The Enemy of Creativity – Caution

Happy Friday!

Sorry for not posting Thursday but the week got away from me before I managed to buckle down and write a blog post for you all. Since I have a four day weekend though, I plan on pre-writing a few so that I don’t fall behind once again. Anyways, today I wanted to discuss creativity, or more specifically, the enemy of creativity: caution.

There are so many times a day, let alone in a writer’s life when we feel completely depleted of creativity. Sometimes that is because we have out-wrote ourselves after hours of sitting at the computer, but a lot of the time it is because we have fallen down at the knees of creativity’s enemy: caution.

Creativity is all about taking risks; creative risks that further your craft and shape your stories for the better. Creativity is about letting the story and characters guide you and being okay with that. Sometimes we get in our heads, and second-guess all of our creative decisions though:

Wait, is this plot twist too obvious?

What if my story idea isn’t original enough?

Are these characters too flat?

So many questions we ask ourselves as we go from furiously typing across the keyboard to a dull tap as we grow more and more cautious of each creative decision we make. Caution slows us down. It slows the entire creative process down and suddenly, a first draft that could be written during NaNoWriMo takes three months. A story that could be written and polished in one year takes double that as caution drives you back to your notebooks for another month or so.

That’s what caution does.

Of course, a certain amount of caution is good, but only a smidge. Just a little to make sure you aren’t squeezing 10,000+ words into each day and totally neglecting your mental and physical health and overall because that is a whole other problem.

But when it is stoppering your writing and creative process, then caution needs to take a step back and let creativity soar free. That can be difficult though, trying to throw up a mental block against the anxiety creeping over your body but it is possible. Here are a few things I do to urge caution into the back seat:

  • Remind yourself that whatever your writing is okay, that it doesn’t need to be perfect
  • Refill the creative well – Sometimes caution is a sign of a depleted well so go watch a movie, read a book, paint a picture…
  • Fight against the caution – Keep writing and allow whatever comes out to stay on the page. It’s okay enough for now.

It’s important to remember that the caution inside you is only you trying to hold yourself back. Don’t let it be the thing that pauses your writing when it is nothing but your mind trying to get the best of you! Follow the path of creativity instead, understand and be okay with the fact that it is a messy, windy path without a map. And that’s what makes it so intriguing to follow!

That is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media which will be all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: The Harvest by KB Benson Review – Spoiler Free!

 

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The Harvest by KB Benson Review – Spoiler Free!

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I received an eBook copy of The Harvest by KB Benson in exchange for an honest review, and so today, that is what I am here to do. This review will contain absolutely no spoilers and is just going to be me sharing my overall thoughts and opinions about this book. Let’s get into it!

Personally, this book reminded me of a cross between To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo and the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout and here is what it is about:

The Harvest follows two characters, Iris who is a siren disguised as a human attending high school, and Jace, a new kid in town who immediately falls for Iris. With her duty to her people in mind, Iris has no intentions to fall for Jace but soon she finds herself tumbling…hard. And before she can stop herself, it becomes too late. A question arises as her heart becomes taken, and that is when it comes down to it, will she protect her family or the boy she loves?

I had never heard of this book before going into it, but I was intrigued by the fact that it is pitched as similar to To Kill a Kingdom which I did enjoy, and also just because of I love Greek mythology. However, sadly, this book did not live up to my expectations. While the first half of this book was enjoyable enough, reading in my opinion, like fanfiction…the last half was where I really struggled. I realized once I finished the entire thing, that I could have read the first few chapters and then the last few chapters, and I would have known the same things about the plot, characters, etc as I do now.

The pacing of this book was fast which was how I was able to fly through this book despite my disappointment in it, but everything else about this book fell flat for me. The characters were the stereotypical “beautiful, mysterious girl” and “hot, surfer dude” that didn’t have anything about themselves that made them unique or interesting to read about. I found Iris and Jace’s relationship to be very “insta-lovey” because they met, I blinked, and then they were in love. Insta-love is not something I am opposed to in books, however, as there are MANY YA novels I adore with that trope in it. With The Harvest though, I just didn’t think it was as well done as other books with the same trope have achieved. On top of that, I also thought the relationship overall was weak. I didn’t really care for it and in my opinion, they had absolutely no chemistry. Jace was too whiny and Iris was too moody. Since the lack of strong characters, it was disappointing too that the other characters in this book felt so disposable and that they brought nothing to the story. We met some of Jace and Iris’s “friends”, yet we barely ever see them interact with one another or become friends even. Instead of providing anything, all of the “friends” felt like they could easily be cut out and nothing in the story would change.

As for the plot, I was hoping for some twist on the classic Siren love story, but it ended up being incredibly predictable and plain. The majority of the story was us watching Jace and Iris in school as Jace pined after her, managed to somehow win her over with some cringey dialogue and then a little bit of action happened at the end. The action that did take place in the book wasn’t visual enough for me to imagine in my head, and I found myself re-reading parts to try to picture it all. As it got to the end of the book and things started wrapping up, I grew really bored despite the fact that those were probably the most “action-filled” scenes of the story.

Overall, I did not love this book and found many flaws in the development of the story. As for the writing, I also thought that it was not the best, but since it was the author’s debut book, I decided to not get into that too much. Despite my disliking towards this book, The Harvest was not the worst book I ever read, and at first, I did find the story a fun read. In the end, I decided to give this book 2/5 stars.

That is all for this non-spoiler review for The Harvest by KB Benson and if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, give it a read for yourself and see if you like it! Anyways, that is all for this book review and I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading 🙂

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How To: Stay Sane This Camp NaNoWriMo

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Happy Thursday!

Today I am going to be talking all about tips and tricks to stay sane this Camp NaNoWriMo to ensure you have a productive and great April. I hope that you are all well on your way to your goals, and if not, that’s okay! Here are some tips to not lose your mind whether you are working yourself to the bone or grinding your teeth trying to catch up.

  • Take a Break – I had to get the obvious one out of the way, but honestly, just take a break! Have a hot bath and read, take a walk, read, bake, or draw. Just take a break from writing and let your mind settle. Sometimes we think we are fine and don’t need a break, but trust me, we do. If not, we will just burn out in a few days or so of keeping up a crazy pace. For example, right after I write this blog post, I am going to be taking a nice, long, hot bath and dive deeper into Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.
  • Make a Writing Plan for the Next Day – This really helps me feel like I have a handle on my life. Sometimes planning the whole month or week in advance can be intimidating and completely overwhelming so I recommend finishing the day, seeing what you get done, and then planning what you think is possible for you to get done the next day. For example, I wrote around 700ish words today so I am going to aim to write around the same tomorrow because one, that is a plan I know I can achieve, and two, it is not too overwhelming a word count.
  • Organize Your Writing Area – Sometimes when our space is cluttered and chaotic, our minds are too. Take a minute or two to clean off your desk or kitchen table, or wherever you write. Put those dirty coffee cups into the dishwasher, place those pens back into your desk, and stack your loose papers into a neat pile. Once you finish cleaning it all off, sit down and just breathe.
  • Stretch Every Twenty Or So Minutes – It is day 11 of Camp NaNoWriMo and already my neck, shoulders, and back are KILLING me. I try to stretch my neck and legs out every so often because otherwise, I wake up the next day feeling like I’ve run ten kilometers. Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy both mentally and physically!
  • Switch Up Your Writing Location Often – Since the fresh energy of week one is over and we are working through week two, I really recommend switching up your writing place as to not let your creativity stale. Move to the kitchen table or living room or a coffee shop near your house or even outside. Just change it up and keep your creativity flowing.

That is all for this blog post, and I hope you found it helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Good luck if you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, and remember to keep going! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Why It’s OK to Feel Weird About Calling Yourself a Writer

Happy Monday!

Today, I wanted to talk about something that affects ALL writers, and that is the daunting task of actually calling ourselves a “writer”. Before I get into that though, I did want to do a little announcement that I have recently added a review policy to my blog! Lately, people have been reaching out to me to review their book or their client’s book, so I decided it was time to post my review policy for all to see. You can find it, if you are interested, on the top right corner of my blog along with my “About Me” and “My Writing” pages or right HERE.

Anyways, onto the actual blog post:

A common tip that writers tell other writers to succeed in writing is to actually call yourself a writer. Tell it to your friends, shout it to the sky, or add it to your Instagram bio. The point of it is to gain the confidence you should have in that title because if you are writing ANYTHING, you are a writer!

However, it can be a difficult task for some of us. The title is too heavy to bear on our shoulders and too flashy to wear in front of others without worrying about how it makes you look. One of the most crucial steps of being a writer though is finally being able to call yourself a writer. I agree with this, but I also think it is okay to take time in claiming that title. It is a lot. Especially if you have a life torrenting with other aspects that you are having trouble capturing.

It’s okay to swallow the word one letter at a time.

The last thing you want is to rush into it head on, only to look up and see the towering mountains above and the never-ending expanse of blue sky and think wow, I am so small. You aren’t, but it feels that way sometimes.

Here are some actionable, small steps to help you get closer to calling yourself a writer, but also to not make it a scary, winding road:

  • Keep Writing – Focus on your craft. Get better. Continue loving the art of storytelling.
  • Attend Writing Events – They don’t need to be workshops because you should definitely feel confident calling yourself a writer first, but readings are fun to go to. You can listen to other writers read their work and by listening to them, you can gain inspiration and admiration off of their courage!
  • Join the Online Writing Community – Whether you want to join the writing community through blogging, being active on Twitter, Instagram or FaceBook, or all the above, either one is an effective way to get more comfortable with the idea of calling yourself a writer. Being a part of a community with people who have gone through the same challenges as you will help you immensely!

Take your time. The world will wait.

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

Last Blog Post: The Camp NaNoWriMo Diaries – Week 1

 

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The Camp NaNoWriMo Diaries – Week 1

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Happy Sunday!

It has been a while since I’ve posted on a Sunday, but I made it a goal for Camp NaNo to post a little update on how I’ve been doing every week. I also think I might include at the end of this what I’ve been up to reading wise…anyways, here is what I managed to write this week!

For this Camp NaNoWriMo, I am working on various WIPs which include essays, short stories, poems, and also the start of a novella. My goal word count wise, however, is only 25,000 words because 1) April is going to be a busy school month 2) Lots of these WIPs are less than 2,000 words a piece sooo.

Currently, I am sitting at 4,822 words out of my 25,000-word goal so I am not on track, but I will be, don’t worry. The days I did write, I wrote a bit over a thousand words even almost 2,000 words one day which was awesome. I have started working on about half of my projects for this April, and it feels so good to finally be getting them done rather than only planning because sometimes, I think we all get a little caught up in the prep rather than the actual writing. Here are some details on what I am currently working on:

  • Ayn Rand’s Anthem Essay – This is a 600-1,200 word essay I am writing for a scholarship contest, and currently I am on draft 3! Right now it is is in edits/re-writes, and I am doing my best to polish it up. It’s not exactly where I want it to be, so there is a 99.9% chance a completely new draft will be written this coming week. Deadline – April 18, 2019
  • Other Scholarship Essay – For this one, I have to write only a 500-word essay on somewhere I would like to live outside North America, and I am on the second draft of this one. I like it how it sounds, but I also might end up re-writing this one as well. You know how us writers are; hopeless perfectionists. Deadline – April 30, 2019
  • Shakespeare-Inspired Poem – I did not intend on writing this during Camp NaNo, but things change. I found a really great contest opportunity so I am now writing a poem (between 200-400 words) as well! Lately, I have really enjoyed writing poetry so maybe this is the start of me being a poet too…who knows. Deadline – April 30, 2019
  • Random Story – This is ANOTHER random, surprising story that I never intended to write but here I am, a servant to the muse of art. Anyways, I have no idea where this one is going but let me tell you, it’s going somewhere at least. Deadline – None

I think those are all the projects I started working on this week…I hope it is because I am way out of control otherwise. I hope you enjoyed this mini update on my Camp NaNoWriMo projects, and make sure you comment below to tell me how you’re Camp NaNo journey is going! Before I go though, here is a little reading update as well:

Recently, I have finished re-reading the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir, meaning I FINALLY read A Reaper at the Gates and OH MY GOD, I love this series. I am obsessed and cannot wait for the fourth book next year! I also somehow ended up listening to and finishing the audiobook for Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell because I love that book just too much. As for what I am reading right now, I am in the middle of four books: The Harvest by KB Benson (I have a review coming up for this towards the end of April!), Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and I am also listening to the audiobook for American Panda by Gloria Chao (yes, I am giving this book another go and I am so excited!). I have just been on my reading game lately, so why not pile on the books?

Okay, I’ll go now! I hope you enjoyed this blog post and don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Anthem by Ayn Rand – Book Review

Happy Thursday!

In the next few weeks, I am going to be putting out more book reviews than usual so I thought I would reacquaint myself with them by reviewing the last book I finished…which was Anthem by Ayn Rand. Why was I reading this book you ask?? Well, it was for an essay scholarship that I shrugged to and said why not? I know there is controversy surrounding this writer, but I am going to be putting that aside for the moment and instead, focusing on the actual story of Anthem. There WILL be spoilers so if you don’t mind, then keep reading!

Anthem by Ayn Rand is described as a dystopian novel set in a world where society has erased the individuality of the word “I” and has replaced it with a collective “w”, however, our main character Equality 7-2521 dares to defy society in order to regain his individual freedom stolen from him. While at first, this book was confusing characterwise because the narrative of this story is told by “we”, “our”, “they” so I thought Equality 7-2521 and all the other strange names, were collective groups of people. However, I reached the end and realized that was not the case but in reality, society had gone as far to strip people of saying “I” so Equality was only one person. This book will get you thinking about where society has been in the past and even right now, with socialism countries and all, but it also offers you the opportunity to value your individuality that we carry so easily and effortlessly without fathoming its disappearance.

While this book is very short (105 pages), I thought Rand managed to tell a story that ended satisfactorily. Anthem begins with Equality 7-2521 standing in front of the Council with dreams of being allowed into the Home of the Scholars, however, instead, they are placed in the Home of the Street Sweepers. When they tumble into a strange hole in the ground that leads to a cave full of forbidden manuscripts, later on, they read and discover all the things their society has stolen from them: the overall thing being each person’s individuality and freedom of choice. What I found interesting about the first part of the plot, is that once Equality found the cave, his goal didn’t immediately switch to the idea of “fixing the world” that they end with. The plot switched to him realizing that with all this knowledge, he might be able to stand before the World Council of Scholars and be allowed into the Home of the Scholars. It isn’t until the Council cowers at his re-invention of lightning, does he realize that will never happen. Also, by this point, he has fallen in love with the Golden One so he doesn’t need the Home of the Scholars, right? No! He can just run into the forest with her and tell himself that when his son is born, he will be a man who knows of the word and meaning of “I” while the rest of society is a massive dependent group of “we’s”.

I enjoyed this book but I do not have any plans of re-reading it…ever. I have read a bit of Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in the past, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into with this one and I was spot on. All of her books continuously feature male characters with women being faint characters in the background that pop up every so often with no real meaning. Also, whenever she refers to being successful, Rand will write about winning the minds of men or in Anthem towards the end when Equality is ranting about his newfound discovery of individuality, it goes a little something like this:

  • “Many men in the Homes of the Scholars have had strange new ideas in the past…” – pg. 73
  • “And man will go on. Man, not men.” – pg. 104

Yes, so this book is about regaining individual freedom BUT Equality only ever refers to men as the ones who deserve and need it. Never women or generalizing to people. I guess I understand why it is like this to a point, as Ayn Rand is a writer from the 1950s and equality (haha, how contradictory since the main character’s name is Equality) wasn’t super “in” back then. (Wow, that sounded dumb when I re-read it and really sad.) But still! Jane Austen wrote female characters who were strong, independent, and intelligent, not just flimsy things meant to aid the men in the book. So actually, I take that back! I do not understand Ayn Rand’s words at all!

One thing I really wanted to touch on is Equality 7-2521 as a character. Since Equality is unable to have personal likes and dislikes and whatnot, they felt like a bland structure that every author takes to tailor their characters to. However, we do see them having conflicting thoughts to society in the beginning, and that only continues to grow throughout the story until Equality seizes the word “I” for himself. Equality was not likable or unlikable…so I do not have too much to say. They were not the smartest at times, for example, when they brought the “box of lightning” to the World Council of Scholars! Like what are you doing? They know this existed at one point AS YOU READ IN THE FORBIDDEN MANUSCRIPTS, so why are you showing them that you broke all of their laws? Whatever, it’s fine. It’s fine. One thing I did not like about Equality aka Prometheus though was how Rand revealed that the Golden One aka Gaea was PREGNANT. I hope that a few years passed since they met before she got pregnant because um…SHE WAS 17 WHEN THEY MET. Also, I think he was 21 so one, ILLEGAL and two, SHE IS ONLY 17. So yes, really hoping it was like a “five years later” thing at the least.

For me, this was a 3-star read because while I had my problems with it, the story was interesting and there wasn’t a point in the book where I looked at the ceiling with desperation for it to be over. If you enjoy books influenced heavily by philosophical elements, meaning you are fans of Camu, Sartre, or other philosophy writers, I would think about checking Ayn Rand out.

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

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Cowering Through Life – A Poem

Hey guys! Sorry for the late post but I really wanted to share a poem I wrote with all of you, but I forgot to schedule it for this morning which meant I had to wait until I finished all my classes…anyways, it is up now for you all to read. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

You hum

your soft melodies

while wandering down

the hall,

but glance over your shoulder

with wide eyes

and bitten lips

to see if anyone heard.

You write

little stories in your leather

bound journal,

but constantly peer over your shoulder

as if someone recently called in

for story theft

and you’re the next target.

You duck

past mirrors

on your way out

of the bathroom,

hair a black curtain

you snap shut

on the rest of the world,

as if you have seen the other side

and know

just how terrifying it truly is.

You cry after

locking yourself in the bathroom stall,

head against the door,

arms wrapped around your waist

as if you are the comforting friend

to yourself,

but you stifle the sobs with a hoodie

and then walk out

after checking the blue door’s

cracks.

You hope nobody sees

anything

yet you do it

in the middle of the street

behind the bushes

along the sidewalk

like a silent plea

for help.

You paint your face

with makeup;

brown glitter around your eyes

to brighten up

what light your tears took.

Concealer under your eyes

to hide those sleepless nights.

Pink blush on your cheeks

to flush life back in

your sallow skin,

even though you lost the tinge

a long time ago.

You paint your face and

sing in halls and

write in journals and

run from mirrors and

cry in stalls

like you are being hunted

and the hunters

prey on

humanity.

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