way they get there — hopefully, with a little relaxation (and maybe some coffee) that will happen 🙂

Challenge Journal 1 | Tick Tock

Not the song by Kesha, but I wish.

Something that I’ve noticed I really, really, really struggle with is the time in which I feel inspired to write. I’m sure this stems from my (severely lacking in quality and not at all helpful) ritual of saving all of my writing assignments to do last, because for some reason, I find most of my inspiration to write while everyone else has been asleep for hours — and as Tharp said in our reading, rituals require us to stop asking why we’re doing something, and I stopped asking why I was still up approximately four hours ago.

But, as you can see by the time stamp on this blog post, it’s almost 4 a.m. and this has really turned into an unhealthy habit (ritual?). As great as it is to have the words flowing, having them flow through a sleep-deprived haze probably doesn’t actually help, because I’m sure you’ve encountered at least 10-12 grammatical errors in this post already.

My writing ritual used to revolve on a (healthy) time schedule because it was based around the hours of my favorite writing place — the corner booth in the Union Starbucks. It was the perfect relationship; for some reason, that corner booth and a chai tea latte were all I needed to crank out papers and blog posts, and because it closed at 9 p.m., I didn’t have to find my inspiration in a Vitamin Water bottle at an unholy hour in the morning. But, as we are all aware, my corner booth for writing is now covered in sawdust and construction sheets due to renovations (RIP) and my writing has since been stalled to my apartment’s kitchen table at 4 a.m.

This has been a really long and convoluted way of asking: has anyone else had this problem where they’ve lost a motivating factor for their writing, and how have you replaced that piece of motivation? (Or, maybe an easier question to answer — do you have any good suggestions for a new study spot?)

How to Write Fiction

When I was little, I used to thrive off the idea that one day I’d be the best fiction author. I didn’t want to be the president, didn’t want to save lives as a doctor or fly into outer space for NASA. There might have been a veterinarian phase, but for the most part, it was always being an author. I was going to write the best fiction anyone had ever read.

But as I got older, it moved from fiction to non-fiction, and then poetry. After a while, it became nothing.

(Not actually nothing, just nothing to do with writing.)

So when I got to college and joined the newspaper, it was almost like a step backwards for me. I somehow rediscovered the little girl who enjoyed writing, and now basically does it for a living (never mind that it’s articles and PR briefs.) For my origin piece, I wanted to use an article I’d written that I thought would benefit from experimentation — how far could I go with word choice, how can I change the story, how could I broaden my horizons?

Because of this, I think it would be kind of cool to go full circle and revisit fiction again.

I want to combine my origin piece (an article) with what initially dominated my reading as a child. I feel like they’re basically complete opposites, so this assignment — AKA “How to Write Fiction” — seems perfect.

Where articles seem very structured and straightforward with hard facts and data, fiction is really whatever you want it to be, with you being the reader or writer. There’s so much wiggle room in fiction because your options are endless — which, sometimes, might even seem like a drawback considering how expansive your opportunities are.

Because of this, it’s probably important to get a solid layout down for how to actually write good fiction. For me, having too much freedom with writing is sometimes more detrimental and overwhelming than helpful. To figure this out, I read an article from the Slate called “What are the Qualities of Good Fiction Writing?” The great thing about this article that a lot of “how-to” articles don’t do is that it teaches the good qualities of fiction by telling you what not do through beginner mistakes. And this girl is the QUEEN of beginner mistakes.

A lot of the tips are general writing tips, similar to this article by the New Yorker describing eight rules you should follow for good fiction writing. However, as you get to the more advanced mistakes, you see more comprehensive issues to stay away from — lurching tones, nonstop action, bland characters with no pitfalls, etc.

Although it seems obvious, this is really great advice for fiction writing, because it’s so broad and open and free that you feel like you can do anything — including creating perfect characters and nonstop action. But as a reader, that kind of material is sometimes hard to digest, and focusing on little things like making your protagonist afraid of mosquitos can actually be really helpful.

In another article by the HuffPost, a “Top 10” piece (classic!), I looked for employment of these tactics in fiction but was met with a stunner of a first line that I think says more about good fiction than a lot of other lists:

“One thing that’s great about short stories is how quickly they can ruin your life.”

Okay, pretty accurate. If I’m writing a story so impactful it can ruin someone’s life (in the best way a story can ruin it), I feel like I’d be pretty happy. But as great as it’d be to ruin someone’s life (in a good way), the basis of the article pretty much said that everyone has different tastes; something that can destroy one person’s life may not even make a dent in another.

I feel like this is a pretty good basis for fiction writing because it basically tells you everything is a go and sometimes it’ll work, sometimes it won’t. As long as the reader can latch on to your mosquito-fearing protagonist, or literally anything, chances are good you can make a connection with your audience.

In an article through the Writer’s Digest, one important idea also stood out to me for writing good fiction — try starting your story with tension. Often times (in my young writing days when I thought 16-year olds exemplified the ideal generation) I’d have a hard time starting stories. There’s so much detail you have to include, so much buildup for your characters.

And here’s this article that’s just kind of like screw it. Start in the middle of your battle with some random dude garnering an eyepatch trying to steal a precious gem ( @ Jumanji ) or in the middle of your fictional Greek mythology exam that you’re about to fail.

That’s kind of the beautiful thing about fiction — as long as you make it somewhat attachable for the reader, chances are, you could make just about anything a good story.

Bye Buddy, Hope You Find Your Dad

I am never good with introductions, so I thought I’d start with something that has basically been consuming my life for the past 24 hours (other than trying to find out the name of a song to which no one seems to know.) The movie Elf seems to be influencing my life a lot lately — I was interviewing someone yesterday and he brought it up, and the title is also my a go-to goodbye for a lot of my friends at work — so I thought what better way to start off an introduction?

Other than this past week though, Elf hasn’t really affected my life all that much, so I now have to somehow figure out a transition from that to telling you about my life. I kind of feel like that was a good enough transition though, so here are a few quicks hits about me (formatted for easy digestion):

  • I grew up in White Pigeon, Michigan (a village of 1,500 people in southwest Michigan)
  • I love sports (especially gymnastics and hockey #LGRW)
  • I’m re-reading the Percy Jackson books because they are GOLD and no one can fight me on that
  • My favorite colors are green and blue
  • I have red hair (which is literally the coolest thing about me, less than 2% of the world’s population has red hair ALSO it’s a genetic mutation along with blue eyes which I also have so basically I am a genetically-mutated gem)

*As a side note, I tried to post the video of the song I’m trying to find but unfortunately another fun fact about me is that I’m not exactly tech-savvy, so that will have to wait for another day.