Something to Share

Sadly, I have been busy all day and so I no longer have much time to write a post for you all, so it’s short post night tonight! I still haven’t mastered the whole “time management” stuff. It’s complicated.

But don’t worry; the next post is going to be REALLY long.

I think you all remember that a while ago I wrote a post about common grammar mistakes. Well, it has been brought to my attention that Weird Al Yankovic, a hilarious (and slightly twisted) parody singer, made a song about the same topic. (Well actually, Weird Al is a lot more. He’s an American singer-songwriter, musician-parodist artist, record producer, satirist, music video director, film producer, actor, and author. Talk about talented!)

The song is called “Word Crimes” and let me tell you, if I ever become an English teacher, this video is totally going to be assigned as homework.

(You can find the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc)

The whole song is dedicated to correcting common grammar mistakes and making fun of people on the internet who tYp3 liek 7h1s. (Oh gosh, it pained me to type that.)

I really love the song; it makes me feel a little bit better about the internet. 😛

So, this is pretty much the end of my post. Go check out the song!

I really apologize for the shortness and lack of extremely helpful content in this post. Sadly, I am going to have to cut the frequency of these posts down to every other day…

So I’ll post again on Friday!

~Alenia

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There’s This Thing Called Motivation…

…And I have had major problems in the past trying to get some of it.

I am sure we can all agree – motivation is something we have lacked at one point in time or another. I know that for me at least, it is something that I lack a lot of, very often. It seemed like whenever I wasn’t being plagued by writer’s block, I just didn’t seem to want to write. Over the years, I have been searching for a way to motivate myself, but I am pretty sure I just figured out how to this afternoon.

As with all things, we are all motivated in different ways, so there is (sadly) no cure-all way to fix demotivation, but here is what I did to motivate myself today.

I de-cluttered:

I have always convinced myself that I liked a messy environment, and maybe that’s true, but when it reaches the point of foot-tall piles and impossible-to-find pencils, I think that’s a bit too far.

I also have a bit of a hoarding problem. It’s not as bad as what you see on TV, but I have some items and useless scraps of what-not that I just cannot bring myself to get rid of. So, using my creative mind, I finally decide to start scrapbooking. Attacking my piles, I went through and separated then into three basic piles: “Things to Scrapbook”, “Crap I Can Get Rid of”, and “Back to the Pile!”

It probably doesn’t seem very effective, seeing as I had a pile of things to go back into piles, but I surprised even myself at how much my piles had dissipated. I had taken my multiple, foot-tall piles and reduced them into only one, couple inch pile!

After that, I started my scrapbooking project and put all my cluttering memorabilia into an album. Besides being able to de-clutter and create something cool out of my junk, I actually enjoyed scrapbooking and it helped break up my small bit of writer’s block, so that’s a plus!

I read a book:

If there is a panacea for all writing problems, I am sure that reading is it. Reading has always cleared my mind and stimulated my creativity, therefore upping my motivation as well. I had been reading a great book for a couple of days and so when I finished it this morning, my routine end-of-a-good-book feeling of ambition settled in. I mean, reading is really motivational, but when I finish a good book, I always want to do something amazing myself.

I went outside:

Breathing some fresh air and moving around a bit will always get your mind happy and your creativity itching. I guarantee, unless you have some sort of unfettered hatred of the outdoors, going for a walk will never stifle your motivation. (Or creativity for that matter!)

I talked to a friend:

Now, you have to be a bit careful with this one. Talking with a friend will most often make me feel happy and ready to do something, but if the conversation strays to the depressing or stressful, and motivation I had gained previously will disappear in a flicker.

Luckily, today I was able to stay away from the aforementioned topics and have a very uplifting talk with a newly acquired friend of mine.

To sum this post up in a couple of words, Happiness = Motivation.

The things I mentioned were all simple things that made me happy, so whatever makes you happy will most likely motivate you. However, one thing to keep in mind is to stay away from screens. I know that for me, browsing YouTube often makes me really happy, but for some reason, staring at a screen too long makes me feel pretty lethargic.

All in all, the one thing that is guaranteed to work is just getting done what you need to get done. Just sit down and write, or clean your room, or whatever is important at the moment. I assure you, once you get started, it is so much easier to continue.

So, to quote Nike’s motto: “Just do it.”

~Alenia

P.S. I am back! I have finally arrived home from Debate camp, and I must say, I had a BLAST while I was there. I do have to admit though: I actually arrived back home on Sunday, but I have haven’t written a post until today. Don’t hate me! I can lie and say that I’ve been busy, but the truth is, I am having my “monthly lady issues” so cut me some slack. 😉 Thank you for all your support guys, and just to reassure you, I will be picking up my normal writing schedule today, so no worries, there will be a post tomorrow and the day after that and so on and so forth. Happy summer!

 

An Explanation

I’m sure at least a couple of you noticed that I neglected to post yesterday, so here I am to explain. I spent most of the day yesterday babysitting a bunch of two year olds, but somehow I managed to catch a nasty virus, so when I got home, I took some medicine, watched a movie, and went to bed.

So with that explained, I need to warn you: I will not be posting for a week. I am leaving on Sunday for debate camp and I will not be able to post while I am there. I will also be spending all of tomorrow getting ready, so I will not be able to post tomorrow either. I’m sorry! 😦

Now with that said, I am afraid I must take my leave, so farewell and I will post again an a week! 🙂

Staying Calm When the World has You Going Crazy.

Stress.

I am sure that we have all experience stress at one point in time or another. Or, more likely, we are trapped in extreme stress every day so that it has become only are rare occasion when we can escape from it.

Trust me, I have had a lot of time to get to know stress in the past three days, because I have spent those past three days taking care of screaming, crying, diaper-wetting two-year-olds at my church’s VBS. I will be doing that for another two days, and then right after VBS is finished, I have to rush off to a week long debate camp in San Diego. If that doesn’t sound stressful enough, I am also participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this month. (Link: http://campnanowrimo.org/) As if writing 50,000 words by the end of the month wasn’t already frightening.

Though I have lost myself in the chaos and insanity, I can always find my little bit of calm by sitting and writing. I take time to write these posts, write a bit of poetry, and write a portion of my novel. Doing either of those three will always calm me down and get my priorities straight and my thoughts rooted in the calm.

Is there anything special that you do to calm down when you are stressed? Do you have any special remedies or soothing practices?

~Alenia
P.S. Sorry for the short blog post, it is getting pretty late and as I said – stress levels are going up and I still have things to get done. So I hope you enjoyed and I promise I will write longer posts in the future!

How to Avoid a “Mary-Sue” Character

Before I jump into the post, let me explain the title a bit. A “Mary-Sue” character is a character that has no flaws and is basically a “perfect” character. (Though in their perfection, they become flawed.) They are one dimensional, overpowered, and all in all – boring. Mary-Sues and their male counterparts Gary-Stus are sadly all too common these days. I see them everywhere – In fan fictions, on art websites, in role play forums, and even in some high quality writing! It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been writing, I guarantee, we’ve all had Mary-Sues at some point in time.

To give an example of a Mary-Sue character, I’ll tear apart a couple of my old role play characters. I won’t get into the details, but let’s just say that all of my role play characters were female, beautiful, powerful, loved by everyone, and had something special about them that separated them from any other character. They might have had flaws in the past, but they were over them now! They had gone through their trials and had become Mary-Sues – perfect.

Perfection is the very thing you want to avoid in your characters because it is your character’s flaws that make your story interesting. Even at the end of your story, when the trouble is all over, you character still need to have flaws, because no one and nothing is or ever will be perfect. (Well, except God, but I wasn’t referring to Him. :P)

Avoiding Mary-Sues is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but it may take you a while before you can create unique and beautifully flawed characters. Here are a couple tips to help you avoid Mary-Sues.

 

  1. Make a list of their flaws.

A good guideline to keep your characters flawed yet still salvageable is to give them one large flaw and a couple of quirks. Maybe you could give your characters some fears or allergies too, some things that aren’t necessarily flaws, but aren’t amazing qualities either.

For example, let’s say I have a character named Laura. Laura is incredibly greedy but often times she is too lazy to do the things that earn her money. She has the nervous habit of chewing on the caps of pens and she also taps her foot a lot. Though she’s 14, she’s still scared of the dark.

That description makes Laura sound weird and not a very cool character, but once you throw in some talents, Laura will be normal, yet at the same time she will be exciting because she has a mission to fix her flaws.

  1. Don’t make their talents too extraordinary.

It’s okay to give your characters an amazing talent, especially when it’s what makes the story go round. Talents are great; just don’t go overboard with them. For example, let’s say that Laura can go invisible. That adds interesting value to the story. However, if I want to keep Laura original and keep her away from Mary-Sue-ness, I can’t give her any other incredible talents. I can still give her a normal talent, but no more extraordinary ones. For example, Laura also has an amazing singing voice, but she does not have telepathy or telekinesis or anything else like that.

  1. List their out-of-the-ordinary qualities.

These can be odd talents or crazy quirks, but here is just where you list what makes your characters special. Let’s say that Laura is OCD, she hates the color blue, but she has blue eyes.

  1. If they are going to be unusual, include the reason why.

For example, if we are going to say that Laura is afraid of dogs, make up a reason behind it. It can be simple, like saying she was tackled by an over eager dog as a child. It can also be very intricate: Laura is afraid of dogs, because when she was a child, her alcoholic father abused her. Because of that, she learned that she could go invisible. That angered her dad and so he used her German shepherd, Smoke, whom she had always trusted, to search her out. Ever since, she has been afraid of dogs because they remind her of the man who followed.

  1. Think of yourself.

Weather we want it or not, a bit of ourselves sneaks its way into our characters. Often times, our characters will them become Mary-Sues because we see our own flaws in them and want to get rid of them – for good reason. That is one of the hardest parts of writing, when you realize that one of your characters has the flaw that you hate most about yourself, but you can’t take it out. It frustrates you too see your character make the same mistakes that you did, but in the end, it make you AND your character a better person.

 

Mary-Sues are frustrating and common, something that we have all struggled with at some point in time. But don’t worry, as you help your character get through their flaws, you might just overcome some of your own.

~Alenia

Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Fix Them

So I’ve been accused of being a bit of a Grammar Nazi at times, and to tell you the truth, I’m worse. I have a major problem with incorrect grammar and it pains me to see words used incorrectly. So, in this post, I will be talking about the top five misused words and a way to remember the correct way to use them.

 

  1. You’re and your.

I’m sure all of us are guilty of mixing this one up at some point in time. “You’re” is a contraction of the words “you” and “are”, and “your” is the possessive form of “you”. And easy way to remember the difference is just to remember that an apostrophe symbolizes a contraction; a putting together of words.  Here are two examples of their proper uses. “Is that why you’re eating my cookie?” and “That cookie is mine, not yours.”

  1. They’re, their, and there.

I see this mix up a lot on the internet and frankly, it’s starting to bug me. Wait, only starting? Ha-ha, no, it has bugged me for a long time. Just like “you’re”, “They’re” is a contraction of the words “They” and “Are”. Here is an example: “They’re eating my cookies!” Contractions = apostrophe. “Their” is a multi-person possessive term, as in “Those cookies are theirs.”

There is referring to a place. “Let’s go wait over there!” A good way to remember the difference between the two non-contraction words is to remember this sentence: “The I and E are theirs and the two E’s are sitting over there.”

  1. Who’s and whose.

This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I only figured out the difference between these words recently. “Who’s” is a contraction of “who” and “is”. That seems pretty simple until you reach the other form of the “who”. “Whose” is the possessive form of “who”. That is where I always got caught up – names had apostrophes when they were possessive, so why didn’t this word? Well, it seems like the spot was already claimed. “Whose cookie is this?” “Who’s going to the bake sale today?”

So keep in mind – the who duo are rebels, they aren’t going to take an apostrophe when they are possessive!

  1. Where, were and we’re.

This mix up I see a lot, but it is very easy to fix. Where with the H is a location, were is a past tense word, and we’re is the contraction of “we” and “are”. “Where is she hiding the cookies?” “They were right over there.” “Well, if we find them, we’re going to eat them!”

  1. Breathe and breath.

Surprisingly, these two words are mixed up a LOT. And I mean a lot! I even see experienced writers mix these words up occasionally. Breathe is an action and breath is an object (probably didn’t use the right term there, pardon me.) “Breathe honey, breathing deeply will take away the pain.” “She lost her breath while running.”

 

Well, I hope this has helped and I hope I have might have prevented even one person from making these mistakes today. Keep writing and have fun folks!

~Alenia

P.S. Once again, this will need multiple parts and I will get to more difficult forms of grammar later. I hope you enjoyed!

P.P.S. I seemed to have cookies on the mind when I wrote this, didn’t I?

How to Defeat a Writer’s Most Insidious Foe: Writer’s Block.

All artists, not only writers, experience at least some form of this dreadful thing: writer’s block. Writer’s block is basically just what writers call it when they don’t know what to write next. Whether it results from a lack of creative juices or a lack of information, writer’s block can be very frustrating and very hard to defeat. In my seven years of writing, I have experience writer’s block many times. That being said, it is correct to assume that I have recovered from writer’s block many times as well. Over the years I have found many remedies to this imagination crushing problem and I thought I might as well share five of the most effective ones with you.

But first, a couple disclaimers: Every person vanquishes writer’s block in a different way, so not all of these suggestions might work for you. If you are one of those people, don’t be discouraged: writer’s block is different for everyone and sometimes you just have to figure out your own way to destroy it.

 

  1. Go Outside!

This may be one of the easiest and most well-known remedy to writer’s block. Sometimes fresh air is enough to clear your mind and give you a bit of inspiration. Find a tree or some grass and just breathe in the creativity! Often times just getting away from the computer is enough to rid you of your writer’s block.

 

  1. Read a book.

Depending on what type of writer’s block you have, this can either fix your problem, or just make it worse. Reading a book can give you ideas on how to construct your character or you plot, or find a way to make your villain even more despicable. As long as you don’t directly copy from the book’s idea, taking inspiration from a book is a great way to get your mind working.

 

  1. Do some research.

Sometimes writer’s block comes to be when you are lacking information about what you want to write next. (That has actually happened to me, and because I let it sit so long, it sadly killed to story :/) I know that a lot of you probably don’t like research, but when it’s on a topic you are interested in, research can actually be a lot of fun!

Even if you are sure you know what you are writing about, researching something similar can often give you ideas and help you through your writer’s block.

 

  1. Finger paint.

Often times just doing something with your hands will help you clear up your writer’s block. If you are the artistic type, you can draw or paint, but if you are like me and lack in that specific talent, you can opt for something less ‘restricted’ and try finger painting! Seeing as there are no real ‘guidelines’, you don’t have to feel bad if your finished product turns out to look like Picasso got drunk, because that’s kind of the point! Get some paint and some paper and get dirty! Pour the paint on your page and mix it around with your hands. Feel that paint squish between your fingers. Once you’re done with that – Tada! Creativity. (Playing with playdough or some other type of clay works too.)

 

  1. Take a nap.

This remedy might not work for everyone; it really just depends on who you are. With me, I find that I will occasionally dream about a story idea. Even if I don’t, I’ll often wake up with a refreshed mind and be ready to tackle that story and conquer my writer’s block!

 

So get to it and slay that anti-writing foe of yours! Writer’s block shall plague you no more.

~Alenia

P.S. This is definitely going to need a part two (and possibly a part three) so don’t worry if I missed a couple of your favorite remedies, I know I didn’t cover them all. I hope this helps!