good morning, cyberspace!
i am so beyond excited for today’s smudge, guys, oh my word
Just recently, Kinsey mentioned me in her post for Project Inspire (and it seriously made my day, just sayin’), and after reading through her post, I realized that this was a tag/project that I really wanted to participate in.
As the creator of the tag–Jenna Terese–said in the original Project Inspire post, this is less of a tag, and more of “. . .an opportunity to take part in a mission to appreciate, inspire, encourage, and simply spread love to writers everywhere.”
^^ I was initially going to try and explain it in my own words, but guys. That is just perfection right there, and I really don’t think I can explain it any better*. There’s no tagging at the end of these posts; it’s simply left open for anyone who wants to spread a little bit of positivity and joy to the rest of the writing community. And judging by how Kinsey’s post practically made my entire week, I’m gonna say this project is a success.
And also I want to take the opportunity to squeal and fangirl about all of the writerly friends I’ve made through blogging, and who have helped me along this crazy path of being a writer. Just a few short years ago I never thought I would ever find anyone with a similar mindset towards writing as I did**, so it was quite a shock to my system when I started blogging and–lo and behold–there’s a whole blogosphere full of you. I’ve made so many friends through blogging, and even though I’ve only met one of you face-to-face
(yes, yes, i’m still grinning like an idiot), I consider you guys closer friends than even some of the people I know in my non-internet life.
So yeah. Enough being sappy, because I’m sure this entire post is going to be filled with that.
*initiate screaming* Let’s get into the inspiration, shall we?
* I’ve been snooping around Jenna’s blog ever since I discovered it the other day, and I am SO excited to read more of her posts. She just seems like the absolute sweetest bean of ever. **i was smol and thought the internet was filled with spiders and old men who wanted to kidnap me, don’t judge
— HOW IT WORKS —
- thank and link back to the blogger who’s blog you first saw the tag on; link back to the creator of the tag . . . Thank you SO MUCH for both mentioning me in your post, and also for introducing me to this amazing project, Kinsey! You are such a wonderful bean, and your blog is utterly gorgeous. <333
- answer the questions . . . done!
- include five of the biggest things you’ve learned about writing and how they’ve changed you . . . *begins sweating nervously*
- DON’T TAG ANYBODY . . . << this is actually my favorite part of this tag. basically, the entire point of this is to have as many people as possible do the tag if they feel like it, so you’re just supposed to leave it open to anyone who wants to do it. IS THAT NOT THE COOLEST THING??? (also it saves me from tagging people so HA! less work for MEEEEEEEE!)
— QUESTIONS —
“Who is someone who has inspired and motivated you to pursue writing?”
My mom. 100%, without a doubt, my mom. She continuously inspires me to keep doing the things I love–no matter how crazy or impossible they may seem–and she has always been hugely supportive of my dream of being a writer. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her, but I’m dead certain I would never have gotten this far with my writing if it wasn’t for her.
“Who encouraged you when you felt like giving up?”
Can I just put my mom for each and every one of these answers? Because SERIOUSLY, GUYS. My mom is so ridiculously encouraging of me. Every single time I feel like a failure or like I’m not good enough, she’s there to make me feel better and to work through my plot holes and character issues with me, and I just !!!! She is basically the most amazing human in the entire world, okay? She’s my answer to every single one of these.
(my mom saw me writing this, patted my head, and said, “Don’t ever give up.” XD)
However, for the sake of adding a little bit of diversity to this post, I’m gonna squeal about my friend Ruby on here, as well.
There have been multiple times when I’ve talked* to Ruby about not feeling good enough with my writing, or struggling with perfectionism, or not being productive enough, or basically just the whole enchilada of writerly emotions, and holy cow, guys. This girl is actually the physical embodiment of encouragement. She’s sweet and kind and funny and always willing to listen and talk and make me feel better when I’m low, and I just !! I love her so so much.
(10/10 check out her blog if you haven’t already. she’s a literal ray of sunshine.)
*or, you know. ranted. it’s the same thing, really.
“Was there a person (or even a blog post) that came at just the right time to give you the boost or motivation when you needed it?”
So many, actually, but the one I can think of right off the bat is Christine’s post, For The Love Of Writing. This post had a serious impact on me, and Christine’s beautiful words have literally stuck with me ever since I read it last year. Writing is something that I absolutely LOVE, but sometimes it really does begin to feel like something I have to do, which I hate. But this post really helped me get back to why I started writing in the first place, and for that, I will forever be in Christine’s debt.
“Who has always been there for you, through thick and thin with your writing?”
AGAIN. I absolutely must talk about my family for a moment, here. As I mentioned earlier, I never really had any writing friends growing up, when I was in the “first draft” stages of my writing career. During the days of talking horses and The Dragon Elements and Oliver Crump, I really only had four people who I could squeal and rant about writing with, and that was my four little family members: my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister. I don’t even think anyone outside of those people knew I was almost obsessively into writing at that point (it wasn’t until later that I started screaming it from the mountaintops. aha.).
But let me tell you what, folks–that little support system that God gave me by default has literally been the strongest, most inspirational, most meaningful support system that I have ever had in my entire life. Yes, I have writing friends now. Yes, they mean SO SO much to me, and I would definitely not be where I am without them. But to me, my family has and will always be my absolute bestest of friends in the whole entire universe. I’ve gotten some flak for that in the past, actually, and while I apologize for nearly everything, this is one thing that I will never apologize for.
That was kind of sappy. . . #oops.
“Who has helped you make your writing better, wasn’t afraid to give you honest feedback, and helped improve your craft?”
Sooooo, I really haven’t done any beta reading yet, so I can’t exactly sally forth and give a giant list of all the people I’ve sent a manuscript to, because, well . . . I haven’t. But my alpha reader
(bet you can’t guess who it is) read practically the majority of my WIP, everlost, before I ripped it out of her hands and demanded to fix some things before she continued reading ( that was almost an entire year ago. we are ignoring that fact.) so I absolutely must talk about her for a moment.
And that alpha reader is my mom. I told you guys that a lot of these questions would be answered with this wonderful bean, and so far I don’t think I’ve failed to deliver on that promise. HOWEVER, she really has helped me grow SO much as a writer. She read through everlost when it had some reaaaaaaaaaalllllllyyyy weird scenes, and I just . . . the mortification.
She was so sweet and kind with her feedback, yet wasn’t afraid to tell me of the things that simply WERE NOT WORKING, KENZIE,
OH MY WORD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, even though my ego was fragile and I had not done my due diligence to get some distance from the book before sending it to her. She was honest, her feedback was–quite literally–amazing, and I am thoroughly convinced this story would not be half of what it is now without her help.
EDIT: when I first wrote this answer, it was before I finished the fourth draft of everlost. I have since finished the manuscript again, and my mom is currently alpha reading once again, so I’m really excited to see what feedback she has for me once she’s done. . . *bites nails in nervousness*
“Who has given you healthy doses of laughter that brighten your day and bring a smile to your face?”
This question would not be complete without mentioning my sister and brother. (i love you, weirdos.) Those two are quite literally two of the funniest human beings I have ever met, and it’s a very rare day indeed when they don’t make me laugh hysterically at some point. They’re just amazing, I tell you.
Secondly, in the more bloggerly spirit of things, I definitely have to mention a few people, here. . .
GAIL. << this girl is, quite simply, HILARIOUS, you guys. I read her blog, I laugh. I talk to her on Twitter, I LAUGH. I honestly cannot go a single interaction with this bean without either grinning like a Cheshire cat or busting my side laughing. Gail has this amazing sense of humor that just flows perfectly through her writing, and I just. I love her so much.
JEM << a.k.a MY FIRST EVER PEN PAL, WHAT. Jem recently sent me a card in the mail and . . . without going into extreme detail, that card made me laugh so, so impossibly hard, and I haven’t stopped laughing since. That card quite literally made my entire January and February, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to make my entire year. Jem is a genius, my friends. That is all I can say.
ALLY << I watch this precious bean’s YouTube channel every single time she posts something new, and I just !!!! She’s amazing. She’s hilarious. She’s perfection. Ally just has this natural gift when it comes to humor, and I can never read her blog or watch her YouTube videos without laughing like the weirdo that I am. So if you’re wanting a good dose of laughter and smiles, I 10/10 recommend checking out her channel and her blog. She is literally the sweetest marshmallow in the whole entire world. (and also she’s a fellow HufflePuff, so!!!)
MADELINE << Again. THIS GIRL, GUYS. YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT HER BLOG. I’m actually kind of convinced that Madeline is pure sunshine??? She’s hilarious and fun and kind, and she has the most amazing GIF game that I have ever seen. It’s kind of an impossibility for me to read her blog without smiling. Or laughing. OR LITERALLY DYING BECAUSE HOLY GUACAMOLE SHE’S CLEVER AND HILARIOUS, OKAY???
(^^ also Madeline Island by Owl City started auto-playing on YouTube while I was writing this so AHAHAHAHAHAHA I THINK SHE JUST HACKED MY MUSIC.)
JETHAN << this post honestly would not be complete without mentioning Jethan. Jethan’s art, the way she weaves stories (both fictional and true), her CHARACTERS (a.k.a Des, because he is absolute perfection) constantly never fail to bring forth a smile or a laugh. She’s INSANELY talented, has a knack for coming up with the most poetic descriptions, and is basically just one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I am so incredibly lucky to be friends with this girl.
“What’s your favorite inspirational quote?”
UMMMMMMMMMMMM. . . I don’t know. I’m not exactly a quote girl?
. . .
WAIT. Scratch that. I think my favorite inspirational quote is — “She believed she could, so she did.”
And it totally has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the sign with that exact quote hanging on my bedroom wall, which my mom and I may or may not have a very secretive secret about.
Nope. Nothing at all. Has nothing to do with that.
I also really love a particular quote from Steven Moffat, which says, “We’re all stories, in the end.” I believe this particular quote comes from an episode of Doctor Who that he wrote (I’m not entirely sure about that, so don’t quote me on it. aha. hahahahahahaha.
do you get it????), and I just love it so much. I rediscovered it when I was looking for a new wallpaper for my laptop, and it just gave me this really weird dose of inspiration when I saw it. So obviously I slapped it onto Moriarty’s screen and haven’t had the heart to take it down since.
“Is there someone you just want to take a moment to thank, for anything?”
HOO BOY, IS THERE. There are actually quite a few people I would love to thank, so you’d better just sit tight for a minute, because this could get long. . .
First up, forever and always, is my mom. I know I’ve mentioned her time and again, but honestly, guys. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without her. She constantly shows me strength and courage and how to stand up for what I believe in. She gives me the encouragement I need to keep fighting for my dreams, and helps me grow the wings I need to reach them. I would give absolutely anything to be even a tiny bit as amazing as her someday.
Secondly, I absolutely have to talk about Phoebe. Not only is this girl an absolutely fantabulous writer, but she’s also an amazing and true friend. She has helped me learn so much about the writing craft in the seemingly short time I’ve known her (*begins questioning whether I should have put this answer under Question Number 4*), and she is always there to listen to me rant about planting trees and wrangling stubborn characters and stitching plot holes. Her writing talent continues to astound me on a daily basis (seriously. i beta read her book last month, and I kind of started crying. #embarrassing), her taste in movies is PERFECTION, and just . . . thank you, Phoebe. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for constantly showing me new things about writing. Thank you for being your amazing, original self. <3
And obviously I cannot possibly continue on without mentioning The Kate. Because KATE, GUYS. KATE. Kate has been one of my closest friends since what feels like forever, and I just love her so, so incredibly much. She’s sweet and kind and an epically talented writer (seriously. go read her poems right this instant.), and she has taught me so so much about being a friend. We talk about anything and everything, and I cannot even put into words how much I cherish this girl. She also puts up with my spamming of Moriraty GIF’s almost on a daily basis so I mean that’s true friendship right there. (thank you for being such a beautiful human, Kate. *hugs* <3)
Next up we have every single girl in my writing group. Jethan, Anna, Bunny, Tarva (ACK. I’VE MISPLACED HER BLOG. and also I’m not sure if she wants it out so I’m just gonna keep this blank and go demand the link in the cabin real quick…), Ruby, Ally, Julz, EA (not sure if she has a blog, actually?? again. will squeal in the cabin until I get answers.), Felicity, Phoebe, Kate. . . You all mean so so much to me, you have no idea. All the support, the prayers, the constant friendship, the writing community, the understanding shared by all when we gleefully torture our characters. . . There are simply no words for how blessed I am to have met you all. There was a time when I thought I would never find any writers who had the same values and interests as I did, and yet . . . here you all are. I really have no clue how I found myself in this amazing group of weirdos, but I am so impossibly glad that I did. I cannot thank you enough for being the coolest group of writers to ever have existed. You guys have quickly grown from being total strangers on the internet to some of my closest friends, and I will never ever be able to repay you all for all of the hilarious conversations, the laughs, and the overall friendship I’ve found with you guys. You’re all the best. *initiates group hug*
And lastly, since I’m running out of room in this post
and I’m sure people are beginning to fall asleep by now, I’d like to wrap this question up by thanking every single person who reads and interacts on my blog. You guys are the reason I keep blogging. Each of your likes, your comments, your reads means the world to me. I started this blog with the mindset that it would simply be a fun little hobby that would hardly go anywhere, but I soon found a whole community of writers and friends through this, and I am so beyond grateful for all of the encouragement and support I get from you guys. You’re all amazing, and I’m severely blessed to have found this lovely little corner of the Great and Terrible Cyberspace. <333
“What author and/or book inspired you to write better stories and motivate you to strive to get your message to the world?”
I have a few answers to this, actually. . .
*insert dramatic groaning from everyone reading this behemoth of a post*
First and foremost I have to mention Marissa Meyer and The Lunar Chronicles. I had already been writing for quite some time before reading TLC, but after reading that series, it was like I had this enormous epiphany about writing. It was as if something that had been flying completely over my head finally clicked; it’s not just a good plot that makes a fantastic story. It’s the characters and the plot and the settings and the emotions coming together to form something infinitely better.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to understand this, but I’m forever indebted to TLC for teaching me that characters are so, SO impossibly vital to a heart-stealing story.
My second answer isn’t technically an author or a book, but BBC’s Doctor Who and Sherlock really help motivate me to write stories that impact people. There’s something just so strong and emotional about those shows (Doctor Who, in particular, on the emotional part. *distant weeping*), and it would be my Ultimate Goal to someday write something as amazing as those shows. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are masters of storytelling, to be honest.
“What piece of advice do you want to give to young writers?”
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .
Oh goodness. I don’t know, okay? I’m not very good at giving writing advice. BUT I SUPPOSE I MUST TRY FOR THE YOUNGINS.
Okay, listen up, peeps, because this is Kenzie’s Top Writing Advice (For Today)*: Write for yourself.
It’s so easy in this day and age to begin writing for others. It’s so easy to give up what we believe in to follow a trend or to appease someone else’s thirst for a specific story. But we shouldn’t do this. Yes, you’re (probably) creating something that you hope to someday present to the general public. You’re writing a book that other people are going to purchase and consume and–naturally–feel obligated to take under their wings as something that belongs to them. But when you’re plotting your story, when you’re writing your first draft–or even your second, third, fourth, twenty-third. . .–write the book of your heart, and write it just for yourself.
Ignore what’s happening in the industry (to an extent). Ignore the trends of what’s popular, because those change and sway faster than we can keep up with them. Write the stories that excite you. Write the books that make you stop dead in your tracks when you first think them up. Write the books that make you laugh, the books that send chills down your fingertips. Don’t get so caught up in what’s popular or sells well that you lose that beautifully original voice you’ve been given. Write the story that you know–deep, deep down inside–is the story you’re supposed to be writing.
And–since technically this advice is for young writers, and maybe you won’t already know this–ACTUALLY WRITE THE THING, OKAY? Don’t just sit around thinking you’ll write it. I did this for years when I was new. I had these amazing ideas, but instead of sitting my butt down and actually working on my story, I’d just dilly dally around and switch from idea to idea whenever I felt like it (which was not very often, let me tell ya), never penning more than maybe 5,000 words for each one before dropping the idea like a hot potato. So my best advice for young writers? Find the story of your heart, and then actually sit down and write it.
Yes, it takes time. Yes, you’ll get blocked. Yes, you’ll have to push through the hard parts and stab your muse a few times until he starts working again, but that’s what’s going to set you apart from everyone else. A writer writes. So if this is what you want–if you truly, whole-heartedly want to be a writer (and believe me, if stories are in your blood, there’s really nothing you can do about it. i’m sorry.) then you’re going to have to put the work in.
But don’t worry. Most days it doesn’t feel like work at all. Most days, it feels like freedom.
*this is entirely subject to change and should definitely not be used against me in the future if I ever realize this was horrible advice.
All right, well now that that’s over, it’s time to share the five biggest things I’ve learned about writing and how they’ve changed me.
Remember that nervous sweating from earlier? YEAH. THAT’S STILL HAPPENING.
But it’s fine. Everything’s fine. I’ll just make some stuff up and hope it sounds natural. AHAHAHAhahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahahahHAHAHAHAHA.
Let’s do this.
— What I’ve Learned About Writing —
ONE . . . Writing is Revision
^^ So this totally makes no sense at first glance, but I can assure you, my dear crumbling–it’s true. If there is one thing I’ve learned about writing, it’s that writing is hardly writing at all. It’s revising.
The story you tell in your first draft is–more often than not–NOT the story you initially set out to write, and most definitely not the story you’re going to have by the end of, say, your fourth draft. Sometimes it takes multiple rounds of rewriting the same book over and over and over again to get your story right where you want it to be, so if you find yourself staring at your first draft and wondering whether or not you should just set it on fire and go to college to become a mountain goat–DON’T PANIC. You’re not alone. Writing is rewriting is rewriting is rewriting is rewriting, as they always say. So just take a step back, take a breather, and keep going.
TWO . . . Be yourself. It sounds better.
Oh look. Yet another thing I’ve learned the hard way. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever tried to get my writing to sound or feel like someone else’s original voice (otherwise this blog would be a whole lot better ahahahahHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–HACK.), but when I was first starting out, I’ll admit that I was . . . confused.
Because finding your writing voice takes time! Words are hard, okay, and trying to sound original by stringing them together in a specific way? HA. KIND OF IMPOSSIBLE, DEAR BEAN. But as you begin to grow as a writer and a human, there are two things that can happen–you can begin to find yourself through your words and form your own unique writing voice that people can relate to and love, or you can fall victim to the “this works for them so it should probably work for me” lie.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this post, it is that you should never, ever fall victim to that lie. Please, please do not try to copy someone else’s voice simply because people seem to like it. You have infinitely SO MUCH MORE to give to the world than that. You are you. No one else is you. Be the you you were created to be, and stay true to who you are inside.
And I totally understand trying out different styles until you figure out what works for you! I did this, and sometimes I still like to play around with different styles, just to stretch my creative muscles and let myself grow. But never forget who you are, and never try to be what’s popular.
It’s probably overrated, anyway.
Unless you can be Moriarty, of course. Then you should always be Moriarty.
is moriarty popular???
THREE . . . Plotting is actually a good thing. . .?
AHA. I KNOW, GUYS. BELIEVE ME, I KNOW. But like . . . it’s actually true? For the longest time I thought I was a die-hard Plantser (and in some ways I still firmly believe this), but lately I’ve been learning how to plot out my stories and form a relatively cohesive outline using the Save The Cat! Writes A Novel beat sheet*, and . . . it’s actually kind of nice?
I know. I’m shocked, too. Outlines typically send me flailing off into the distance, but lately I’ve found that my writing process is leaning more towards liking the guidance of an–albeit loose–outline, so I guess that means this “writing thing I’ve learned” is actually two-fold: plotting is actually a good thing, and your writing process is allowed to change.
As humans, we’re constantly changing. The things we obsess over change (*cough*unless it’s Moriarty*cough*), the things we love change, the way we do things change. So clearly it only makes sense that we allow our writing processes to change alongside us.
So if you’ve always believed you’re a hardcore pantser, yet you keep finding yourself stuck halfway through your story with no clue how to write your way out of the corner you’ve caged yourself in, maybe you should try outlining a little bit, even if it’s just a few bullet points of what should happen next. If you’re a plotter who feels like you keep losing your inspiration for your story every time you outline something, perhaps you should take a step back from plotting and try pantsing.
Don’t be afraid to get experimental with your writing. I used to be a late night writer, but lately I’ve found that I write more productively in the morning and mid-afternoon. I used to be a plantser leaning more towards the pantsing side of the spectrum, but now I’m a plantser leaning more towards the plotter side.
It’s okay to change. It’s okay to grow. You do not have to keep stuffing yourself inside the same box you used to fit in three years ago, simply because it’s “your brand” or “what you’re used to”. Keep trying new things, and don’t be afraid of change. Every method of writing is acceptable, so just find what works for you right now.
FOUR . . . Writing is worth it
I would be lying straight to your face if I sat here and said I’ve never had a dark day or moment where I’ve considered quitting. I would be lying if I said I’ve never thought life would be simpler–more fun, even–if I didn’t have to worry about the weird little characters running amok in my head.
But I would also be lying if I told you that those thoughts came from anything other than fear.
Yes, I’ve considered life being simpler if I didn’t have to squeeze writing into my daily routine. I’ve thought that maybe I’m not cut out for this, that maybe I should just quit while I’m ahead, because clearly I’m going to slip up royally and aggravate the multitudes of angry people on Twitter at some point.
But all of those thoughts, all those worries . . . that’s just fear trying to take root in my mind, and I won’t allow it. Because you know the one thought that I always–without a doubt–return to?
I can’t not write. I can’t do it. I can’t go through a single day without obsessing over my characters. I can’t go a week without writing something. My novel, everlost, is currently with my alpha reader, and technically I could take this time off and do a whole multitude of things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do because I’m writing, but do you know what I’ve been doing instead?
Outlining and writing blog posts. Plotting out my Camp NaNoWriMo novel. Thinking incessantly about the next story I’m going to be writing. Because even though I’ve finished the fourth draft of my–at the time–current WIP, I still have so many more stories to tell.
So I can’t not write. Even though the fear sometimes weedles its way in, even though I sometimes wonder if I’m truly meant to do this, I cling to the thought that, if I ever did quit writing, I would be absolutely miserable. Because writing is so, so worth it. Nothing can compare to the feeling of finishing a story, to the excitement of starting a fresh book, the pure rush of exhilaration when a plot hole reseals itself. There’s just nothing quite like writing, and I could never be who I am without being a writer.
FIVE . . . Writing advice usually stinks, so don’t listen to a word other writers say
Completely ignore every single thing I just said, Cyberspace, because the words of writers can never be trusted. Every single piece of writing advice ever given is completely, 100% personal preference and experience, and therefore cannot be a universal truth. Some tips and tricks writers say may resonate with you, others may not, but either way, you have to forge your own path. You have to find your own way in this wacky world of writers, because what works for me might not work for you, and what works for you may never work for someone else. Writing advice is–quite frankly–arbitrary, and there is no tried and true method for anything. So don’t be afraid to share your advice, and don’t be afraid to read what works for others, but also don’t forget that you don’t have to follow every bit of advice given. Sometimes the best thing you can do is follow your intuition, because usually–without your brain even realizing it–your heart knows exactly where it’s going.
All right, folks! That was my post for Project Inspiration! This was so much fun to do (although I think my head is throbbing from all that post linking), and I am so beyond grateful to Kinsey for tagging me in her post so that I could find it! If this looks like a project you’d like to participate in, please feel free to take it and run wild! This was so much fun to do, and I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the bloggers that I’ve tagged. They truly are amazing, and I love them all so much.
But alas, this post has already exceeded 5,000 words, so I think it’s time we wrap this up. . . *insert nervous laughter*
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS
So! What did you think, guys? Are you going to do a post for Project Inspiration? What’s YOUR favorite inspirational quote? Do you have any stories that have impacted the way you write? and most importantly. . .
WHO’S YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR WRITING?
Go ahead and tell me down in the comments below! I’d love to hear all about the people who inspire you! And as always, until next time. . .