Building Your Writing Portfolio: Tips and Ideas

Having a writing portfolio is essential when being a writer, especially when you enjoy writing in various mediums like myself. Since I like to write novels, short stories, and creative non-fiction, a writing portfolio is something I have been building up for years. If you don’t really know, a writing portfolio is a collection of work you have written (published or unpublished) that you have at hand to show to potential employers (if you are in freelance or such) or to just show off your work. Today, I will be giving some tips and ideas on building your writing portfolio to make it the best it can be and I hope you enjoy!

  • Always Add to Your Portfolio – A writing portfolio is something that should never really be finished. Over the months or years, you should be continuously adding your best work to it. This allows you to have lots of options to select from and then showcase your best pieces. This also goes for editing, you should never stop editing your pieces. You don’t have to edit them every week, but every few months give them a quick look over because you will always find new ways to improve them.
  • Choose the Pieces That Showcase You Best – Focus on pieces that really highlight you as a writer, whether that is your technique or voice, find the pieces that you love the most and seem the best to you. Don’t add something to your professional portfolio just because you wrote it, add it if you feel it has a valid reason for being in there and you think could get you somewhere in your career.
  • Use Published Pieces the Most – If you don’t have any pieces published yet, that is fine, focus on showcasing the ones you think could be published in the future. But, if you have a short story or an essay published, that should automatically get first choice to be put in your writing portfolio. That way, when someone takes a look at it and sees that it had been published before, you will automatically seem more professional and qualified in their eyes. Don’t be discouraged if your work isn’t published though!

What To Do with Your Writing Portfolio:

  • Showcase It On Your Blog or Social Media – Have a link to it somewhere on your blog or in the bio of your social media. Just have it somewhere others can reach it if they need to.
  • Use Pieces for Writing Contests/Literary Journals – Since your writing portfolio should be your most POLISHED pieces, why not put them to work and submit them for publication? If they get published, great! If not, send them to a few more places or clean it up even more. Writing contests and literary magazines are particular and selective, which is why it is important to send your pieces out to various ones because they are all looking for different things.
  • Submit Them to Scholarships – There are a lot of great writing scholarships out there if you are in school, but a lot of them require a LOT of writing samples. For example, one scholarship I am applying to in a few months asks for 8 different pieces of writing…8! That is a lot and I am still not at that number yet (although I am close). I wish I had a larger writing portfolio of pieces I am proud of because than this would be a lot easier.

 

Midnight Thoughts – Focusing on the Positive While Writing

While writing, it can be really hard to get past the negative cloud muddling our thoughts. The negative is usually much louder, taunting us by saying “why am I even trying” “I am the worst writer” and other things like that. This is toxic and it is important for writers to look past the negative and see the positive when we can.

One of my biggest tips when it comes to focusing on the positive while writing is to focus on writing your project just because you love it and can write it. Don’t put the pressure of wanting to be published on it, otherwise your words and mental health will suffer from it. Just write. Write because you can and because it is something you enjoy doing, and let that be enough to propel you further.

I also recommend starting and ending each day with gratitude. Show gratitude to yourself and your writing, and remind yourself everyday why you are sitting here, writing. Why you are creating worlds and painting them on paper despite the hardships and obstacles along the way. This is a way to constantly refresh your goals and line of passion so that each time you sit down to write, you will feel your passion brewing inside you and waiting to come out.

Lastly, when it comes to focusing on the positive, I recommend stepping back from social media as much as possible. It can be damaging to see the other writers you follow on Instagram or Twitter, and seeing them have success when you feel like you aren’t having any. It might be that they are at different stages in their writing career, or that they are just having better luck (it happens!), but this can really pull you down. Taking a step back from these accounts, even unfollowing them for a bit if you have to, might be what you need to help direct yourself back to the positive. And that is okay. Just remember that even if these other writers seem like they are living the perfect writing life that you wish to have, there is always more behind the picture. Remember that your time will come too, and you will see that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows when you get there either.

Those are my three main tips when it comes to finding the positive while writing, and I hope you are enjoying this series of “Midnight Thoughts”! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below 🙂

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10 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

Happy Monday!

Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some writing tips from some of our favourite authors, and see what they think makes a great and successful writer. A lot of the tips are simple, but incredibly insightful and inspiring so enjoy!

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it – Elmore Leonard

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass – Anton Chekhow

If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot – Stephen King

You rely on a sentence to say more than the denotation and the connotation; you revel in the smoke that the words send up – Toni Morrison 

A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it – Edgar Allen Poe

If you are using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech – John Steinbeck 

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you are doomed – Ray Bradbury

The hardest part is believing in yourself at the notebook stage. It is like believing in dreams in the morning – Erica Jong

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you  – Zadie Smith

In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it –  Rose Tremain

Anyways, I hope you found all of these writing tips helpful and that you enjoyed them! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below 🙂

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Literary Magazines for Young Writers

It is a great idea to take advantage of all the amazing literary magazines steered towards young writers if you are, and because of that I put together a list of a few magazines just for you to submit to! Make sure you check out my blog post where I give tips to young writers and talk about how important it is for writers to submit their work and you can do that right here 🙂

Cricket

Fiction: 600-1,800 words Non-Fiction: 1,200-1,800 words Poetry: up to 35 lines

The Adroit Journal

Prose: 3 pieces up to 3,000 words each piece Poetry: up to 6 pieces Art: up to 8 pieces

Apprehension Magazine

Prose: 15 pages, double spaced Poetry: up to 6 pieces, single spaced Non-Fiction: up to 12 pages

The Claremont Review – April 15-March 15

Prose: 1,500 word maximum Poetry: up to 3 poems Visual Art/Photography: up to 6 images

The Concord Review

History Essay: 4,000-6,000 word maximum

Rookie Magazine

Accepts fiction, non-fiction, rants, raves, humor, poetry, etc

Those are a few literary magazines to submit to, and I hope that you submit to some! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as all my social media accounts linked below 🙂

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Young Writers Guide to Writing

This is just a quick blog post for young writers to help them realize what they can do to start building their writing career NOW. This could also be useful for new writers and also established writers, but this is mostly directed to the young writers (like me) out there so I hope it helps 🙂

When it comes to building a writing career, it is easy to think that you can’t start until you are older and have graduated university or college with a degree of some sort (even though a degree is not needed for creative writing, but other types of writing). But that is not true! You can start building your career right now, no matter your age, and here are some tips on how to do that.

  • Learn to Manage Your Time…Now – This is so important because there will be times in the future, or even now, where you might have to work another job, attend school, provide for your family, etc while balancing writing. You are going to have to find a routine that allows you to still get writing done every day (or almost every day), and working towards that end goal of being a successful writer. For example, in the summers I get lots of writing done throughout the entire day (usually mornings), and then during the school year I balance writing in the evenings after I finish my homework. Learn to manage your time now and find your ideal routine because you will be thanking yourself in the future.
  • Take Advantage of Your Time – As a young writer, I do not have to have a job to support myself. Sure, some young people have jobs and school, but it is likely that you still have more time then someone with a family and a full-time job. During the school year, I am crazy busy, but I have the weekends, breaks, and summer vacation to write still where I get lots done. And since I have a routine, I still do get writing done during the school week. Take advantage of every bit of time you have now when you have less responsibility, because that will change soon!
  • Submit, Submit, Submit – Currently I am working on a list of literary magazines/writing contests for young writers to submit to, because it can be hard going against writers who have had more time on earth to practice writing. Also, a lot of literary magazines look for more literary fiction with deep meanings and whatnot, while the ones for young writers expect young adult stories and such. So yes, submit things and get your name out there so you can build your writing portfolio! It is so important. But yes, keep an eye out for that blog post coming soonish.
  • Start Building Your Writing Platform – One thing about being a young person in this day and age, is that social media comes naturally to most of us. Guess what, marketing yourself as a writer is a really important part, so don’t wait, start building your empire on social media now! I picked to be active on Twitter and Instagram where I post about my writing and also give little writing tips, so try to stick to a theme like that when it comes to your accounts.

Those are a few tips for young writers and I hope it helped! Stay tuned for my literary magazine and writing contests for young writers which will be coming soon, but until then, check out my last blog post and my social media accounts all linked below 🙂

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Finding Success as a Writer

It is hard to find success as a writer, especially if your goals and aspirations are high up in the sky. However, it is also easy to find success as a writer, just rare, because it takes a lot of motivation, perseverance, and patience. Success comes in all shapes, sizes, and times in our lives and it is up to us to work for it. Hard. It doesn’t come easy, but here are a few tips on how to find success as a writer and I hope they help!

  • Have a Plan – The first step to finding success is having a plan. In this plan you need to have a list of what you want to achieve in the short-term and long-term of your career. Of course, you are able to change and adjust goals as time goes on, but this is just to give you an idea of what to work towards and what steps to take to find your success. Make sure you also plan out the stepping stones you will need to take because you can’t just leap to goals, you have to work towards them bit by bit.
    • Ex. Long-Term Goal: To be a published writer How Will I Get There?: Writing (almost) everyday and submitting finished work to literary agents, literary magazines, contests, fellowships, etc
  • Learn and Practice – No matter where you are as a writer, there is always more for you to learn. Thanks to the internet, there is an endless amount of resources at your fingertips and I really recommend searching writing advice on YouTube, blogs like mine, or just the internet because you will be surprised by how much you will learn! It is also important to remember to NOT get sidetracked by all these goods, and to actually write. That is the number one way you will get better because if you don’t write…well, I don’t know how you will find success as a WRITER then!
  • Connect with Other Writers – Success in any business is all about connections, so make them! Reach out to writers on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook because those are all amazing platforms for writers. Grow your account and draw other writers in. Connecting with other writers will help make writing feel less lonely, and it will also grow your following base which are essentials when it comes to any success in any business, especially with writing.
  • Keep Writing – To be honest, the key to finding success as a writer is to always keep writing. One thing I love about writing short stories, novels, and essays is that I can keep on my toes balancing multiple writing projects all the time. It also allows me more outlets to submit my work, and each submission is a step towards my overall goal of being a published writer whether because of a book, short story or essay I wrote. Always keep producing new stuff and send it out for people to read!
  • Turn Rejection into Motivation – Rejection is a killer if you let it sink your fangs in you. I like to use rejection to feed my motivation, and help fuel that desire to get better at writing. If you write a short story, send it out to 10 contests/literary magazines and if they all reject it remember that it doesn’t mean your story is bad. And first off, you should submit your short story to as many literary magazines (like 50!) and such as you can, AND then if they are all rejected maybe fix up your story a bit. But don’t let the rejection weigh you down. It doesn’t define you as a person or a writer, it just means your story wasn’t for them, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone.

Those are my 5 main tips when it comes to finding success as a writer, and I hope they were helpful! Remember to never give up. Don’t listen to those trying to bring you and your writing down, only those who help build it up. Success will come within time, but until then, enjoy the process!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, and all my social media accounts which will all be linked down below 🙂

Last Blog Post: Building Your Creative Platforms

 

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Building Your Creative Platforms

Creating a presence on social media is crucial for branding yourself as a creative person, and while it isn’t necessary and you should never feel forced if you don’t want to, I highly recommend it. Today, I came up with a series of tips when it comes to creating creative platforms, and I think these will be helpful whether you are just staring out, or even a few years in. I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading 🙂

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  1. Determine Your Theme – This is the first and most important step because without determining a theme, it is going to be unclear on what you are trying to achieve with your platforms. For example, my platforms are about writing, so I post writing/reading related content. Maybe every once and a while I will post something unrelated to that, but I try not to because it confuses my theme!
  2. Go on a Following Spree – When you first open up your account, find a bunch of accounts similar to yours and follow them! Not only will they inspire new content for you, but it will allow you to make connections with other creative people like you. Instagram gives you account recommendations, but you can also go through certain hashtags and follow accounts based on those.
  3. Captions – While not EVERY post needs to have a deep and thoughtful caption, it is nice to have one every once and a while that provides some creative help (maybe some tips or a story time), as well as allow your followers to engage in conversation. I recommend asking a question every once and a while, and also remember to try and comment back at as many as you can!
  4. Hashtags – Whether you are on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc, hashtags are essential. They allow the right people to find your posts and account, and it is easier to get follows that way too! For example, I use hashtags like #writerscommunity #writersofinstagram #amwriting #writerslife and several more.
  5. Consistency – On every platform, consistency is going to be your key to success. For some it may come slower, but it will come if you post consistently. I try to post at least once a day, and sometimes even more then that. If you aren’t putting regular content out, your followers are going to forget about your account, and you won’t be as relevant and active as you can so new followers can find you. Maybe once a day is too much for you specifically, but I would aim for no less than four posts a week. One tip I have is at the beginning or end of each week, take a chunk of time for your day to take a lot of pictures, craft a lot of captions, and brainstorm ideas for what you are going to post that coming week. It saves a lot of time and stress!
  6. Stories – This one is more directed to Instagram, or any other social media you can post live stories on, but posting on Instagram stories is also really important. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy going through all the writing related Instagram stories at the end of the day to see what other people got done. It is lots of fun for me, so I try to also do that and post a few times a week on there. Whether it is pictures or videos from that day, make sure you are active on there as well!
  7. Reach Out to Others – This is one of the wonders of social media – you are able to connect with people from all around the world! People who are creative like you are right at your fingertips, which is great because personally, there are not a lot writers my age from where I am from. It is nice to be able to discuss the ups and downs of writing, and share writing wisdom with each other. It might seem daunting, but don’t worry! Lots of people created their accounts solely for the reason to connect with other creatives.
  8. Come Up with a Schedule – Whenever I can make a schedule, I do. Lately I have been taking a calendar and scheduling out my blog posts and Instagram posts to make sure I have fresh content for every day. This means I already have ALL of August planned out for blogging related things, and a week or two planned for Instagram. This has already unloaded a lot of stress off my back and gets me excited to write up these posts soon! All I did was find a calendar template on Word and fill it in. If you want, you could print it out, but I do not need anymore loose papers scattered on my desk so I just keep it saved on my computer.
  9. Promote Your Creativity – Whether you are currently working on a project or have finished and are taking the traditional or self-publishing route, promote your work! Get your followers excited about your work so when it is finally available to them, they are dying to get their hands on it.
  10. Stretch Yourself Across as Many Platforms – Do what you are comfortable with, and don’t stretch yourself thin across different social media platforms, but it is good to have a voice on at least one or two. For example, I am on Twitter, Instagram, and my blog the most, but I do have Tumblr and Pinterest accounts as well. I do what I feel comfortable with, which is Twitter and Instagram, but I might bring myself back onto Pinterest more regularly in the near future.

Those are my ten major tips for building creative platforms on social media, and I hope you found these helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked below 🙂

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Writer Self-Care Tips

Self-care is SO important whether you are a writer or just a human, so today I am going to give some tips, ideas and reminders on how to make the most of your self-care sessions.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care is what it sounds like. It is time devoted to you and you only, when you replenish your energy and as a writer, your creative well also.

Self-Care Activities: 

  • Take a bubble bath + read
  • Movie night in bed
  • Yoga
  • Bake!
  • Go for a walk
  • Go to the gym
  • Colour in a colouring book
  • Watch writing vlogs
  • Research new hobbies
  • Make lists!
    • bucket lists
    • goals and aspirations
    • books to read
    • movies to watch
  • Journal! (thoughts, feelings, ideas, short stories, etc)

Self-Care Tips:

  • Set Aside ONE whole day whenever you can to focus on your self-care
  • Have an hour or so in the evenings also dedicated to self-care (everyday or as many days possible)
  • Candles, candles, candles
  • Soft, relaxing music (none of this hardcore metallica…unless that relaxes you)
  • Healthy foods (lots of recipes on Pinterest)
  • Lots of fresh air
  • Get off your phone!

Risks of Not Caring For Yourself:

  • Creative burnout
  • Physical/mental burnout
  • Stress
  • Always feeling tired!
  • Prone to metal breakdowns (not fun)

It is so, so important to care for you body and mind! When you are a writer, you want to just work, work, and work to make your story better and to get more words on the page. It can be hard to allow yourself to take a few hours off, let alone an entire day, without feeling guilty, but it is crucial to your creative process. I like to take Sundays (mostly) off and on Sundays I try to stay away from writing my current WIP, limit my time on my phone, take baths, do lots of reading, and plan for the week to come. These are the ways I care for my mind and body, and make sure I start the next week off energized and ready to go!

Anyways, that is all for this post and I hope you enjoyed! If you have any other self-care activities or tips, then definitely comment them down below 🙂

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Biannual Bibliothon: Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1 – Favourite Vacation Spots

Reading Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1

Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 2 – Favourite Summer Books! 

Reading + Writing Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon 2018 + Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2

 

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Things I Learned From Draft One

Writing the first draft of this specific project taught me a LOT, and I wanted to share those things in a blog post because while some lessons might be the same, many will also be different.

1. Outlining is a LONG, Hard Process

I always knew outlining was a process obviously, and I knew it took time and motivation, however I realized spending about a month and a half of taking some time each day to work on it, was not enough. I am still adding and changing things to my outline for draft two. I am still having to research things to fill the holes that I should have filled in my outline, but haven’t. Make sure you determine your world, its rules, everyday life, your characters goals and motivation, magic system (if there is one) and anything else you can think of. My problem is that I will outline and then think I researched and wrote out every important thing for my story, but then realize I was missing so many key points later on. I recommend searching outlining tips or outlining worksheets online to help you gather all the main and minor ideas you need to have.

2. Just Because Your First Draft Sucks, Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad

Yeah, your first draft 100% sucks. Words are being thrown left and right, some with meaning some without, but that is okay. Just because you feel as if you word vomited about seventy thousand words onto a document, doesn’t mean the essence of the story is bad. Nobody is a great first writer, trust me. The books we read required dozens and dozens of revisions and edits from not only the author but their editor too. You can’t expect to pump out a clean first draft in one go because that it is the craft of writing. Every time you work on it, it gets a bit cleaner, and slowly, you polish it enough to see that the story hidden behind all those words was never that bad in the first place.

3. Read The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

Honestly, this book has been my savior when it comes to trying to finish outlining my story for draft three. It has everything you ever need to know and more, and will help you see storytelling in a different way. You take away so many valuable tips, tricks, and ideas from this book, and I cannot recommend it enough. I wouldn’t recommend investing in many writing craft books, but this is one of them! Little tip though, I would recommend not using it for first drafts but just knowing you will be using it for future draft will take some stress off, trust me.

4. Focusing on Hours Spent Writing Is More Beneficial Than “Words Written”

I promise you that this is SUPER important. You will get so much more done if you aim to spend an hour or maybe even two hours writing each day, instead of focusing on that pesty little word count tracker at the bottom of your page. I do three thirty minute sprints throughout the morning each day, and all I focus on is writing for that entire thirty minutes, or even writing a bit past. There has only been one or two times I have not reached 1000 words each half hour writing sprint, but other than that, this method has worked wonders for me.

5. Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo Are Excellent Times to Start Your First Draft

Seriously though, if you happen to be close to Camp NaNoWriMo (an online writing event where you try to write as much as you can in one month – takes place April + July of every year) or NaNoWriMo (an online writing event where you try to write 50,000 words in one month – every Novemeber), then I highly recommend signing up and participating. NaNoWriMo motivates you because for once, it is not only you working on a project, but thousands of people across the world. Every one is trying to get all the words down, and it is really motivating to see how much progress you will make by the end of it! I have participated in Camp NaNo and NaNo quite a few times, and started my first draft for my WIP during Camp NaNo back in April. I reached my 50,000 words and kept going!

Those are five things I learned from draft one, and I hope you enjoyed! Currently, we are on day three of the Biannual Bibliothon, so make sure to check out ALL the blog posts I have done for it so far!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon 2018 + Camp NaNoWriMo Week 2

Biannual Bibliothon: Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1 – Favourite Vacation Spots

Reading Update – Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 1

Summer Biannual Bibliothon Day 2 – Favourite Summer Books!

 

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Confusing the Validation of Your Own Dreams with the Validation of Others – Midnight Thoughts #1

A few nights ago, around 11:30pm, I was rifling around for some food despite needing to be in bed as I always seem to do. Anyways, I got a thought regarding dreams and creativity, and I realized that I have quite a few of these thoughts every night. I am sure a lot of you have similar thoughts to me regarding our creative paths and choices, so I thought I would make a blog post series called “Midnight Thoughts” where I post rambly posts on different topics about creativity and writing.

episode 28

Lately I have been having a bit of anxiety about my upcoming last year of high school because it means applying to scholarships, universities, and ultimately piecing together my life. I’ve never had a problem with that though, because I have always wanted to write and have known that. Whether that means writing books, short stories, magazine articles…whatever works, I just want to write. While the path of a writer isn’t clearly defined, with lots of different road along the way…I still knew the steps I could take to kind of find my way. So that part is okay, but then I realized I was feeling anxious because I was confusing the validation of my OWN dreams with what other people considered “realistic dreams” that I should aspire to. Writing is not the easiest dream to chase, and I think most of us here have realized that pretty quickly. Personally, as a younger student who still lives at home and depends on her parents, I can afford to pour (almost) all of my energy into chasing this dream without having to worry about putting food on the table, paying for rent or other utilities…I don’t have to do any of that yet, and everyday I work hard so I am not taking it all for granted because it won’t always be like this.

However, recently when I have been sitting down to get work done, this little voice in my head questions the validation of my dreams based on how those around me, and those in general, feel about them. What I mean by this, is that lately I have been wondering what the point of being a writer is, and the point of pursuing it. Millions of stories are already out in the world, some untouched and some beloved by people from all around the world…why does the world need MY story? The journey to even a small success would be tiring and long, so what was the point? Why face all the struggle that it brings, and not just my own inner struggles, but those that the people around me bring as well. All the self-doubt and questioning and struggle…was it all worth it?

The answer is yes. The world needs your stories, and in the end the struggle and hardship will all be worth it as long as you are following your passion and dreams. I know all this, but sometimes I need a reminder because self-doubt and hesitation are strong, they can filter out the positivity when you need it most. I am always surprised when I feel like this because in previous years I rarely felt this way. Overall, I am a stubborn and ambitious person who doesn’t let the opinion and thoughts of others stand in the way of my own dreams and ideas. But sometimes something gets past my “stone hard” barrier and negativity finds a way to trickle in. That is okay though, it is good to question yourself, but only if you can manage to turn all of that hesitation and doubt into more drive and passion.

All I can say on how to diminish this annoying voice and mindset is to keep moving forward. Keep writing, keep creating, and never stop. Watch YouTube videos that inspire and motivate you, listen to creative podcasts and read blogs (like this one!). Just keep moving forward and never stop because if you do, the creative monster might get you. The creative monster feeds on your creativity, keeping it for itself so don’t slow down, pour all the energy you have into your projects and scare off the creativity monster with your ambition and determination to follow your dreams, and remember their validation.

Anyways, that is all for this rambly post and I hope you enjoyed! Let me know how often you question the validation of your dreams, and how you get over that negativity in the comments below!

I also wanted to say that tomorrow is day 1 of the Biannual Bibliothon! Whooo! This is a week long readathon that has reading, video, social media, and blogging challenges, so expect a week full of blog posts based on the different challenges they have. I will also being doing daily updates so stay tuned for that as well.

Last Blog Post: Summer Biannual Bibliothon TBR

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