Using Philosophy To Become a Better Writer

Image result for philosophy

After an existentialism unit in my English class, I have had a sudden interest in learning about philosophy and what exactly that means. And it is a lot, let me tell you. Philosophy consists of so, so, so many schools of thoughts that it is really hard to keep track, and honestly, maybe impossible to learn them all in depth. Unless this is what you choose to devote your life to, but even then, there is a lot to learn. Anyways, I’m by no means an expert or even an intermediate honestly, but I want to share with you all how I use what I’ve learned about philosophy to become a better, stronger writer. I hope you enjoy!

What IS Philosophy Exactly?

A Wikipedia definition says that philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It involves thinking, discussion, rational argument, and questioning. Philosophy is basically the study of human life; how we think, act, etc, and why we do all that.

What Are Philosophical Schools of Thought?

A school of thought is a way of thinking, and in philosophy, there are a lot because humans cannot agree on just one way of thinking, let alone 10 or even 50. I’m only going to list 5 so you can get an idea of what I mean by “philosophical schools of thought”, but in this blog post, I’m probably only going to mention 3 or so later on.

  • Existentialism – A school of thought that emphasizes personal freedom
  • Nihilism – A school of thought that rejects religious and moral principles
  • Marxism – A school of thought based on the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, later associates itself with communism
  • Taoism – A school of thought that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which means way or path
  • Stoicism – A school of thought that accepts the ways of the world whether they are positive or negative

How Can Philosophy Make Your Writing Better?

Having your story or one of your characters aligned with a philosophical school of thought, or just being aware of philosophy can increase the depth and physicality of your writing. Just because your incorporating philosophy doesn’t mean your story can’t still be a YA contemporary or even a fantasy, it just means you are increasing the quality of your story, character, and world.

Examples:

  • One of your characters is an existentialist. This allows you to explore how they interact with society, how society interacts with them, and how their beliefs affect the plot
  • The society of your world is a nihilistic society. First off, this would be terrifying but SO interesting to read about because how do the people who don’t believe in this school of thought live? How do people who disagree with nihilism keep their morality? How do those who follow nihilism live?
  • What would it look like to follow a character who enjoys studying philosophy? Does this allow them to make better decisions?

I know this was short, but I really wanted this to just plant the idea of exploring philosophy in your writing. It really does make for interesting stories and characters because we don’t see philosophy explored too often in modern literature, especially YA! Here are some resources to learn about philosophy:

Crash Course: Philosophy – This is put on by two authors, Hank, and John Green and they were SUPER helpful in teaching the basics of philosophy and other areas of it. I definitely recommend checking out this playlist, or at least a few of the videos on it to see if philosophy interests you.

The Outsider by Albert Camus – This is a novel that focuses on an existentialism character named Meursault, who after committing an immoral crime and fails to feel remorse for it, is cast as an outsider by society. It is a really interesting character study, and I learned so much about writing and writing characters from it.

That is it for this blog post, but I hope it was useful and eye-opening for you! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

 

Advertisements

Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

As a huge nerd about Greek mythology, I thought it would be helpful to make a quick and easy guide for some of you who might not know as much about it all but want to! Being a writer, it is essential to learn about different cultures and their stories. Not only is it interesting, but also the possible inspiration for a new story. So, here is a simple beginner’s guide to Greek mythology. I hope it is helpful and that you learn something new from it!

The  13 Main Goddesses & Gods

Image result for the major gods and goddess greece

Zeus – God of the sky and thunder, ruler of the sky and all people (including gods!), son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children:  Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Ares, Hermes, Heracles/Hercules, Helen of Troy, and many, MANY more, married to Hera, symbols: lightning bolt, royal scepter, Aegis (his shield with a gorgon’s face on it)

Hera – Goddess of marriage and birth, queen of the Gods and humans, queen of the heavens, married to Zeus, jealous and vengeful of Zeus’s many lovers, daughter of Rhea and Cronos, only had children with Zeus, children: Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus, and more, symbols: diadem, scepter, pomegranate

Poseidon – God of the sea, horses, and earthquakes, ruler of the sea, second son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children: Theseus, Triton, Polyphemus, Orion, and many more…, symbols: trident, fish, dolphins, and horses

Hades – God of the dead, the underworld, riches, ruler of the underworld, first son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children: Melinoe, Macaria, and Zagreus, married to Persephone (daughter of Demeter) who he kidnapped, symbols: Cerberus (his 3 headed dogs), scepter, drinking horn

Athena – Goddess of wisdom, battle strategy, strength, and skill, sprung from Zeus’s head in full armor, helped many Greek heroes, a virgin goddess, city of Athens named after her after she gave the people the first olive tree, symbols: owls, olive tree, snakes, armor, and spears

Aphrodite – Goddess of love and beauty, born from the foam the sea of Paphos after Cronus’s cut up pieces were thrown in but another birth story is she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, married to Hephaestus, children: Eros, The Graces, Aeneas, and more, symbols: dolphins, rose, dove, swan

Artemis – Goddess of the hunt and the moon, daughter of Leto and Zeus, twin sister of Zeus, virgin goddess, spends her time roaming the forest with nymphs, symbols: bow and arrows, stags, hunting dog, and the moon

Apollo – God of the sun, music, and prophecy, twin brother of Artemis, son of Leto and Zeus, children: Orpheus, Asclepius, and a few others, companion of the nine Muses, symbols: lyre, laurel wreath, and bow and arrows

Ares – God of war, bad aspects of war, son of Zeus and Hera, lover of Aphrodite, children: Eros, Harmonia, Phobos, and more, symbols: spear and helmet, dog, chariot, and boar

Dionysus – God of wine, winemaking, and madness, son of Zeus and Semele (princess of Thebes), benevolent towards humans unlike many gods, symbols: grapevine, leopard skin, cheetah, panther

Demeter – Goddess of agriculture and the harvest, daughter of Rhea and Cronos, mother of Persephone (goddess of flowers), associated with the torch because of her endless fight for her daughter who was kidnapped by Hades and now splits her time between the mortal world and the underworld in compromise, children: Persephone, Arion, Plutus, and more, symbols: cornucopia, wheat, torch, and bread

Hephaestus – God of fire, metalworking, and forges, son of Hera and Zeus, depicted as the “ugly god” after being thrown down a mountain by Hera, husband of Aphrodite, children: Thalia, Eucleia, and more, symbols: hammer and tongs

Hermes – God of thieves, roads, travelers, and trade, son of Zeus and Maia, the messenger of the gods, the only person allowed to leave the underworld without consequence, children: Pan (a satyr; half-man and half-goat), and more, symbols: lyre, rooster, Caduceus (staff with snakes around it; medical symbol)

Myths & Legends

Heracles and the 12 Labours

Image result for hercules and the 12 labours

After Hera drove Hercules to madness, resulting him in killing his wife, Megara, and their children, Hercules seeks out the Oracle of Delphi for redemption and is told to serve King Eurystheus to do so. This resulted in him setting out to complete 12 labours to redeem his actions, and they are:

  • To kill the Nemean Lion
  • To kill the Hydra
  • Capture the Ceryneian Hind
  • Capture the Erymanthian Boar
  • Clear the stables of Augeas in one day
  • Kill the Stymphalian Birds
  • Capture the Cretan Bull
  • Steal the Mares of Diomedes
  • Steal the girdle of the Amazonian queen
  • Steal the cattle of Geryon
  • Steal the apples of Hesperides
  • Capture and bring back Cerberus from the underworld

Perseus & Medusa

Image result for perseus and medusa

Medusa, one of the three Gorgons, was once beautiful but after being caught at Athena’s alter with Poseidon, she was cursed with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone who looks at her to stone. Perseus dared to end her though, asking Athena and Hermes for help. In return, he received winged sandals, a cap to make him invisible, a sword, and a mirrored shield to see her reflection in. Perseus won in a battle against the well, against the sleeping gorgon, and the droplets of blood from her decapitated head created Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a giant, winged boar. Perseus than fled back home, using Medusa’s head as a weapon on many occasions, turning anyone who dared to defy him to stone. Eventually, it was placed on Athena’s shield called Aegis.

That is all for my beginner’s guide to Greek mythology, and I hope this was all helpful! Or at least, I hope it was enough to encourage you to research all the gods and goddesses and legends a little bit more. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

 

Sources Used:

https://www.greekmythology.com/

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/

 

Reading + Writing Update!

Hellooo. I swear it has been 84 years since I have done a reading + writing update and I almost forgot to do one before the night was done but then while watching a reading vlog on YouTube I was like “YOU ALMOST FORGOT AGAIN!”. So, here I am, lying on my bed with my laptop in front of me, ready to update you all on what I read and wrote this past week. And spoiler alert, it was a pretty productive week.

This week, I finished two books and started another. That is pretty good for my reading habits lately, but considering I ended up having to go to school ONLY on Thursday (we got 3 snow days and already had Friday off…), I could have gotten a LOT more done. The first book I finished reading was one I started last Saturday I think, and that is Notes From a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life by Erin Wunker. This is a creative non-fiction book that is essentially a collection of essays about being a feminist in this patriarchal world we live in. There were three main chunks in it though, one focusing on rape culture, the other on friendship as feminists, and lastly, being a mother and feminist. I read this for my creative non-fiction assignment in my writing class, and found it really interesting and refreshing! I enjoyed it, but there was something that just kept me from really loving it though. Still, I liked it. Next, I finally, FINALLY finished reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I am so proud of myself. I’ve been reading this book for a month, but yesterday, I finally read the last 50 pages. It’s not that I didn’t like this book, in fact, I really liked it, but it is so different from what I usually read, and much more dense that it took me a while to pick through. I’m glad I can finally check this classic off my list though, and I am even more excited to continue exploring Austen’s work. Next stop is Northanger Abbey! So, those are the 2 books I finished reading this week, but then I also decided to reward myself with one of my favourite books; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I was, and am since I’m still reading it, just in desperate need of a fun and warm-hearted contemporary so of course, I turned to my fave. Since I am already 150 pages into it, I’m sure I’ll be able to finish it in the next day or two! While I’m not 100% sure what I am reading next, I did pick up A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro randomly from the library, so maybe I will dive into that next.

As for writing, I was surprisingly productive. Since I had quite a few days off this week, I woke up earlier and fit in at least 1,000 words before my workout. It felt so good. According to my sticker method tracker in my planner, I wrote about 7,500 words which is so great since I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately. I did fall off the waking up early and writing thing these last few days, but I’m hoping to try and make it a routine this coming week. However, I do get Monday off as well, and then once school comes back in full swing, I will see how easy it is to keep to this routine of waking up early and writing before the rest of the day. If I try, I think I can keep it up though.

Anyways, that is all for this reading and writing update, and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

P.S. I have something coming tomorrow that is a liiitle bit different than what I usually post. It’s not really part of my whole re-defining a blog thing…or actually, maybe it is. It just wasn’t what I had in mind but nonetheless, I hope you enjoy it!

Last Blog Post: Piecing Together THE Idea – Tips, Tricks & Steps

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

Piecing Together THE Idea – Tips, Tricks & Steps

 

Text placeholder.png

Happy Wednesday!

If you read my last blog post, I talked about how I was re-defining my blog regarding the content I post (still books, writing, and whatnot, just more creative!), buuut this blog post is not part of that. Of course, I put a lot of effort into this blog post as I always do, but my new, vamped up content is in progress and yet to come. Get excited though because I am! Anyways, today I will be sharing some tips and all that fun stuff on getting a story idea and what to do next. I hope this is helpful!

Getting the Idea:

TIP #1: Focus On the Bare Bones of the Idea Rather Than the Big Picture – Thinking of the beginning, middle, and end before you even a concept of an idea can not only be intimidating but hinder your ability to flesh out an interesting and fleshed out story. Instead, focus on a simple, few word outline of an idea and slowly build off of that. Example: A bus ride; what happens on the bus ride?; who is on the bus ride?; where is the bus going?

The Next Steps:

  • Build Off That Idea Via Point Form – This makes it easier to organize, think of, keep track of, and continue building off of all your thoughts and ideas
  • Determine the Theme – This is helpful when determining how you want your story to sound tone wise as well. It may not seem very important at first, but if you know what you want your story to sound like, writing it will be so much easier! What do I mean by sound? Well, that refers to if your story is more upbeat, dark, powerful, etc, etc
  • Give Your Character Depth By Giving Them One Unique Quality – Of course, you should develop your main character a lot more than giving them just ONE interesting quality, but when it comes to the early stages of writing a story, this makes it SO much easier to write your story. I am a firm believer in planning the basic outline of your story, writing the first draft to see what works and whatnot, AND THEN going back to fully outline everything.
  • Focus On One Part At a Time: Beginning, Middle, and then the End – Come Up With At Least 3 Plot Points for Beginning, Middle + End – These will act as almost connecting tissue for the bones of your idea (whatever is the beginning, middle + end), making your story better.
  • One Liner Ending – Again, the more concise in the beginning stages the better. Come up with your ending and translate it into one single sentence. This will make the writing part easier, trust me! This will also allow you to have more creative freedom when it comes to your ending, how you get there, and what exactly happens because you won’t have a super detailed outline that you need to follow…unless that is how you write best.

Quick Tips:

  1. Point Form – I mentioned this above but I just need to do it again. Point form keeps things quick and simple, making it a lot easier to follow when writing!
  2. Remember A Story Comes in Pieces – All of my steps above are the bits and pieces that you will need to string together in order to write a concise and full story. You need all the parts, maybe even some more. When I write this way, I write faster and more efficiently which is always amazing.
  3. Writing Fills In A Lot of Gaps – Unless you are a hardcore plotter, it is important to remember that writing will fill in a lot of gaps you notice in your outline when in the planning stages. Sometimes, we just can’t come up with a reasonable solution or plot point or answer for our outline, and a lot of the times, just writing the story is the best way to solve it! It results in a more creative and free story that flows all nicely together.

Those are my tips and tricks and steps when it comes to piecing together your story idea, and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: Re-Defining My Blog!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites

Re-Defining My Blog!

Happy Monday!

I took an unintentional week off blogging for no reason other than a week passed and I realized I never pre-wrote any blog posts…For the last few days though, I’ve been trying to come up with my usual blog content to post for the coming weeks, and honestly, I’ve been stumped. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some ideas but they are a little more creative than what I usually post, and they would also take a little bit more time to write up. However, I still want to be consistent with my current blog schedule because I love posting so often! So, I have decided to kind of…re-define my blog in a way that allows and encourages me to expand my creativity with blog posts and I’m going to share with you all what that means.

What has triggered my sudden desire to revamp my blog content?

Well, reading. I love reading, and I hope you all know that by now because 1) a lot of my content relates back to books and 2) my blog is literally called mylifewithbooks. But I’ve been reading a lot of different genres and types of books that I don’t normally pick up. I always talk about the importance of expanding your reading tastes, and I do that as well because of how essential it is as a reader, writer, and overall curious person. Just something about what I’ve been reading lately has sparked more creativity in me. And I love it!

So, what have I been reading lately? 

We have some classic contemporary, some tragedy/revenge, some inspiring creative non-fiction, and even some YA fantasy. All very different but all eye-opening to me; a young reader, writer, blogger, person-thing. Each one is inspiring me to be more ambitious and courageous with my creative projects, choices, thoughts, ideas, etc, etc, etc.

One thing I want to do this year with my blog is to share more of my own personal work which ties into the whole idea of re-vamping my blog. Whether that is my short stories, screenplays (I’ve only written one and it was for my writing class, but it was SO much fun that I might do more in the future), stage plays, creative non-fiction pieces, reviews, or whatever my little writer heart desires. I just want to post more of that on this platform I created and get my voice out there.

I still want to post things about what I’m reading, what I will be reading, and writing tips and whatnot, but I want to spruce things up a little. However, this type of content I aspire to write will take a little more time to create so I think I will permanently knock off the Friday blog posts and only post on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday (my reading + writing updates). I am a fairly quick writer, so the writing part of these new posts won’t take long but crafting and molding them into what I want them to be will. Like any writing project goes really. Also, editing. One other thing I want, no, NEED to work on this year is taking the time to thoroughly edit my posts. I usually proofread my posts once, maybe twice, and then boom, I post it. To make my content even better and more “professional”, I want to make sure my posts are better edited. Again, this will take up a tiny bit more time, but not much.

Besides, I think we all prefer content that is made with 110% of a person’s effort rather than some half-assed post, right?

To conclude this rambly post, I don’t know when we will start seeing this shiny brand new content on my blog, but I’m hoping before February is over! This past weekend was the first weekend, maybe in the history of time itself, that I barely had any homework so hopefully, past me took advantage of it. I’m going to be reading, writing, blogging, and just exuding all my pent up creative energy that I’ve been hoarding for a few weeks now. It is pounding at me to be let free, and since I am only the host of it all, I must comply!

Last Blog Post: Life Update – Books, Writing, Blogging + More!

 

@zoermathers

 

Image result for instagram  @zoeiswriting

 

@zoematherswrites