It is that time of the week… A blog post from Katie Kay! I wish you all a fantastic Monday (or whatever day it is when you are reading this). Today we’re going to dive into a topic that seems both wildly discussed and kept rather private, and this is the issue of stress.
Yup, told ya: It is everyone’s favorite topic. But in all reality, stress is something that pertains to every single human being on this planet, and we can all connect together from this peculiar emotion (is it even an emotion?) we experience now and then. There is not a living soul on this planet who doesn’t experience some level of stress on a normal basis, so it is my goal that each of you has a takeaway from this post on five tips for dealing with stress.
This is especially prevalent to me this week, so let me know down below how you all are doing and how you are feeling. ❤ But without further ado, let’s hop into the list!
1. RID YOURSELF OF DISTRACTIONS
Some of these tips may seem simple, but even the most complex issues can be solved from simple deductions. And one thing I have found is that my stress is reduced when I rid myself of certain distractions, so this could be a tool for you to use as well.
What I mean by this is that certain things distract us from what we should be doing. When we are overwhelmed, we must be willing to take a step back and consider what is really stressing us out in the first place. And there’s a good chance there will be little things here and there that only add to your stress… So cut them out!
2. BUT ALSO DISTRACT YOURSELF
Okay, how in the world can I contradict myself faster than a flash of heat lightning? Hear me out!
When you’re worrying about one particular thing, person, or situation, what do you tend to do? There’s a good chance you’re probably thinking so hard that A) you wish you could teleport to a Fijian island, and B) you wish everything would go away and/or calm down.
You need to give your sprinter’s mind a little break, and to do this I encourage you to find a hobby or pastime (for a lot of you, that could be reading or blogging) that tugs you away from your worries and into relaxation.
3. PLAN AHEAD
The key to success is a well-executed plan. I really do believe this. I know that when I’m stressed, I compose lists of all I need to get done, and it gives me a little jolt of energy when I complete one of my items and then the whole thing!
Stress can be managed with a plan. So, when you’ve got a big work stresser, sit down and come up with your game plan. Have a time table and rehearse in your head what you need to do. Or, if you’re thinking about a particular person, maybe it’s time to consult #4 on the list… (You’ll see shortly what I mean.)
But planning ahead can be a tool to use. Don’t be afraid to conquer your stress instead of wallowing it. And remember that you’re capable and will get through it, as you’ve done countless times in the past. 🙂
4. TAKE A BREATH (AND PRAY)
And even when we know we have a killer plan, it’s important to take a step back and breathe. And throw in a prayer! (This is my best piece of advice, if I’m being honest.) Why? Because you’re exiting from your worries for a little while, and giving it to God.
As a restless spirit who isn’t content with staying still, I find it impossible at times to relax and pray. But then I’m overcome with the realization that my laziness is coming at me again, and I remember to close my eyes and disappear for a little while.
Manage your stress through relaxation–and tell God how you feel!
5. BE CONFIDENT. YOU ARE CAPABLE.
And if our plan is the key to success, then the door that blocks us from that success is our lack of confidence. So what can we do to open that door? Yup, here I go with my “redonk” metaphor: Be confident! You are more than capable of plowing ahead through your stressful time. Yes, the going gets rough, but it happens to all of us. And it gives us a chance to see what we can accomplish and what it takes to do so.
So when you strut around town with your confident pose and head held high, people will never even notice you’re stressed. And when we ooze confidence, we realize that we can take on anything that comes our way!
THANK YOU, GUYS!
I hope this post spoke to you in some way or the other. Let me know if you’re stressed and need some help, but I’m sure a lot of you guys write your feelings down all ready. In the meantime, use some of these tips if you need them, and let me know how they work out for you!
On another note, I’m sorry to have been MIA for the past two weeks. I’ve missed the blog but needed to devote myself to other endeavors for a little bit. But now I’m back, and I’m excited to catch up on all your stories!
Let’s live our lives as stress-free as possible this week (and every week)!
I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Friday, though it’s a little cloudy here. A few days ago we survived a tornado (yes, a tornado in January!) and now it’s back to chilly temperatures here in the Southern United States. Sometimes I really do imagine living on a tropical island with perfect weather, but that probably doesn’t exist. We can all wish, can’t we? 🙂
It has been a while since we’ve done a post on our favorite subject of writing… So let’s get back into it! One of my last posts related to writing advice was titled “5 Tips To Improve Your Writing,” which you can check out here. So in a similar but not-so-similar situation, we’re going to discuss the topic of writing for your audience.
While writers tend to write for themselves (guilty as charged!), we must remember we are writing for others at the same time. Unless you’re Emily Dickinson, the famous poet whose works were published after her death, you’re probably sharing your materials with people, and this may only be a few trusted individuals, or maybe via a blog (special shoutout to bloggers!). Chances are some of you want to make it big, whether that’s becoming an up-and-coming novelist, poet, screenwriter, or storyteller. And chances are some of you don’t really care; you just want to write to inspire others and spread your words for those to hear.
What is the common denominator here? For a story to be told, there must be someone who receives it. (Even when you’re writing for yourself, you are your audience, so this still applies to the shyer writers out there!) So why don’t we highlight some points of interest when it comes to how to attract your audience and deliver quality material?
1. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
For whom are you writing? Are your posts directed to a particular audience? Are your novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays tailored to a specific group of people? Now this may seem a bit exclusive, but I’m going to advise that you write with a particular audience in mind. Wait, why?
When you write something, you’re producing content that will resonate with someone out there. For example John Grisham is the king of the legal thriller. A John Grisham fan is probably going to have some interest in law… And, well, thrills. Someone who is more into chick lit may not have the most interest in a John Grisham book (but I still recommend John Grisham to everyone haha). So while John Grisham books are targeted to the mass market, it is true that not everyone out there is going to enjoy them.
Who is your audience then? When you write, are your stories catered to a particular genre of fiction, or are you floating between genres? And the honest truth is that genre-benders are writing for a particular audience too. What I’m trying to say is this: If you identify who your audience is, you become more aware of what they want. And when you identify what they want, you’re going to see an increase in views, sales, and interest. Of course you should not do this and lose all value in your own writing, but it is important to remember that if you want to see movement on your materials, you must know your audience and what they desire.
2. PRODUCE RELATABLE CONTENT
Relatable content? Come on, Katie. I’m just writing for fun, having a good time, and living my best life.
Well, dear audience: I applaud this idea, and this is something a writer should always remember. But if you take a step back and see what people enjoy, then you’re setting yourself up for success–and you may find a new love along the way.
When I first started Katie Kay three years ago (or was it two? I don’t even remember anymore!), I wrote nonsensical articles, posts that never saw the light of day. In my first year of blogging I saw less than fifty views. The next year, when I finally put effort into my audience and engaging with you all (more on this to follow), I saw a sharp increase in both viewership and legitimate interest in what I had to say. And one big thing that greeted me during this process was a newfound joy in poetry.
Before I started this blog, I hated poetry. But when I started to see the poet community on WordPress, things changed. Poems seemed to do really well on others’ sites, so I decided to challenge myself to a new method of writing. And guess what? I realized I love a good poem!
Now this blog is filled with poetry, and as a result I have come across tens (maybe even hundreds at this point!) of talented, humble poets who are challenging the status quo. No longer does one feel uncomfortable displaying their writing online. Nope! These poets have been fearless in sharing their thoughts.
So the moral of the story: When you produce relatable content, you may just receive relatable content in return. It’s a sort of karmic writing magic.
3. ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
So, after you’ve identified your audience and figured out what content you’re going to write for them, it’s time to engage. Consider that you are proposing to that special person who will browse through your work. Do you want to give them a shiny, sparkling diamond of a story, or a dirty, washed out husk? This is a dramatic metaphor, but I’m serious, and it’s true. You’re asking your audience to take a risk on your skills, and they’ve got to be won over. They have to have a reason to give you a resounding, “Yes!”
And one way to do this is engaging with them. Every day, everywhere. This applies to bloggers, who have easy access to their community, and it just as well applies to a novelist in Montana or a screenwriter in Hollywood or a poet in India. When you engage with your audience, you’re learning what works best. You’re honing your skill, and you’re gaining new friends along the way.
In this age of social media and internet and easy access to the world, there are various mediums to accomplish this task of engaging with your audience. Consider starting a website like WordPress (although most of you probably are on here all ready hehe). Expand your website, and make it easy to read. Create social media accounts. If you’re like me and not big into social media, develop camaraderie with other writers (and your readers. Take pride in the fact that you are a writer!) through your website or local library or anywhere that has people interested in literature. You’ll find that it not only makes you a better writer, but you find friends all over the world. ❤
4. BE TRUE TO YOU
Another thing about writing for your audience is that they’ll tell when you’re writing with heart, or when you’re writing something because you think they’ll like it. Take a moment and think of your favorite book, movie, poem, author, etc. What is it about this author and his or her writing that resonates with you? What did this person write that left you in tears, or overjoyed, or ready to conquer the world?
They wrote for their audience. They wrote for you. But they also wrote from their hearts, from their innermost selves, where emotion and reasoning were unleashed. These writers were true to themselves, because they wrote something that not only came from their hearts–but ended up puncturing yours in the process.
Okay, yes, this may sound corny. I know I sound cheesy most of the time, but I want you to remember to always write from your soul. Write as you would write, because there is no other you out there. And while some may tell you otherwise, it’s the truth that we all need your voice to be heard, because you’re contributing to this world of writers whose passion and purpose in life is to create something from the imagination… And share it with those who are willing to go with you to a made up world. So write for your audience–and also write for yourself.
The overall point of this post is not to tell you what to write. In fact it’s kind of the opposite. I want you to be who you are, and to do so you must be willing to engage with your audience so that you can learn more about who you really are. For example, as a writer, my romance novels have far outsold my books of other genres. While romance books are not my favorite to write, I’ve found that there is more interest in this type of writing than others when it comes to what I’ve produced. So what does that mean? It means I’m going to write more romance books! Not only am I loving what I’m doing (writing), but I’m sharing with those who love that genre as well.
Maybe this isn’t the best argument for writing for your audience, but I hope you gathered something from it today. And if you didn’t, then take away this main point: Write what you want to write, but just remember to leave a little room for your audience too. 🙂
It is so good to be back into the normal operations of this blog! As I said on last week’s Friday post, today we’re going to be diving into my heart rather than poetry or writing. While that is the focus of this blog, I do like to give you guys some insight into what I’m thinking every now and then.
Here are five random things on my mind right now, courtesy of my brain. I hope you enjoy, and that you share your own thoughts with me in return! ❤
1. “ROUND AND ROUND” BY GEOWULF IS STUCK IN MY HEAD
I have been listening to this song by Australian dream pop group Geowulf for the past few weeks now. It’s pretty introspective, and it’s got a good beat. But we writers tend to gravitate toward the words we see and hear, and that’s what makes Geowulf’s song stand out so much in my head. With lines like “I’ve been running, running from myself” Geowulf asks its audience to contemplate what we’re running from.
Check out the song.
2. KINDNESS IS NOT GIVEN BY ALL
A few days ago I ran into someone whom I hadn’t seen in years. This person had once been a good friend of mine, but we eventually grew apart after an unfortunate confrontation. Just for fun, I decided to drop by my old school, where I happened to see her. I exclaimed her name, genuinely excited to see her, but she realized it was me, said a curt hello, and kept walking.
My heart hurt after this rudeness. Yes, we hadn’t left on the best terms, but her blatant disgust with me hasn’t dimmed in the past few years, which is ridiculous. To think that we’d once been good friends, had parted due to a civil confrontation, and moved on with our lives… And yet she was still acting as if we were seventeen.
The thing is that people are not always going to like us. There are jealousies, mistakes, and petty feuds. It’s how friends become enemies, and allies divide into factions. Though I was upset at first with the rudeness, I considered a few things and realized I’d rather share kindness and receive rudeness than share rudeness and receive kindness.
Hopefully one day I will see her again, and she will be more receptive towards me. Time will tell, especially when one lives in a small town.
3. MY BEST FRIEND AND I WILL BE REUNITED IN ONE WEEK!
Though you will be able to read into my summer updates post on Friday, I do want to say that I’m about to head back to school in California for my final semester of college. While I am not excited for classes, I’m definitely pumped at the thought that my best friend, Miss Givenchy, and I will be back at it again in one short week. 🙂
We’ve been separated for four months, and though it doesn’t feel like it has been that long, it is about time to be reunited once more!
4. PRAYING FOR PEOPLE IS PRETTY COOL
All right. Some of you are going to read this and cringe, but I’ve got to be honest with you guys. As a Christian I’m pretty vocal about my faith, and it’s gotten me through so many things. So I’m going to be as honest on this blog as I would be in real life.
This past summer my church started a program that’s pretty cool, and I think it’s something you guys should do in your own lives. The “Who’s Your One?” initiative is a chance for you to pray for one person in particular for an amount of time you choose. It’s pretty simple: Pick someone who needs some prayer, and spend a few minutes out of your day in thought for him or her.
Some of you are irreligious, but I’m telling you: Praying for somebody else is amazing. It’s not about you; it’s about the person you’re praying for, and to put positive energy out there is exactly what this world needs right now! 🙂
5. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES, BUT WE MUST BE WILLING TO CORRECT THEM
A few days ago I was flying my airplane. I had to take park it in a very tight spot, and I was alone in pushing it back. Now Cessna 172s are not super easy to navigate (on the ground at least), and I’m a sponge when it comes to strength. So there I was, a noodle of a girl trying every maneuver possible to move this airplane off the taxiway, when I heard a pop! and my heart about burst and popped too.
I looked down and saw I’d broken a piece off the horizontal stabilizer in my attempt to move the airplane. Somehow, despite not having the strength to move my plane, I’d had the strength to break a piece off it.
Not my smartest move, not by a mile.
After finding a mechanic and reporting my error, I took a deep breath and thought to myself: Okay. You found the man responsible for repairs. You’ve offered to pay for it. You’ve done the paperwork. You’ve beat yourself up a bit, and there’s nothing more to do.
Sometimes our mistakes are big ones. Sometimes our mistakes are small ones, though they can feel much bigger in the moment. Whatever it is, we must remember our response to our human error is just as important as what we’ve done. Nobody’s perfect, and everybody should know that by now. 🙂
And guess what? We learn from our mistakes in the process.
Now it’s your turn. What are some things that have been on your mind lately? If you don’t want to share in the comments below, I challenge you to find a piece of paper and jot down five things that you can’t stop thinking about. 🙂
Thank you guys for being part of this blog. It means the world to me! I know I say that all the time, but it’s true.
As promised, today’s post is going to revolve around our favorite topic… WRITING!!!
The past few months have been heavily devoted to life updates, poems, and musings, so it is about time for some source material on this blog, and that is the art of writing!
The truth is that we as writers should always strive to build our craft. While some people have a natural knack for words, there is still so much behind this skill that must be carefully maintained in order to persuade and inspire an audience. Therefore, we must remember to be patient and implement these upcoming five tips in our art.
Without further ado, let’s hit the list!
1. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
No literary great became great overnight.
This is inevitably one of the most important tips on this list, because you must practice your writing in order to improve. As a student pilot, I couldn’t just hop in an airplane and expect to know how to get off the ground… And even if I did get off the ground, what about the landing? Maybe this isn’t the best example, but I hope it hits you a little bit in the heart. We must recognize that we are students of words.
Here is something I want you to think on: What was your first story? What was your first poem? Your first journal entry? What about song? Or whatever your method of writing is? Now think about why you wrote that. How did you write it? What were you trying to say? What insights did you want to give to the world?
You’re also probably thinking: What the heck was that trash? And that’s okay! You can be proud of your first work, but the truth is that there’s probably a lot you would change if you could. And that means you’re doing what you should be doing: Practicing.
So, what exactly does practicing entail? Well, you’ve gotta sit down, ignore the world around you, and get to work. You have to be willing to commit to your art, and stick to it. If something isn’t working, figure it out. As you write more and more, you will develop your own methodical approach of writing and editing (which should arguably take longer than the actual writing process, if we’re being honest). And there is a great feeling when you’ve got your ritual of writing down.
What’s even greater than that?
Seeing how far you’ve grown.
2. FOCUS ON GRAMMAR
Some of us are grammar nerds, and others aren’t. I fall into the first category. One of the first things I notice about anything is how grammatically strong it is. If there are countless errors, I’m probably going to grow a little agitated. Why is that?
Well, when I pay for a book, I expect it to be the perfect copy of what was once the writer’s surreal conception. If I’m going to toss fifteen bucks to the industry, I want to know that I’ve paid for something borne from hard work and creative beauty.
Maybe you’re not the same, but I’m going to ask you to consider this point carefully then. Your audience will know whether you put the time and effort into your manuscript, and one of the tell-tale signs is through grammar. For example, my mom is a grammar fiend who will pick apart any of my works. While this can be frustrating, I know that she is coming at my work with an analytical mind, and that’s a good thing. When we write for an audience, we’re writing for people who don’t necessarily think like us. And if you want to impress your writers, you need to know how to write effectively.
So, how do you know if your grammar is satisfactory? Some websites I have used in the past include these:
We live in the technological age. Do not be afraid to use online programs, spellcheckers, and your friends to help you with grammar. Nobody’s perfect, but we must humble ourselves and seek advice when it comes to our writing. How else will we improve?
3. USE YOUR AUDIENCE
All right. How could we talk about improving our writing without a shoutout to the people for whom we’re writing?
We writers are selfish (or maybe it’s just me). I’ll admit it: I write as if I’m the main character. Some of my characters are actually based on people I know. Some plot points are borrowed from real life.
But guess what? Your stories aren’t going to sell if you don’t have a mind for your audience.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who is just writing for yourself. Maybe you will never publish anything. However, a lot of you guys are bloggers, and that means you are publishing things. The truth is that you must have a knowledge and appreciation of your fanbase, because there are people who will be reading and analyzing your materials. And if you want your audience to like you, you must be willing to write for them.
What I mean is that if you want to write beauty advice posts, then your target audience has to be the people who are interested in your topic. So leave Easter Eggs for them! Write posts and see how they respond. If they’re not super interested in certain aspects of what you’re producing, check in and see what else they’d like to see from you. Your audience knows when you’re invested in what you write, and they’ll be more likely to invest in you as a result.
4. READ UNTIL YOU CAN READ NO MORE
When I was in elementary school, I remember telling my teacher, “Yeah, I love writing so much, but I hate reading.” While that was most definitely a lie, and who knows why I said that, it is simply a law of the universe that a writer must read in order to improve his or her craft.
Although I do believe a writer’s style has unique elements, I also know that we develop our styles through the writers we read. We borrow aspects we enjoy and toss what we hate into our mental trash cans. When we read thousands of works in various genres, we learn what works for the audience and what doesn’t.
If you want to write commercial fiction, study the masters like King, Grisham, and Steel. You may not like their writing techniques (I certainly do not like Danielle Steel), but they’ve become super successful for a reason. If you’re invested in poetry, study the different forms and practice your own. If you want to write songs, you have to study what goes into songwriting, and study through those who have done it in the past.
Plus, if you want to make it big, you have to know the environment. You get a better picture of the environment when you know what’s selling best right now. If you don’t care about making it big, you should still aim to improve your writing. So don’t make excuses; start reading.
5. WRITE FROM THE HEART
Others will argue with me on this one, and that’s okay. While this list is in no particular order, I believe that the biggest tip to improve your writing is to write from your own heart.
You have your voice–and no one else’s. That is why people will be drawn to what you produce. And, as I’ve stated previously, your audience will recognize when you are writing from your heart (or not).
What does this even mean then?
Think of the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard in your life. What makes it beautiful? The notes, certainly, but it’s also the build-up of emotionality behind it. I will never forget hours and hours of dissecting piano music and learning the hardest songs I’ve ever played. While I would hit every note with precision from all the practice, my one-of-a-kind teacher, Mrs. Xu-Peppers, would shake her head and say, “But you aren’t playing with your heart.”
What? I was sixteen, my fingers flying across those keys, and my teacher was still disappointed? But then I got it: There is more to music than the notes. Like she wisely said, I had to learn to play with my heart, because only then would I understand what the music was saying to me and to my audience.
Writing is the same exact thing. You can write like a pro, but if you’re not writing from your heart, then you’re going to fall flat. You have to write things that matter to you. You have to write with honesty and convey your unique perspective of the world. You must be willing to share the raw side of you, so that we can gain understanding from the emotions that flow through your blood.
How do you do this?
Write as if you’ve only got one day left on Earth to live. Write as if your life depends on it. Write as if you’ll never get the chance again.
GET TO WRITING, GUYS!
My hope is that you guys have taken some of these tips to heart. While I’m blabbing away on this topic, I definitely feel convicted by some of the tips listed above, and I will try to implement them more in my own writing life. Never forget that none of us is perfect, and that’s probably why we’re all on these blogs, so that we can share our experiences and learn from others. 🙂
The point of this post is to encourage you. You have so many opportunities, so use them! Forget the insecurities in your head, and get to work. You’ve got an audience waiting to hear from you. ❤
Keep me updated on your goals and writing life. I am super excited to hear from you.
It has been a while since I have done a post like this, so I am excited to write on this topic: The value of people watching! Now, before you consider me a weirdo or accuse me of spying on people, I just want to define what people watching means to me (or according to the good old Internet).
People watching or crowd watching is the act of observing people and their interactions, usually without their knowledge. It involves picking up on idiosyncrasies to try to guess at another person’s story.
So, yes, people watching is a little weird at times. You may even get caught when you do it. However, I attribute people watching to four things that are essential to storytelling and the ability to write believable characters.
Let’s dive on in.
1. A QUICK INTRO
In this day and age, we are constantly surrounded by information. Many of us have smartphones that can tell us what we need to know in seconds. Communication has become as simple as clicking a button, and you can see your loved ones who are thousands of miles away. With this comes the pressure of technology. I am absorbed in my phone, and, as stated in previous posts, I can become overwhelmed by the amount of time I spend on my phone or computer.
Occasionally I challenge myself to just sitting down on a park bench with no distractions. After a few moments, I’ll grow bored and restless, wishing I was at home, snuggled in bed, or drinking a nice Diet Coke. But then, when I stifle these nonsense thoughts, a person walks by. Who knows who the person is or where they’re off to…
So it’s up to me to figure out who this person is!
Maybe the person is off to a job interview; maybe the person is going to the hospital, about to receive a life-changing diagnosis. Maybe the person just won the lottery. Then comes the power of imagination, and a writer unleashes his or her talents accordingly.
Watching normal people living their everyday lives is the perfect way to learn about how we all interact.
2. SOCIAL AWARENESS
There is no doubt that people watching aids in social awareness. Once you start practicing the people watching habit, you’ll start to pick up on subtle things that can explain why people act the way they do.
Social awareness leads to emotional growth, and this is massively important for writers. We must consider ourselves psychologists, in a way: We study our characters, diagnose their flaws, and work to expose them for our readers.
Social awareness then takes on the role of various factors. When we want to develop this emotional intelligence, we have to pay attention to certain things that will help us learn more about the people around us. Here are a few:
Listen to what they say
Repeat what was said
Tone of voice
So how does this relate to real life situation?
Well, let’s consider an example from my creative writing class. Personally, I am not a fan of the classes I take at my university, but I don’t want to rant in this post. In one class, I felt as if I was learning nothing from the school activity, and so I challenged myself to a little “people watching” exercise, in which I observed my classmates and wondered what they were really thinking.
From what I could observe, I sensed that there was a lot of boredom in the classroom (constant gazes toward the clock, staring into space, etc.) and some attentiveness to the professor (scribbling in books, eye contact, etc.). Maybe I was wrong in my assessment, but even if I was, I found the experiment to make me think about how communication is so important in any environment you’ll find yourself in.
3. VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Verbal and non-verbal communication are both tied to social awareness, but I want to expand on the two a little more. In some past classes, I learned that most communication is non-verbal, and some statistics suggest that only 7% of all human contact is through verbal communication (according to Dr. Albert Mehrabian).
While the numbers could be skewed, it is important to realize that the overwhelming majority of communication is through non-verbal cues, yet we emphasize so much on what we say and how we say it (words and tone). Why is this?
Words cut like a knife, and words melt us when we’re in love or with friends or receive a compliment. Language is integral to the human experience, as we know, and so when we people watch, it benefits our understanding to know what our people are saying. Words are little insights into the mind.
Now, this can be considered eavesdropping, which I am quite guilty of doing. It’s human nature to want to know what people are up to, and the same thing can be attributed to verbal cues.
One time, I was commuting on the Buenos Aires subway system when I stumbled upon a very interesting situation. The subway was cramped, packed with people, and I was sitting across from an interesting couple. Both were obviously well-dressed, educated, young, and… Breaking up, in front of everyone.
The man was whispering to her, trying not to make a scene as he broke her heart on that train. I was shocked, terrified, and wondering if I was imagining the conversation before me. But there was no imagination in this case. And what’s worse? He kissed her on the cheek as tears rolled down her face, said goodbye, and hopped off at the next stop.
My heart ripped down the middle for the poor woman across from me. Everyone on the train pretended not to know what was going on, and no one offered any help to her. I wanted desperately to talk to her, but I was a young American and had to get off at the next stop. I was certain she didn’t want anyone bothering her, because she shut down with her non-verbal signals (more on this to come). The shame that covered her face still haunts me.
In this example, there are a lot of non-verbals to unpack, but the ability to hear what the man was saying and how he was saying it was a crux in my understanding of the situation. Sometimes, when we don’t fully comprehend what’s going on, it’s because we don’t have a full picture. Maybe we catch phrases here and there, but I was held captive by the break-up.
The words only iterated the situation before me, despite all the hints from the non-verbal communication.
When we listen to people around us, we develop a greater understanding of how people operate. We can understand how people use what they say to further highlight what they really want to do. If we’re being honest, sometimes people just don’t catch the non-verbals we send, and words step in, ready to get the job done.
4. NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
If verbals only compute 7% of communication, that means that non-verbals make up 93%. Let that sink in.
As a writer, I have trained myself to emphasize what I want to write. When characters are talking, I know exactly what they are saying to each other, and dialogue becomes one of the most key elements of the story. For example, why is there such an emphasis on the first time lovers whisper, “I love you,” to each other?
Well, according to our statistic, we should be paying more attention to how people act around us, physically, that is. Are they interested in what we are doing, or are they bored and wish they could be anywhere else? Are the people on the streets broken inside, aching for someone to ask them how their days are going, or are they madly, desperately in love?
While we are not psychics or fortune tellers, we can gain greater understanding when we pay attention to body language.
Let’s head back to my creative writing class experiment for a second. I was watching my classmates (hopefully not in a creepy way) and ruminating on what some of their body language meant. Here are some things I caught onto:
Slumped over the book. (Indicates boredom, tiredness)
Fiddling with fingers or pens. (Can suggest boredom, but studies suggest that fidgeting is something we do when we are paying attention to something)
People staring into space, eyelids drooping. (Boredom, tiredness)
Pens back and forth above lips. (Honestly who knows)
Underlining phrases in book. (Attentiveness to class)
Doodling in book. (Boredom)
Mostly crossed legs. (In a comfortable environment)
We have to consider that our minds pretty much automatically recognize these cues and place them into one big image of the people before us. But when we unravel each little movement, we start to see how our minds are smart enough to figure things out in a span of seconds.
It’s pretty incredible stuff, if you ask me.
5. STORYTELLING ABILITIES
As previously stated, we writers are psychologists, we are doctors, we are researchers. We must know what we want to write, and we have to know how to write it convincingly, or our readers will be disinterested in the story we are so so excited to tell.
I have learned so much from watching people. An infinite amount of stories are possible when you open your mind to the world around you. Just like our world is never stagnant, our created worlds are as diverse and large as we want them to be.
I will be honest with you: People watching has taught me more than any creative writing class. Maybe this suggests the classes I have taken are subpar, but I do believe the best writers are trained to watch and analyze reality before diving into imagination.
Both are integral to write, as we write what we know, but we also write what we want to know of the mystery around us. Nothing should ever be black and white, because there is always a gray area of magic around us. This magic is simply what we cannot understand, since we are only human.
But writers have a God complex. We want to be the gods of our imaginations, and that’s where our storytelling comes into place.
If you find yourself in a crowded place, pay attention to the people around you. If you find yourself on a park bench, pay attention to the people who cross in front of you. There is value to be found in observation, especially if you’re a writer. And at the very least, consider how all of these aforementioned points are tied together.
People watching is something you can do anywhere. Don’t be a creep if you decide to participate, but it can be a good way to distract yourself from your own situation, and empathize with others.
But people watching is just the cusp. Relationships are where we really learn. Don’t forget to be kind to all you meet, and really begin to pay attention to all the non-verbals.
For the past few days, I have been struggling with something that feels a whole lot like anxiety. I’m not sure why I’m feeling this way, because nothing should be wrong, but I like to keep this blog transparent and open.
While I deal with stress every so often, I’ve never felt quite like this. It attacks randomly in the middle of the night, when I’m happily asleep in bed, and it’ll wake me up from the freedom of my dreams. It will strike while I’m working on schoolwork or with friends, and I’m completely baffled by what’s going on.
For the next few months, I have decided to take a break from writing. I will still write on my blog, but I wrote so furiously over the summer because I knew school was coming up, and I need to put my extra efforts into my private pilot license. Therefore, I do believe some of this anxiety stems from the fact that I am not writing, and that has always been an outlet for me.
I thought it would be beneficial to jot down some of my favorite stress tips, for you if you need them, and definitely for my own countenance. Everyone deals with that nervous flutter in your stomach, or thoughts that just won’t slow down, so hopefully these tips are applicable to everyone out there reading this.
1. WRITE WRITE WRITE
I am assuming most of those who read this blog are writers. You guys know what it’s like to get an absolute rush of adrenaline while working on a project, and the pitfalls of writer’s block. However, it has been scientifically proven that writing your own thoughts (if you’re like me and love writing fiction, sorry, it’s time to get a journal) helps your negative emotions flutter away.
Is it a permanent solution? Maybe not. But there is beauty to stripping yourself down to the bone, analyzing what you’re thinking and feeling, and realizing that you may have to change yourself in order to improve.
2. EXERCISE (eeeep!)
This one is tough. Some of you love exercise, and probably the majority of you aren’t the biggest fan. That being said, working out releases endorphins, which are basically happy hormones, into the bloodstream. This can relieve stress tremendously, and you’re listening to your body at the same time you are healing your mind.
I know that exercise can be painful and boring and monotonous. Whenever I jog on the treadmill, I find myself getting so bored. This is just a mental roadblock created by my brain, because I’m a lazy person. I need to learn to fight through things and work for what I want to be. Exercise isn’t the be all and end all of proper healing, but it is a tip.
3. TALK TO SOMEONE
Over the course of my adolescence and young adulthood, I’ve grown a trait that annoys people to no end. I’m particularly cryptic, and this is because I love keeping my emotions locked up tight. As a writer, I’ve learned to unleash emotions in all of my characters. As a regular person, I’m quite the opposite. I don’t want to be seen as vulnerable. I don’t want people to worry about me. And normally, I’m just fine.
However, I’ve learned that sometimes one should open up. It is selfish to keep yourself locked away like a medieval princess. People truly care about you, and it’s selfish not to be honest with them and let them know what is in your heart.
My roommate loves “Late night chats.” When I first heard the idea, I was absolutely confused. What did that mean, and why does anyone want to late night chat? Basically, the situation is that the two of us will share our thoughts and feelings from the day before we go to bed.
4. READ THE BIBLE
This can apply to anyone out there. I know some of you guys aren’t Christian, but this can apply to you as well. The Bible has amazing, comforting passages that stir thoughts and reduce stress.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” (Matthew 6:25-27)
5. BE HONEST W/YOURSELF
This is hugely, grandly mega-important. One must be honest with him or herself always. It is crucial to remember that you are only responsible for yourself and your actions. If you want to be a better person, it’s up to you. While communicating with others is also essential, the biggest component lies within yourself.
Honesty is key. Honesty leads to a better outlook, despite the consequences. Honesty asks you to humble yourself for the betterment of those around you. Honesty requires patience and belief.
It requires thought. Your thought.
There you go. This has been beneficial to me, just to jot my thoughts down. 🙂
Maybe it would help you, with whatever you may be going through, to also jot down some tips. These tips could apply to anything in the world, but it would allow you to ruminate over your journey so far, and… In the future, it will act as a stake in the ground to see how far you’ve come.
Until next time,
P.S. My next post will deal with writing, I promise!!!
Hello, my wonderful readers! I wish you an incredible Friday and an even more incredible weekend.
As I’m writing this, there is a stray thunderstorm booming above my house, but it is acting as the perfect backdrop to my introverted, homebody personality today. Since I haven’t shared anything in a while, I thought it would be perfect to share my favorite reasons for why writing is good for you–in terms of your health, emotional well-being, and overall satisfaction!
To begin, I think it is important to remember that there are various types of writing, and various types of writers. There are novelists, who write books; poets, who pen poetry; journalists, who are supposed to report on facts; short story writers; essayists and diarists; and bloggers, probably like you!
No one type of writing is better than the next, and that is important. Also, if you enjoy writing poetry, it isn’t like you can’t also enjoy writing novels. Writing is one of the most freeing, do-what-you-want expressive forces out there. No pressure required! (Unless it is the pressure you cause yourself, hehe.)
Therefore, let’s look at four reasons why writing is good for you. And if you aren’t a writer… Maybe this will convince you to try your hand at it!
1. CREATIVITY and EMOTIONALITY
When I’m working on my daily quota, my friends and family sometimes barrel into my office (whether that be an actual office, roach-infested closet, or a table at Starbucks), and I often scream, “I’m working on my creative juices!” This is a ridiculous way of telling them that, for me, writing is about unleashing all the pent-up emotion in my soul… And converting those feelings into made-up realities.
A common factor that weaves writers together is our shared belief that writing is therapeutic.Writing allows you to express yourself in a way like no other. You can write about whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, and that is what makes it so unique.
2. COMMUNICATION and GRAMMAR SKILLS
This may seem kindergarten, but it’s true! Your grammar and communication skills will skyrocket as you write consistently. Therefore, it becomes easier to communicate well with people across all spectrums both verbally and in writing after you commit to fleshing out your ideas.
In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively.
3. STICKING to your GOALS
When I first started writing, I did not stick to any sort of goal schedule. It was more about my own enjoyment than anything, which is perfectly fine, especially if you are just writing for therapeutic reasons to flush out your emotions. However, as I got older, something miraculous happened.
I started my infamous “Daily Quota” system. (When I say infamous, I only mean that my friends and family will tease me about, “Finish your quota for today?” and if I haven’t, it means I will be a bit of a crab.) So, what is the daily quota exactly?
When I wrote my first book, I knew I started out at a thousand words per day. Using this logic, a 70,000 word novel would take me a little over two months to finish. Though it was hard at first, it taught me to stay on the path and complete something. Over time, however… Things became easy, like a stretched muscle.
One thousand words got kicked up to two thousand, five hundred, and guess what? Since my muscle was so trained, so to speak, I can write two thousand, five hundred words in the same amount of time it once took me to write one thousand.
Writing, more than any other sport or extracurricular activity, has taught me to stick to my goals. If you set the rules, you must go by them, and if you go by them, you won’t regret it.
4. REFLECTION on your EXPERIENCES
This is a huge one. Experience is key to doing anything well. For example, everyone starts at the bottom of the ladder, unless you’re royalty. What I mean to say is that a skilled craftsman is not skilled overnight. It takes years of practice before he is the boss of his own game.
Personally, I’ve looked back at some of my novels from my teenage years, and I laugh to myself. I wrote my first book five years ago, and that girl had poor grammar skills, optimism beyond belief, and naivety galore. There were hints of acceptable prose, but the main thing is that it taught me to better my writing. Five years in the future, I can look back at my early novels and cringe, but remember how far I’ve come. I can only imagine what I will think five years from now.
This can be the same for you, as well! If you are a seasoned writer, I challenge you to look at your old writings… And if you are a fresh-faced writer, you have to start somewhere. That is the beauty of growth… To see how far you’ve truly come!
Though I’ve only semi-detailed four of my favorite reasons to write, there are countless examples. Here are some of my other favorites.
The writing community
Learning who you really are
Correlation between writing & optimism
Having a chance to focus
Healthier immune system/lower blood pressure
Writing improves gratitude
Writing is more than just a person drinking a lot of coffee, typing at his or her keyboard. It revolves around thinking, living, and observing others. Though it can be therapeutic, it can also be disorienting, because writers can be very detail-oriented people, who obsess over anything they’ve written.
That being said… Writing is something I would never be able to lose. It is the thing that makes me tick, the ability to hash out my opinions in a subtle way, and discover how I really view the world.
Maybe for you… Writing would have a different value. But that is the world, and everything is different for different people, because we are… Individuals.
There you have it… Writing is good for you (but not for your wrists, unfortunately).
On a more personal note, I am expecting to publish The Wedding Party on September 1. This is the sequel to The Third Wheel, though it focuses in on the middle Flores sister, Miranda. For those of you who don’t know, I have just finished a trilogy based on three Argentine American sisters searching for love. It is cheesy, ridiculous, and summer fun.
Besides this trilogy, I am still editing the Southern Gothic psychological thriller and am going to start querying about my horror/magical realism novel pretty soon. Lots to do!