3 things you need to do when your hobby begins to feel like a job.

It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve actually stopped and enjoyed the process of writing. I went through a short phase where I just kept telling myself, “It’s okay, it won’t be long until I can write again,” and that was enough for me. Then it got to the point where I would put things ahead of writing time. I had to prepare for my promotion, then I had to train once I received the promotion, then I had school, then I had tests… Those things do take priority, but even during down time, when none of those things had any hold on me, I still found myself saying, “It’s okay, it won’t be long until I can write again.”

I had become the one person I always blogged about, trying to avoid. I became the writer who talks about writing, but never actually does.

Sure, yes, I do have a lot going on right now. Senior year is right in front of me, and a new job with more responsibilities on top of that eats up a lot of time… Not to mention squeezing in cuddle time with the boyfriend, which I must say I do desperately need during the week. I never considered writing a burden or a chore. It never felt that way to me, and even though I have made it out to seem that way, it still doesn’t.

I just miss the time when it was just all for fun, back when I could sit there and write for hours upon hours, much like how I used to read – another hobby which has met the same terrible fate as writing. Now, life takes so much precedence, I find everything to be tiring. Everything is work, now, even when what I’m doing is supposed to relax me after work.

Writing used to be my life, then reality seeped in and tainted my brain with all of this adult garbage (okay, maybe not garbage, but at least recycling).

But, as always, one thing has helped to remedy my terrible predicament: a list. I’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help combat the adult recycling, and while I still haven’t mastered it, this is a great place to start:

  • You have to become double-brained.
    Unfortunately, this is the hardest thing to accomplish, and it certainly sounds that way. You have to separate the work brain from the writing brain. Or, in my case, I have to separate the Work Brain, the School Brain, the Writer Brain, and the Intern Brain. In most cases, I’m sure it’ll be more like triple-brained, or quadruple-brained, but, for the sake of brevity, double-brained is what I am calling it. The best way I have found to achieve this is to utilize every second of downtime to decompress. Leave a pause between each brain so you can start fresh. This is easier said than done, especially with all of the wonderful social media to sink hours and hours in. You need time to just turn off for a little while. Have a few moments to yourself with no distraction in any shape or form. This way, you won’t lose your precious down time doing something unproductive, both mentally and physically.
  • If you can’t find down time, don’t stop moving.
    As I disclaimed earlier, I still have yet to master this list, especially with the first point. I have a terrible social media addiction. 99% of the time I’m glued to YouTube or FaceBook, just scrolling or passively watching something, not being actively engaged with anything that is happening on my screen. So, until I get my media addiction under control, the only real way I’ve found to stay motivated is to ride the high, so to speak. If I just got done with a paper, I immediately move on to one of my personal projects. I “ride the high.” Granted, I do occasionally burn out because I forget I need to stop, but keeping the productive fire alive is one of the best ways to find a renewed spark with your own work. Do what you have to at work or school in the best way you can, then carry that motivation home with you. Do your homework, then move right into your own project.
  • You have to accept that being good at something requires hard work.
    It’s just the way the world works. If I ever want to be a serious author (make money doing what I love), I have to work for it. I need to treat it like a job, like it’s something that just has to be done because it has to be done. Sometimes we have to think of things like they are work if we ever want to get better. Otherwise, my writing will always be “just a hobby.” Even if you don’t necessarily want your hobby to become your means of financial stability, you want to be good, right? Then you have to work for it. Some people have that natural, raw ability, but those are the exceptions. Not the rule.

It’s okay to slack off sometimes, but when you’re making excuses just to avoid doing what you love because it feels too hard… then you’re avoiding progress. There’s a reason it feels like too much work. If it’s not worth fighting for, then is it really worth doing at all?

Let me know, and comment below! Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Advertisements

How I define my writing style

It’s… contemplative. Introspective. Thoughtful. It is what most would call…

Boring.

Most people wouldn’t dare define their own writing as boring, but I’m doing just that. Why? Because it says a lot about who I am. While we’re told not to take bad reviews personally, and I tend not to, I do find it interesting that when I see a negative review, I automatically begin picking apart my personality before I pick apart the writing in question.

Yes, it’s a bad habit.

Yes, you still shouldn’t take bad reviews personally.

And yes, I’m a complete loon for using a review on my writing to review myself, but I look at it this way:

Writing is a part of me. If there is something wrong with my writing, I need to address why I write this way before I can even begin to address how to fix it. I’m not trying to fix myself. I’m trying to find the source of why I write the way I write.

As I’ve said before, I am an introvert through and through, which makes me a black sheep in my family. My mom was class clown in high school, she’s still a socialite today and is one of the most outgoing people I know. My dad was a football player, won dance competitions, and is so charismatic still today that he could sway the Devil away from sin if he wanted to. Then, there’s me.

I am an awkward potato. I’d rather sit behind a screen and talk to people who I can’t see and who can’t see me than I would actually going out and meeting people. I’m my most comfortable alone. Me, myself, and I, are my confidants and where I find peace. I’m hardly ever lonely, though that doesn’t mean I don’t long for company occasionally. I just like my thoughts, my quiet, and myself. I’m proud of myself, and I love myself. I like spending time with myself.

That’s how my writing is, too. My main characters spend a whole lot of time in their own heads. It’s boring to a lot of people… but the way people think is so interesting to me. I think the most dynamic prose can take place all in a character’s head. Besides, all of our favorite stories came from someone’s thoughts, ya know?

That’s not to say action is boring. On the contrary, action is much more popular and fun. After my last bad review, I’m going to try and deviate as much as I can from thought and add more action. Is it going to be better? Maybe. I won’t know until I try.

I’ve just finally accepted that not everyone is like me. It’s embarrassing to admit it took me so long to accept, but what can you do? Not everyone likes to just sit and mull around in their own heads. Even less like to read about other people doing it, but that’s the reason I write that way.

My style is my personality.

What about yours? I’m curious to see how everyone’s writing style aligns with their personality, or how their taste in books relates to their personality. What do you think? Is it okay that personality and style are intertwined? Or is it a writerly sin? Please, let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

I have failed, and I’ll probably fail again

008

“… who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement. And who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

Being an independent writer, I often times forget that I can fail, and when I do I often have trouble admitting so. It’s not that I don’t like failing… I mean, I don’t, who does? But what I’m getting at is most of the time failing doesn’t bother me. It didn’t used to, anyway. Most of it is because my failings are mostly self-contained. I write a piece of garbage, I read it, and I realize it is indeed garbage. I laugh, then throw it out. Simple as that, no harm done. Well, I recently sent out a few pieces of poetry I thought were decent, if not some of my best, as egotistical and vain as that sounds.

One of the journals was known for giving scathing feedback if they felt a piece was not worthy of the public eye, and out of respect for the journal I will not be posting their name. I knew this, though I was naive to think I wouldn’t receive any. Well, as I’m sure you can infer, I heard back from all journals with all rejections. The ones without any feedback I simply put away in my drawer, but one particular journal, the one which gave hard, scathing feedback, sent me more than just a simple rejection. It wasn’t just one page of feedback, but three.

There were three pages of “trying too hard” and “unrefined,” “unoriginal” and “without a commandment of language.” I was floored. I read each page three or four times, careful to note how many times each of those phrases and words came up. I had never been told these things in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever received that much feedback. I spent the good part of the night just staring at these pages. I felt worthless, and I felt utterly betrayed. Though the betrayal was not toward the journal, more so at my friends, family, and kind strangers or teachers who had told me all the opposite had been true.

I had always been told my work was “original” “well-crafted” and that I had a “talent,” which would ultimately lead to mass success in the future. Had they all been lies? Probably most of them. At my age and with enough rejection letters to re-wallpaper my house, I know I am not God’s gift to the literary world. I’m not the best writer, and I probably never will be. I’d be ignorant and foolish to think otherwise. Regardless, I’ve always had confidence in what I’ve done, that I did have something of a talent. While not perfect, I always thought I had enough that with enough practice I could at least match the greatness found within works by my fellow aspiring authors.

After reading this review? I felt embarrassed, mortified, and that all I had done had been an utter waste. Eventually, I just put the feedback in my drawer and went to bed. I didn’t write another word for three or four days. I no longer felt confident in what I had been working on for so long. What was the point when all of it would result in failure? Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a writer after all.

Then, a close friend gave the above quote as a gift, already framed and ready to be hung on my wall. I was stunned. This quote couldn’t have come at a better time. It was by Teddy Roosevelt, and reads:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Teddy Roosevelt (“Citizenship in a Republic: The Man in the Arena” speech delivered 23 April, 1910 in Paris, France)

Now this, just as I did with the scathing feedback, I read over and over and over… Particularly, “who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and cruel souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I had forgotten that failure in itself is a triumph. I did something most people would never do. I faced rejection, and while I still was, in fact, rejected, I still had tried. I had feedback I could utilize to fuel my drive and make my writing better. The only real reason I had failed was because I had perceived my rejection as a failure, when I should have viewed it as a success. I had done something wrong, but I could fix it. I would be cold no longer. I would this rejection to  fuel my fire and rage on, in hopes of triumphing and publishing more and more work.

Rejection comes with the territory of writing. It happens, but I must remember that feedback and reviews will also come along… and they won’t always pat my butt and make me feel good. Rejections aren’t failures, they are small triumphs to success.

This quote now hangs above my desk, where I usually read rejections and write my stories and poems. It is a reminder that:

It is only failure when you give up. Keep writing, and keep trying. Don’t ever let your fire go cold, as corny as that may sound.

I hope this post serves as your reminder to never give up, too. Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

The teachers are failing. Not us.

I don’t tend to make rant posts (too often, anyway), but while sitting in the lobby of one of my school buildings, I happened to listen in on a conversation between a student and a teacher.

Often times, our teachers don’t meet with us in their offices. Why? I couldn’t tell you, but this particular discussion was probably better placed within the confines of an office.

The student was in a creative writing class with this teacher, and the teacher was discussing her grade within this class. The student was distraught. She had tears in her eyes and was shaking. It didn’t take much to see she was failing.

The teacher presented her with a paper, covered in red marks with a huge red NC (no credit) in the corner. It was her paper.

He reiterated what I assumed was the prompt.

Now, I’m a firm believer in “you earn your grades.” I’m much quicker to take the side of a teacher over that of a disgruntled student. If you fail, it’s because you earned it, but in the case of a creative writing class where most of the work is completely subjective, I have a hard time believing anyone can earn an “F” or “NC” unless they just didn’t do the assignment.

He said, “I wanted aliens. You gave me cyborgs.”

… What?

The girl mumbled something, but I’m afraid I didn’t catch it, too focused on him pointing out his terrible hand-writing on the page.

“Plus, it just wasn’t good. It was too romantic. Too much genre mixing. Cyborgs, though? Really?”

The girl was crying at this point.

He continued, “At this rate, you’ll be lucky to graduate. You’re definitely not a writer by any means.”

And that was it. I couldn’t sit there a moment longer and listen to that man burn every dream and ounce of self-esteem that girl had.

But I didn’t say anything. I just walked away.

I wish I had. I wish I could go back, just wait for that girl to get done with her conference, tell her to drop that class and take a different one next semester. To tell her cyborgs could be aliens. To tell her she could be a writer if she wanted to be, and if she honed in on her craft. To tell her she could do it.

Aren’t teachers supposed to guide us?

Then why are so many of them tearing us down?

You know what, maybe she couldn’t be a writer. Maybe she couldn’t write a full, grammatically correct sentence to save her life.

But that’s when you help her.

Teach.

You’re a teacher, not an executioner.

I hope that girl doesn’t give up. I hope she takes that man’s words and proves them all wrong. I hope she knows there are good teachers out there. I hope she finds one of them and that they guide her the way they should.

I hope she doesn’t give up.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

I’m an introvert, and I’m happy

Introvert – not synonymous with shyness. An introvert is not characterized by being shy, though that does not mean they aren’t. An introvert is someone who finds people, and interacting with them, to be physically and mentally draining, preferring to be alone to recharge. An introvert is not constantly in a state of depression and should not be characterized as such. An introvert can have excellent social skills and have many friends whom they regularly socialize, but won’t make it a point to seek out interaction. Introverts are often introspective and prefer to be alone with their thoughts.

012

The farther I go into my college and writing career, the more I realize who I am and who I may be becoming. The summer has come to a close. My internship has ended, school has begun… and I’m still learning more and more about myself.

Life has whisked me away again.

I have friends, lots of them, but I’m probably one of the most garbage friends in the world. I see texts and calls, and often times I just don’t reply. It’s not because I don’t want to – far from it – but the way my life is going right now, I don’t have much me time. At my age, that seems extremely childish to say. At my age, I think it’s okay to be selfish once in a while. I have my whole life ahead of me. I’m going to meet so many people in this short period we call life, and the one person I’m going to spend every second with is the one sitting at this computer, writing this post:

Me.

I don’t want this post to be me lamenting life and how crowded it can sometimes seem, but when 90% of my time is spent in the presence of people I have little to no interest in associating with, I live for those times I get to be by myself.

I love my friends. I love my boyfriend. I love my family. None of that has changed, or ever will change…

I love myself, too. I love sitting behind a book, a laptop, or just sitting and simply existing. I love writing because it’s one of the few things in this world that requires only one person and their thoughts, and I actually have fun doing it. I go to work, I go to school, I spend time around campus, then I go home. Not exciting, not magical or something I want to blog about every day.

But I don’t need it to be. My life is considered boring by most of the population, but I love it.

It’s okay guys. I’m happy. I hope you are, too.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

You are going to be perfect

photo (1)

“My mom said I’m going to be…”
“My dad said I should…”
“My friends say I will…”
“Everyone is telling me I should…”

“I’m tired of people telling me how I’m going to be and how I should live my life.”

Well, I’m going to tell you.

You’re gonna be perfect because you are going to become what you want to become.

The biggest mistake you can make in your life is changing your life goals and setting your dreams aside for what others see in you.

Money isn’t everything.

Money won’t always be there. It’s this tangible thing that can grow instantly, but fade just as quickly as it is gained.

Happiness is something you can cultivate for a lifetime, and you can never have enough of it.

Spend your life obtaining your happiness, not making others happy.

You are gonna be what you want to be, which is perfect because it is what you want, and that’s all that matters.

And no matter what, I am proud of you, for standing up for yourself and your dreams – your happiness.

-Lissy

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

What your desk says about you

As a writer, we all have our special place. The place we feel the most creative and inspired, the place where writing is as easy as breathing, and mine just happens to be my desk.

The Creative Space

The Creative Space

This is my desk. My laptop next to my notepad, a cereal bowl, a coke with my name on it, a TV, and if I had moved a few more inches back you’d see my PS4. Something about this area is just me. I’ve written all of my books at my desk, and what about you? What is your area of choice?

What does your area say about you? Let me know, and comment below! Pictures are always fun, too.

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

What I learned about writing from Animal Crossing: New Leaf

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post about what I’ve learned from video games and how that can be applied to writing.

I’ve actually written two others, one about Minecraft another about Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

As it has happened with so many other gamers, life has snuck up and taken away my lovely game time. Work, internships, and writing have all had their fun with my gaming time, especially console gaming. To make up for it, I purchased Animal Crossing: New Leaf (ACNL) for my 2DS, a clunky throwback to old school handhelds, which I actually prefer over the new 3DS systems.

But anyway…

And did I fall in love?

I fell. I fell straight into a pitfall seed.

I love this game. It’s mind-numbing. Just how I like them, and with a wide array of NPCs, there’s hardly a dull moment.

Granted, this game isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like the following, steer clear:

  • Paying off your mortgage only to expand your home and pay that off, etc. etc.
  • Watering flowers
  • Running errands
  • Purchasing furniture and decorating
  • Taking part in town festivals
  • Being mayor
  • Fishing, catching bugs, etc.
  • Selling said fish and bugs
  • Working at a coffee shop
  • Drinking coffee
  • BALLOONS
  • Fossils
  • Museums / Donating to museums
  • Dance clubs
  • Buying clothes and trying on new clothes
  • Talking animals

Yep. That’s the game in a nutshell. It’s wonderful, and there are some pretty great communities to take part in, too.  Now, what can we learn about writing from this? Well, onward to the list!

  • Separating your voice from your characters.
    Everyone has their own voice when writing. There will always be a certain part of yourself in every bit of writing you do. Whether it’s things you love, things you hate, a character based off a person or kind of person you hate, there will always be a little bit of you in there. The key is to make their voices different. If you give them all your voice, then you’ve basically made clones of yourself. How did I learn this from ACNL? With 33 different villager characters and set villager personalities, I found that even having two lazy villagers in the same town, didn’t mean I would hear the same things from them. For whatever reason, they just felt different to me. They each had their own voice. You can have similar personalities, but you really shouldn’t have the same voice.
  • Rules are rules.
    Just because you’re mayor in a town of talking animals, doesn’t mean you can do just anything. There are rules, time periods that need to be followed. You have a mortgage to pay, work to be done in the town to keep it nice and to further develop it. And who pays for those developments? You. So you have to make money by catching fish, which come at different times of the day, then wait until you pay it off, plus a day, for it to be done before you begin working on the next project. It’s important to give your characters rules. If they can do anything they want at any time, what would be the point? Where is the conflict? What is your story? You don’t have to make them your everyday Joe’s, but give them rules.
  • Men don’t have to wear suits and ties/Women don’t have to wear dresses (Click the link to read more on gender in writing!).
    I’m not going to lie, this is one of the many problems I have when writing up characters. It’s so easy to fall into the stereotypes of women just being women, and men just being men, when I myself have been made fun of my entire life for being the opposite. I was, and still very much am, a tomboy. I hate makeup, I dislike most dresses, and I’d much rather play video games than go shopping. Shopping literally makes me ill. I’ve been called a dike and a lesbian more times than I can recount. At a certain point in the game, I was able to buy men’s clothing and get male hair cuts. It was then I realized, you don’t have to be feminine to be a woman. I am a woman, and I am not feminine. I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I am woman without subjecting myself to all things stereo-typically woman. A woman can be masculine without being a lesbian, and the same is true for a man being a bit more feminine. This pic says it best:

Well, it’s 2014… but you get the idea.

Well, those are my top three. If I think of any more, I may add to this post. The game is still being updated, and I’m still learning as I go along. What have you learned? Have you played Animal Crossing? Any of them? How do you feel about my post? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading!

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE

 

Things Beta Readers Should Know

I’ve already made one post on general beta reading for writers, and now this will be directed at beta readers.

  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will send this first draft to everyone. Often times, I will send it to the first few, then make changes, and send that draft to the next group of beta readers. I want fresh eyes, always.
  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will choose you. It happens, sometimes. Most of the time, it’s nothing personal. We’ve all had different experiences with beta readers, and we all have a certain things we look for in beta readers. If I think I’ve already found what I’m looking for, then I may not send a draft to some beta readers. Once again, it happens.
  • “I like it,” usually isn’t what I’m looking for. It’s nice to hear, but if that’s all you have to say, then it wasn’t worth my time. Sorry. If you want to say “I like it” then the best thing you could do is follow it with “because…” and explain why you like it. It lets us know what we did right.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell me you don’t like it. I’m a writer. I’ve been rejected more times than I care to admit. You telling me you don’t like my work isn’t going to hurt my feelings. If the writer can’t handle it, becomes defensive, and is just plain rude, then that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t beta read for them again.
  • The same goes for the “I don’t like it.” It’s okay if you don’t like it. That’s fine, but I’d like to know why. It might be something I can fix, and if not then it’s good to know why people may not like it. The more detail you can give, the better.
  • I don’t expect you to be an editor. If you wanna mark it up, great, but I don’t expect you to. Feel free to read it, then just tell me.
  • A writer should never give you the only copy of their manuscript. You shouldn’t have to feel obligated to read the manuscript, much less feel obligated to keep up with the only known copy of it. If I receive a paper copy, my first question will always be, “Is this the original?” If it is, I give it back and request a copy. I don’t want to be the person who loses it. Do you?
  • If you find that you just don’t have time, you don’t have to read it. You’re doing us a favor, but please let us know so we’re not just waiting around to hear back. It’s just common courtesy. If the writer wants to be rude, then don’t beta read for them again. Another lesson a writer should learn is that they won’t always receive feedback. It happens.
  • Don’t expect the writer to listen to everything you say like it’s gospel. You’re not perfect and neither is your feedback. It’ll be okay.

These are just general things you need to know if you want to be a beta reader. Writers can learn from this just as much as a beta reader can. Know what you should expect from each other, learn, and form literary relationships that can last a lifetime. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

Want to be a beta reader? Click here to fill out the contact sheet, and let me know!
Want to guest post? Want to trade posts?
Same goes to you! 
Don’t be shy!

Want to check out some books?
CLICK HERE