Friday, February 28, 2014

What Are Some Things You Do To Combat Writer's Block?

Alright, so what is my Questions & Quandries series about? Exactly what it says. You ask me a question either here or on Facebook, and I answer it (one per week). Something along those lines. Fun, right?

So one of my friends asked me about writer's block and how I get rid of it.

And the answer is . . . *drum roll*

I really hope you're not holding your breath.

The thing is, writer's block is different for everyone. Some don't believe it exists, and that's fine with me, but sometimes I just get to this point where I'm in front of my laptop, suddenly in the middle of the scene and either my fingers or my brain just says: no.

So I watch a movie, or put on the TV, or change the music (remember my post on music earlier this week?). These are usually more efforts of procrastination, though. When I'm really serious about beating my writer's block, I'll scroll up a few pages, or to the beginning of the scene and re-read it. More often than not this question will flit through my head: where did I go wrong?

I'm an avid believer in thinking that characters drive the story. So if I suddenly can't figure out what to do next, or if it just feels wrong to keep going in the same direction, I like to think about when I started feeling like that and maybe see if a different choice can be made.

So Character X turned left. What if they turned right, instead? What if Character Y joined them instead of Z?

But like I said, it's different for everyone. Consider taking a break, resting your eyes. Read a book for awhile, or go for a walk, grab a snack or a cup of coffee. Sometimes just removing yourself from your work for a few minutes or an hour can help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the problem anew.

Stay Crazy,


Thoughts or Questions? Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Balancing Act

So, I'm a college student, and a writer, and a reader, and a procrastinator. That's basically my life, and, honestly, it takes up a lot of time. Take a typical week for me (this semester):

Work: 20 hours/week
Class: 15 hours/week
Transport: Approx. 1 hour/day
Homework (weekdays): Minimum 3 hours/night
Homework (weekends): Minimum 5 hours/day
Sleep (on a good day): 7 hours/night
Workouts: 1.5 hours/week 

Keep in mind that this isn't even including things like eating, going grocery shopping, reading for fun, writing, or even showers. It's also with a minimum workload for class, which I kind of haven't had since the first week. My grand total is: 115.5 hours. Taking into account that there's 168 hours in a week, that means that 69% of my time is spent on something school/work related. And that's sans-procrastination.

Add in an hour and a half every day to wake up, make coffee, drink coffee, make breakfast, eat breakfast, put on my makeup, put on clothes, and perform other necessary deeds to get ready for the day, I'm at 123 hours, or 73% of my time.

Remember when I said that this was a minimum workload? That's with the regular readings for every class. Regular readings. Now, let's pretend that it's last week and I had a group presentation to prepare for. With two days of meeting for two hours, I'm at 127 hours. Then, at least 8 hours of individual research (in which I yell at my internet for not work, and yell at my laptop because the internet is not working), that puts me at 135 hours, or 80% of my total time. And that's just one class

Say, instead, that it's this week (reset the clock at 123 hours). I have two papers due next week, one on Monday and one on Tuesday. The Monday one is 4-6 pages long, and the Tuesday is 8-10. I figure just on writing/outlining alone, I'm looking at a good 10 hours of work (scattered over a few days, but still). One of them involves a LOT of research. So let me pretend that I'm awesome and it'll only take me 3 total hours of gathering sources. Then I need to read them again, and edit them. Let's say I'm slacking and it'll only take an hour each.

Now I'm at 138 hours. It's one more hour than last week, but I hope I'm getting my point across?

I said I'm a college student. It's basically my "most important" thing in life right now. I get that. I understand that. Education is important, ya-hoo. But I said that I'm a reader and a writer, as well, and, unfortunately, I don't get a lot of time for reading and writing, which are the two things I love most in the world.

You might be asking, though: what about the other 20% of your free time? That's an excellent question, my friend. That 20% is about 33 hours per week, which averages to 4 hours a day. That sounds like a lot of time, doesn't it? Not really. Not when it's scattered throughout the day, ten minutes here and an hour there between classes, or when I'm taking a twenty-minute break between chapters in a book or even between subjects.

I swear I'm not making excuses, and I swear that I have a point. I write on pieces of paper and my hands, getting ideas down. I'm always thinking about my plots and characters when I'm in the middle of class. I stay up an extra hour or two every night just to get something down, because I need that in my life.

So what's my point? When you're trying to pass all of your classes, you wind up spending a lot of time on your school work. Then, what little time you have left you spend on your own hobbies and extracurricular activities, and, heck, some people even have social lives.

That's what I think college is really about, besides teaching a few general fundamentals that will help you in the field you choose to study. It's about knowing when and how much time should be spent on one thing over another, when you can skim instead of actually read, when to take notes. You learn a balancing act between commitments and mandatory assignments, and schoolwork versus other hobbies and work that might feel far more important.

So I'll shave an hour of sleep off my schedule sometimes in order to pick up that book I bought from Barnes & Noble. I'll get up an hour earlier just to plan out this next scene. Or I'll do more homework on one night so that the next I have a longer, solid block of time that I have to just write.

Life is a little pull and push, take what you can get kind of scenario. Just because I have more school work than I know what to do with, it doesn't mean that I have to give up on the things that are equally as important to me, even more so.

Stay Crazy,


Thoughts or Questions? Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tea Time: The Fault in Our Stars

Before I get started, I bet you're wondering: What is tea time? Besides grabbing your fancy cups and eating cookies with your pinkies turned up (because you can totally do that, too), Tea Time is where I'll be talking about books. Books I've read, more specifically. Are they reviews? Yes, yes they are. But keep in mind that this is one woman's opinion.

Get the point?

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten. (source: goodreads)

Alright. I read TFiOS because I decided to jump off the same emotional cliff that everyone else I know was leaping from. My Facebook newsfeed was full of people talking about it, I've seen the movie poster, and, heck, I saw the trailer for the movie coming out and thought, "What the heck? It can't be too bad."

Thankfully, I wasn't wrong. I finished the book in two days, subtly ignoring my roommate while I flipped from page to page. She even looked at me funny when I started laughing and tried to get her to appreciate the humor-filled personality that is Augustus Waters. Then when I came out of my room the next day, she didn't ask me about the sniffling she might have heard from behind my door.

Because that's what best friends are for. Am I right?


Okay, how could you not like that cover? It's so visually pleasing and simplistic. Three colors, and not even varying shades. Clouds. And what I can definitely appreciate is the fact that all of the reviews they decided to paste on the cover that normally look obnoxious are subtly faded into the background (okay, so maybe four colors?). At a first glance, I thought they were tally marks. Words work, too, though.

So overall, yes, I like the cover. I like the plainness; it only adds to the overall mystery behind the title (assuming that you have no clue what this book is about).



This section's quick, I promise. Told in the first person from Hazel's point of view, the narrative was extremely simple, but not in a way that made me feel stupid or slow. The sentences were mostly short, always to the point, and I feel like a lot of it was relying on dialogue. Since I happen to love dialogue, this was absolutely no problem for me. I mean, if you like super-long, flowy sentences, I think you could pass; but when you just want to relax and not be forced to focus on what the sentences are saying, but rather focus on what's happening, then yes. Just yes.


Okay. So when I first started the book, I didn't know where Green was taking me. And this is despite all of the hype and spoilers I'd already gotten from the people in the fandom that couldn't keep a secret. To be brutally honest, my main thought was: How the heck can he fill an entire book with just two cancer patients falling in love? I knew there was more, but had I gotten any hints beforehand on the other arcs he was pushing?


So I was surprised with the clever twists and turns that he takes in first developing Hazel and Augustus' relationship in a not-creepy way. First they get to know each other, and, let's face it, those places were cavity-inducing enough. Then there was a whole 'nother plot arc that takes the two cancer-patients (and one caring mother) halfway across the globe. Then-well, I'm trying not to ruin it for you.

Let me just say that, when the "big blow" happened, I was shocked.I mean, for not knowing in the beginning where the book was going, it was a very pleasant feeling to be surprised.

So, if I'm being honest, I don't read a lot of books from Green's genre. I especially don't normally read books with terminal narrators. It's not that I'm trying to stay away from the depressing, because it's the depressing that usually touches me the most. It's just not my go-to genre. So what I appreciated about this book was, as I've already noted, the fact that I was turning one page after another. There wasn't a single time where I got so bored with it that I wanted to put it down and pick it up "eventually."

Green took me through two general arcs: the love story of a boy and a girl, and the life of two teenagers with terminal cancer. One's the cutest thing you'll ever read, and the other is just heartbreaking. I guess what this long little rant comes down to is that Green took the concept of star-crossed lovers and kind of turned it on its head. And it's beautiful.

That being said, I will tell everyone here what I keep telling everybody else: I'm glad I didn't pay full-price for it. The bookstore wanted almost twenty bucks for it, and me being the money-savvy college student I am, I ordered it online for nearly half the price. I'm not saying that I'm glad just because I saved money, because I'm always glad to do that (especially because it means more books), but despite having an affectionate place in my heart taken up by this book, I'm not quite sure that it completely lived up to the hype.



Before I say anything, I want a promise that you'll read this entire thing. Okay?

I didn't connect with the characters as much as I was hoping. This isn't to say that I didn't completely love them to death, but something I both appreciated and cringed at was the fact that everybody felt so distant. At the same time, I kind of loved them for that.

Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters are both, well, normal (not including the cancer). There's nothing about them that particularly makes them stand out from a crowd (let's pretend everything I say doesn't include the cancer, unless I specifically mention it). They're awkward, shy, teenagers, struggling through the labels that society's glued onto them (now is the cancer; but, seriously, how many of the rest of us get labels? Everyone, that's who). When everyone is telling them what they can't do, they're shoving it in everyone's faces and saying watch me.

They're normal. Teenagers. And while I loved their personalities, I love a lot of people's personalities. There wasn't anything about them that said, them, yes, they're my favorite, I love them forever in the same way characters from other books have done.

But I did love them. For their normal-ness, for their dreams, for their thoughts. For their love of a single book that no normal person has ever heard of. For their quirks (seriously, Augustus with those cigarettes was probably one of the coolest things ever). The picnic? Yeah, only an adorable boy named Augustus Waters could plan something like that to woo the same girl he called beautiful on their first meeting.

I mean, I didn't connect, but maybe that's the point? Because through not connecting, I connected. When I was done reading it, I sat on my bed and stared up at the ceiling and my mind was totally blank. I was thinking, yet not thinking. It was deep in a simple way, through the plot and through the narrative and, dare I say it, through the characters.

So . . . I'm just kind of torn, but I've got to go with my gut on this one.


So was this a book that had me on the edge of my seat? Was I inhaling the words, the chapters? Did I cry, and scream, and yell when the characters were in pain?

No, I wasn't. But I was taking my time, digesting the pages (not literally), and thinking about every word that came out of Hazel and Augustus' literary mouths. And that's what really struck me about this book, and that's why I loved it.

Final Answer: 4 / 5

Stay Crazy,


Thoughts or Questions? Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 24, 2014

First Posts

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Supposedly first posts mean introductions.

So . . . The name's Rae. Most people call me . . . Rae. I mean, it's a nickname so it can't get any shorter than that. I am 19 years old and attending New Mexico State University, studying English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. When I'm not making a fool out of myself in front of my roommate (shoutout to Melissa!), I tend to shut myself up in my room with music, movies, and my laptop. This means that people tend not to see me for hours/days at a time and sometimes even forget that I exist.

I dream. And I like to do things that make me happy. Life doesn't have an appeal for me if I'm somewhere I don't want to be, hence why I'm secretly planning to move . . . somewhere else. I started writing in 2008 upon my introduction to high school, and ever since then all I've wanted is to share my characters and stories with the world.

I have three completed novels under my belt; the most recent is my pride and glory (check it out, here). It's called The Hollow Men. I love to write clever little mixes of dystopia, science fiction (bio-mechanics and cyborgs, anyone?), and occasionally throw in a post-apocalyptic world where anything is possible. All of my novels are aimed at young adults.

Okay, almost done, I promise. A few fun facts:

-Wonderland is my fantasy
-I do not believe I would survive The Hunger Games past the first day
-I do think I would make it a considerable way through the zombie apocalypse

That last one might just be a delusion, though.

If you'd like to stay up to date with what's happening in my writing, guess what? I've got a Faceboook page. Here.

Stay Crazy.


PS: ask me questions. I love questions. I even have a day to post about questions (Friday's Questions & Quandries). Ask me about anything: myself, writing, college, what dessert you should eat after dinner (here's a hint: both).