In which I had no time to write this past week.

Hi friends.

I had the GRE on Saturday morning, which was a stressful nightmare that I had to cram for and after which I crashed. Then Sunday and Monday were almost entirely spent on readings for all my classes. I essentially have four between Tuesday and Wednesday alone. The time I wasn’t reading or taking notes was spent sleeping, eating, and watching mind-numbing programming on Netflix (which is to say Gossip Girl, and the show is only really good while the main cast is still in high school so I really am embarrassed to say I’m at the end of season 4 and only now just decided to call it quits).

So instead of the regularly scheduled broadcast of What I’m Writing Wednesdays, I’m going to do a cheeky little update, because despite the horror that has been the past two weeks I’m still dedicated to this blog and making stuff.

I’m currently reading The Invasion of the Tearling. It’s been going really slowly because most nights I’m either mentally exhausted or my eyes are crossing from how much reading I’ve already done for school. But I’m still really enjoying this reread. I love the world and the characters. It’s a wonderfully cosy read I’m hoping to finish up before the end of the January, mostly because I want to get to the final book in the series which came out last November.

I haven’t written anything either. I’ve not made much progress since last week when I wrote my really excited post about making discoveries after sketching my protagonist’s home. I want to revisit my story this weekend and make more concrete plans for how I’m going to make my March writing goal. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to my writing buddy soon! I miss her and she gets me excited about writing.

So it’s pretty late and I’m ready to go to sleep. All day I was preparing for my role as discussion leader in my class which included preparing a handout on our four readings and devising discussion questions. I was actually way over prepared, which I always find really annoying instead of handy. I had a whole plan of the way I wanted it to go and my instructor is actually the person I blame for throwing a wrench in my plans, although rationally I appreciate that she saved me from doing more talking. I’m just glad I shouldn’t need to do any other “class presentation”-like thing this semester. They take more time than just doing the readings and taking notes!

I was going to keep it a surprise, but I have some things in the works for next week! I don’t want to say much more other than you can expect my next post probably next Tuesday on the last day of January.

I hope you’re doing well and forgive me for not doing a What I’m Writing Wednesday this week. In the comments let me know how your writing is going and ask me if there’s anything you want some quick help or advice on. I’m all ears and would love to be of some help.

Thank you for reading!
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A New Story Direction | What I’m Writing Wednesdays

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve struggled with the direction I want to take my story. There have been several versions of the story I’m writing, with no full-length drafts to show for months and months of brainstorming. I can’t even begin to try and wonder at why I’ve had such a hard time, other than, you know, lack of confidence, commitment, and dedication. But I’m feeling closer than I’ve ever been before to being happy with the story I’m turning out and I thought I’d share a little bit about my most recent progress finally.

My progress started with a sketch.

I drew my protagonist’s childhood home, the place she’d be forced to leave, and all the while I was able to think about the place and the things that happened there and the things that could happen there. It was really inspiring.

Then I had a light bulb go off over my head. I don’t remember exactly how it came to me, but I finally had the kind of realization that I had been waiting for. It changed the magic system in my world, but also helped me learn what my protagonist would care deeply about and how it would relate to the antagonist and the state of affairs in their world.

So this weekend I figured out what my protagonist cares about and how it will lead to the story’s conflict and her consequent adventure. I also have finally committed the journey I want my protagonist to take. I think this new version of the story is a lot darker than previous iterations, which makes me a lot more excited to write it. I don’t read a lot of dark YA, yet alone have I ever tried my hand at writing it, so I feel like I’m charting new and exciting waters.

I don’t think I mentioned it in last week’s blog post, but I’m hoping to write a first draft of this whole story by March 13th, the beginning of my spring break. I want to be done by then so that I can read it and begin to think about revisions during that free time. I also am tired of procrastinating and letting myself off the hook. A month would be far to short a time, but about two months should be plenty. I don’t anticipate writing a very long draft, I just want to have the bare nuts and bolts of the story down.

One thing I’ve long considered is that it might be better for me to write a short story before I write a full-length book, so I’m still taking this in mind as I work on my story. I think it’d be a fun, more manageable challenge to write it in snippets that way, so I’ll let you know how this experiment goes. I wouldn’t want to write “the novel” in fewer than four short stories, so I need to work out how the divisions should work and the content of each unit. That’ll probably be next week’s post,  if I haven’t changed my mind by then!

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it in some way useful for your own writing endeavors. It’s going to be a busy week for me (I’ve actually drafted this post about two days early), because I’m preparing to take the GRE, which is a graduate school entry exam similar to the SAT or ACT. I don’t really know why I’m taking it anymore, to be honest. I have no idea if I still truly want to go to grad school (this is a post that will be in the making soon), but I’ve paid for it so I might as well take it and do the best I can.

Thank you for reading!
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Making Time to Write | What I’m Writing Wednesdays

Miraculously, Wednesdays this semester look like they will be pretty open; all I have is Media Psych from 4–6:45 p.m. but I should have a lot of time on this day to write and blog as long as I’m maintaining my readings and homework over the weekend, which is a major goal of mine this semester.

I want to talk about making time to write in this week’s post because it’s something I’ve struggled with since losing my weekly in-person writing club and becoming a graduate student. It’s all about managing your time, and I’m been pretty bad at that. I feel like my entire adult life has been a war between my ambitious side and my lazy side.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be my busiest days as I have learned I will be a TA for three classes which meet twice a week on these days. Additionally, I will need to keep up with the readings as much as possible. So I’m essentially going to be reading for four classes this semester in addition to completing my own coursework, grading undergrad work, and I still have no idea at this point what my Capstone will demand.

I feel like I’ve done my best writing when I’ve been my busiest, and since it’s going to be a busy semester I’m really looking forward to what comes out of it. Below is my plan for how I’m going to make time to write.

The Plan

#1 Figure out the best time of day that you are most inspired to write.

For me, I think it’s between morning and the mid-afternoon. I like having the morning sun burst through my curtains and to have the morning calm lull me into my story. This is perfect for a grad student who has most of her classes at night, but this semester I have daytime commitments that I will need to work around. I also need to make sure I’m not using this time to study or prepare for classes at the last minute, so I need to get all that stuff done ahead of time in its own designated time slot, most likely after dinner and in the evening.

#2 Wake up everyday at the same time and immediately go through the morning routine.

This might seem a bit random, but if you’re anything like me, you may find it easy to stay up late watching YouTube or Netflix when you know you can sleep in the next day. This is how most of my free time gets wasted. I’ve found that it’s easier to wake up and stay awake if you go through all the motions that you would as if you have somewhere to be. So for me that means: washing my face, brushing my teeth, moisturizing my skin, and getting dressed. Then I feel fresh and ready to take on the day.

#3 Even on the busiest of days, try to look at your story at least once at any spare moment you have and jot down any heat of the moment ideas you may have.

A lot of days where I feel like I don’t have any time for myself, I usually actually do have some time, but I’m just so stressed out that I just want to vegetate so that I don’t freak out. This will probably be the hardest thing that I can personally do because it’s a huge behavioral shift for me. But that’s why I know it will make a huge difference.

End Note

Let me know if you found any of these “tips” helpful or if you’re already seeing results by having implemented them into your writing habits. I haven’t got any writing progress to share this week, but I am excited for Friday because this week I think I’m going to have my own personal write-in day as a show of good faith to myself that I’m going to write this semester. I’ll probably set an arbitrary word goal for the day and do a few writing sprints to keep myself moving. But I also think I’ll do a bit of plotting and research that day. I’m so excited and it’s great to be excited after a month of blah!

Thank you for reading!
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My Spring 2017 Semester Courses.

After some weeks of uncertainty I discovered that my last minute Capstone proposal had been approved and I had been selected for my specialized instruction by the advisor I wanted! So now that my schedule is now pretty much set I thought I’d do another post like last semester talking about the classes I’ll be taking just in case anyone is interested as prospective student in the Emerging Media & Communication (EMAC) M.A. program at the University of Texas at Dallas.

This will most likely be my final semester at UT Dallas, and after strenuous two years I’m excited to be completing my program at this school. I had some amazing instructors and life-changing classroom experiences that have opened my mind to the world we are living in and the possibilities I have for the future. I hope to continue my studies with a PhD in Fall 2018, but first I’m hoping to find a job for a year that will help me eliminate the debt I acquired last year.

Without any further ado, here’s my blurb of the nine credits I will be taking as a full-time Master’s student.

Social Technologies and Games (3 cr.)

I hadn’t thought I’d take another ATEC course, but this one stood out to me as one that could be of great value. As described in the syllabus this course will “investigate the material and immaterial technologies, rules, and processes that shape social relations in contemporary digital culture. Students will examine the opportunities and limitations for understanding social dynamics that analyzing games affords—both as objects of study and as a lens for studying social relations.” I took a digital culture class for my program last spring that focused on journalism, which was unfortunate for me because I do not find journalism as a field all that appealing. I think this course might offer a lot more relevance for things in digital culture that I’m much more interested in.

Emerging Media & Media Psychology (3 cr.)

I learned so much from the instructor of this course in the Social Science Perspectives of EMAC last semester that I knew this course would be of tremendous value, particularly as I seek to continue my graduate studies at a rigorous and prestigious university in the future. From what I’ve heard, this class will be a lot more like what I was hoping last semester’s would be, so it should focus on media effect theories that can be great objects of focus in media studies research, which is something I’m now really interested in.

Graduate Capstone (3 cr.)

Before you graduate from the EMAC M.A. program you must first complete a Capstone project which applies what you learned from the program into a creative project or research study. I decided to propose an experiment that I designed for my aforementioned Social Science Perspectives of EMAC course last semester. It was a quick one-off thing that I designed right before class, but I received some really good feedback on it that made me excited to actually pursue it. I will no doubt talk about the final project in more depth in the future on this blog, but for right now I’ll just say that right now it involves online book clubs and YouTube!

End Note

Like last semester I will also be a teaching assistant, however, I will likely have more responsibilities this semester in terms of what I do for the class as my advisor last semester was really chill with me. I’m a little scared that I’ve not been prepared for this, but I have no doubt I’ll be able to handle it and relish the challenge. This should be a really great semester and I look forward to seeing how this all turns out!

Thank you for reading!
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What I’m Writing In 2017.

I had actually been planning to have an entirely different writing-related post go up tomorrow, but my heart wasn’t quite in it so I completely scrapped it and decided to try again once I’ve actually gotten some writing done. Today is that day!

This morning after a late breakfast, I sat down at the breakfast table with my MacBook Pro and a mug of coffee to look at all the docs I have on my story and decide what needs to be done first. Yesterday I had actually done a little bit of work on my story (miraculously too because I’ve been sick pretty much all 2017 with some sort of cold thus far). I plotted out some ideas that would get me from the beginning to the middle of my story.

Today I’ve written about 601 words so far in Scrivener of a new story beginning because I had an idea for something in the middle that would require something happen at the start of the story. More often than not it’s been a daunting process, but luckily I’ve been having fun to adjusting and problem solving here.

I would probably say that I’m about 1/4 of the way through a first draft at this point, because I’m still trying to salvage what I started in November 2016. So this year, specifically this semester, I’m going to be trying to finish this novel piece by piece, and I’ll try to document my journey and share any tips or ideas that I find helpful on my journey.

I want to go back to weekly Wednesday writing-related posts. The first half will be a diary of the trials and tribulations in my novel writing progress, and the second half will be a list of some things that might help spur your own writing, such as writing prompts or short brainstorming/motivation/plotting activities. I also may share other smaller writing projects I start up during the year, because I do want to experiment with writing formats this year in addition to my writing.

To summarize, here are my writing resolutions for 2017:

  1. Finish my first novel (and have a query-ready draft by the end of the year)
    1. Sub-goal: Write at least one scene per day
  2. Complete a separate short story each month in experimental and interactive formats (i.e. Twine, animations, short story, etc.)
  3. Publish at least one writing-related blog post each week (on What I’m Writing Wednesdays)

End Note

Let me know if you have any suggestions for next week’s post, including any questions about my own story that you may be curious about. I’ve talked about my story in past here on this blog so you may be able to do some easy searching to find out what it’s about. Because it might change soon, I’m holding off on providing a new summary here just yet. I will dedicate an entirely separate post (and perhaps a static blog page) dedicated to my novel once the first draft is closer to being complete.

I’m off to go clean my room and read! I also want to finally break out my Wacom drawing tablet tonight so you may see some stuff about that soon. On another note, I am seriously thinking of starting up my YouTube channel again once I get back to Dallas. I bought a $15 tripod at Best Buy, so I’m excited to set up a filming space in Dallas and film a New Year’s Resolutions video as soon as I can. I want my channel to be about reading, writing, and creative endeavors so I’m excited to start creating and documenting there! More on what this channel will be will come in a separate post probably some time next week.

Thank you for reading!
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January 2017 Plans.

Hi! I’m back again with another post because I can’t sleep (I’ve got my first proper cold in ages) and I’m trying to be productive. I have only about 6–7 days left in Houston before I need to get back to Dallas and I want to set my goals before I get back so I can hit the ground running.

I start classes for Spring 2017 next Tuesday. My schedule is not 100% set in stone yet (for reasons I’ll probably explain once it is), but I do know two classes I will for sure being taking:

Social Technology and Games (3 cr.). I hadn’t thought I’d take another ATEC class, but I discovered this one at the last minute. It had a syllabus I could look at and it seems like it will have some great readings I’ll find useful in the future. I’m not interested in working in the gaming industry, but I really find some aspects of game design really important and applicable to other fields and areas of life so I’m always excited for a class that will expand my mind and interests.

Emerging Media and Media Psychology (3 cr.). I think this class will be really interesting and useful for my PhD. It is will a professor I had last semester who I really respect and admire. I know she organizes really good curriculums so I’m excited to have another class with her. I also think I’ll know a lot of people in this class, so that always makes it nicer.

I also will be taking the GRE on January 21st so I need to prepare for that examination because I do not want to have to take it again. There are three sections, so I figure I’ll prepare for one section per week, starting with the most difficult, which are for me the timed writing prompt and math.

Despite all these school trappings, I’m also excited for some non-school related projects.

TBR

As I stated in my latest post New Year’s Resolutions | 2017, I want to read on average three books per month. For this month, I’m prioritizing the Starbound trilogy, mostly because I’ve been making my way very slowly through my reread of the first book. I’ve found reading very difficult lately during the holidays. I don’t know why, but I’ve struggled to prioritize alone time; and I know this is why I’ve not been reading.

These books are not super long or boring, so I am actually hoping to marathon them before I go back to Dallas. So I may start off this month with an impressive wrap up. I also think I will have two books that I need to read this month for one class according to the syllabus. I also want to catch up on some books I wanted to finish last year.

Additionally, each month I think I want to attempt to read a random book that I select blindly at my school library so that I start to read more diversely and not get so compulsive about a TBR, which I’ve found sometimes (but not always) happens.

Creative Plans

Before I return to Dallas, I want to break out my Wacom tablet and start doing some sketching. I think I already know what my subjects will be for this month, but don’t hold me to them! I may change my mind by the end of the month and show you something completely different.

Self-portraiture. I think there is some value to the self-examination that a self-portrait entails, and I’m strangely excited to draw myself as I see myself. I’ve only ever done seriously this once and it’s weirdly one of my favorite things I’ve ever drawn. I don’t know if I still have it. I messed it up by trying to paint the background this green I really liked. But the practicality of this project is that I could use it for my blog header to personalize it more.

Blog header art. Speaking of my blog header, I want to do something original. The current blog header I’m using was created combining two separate watercolor images I found via Tumblr and it bothers me that I’ve appropriated them without permission, but they were always just meant to be a placeholder anyway. (If I’m successful and you like what you see at the end of the month, I’d be willing to take free commissions if you’re in the market for something similar. This is an exclusive offer I’ll be offering only to my most loyal of blog followers. ^_^)

End Note

Thanks if you read this entire post and for sticking with me as I get my blogging groove back. I always worry about trying something new if people are going to take off if I’m not providing what they were hoping I would when they started following. If it’s writing that you’re interested, I promise more of those posts soon! I’m beginning to start work on my story again and I may begin to share more of my inspiration/motivation/idea generative processes with you.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I might do one post per day this month while I work out how I’m going to go forward using this blog. Just keep in mind, I’m trying to make this blog a more personal space so there may be some random stuff (but story or arts-based stuff) every now and then. I still want to make sure there are some goodies for you, so feel free to request post topics if you’re interested in something in particular.

(If I do start doing a post per day, I promise they will stop being all over the place! I just have so much to say right now I guess, and I only realize it once I get started!)

Thank you for reading!
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New Year’s Resolutions | 2017

Happy New Year! I’ve decided to officially end my hiatus on January 1, 2016. I apologize for being away longer than I originally anticipated, but I had a rough end of the semester and year. I really needed time to myself to recover and decide what I want to do with the blog (and to a greater extent, my life).

I’m still figuring it out but one thing I know is I don’t want to feel constrained this year to doing the same old posts that every book blogger is doing, just because everyone is doing it. I really want to pave my own way this year, experiment, and feel like I’m being true to myself.

I failed miserably at last year’s resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to set any for this year!

➴ Reading Resolution

I do not feel like I enjoyed reading as much in 2016 as I did in 2015, and I think that is partially to do with my goal to read 60 books that year. I “only” managed 53, which I’ve been needing to remind myself is still a great accomplishment. But this year I only want to commit myself to read at least three books per month, or 36 for the entire year. This way I can prioritize reading books that I’m excited to read and spending quality time with them.

➴ Writing Resolution

As was my goal last year, I want to finish writing my book this year. I’m hoping that this goal will be achieved pretty early. I want to finish the first draft within the next few months and then be working on revisions and whatnot the rest of the year. I also want to finish a new novel project in November and finally end my NaNoWriMo losing streak. As with my reading goal, I don’t want to set crazy goals that just stress me out all year so I’m going to end on that. But I may elaborate more on my more discrete writing goals each month.

➴ Creative Resolution

This is kind of a weird resolution to set, but I used to be really into art and drawing and I want to start getting back into it. Over Thanksgiving Break, I splurged on a pretty good Wacom drawing tablet which comes with an editing software. The plan is to get back into drawing and see what possibilities exist. I’d really like to try and make bookish-themed blog art and perhaps start taking commissions. I’d also like to experiment with short animation videos of short story ideas.

I don’t want to set too ambitious of goals, but if I can, I’d like to set my mind to one larger project per month and debut it at the end of each month on the blog or on my YouTube channel with some behind-the-scenes tidbits.

End Note

So these are my resolutions. Last year I set some blogging resolutions, but I really don’t feel like I can commit to a schedule right now because there’s nothing that tears me up inside like scheduling posts, forgetting to finish them, and discovering they’ve gone up ahead of completion. If anything, my goal for 2017 is to never. let. that. happen. again. I do hope to get at least one post up each week and let you know ahead of time if I need on any more hiatuses.

In the comments, let me know if you have any similar new year’s resolutions or links to blog is you also have a post dedicated to them. I hope you had a safe and rejuvenating holiday season and are as ready as I am to kick off the new year with a bang.

Thank you for reading!
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