What Have I Been Up To?

Happy October everyone! Yesterday I officially finished my first month of college and my new job at the campus library. Things have been nonstop and I have finally found a moment to catch my breath.

I’ll admit, despite my best efforts I was ill-prepared for my life as a college student, so it took a bit of time to adjust. I have yet the chance to really dig into a good fiction novel lately (my latest reads have all been related to research topics), but that hasn’t deterred me one bit!  Now listen up because I’m about to tell you the highlights of my September, which probably isn’t that exciting to you, but it was quite an exciting adventure for me.

A New Schedule

I was able to score a pretty nice schedule this semester, so I have yet to dread the 8am class that I’ve heard so much about. My typical routine consists of getting up, drinking coffee while going over yesterday’s material, and then heading to class. Sometimes I’ll watch Netflix, but I find that I have an easier time focusing in my lectures when I spent the first hour or two of my morning warming up my brain.

After the classes, which I have finally memorized the times for, I eat lunch start working on online assignments. This has ranged from discussions for my creative writing class to reading through a final draft before submitting it.

Once I have finished my lunch, I head over to the library to start working on (you guessed it) more assignments. There are short minute-long breaks in between for me to take a deep breath before I continue, but overall I am spending the majority of my time and energy on schoolwork.

Then, depending on the day, I go to work.

A New Job

One the first day of class I was also starting my first day at my job. I had already gone over the initial training over the summer for my position as the lead student assistant, but that was only a little look into what I would be doing on a regular basis.

For the most part, my job is simply sitting at the front desk and working on homework. There is the occasional student asking for help with the printer, or someone trying to find a specific book, but those times (so far) have been fairly rare. It’s always quiet, always pretty empty, and always a great way to spend the end of my day.

Another thing that I do on occasion is shelving books, which is by far my most favorite part of the job. Every time I go into the stacks I always end up finding books that I didn’t realize the library had. I’ve started to memorize the layout, where to find a certain type of book, and where my favorite authors are located. It’s become my little home-away-from-home, and I am loving it.

A New Reading Routine

Allow me to let out a heavy sigh for a moment and mourn the loss of my lively reading life. Something I am still figuring out is how to fit in reading for pleasure with the reading for classes. It’s harder than I thought, considering that I like to take notes and analyze the readings for my lectures, which take many hours to get through. Sure, I could read through and hope that I remember the main points, but where is the fun in that?

Anyways, I digress. I haven’t finished a single book in the month of September, and it is heartbreaking to me. Once I have finished my work for the day all I want to do is sleep, and try as I might, I cannot stay up late reading like I used to. I’ve also made new friends, so less time has gone to reading and more time has gone to hang out with friends after class.

Nevertheless, I am determined to find a way to go back to reading several books a month while also (somehow) balancing everything else on my plate. Who knows if I’ll ever accomplish that, but there’s always the summer to catch up one the great books I’ve missed.

How I Combat Writer’s Block

It happens to the best of us. Instead of that steady flow of inspiration that just pours on the page, there is absolutely nothing. Sometimes it feels like that’s it. There is no way you can go on with the story. Doubts settle in and it feels like it would be better to just scrap the entire draft and start over.

Never fear! There is always something that can be done to combat this uneasy feeling, and today I will be sharing the methods that work for me.

 

Take a Break

It’s important to just take a breather; especially if you have been writing for a long chunk of time. That way you don’t burn out or lose interest altogether. Take some time to paint your nails, check your email, or just listen to the music and watch the clouds roll by. It can be just 15 minutes or the entire rest of your day.

I find that taking a break gives my imagination the opportunity to just relax for a bit. This way I feel more refreshed by the time I start to write again, and I might even have a new idea to add.

Overall, I see no downside to taking a break. It isn’t a waste of time if your writing ends up benefiting from it.

 

Take a Walk

A change of scenery always helps me rekindle that inspiration. Whether it’s walking along the beach or just around the block, I always feel refreshed afterward.

The walk doesn’t have to be long either. It also doesn’t exactly have to be a walk. You can ride a bike, or drive to the nearest grocery store to pick up some donuts. The choice is yours.

 

Read

Sometimes the inspiration comes from reading someone else’s work. Being immersed in a good story can bring out emotions that can be relayed into your own work. I’m not suggesting that you plagiarise (that would be very wrong), but instead look at how another person describes the fictional world around them and appreciate the beauty of that imaginary world.

Getting lost in another story can be just what you need in order to move forward with your own. Just make sure that what you are writing isn’t a blatant copy of someone else’s story.

 

Freewrite

That’s right. In order to get over writer’s block, it is sometimes best to just keep writing. It can be silly haikus about nature or a free verse poem about watermelons. Either way, you’re still writing. It gets those creative juices flowing so that way you are still being productive in some way.

And who knows, that free verse poem about watermelons might lead to the greatest plot twist in your story.

 

Watch a Movie/TV Show

This can take your mind off of your story for a bit and give you some time to unwind. Just like reading, it can also make you feel inspired afterward. It’s also similar to just taking a break because there is the opportunity to take a breather.

 

Move On

There is a chance that the scene you are working on has simply grown stale. If that’s the case, then it is just best to move on to the next part and revisit that section another time. That way you can still contribute a great amount to your story.

Is there a scene that you have been dying to write? Write it! It can always be added in wherever it is needed and it may be what is needed to help you write what goes in between those separate parts of the story.

 

These always help me whenever I am feeling burned out or just uninspired. These little tricks never fail me, and I hope that some of them can help you too!

 

Feel free to leave a comment some of your thoughts! What helps you combat writer’s block? I enjoy reading your comments, and I would love to hear what you have to say!

If you are interested in reading more blog posts like this then also click the follow button on the side. That way you get notified every time I post something new, so you don’t miss it!

-Liza

 

 

Writing An Entire Book By Hand – Weeks 1-2

I recently received a leather journal as a gift, and for awhile I couldn’t think about what I would put inside its beckoning pages. There were four extra inserts of paper to use afterward, so I had plenty of space to write on. It was just a matter of figuring out what to fill those pages with.

That’s when I decided to try something that I had never attempted before: I am going to write an entire book by hand. It might take ages to complete, or it might take just a matter of months. Either way, I have packed my bags and I am ready to do.

I started this journey two weeks ago, and I thought that writing about this process would benefit anyone who is on the fence about doing this. This doesn’t mean you should let my opinion of this writing process affect how you write. Chances are typing your book works better for you, so, in that case, you can just come along for the ride and observe the roller coaster that I am about to go on.

Without further delay, here is how the first two weeks went for me. Feel free to get your pencil or pen ready and join me by writing your very own story as well.

 

Already I am in love with writing longhand. Sure, my handwriting is a jumbled mess that is most likely incomprehensible to almost everyone, but as long as I can read it then it doesn’t really matter. Who knows, maybe my handwriting will somehow improve once I have finished writing 200+ pages.

I found myself more and more excited to get home from work so I could add more to my growing story. It gave me something to look forward to (besides Lily, of course). There was more inspiration flowing through my fingertips onto the page in a beautiful, grammatically incorrect, fashion. I already love it more than I love typing on my old MacBook. If only I had started drafting like this sooner.

Another thing I noticed is that I am more focused when I write this way. I don’t have to worry about popup ads or clickbait articles to distract me from finishing a thought. There is nothing in my way when I am writing down one messy letter after another. It’s amazing. There’s no temptation from the internet to distract me from writing the story that I had always dreamed of creating.

Lastly, there is no self-editing with longhand, which is something I often struggled with when I would write on my laptop. It challenged me to go against that constant urge and force myself to continue to story without a second thought. A sense of freedom accompanies this feeling of anxiousness, which only makes me more excited and more likely to finish the first draft of this book. And, I can, of course, do all the editing that my heart desires once that first draft is done.

 

Feel free to comment on some experiences that you have had with writing the first draft by hand, or if you have something to add. I would love to read them!

If you are interested in reading more blog posts like this then also click the follow button on the side. That way you get notified every time I post something new, so you don’t miss it!

-Liza