School

How To Earn Cash Back, Loyalty Points, And Free Rewards

Back to school season is the perfect time to find new ways to save money. One of the easiest ways to do this is by collecting points you can later redeem for free rewards.

Listed below are various loyalty programs available on a mobile and the web to make this year supercharged with great offers that won’t cost you a penny.

Drop

Download the app to your phone to earn rewards for your everyday purchases. Simply connect your credit or debit card, and you’re good to go. Drop works by converting what you purchase into rewards for points, which allows you to redeem gift cards to your favourite retailers. It is free, easy, and secure.

Upon signup, enter l0dyz for additional points.

Carrot

Would you like to earn points every time you walk? Carrot encourages its users to live a healthy lifestyle by making good decisions. Any time you do something on the app, you get rewarded. There are short quizzes on health and wellness topics you can take to learn more about living well. In addition to that, you get a personalized step goal to meet every day. If you walk the set number of steps within twenty-four hours, it grants you points to a program of your choosing such as Aeroplan, Drop, Petro, Scene, among others.

Enter the code uoft for bonus points.

Swagbucks

The site provides gift cards and cash for doing things you probably already do on the web like shopping online, watching videos, answering surveys, just to name a few. Afterwards, exchange your Swagbucks for gift cards to retailers of your choice such as Amazon or cash back via PayPal.

Ebates

You get cash back for shopping online as the program returns a percentage of your purchase back into your pocket. It’s that easy. All you need is an email address to sign up. Ebates will pay you however you want. You can decide between them mailing a cheque or transferring the money to your PayPal account. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can opt to have your earnings sent to a charity of your choice.

You can find the full post with additional loyalty programs here.

Writing

How To Make Writing (More) Fun

Admit it, writing isn't always fun and easy. Unless you aren't human in which case maybe you beg to differ.

Sometimes you just have to make putting pen on paper more enjoyable.

This is what I recommend:

Play music.

I like typing with noise in the background more than silence. So it's a no brainer for me. I almost always play some of my favourite tunes while smashing keys on the computer.

Reward yourself.

Schedule something fun to do like hanging out with friends or going to the beach. That way, you have an incentive to write and work while still making time to play. Win win.

Change location.

If you're bored and stuck, try moving to a coffee shop you haven't been to or a library on the other side of town. If that isn't feasible, go to another room in your house you don't typically write in. It might be enough to get your creative juices flowing again.

Set challenges.

Maybe because I'm a competitive person by nature, I tend to perform better when I feel challenged by something or even someone. Which brings me to my next point…

Find writers.

Look for individuals who motivate and inspire you. Seek them out. There are wonderful human beings on this planet who want to help you and see you succeed. Never let those ones go. Besides, writing with others is an experience every writer needs to experience.

Take breaks.

I don't care who you are, writing is not fun when you're burnt out. Working for hours at a time over an extended period of time isn't the best idea then. So rest and relax. Don't you dare guilt trip yourself for not writing every second of every day. You're human after all.

Edit later.

Writing is fun until editing comes along and ruins the creative party. Buzzkill, much? Revisions can wait. Fun does not.

That's all the suggestions I have for making writing more fun. Let me know what you do down in the comments below.

Happy writing and having fun!

School · Writing

How To Write And Win Essay Based Scholarships

I'm not an expert by any means, but I've written my share of essays for school and scholarships.

These are my tips to increase your chances of standing out and possibly winning a scholarship.

Apply for them.

You can't win if you don't apply. Was it Einstein who said, "common sense isn't always common practice" or was it another intelligent human being? Either way, the point stands.

Brainstorm ideas.

You need to write about something. So having a couple topics to explore can't hurt. Obviously, you'll want to pick the best one and run with it.

Cut the unoriginal.

Be different, interesting. After all, sometimes you're judged on creativity or originality.

Don't repeat the essay prompt.

I'm not keen on telling people what not to do, but imagine reading 999 entries that started off by restating the prompt.

Easy reading means hard editing.

Give yourself enough time to edit your essay. At the very least, put it aside for a few days, so when you come back to your work, you see the words with fresher eyes. Even several hours between writing and editing can do wonders.

Follow the rules.

Do what's asked. Provide any necessary documentation. You might be disqualified otherwise.

Grind through it.

At times, you may feel tempted to give up. Keep going. You'll better than you think.

Help yourself.

You want to avoid sabotaging your own entry in any way. Never overlook a small detail or do something that's the opposite of smart. Answer what's asked. Fill out your contact information accurately. Review your submission for grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm realizing this post isn't all that helpful. Go figure.

Maybe one day Herminia Chow will create useful content that isn't just spewing common sense. Today is not that day.

Blogging

How To Be A Happy Blogger

As if I know anything about that.

Blogging makes me happy. But sometimes it also drives me crazy.

You would think the longer you’ve been blogging, the easier and happier you’d be. I don’t know if I can agree.

The below is what I’d recommend bloggers do to stay happy or relatively so because everything is relative.

Have low expectations.

Or zero. Because disappointment is the bane of everyone’s existence.

Every time you expect something to happen, it probably doesn’t ever come to pass. Besides, if you don’t have expectations, anytime anything happens, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Win.

Blog for yourself.

Blogging for others will never be as fun or as fulfilling. Please yourself, not others.

Make the conditions enjoyable.

Play music. Have a healthy snack nearby. Possibly a drink. Perhaps two. Coffee, water, your own tears.

Talk to bloggers.

Metaphorically, you’re not on an island. So reach out and enjoy the company of people with similar interests. Unless you want to be on an island by yourself with no human contact and communication.

Live your life.

As much as you might want to stay at home and never leave your room, leaving the house can help re-energize you. Which could, in turn, make you a better blogger.

You could write some of your best posts after a day out with friends or family.

Try new things.

Whether it’s related to blogging or not. The risk can lead to a worthy reward. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Grow thick skin.

Failure. Negativity. Rejection. More like fun, novelty, and rejoicing.

Stay true to yourself.

If you don’t want to do something, don’t. 

Remember you’re good enough. You shouldn’t change who you are for the wrong reasons. 

Be kind.

To others and yourself. 

You’re likely your worst critic, but try to be your best cheerleader too.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, I wish you all the happiness you can handle.

Writing

How To Write Happy Scenes

So the other day my friend and I had a conversation about writing happy scenes.

If you’ve read any of my creative work, you’ll know I don’t do happy scenes. 

I enjoy making my characters suffer.

My writing also reflects the fact that I’ve had anything but a happy childhood or a perfect life. 

But it got me thinking: just how does one go about writing a happy scene?

Here’s some tips I’d offer other writers:

Write a happy scene when you’re happy. Tough to talk about your protagonist jumping for joy when you have unhappy tears running down from your eyes. 

Make your character work for it. It’ll be that much more rewarding. 

There can still be conflict and tension. After all, people thrive during times of conflict. 

Listen to upbeat music. I don’t know about you, but if I listened to sad songs, I’ll start writing a sad scene. 

Base your characters’ happiness on your own. What makes you make happy? What brings you joy?

Of course, you don’t have to use any of my advice. But if you do, happy writing!

Writing

How To Write Faster

Does your brain work too fast for your hand to keep up? The solution: write faster. How? Herein lies some answers you probably shouldn’t take all that seriously.

  • Write messy. Or messier. At least give yourself permission to write like a five year old. 
  • Write smaller. Tiny letters take less time to form than larger ones. In other news, water is wet. Can you tell I like to state the obvious?
  • Write words close together.  If you have less space between each word, your hand won’t have to move as much across the paper. Genius, no?
  • Write more. Practice does not make perfect, but it can make you a faster writer. 
  • Write with a nice pen. There’s probably some science behind writing with nicer tools. I’m not a scientist, so I wouldn’t know.
  • Write without the internal editor. Tell him or her take a nap for a few hours. Editing while you go will slow you down. Tell your editor to wake up when it’s time to edit.
  • Write while having good posture. This might not work. Still, it can’t hurt. 
  • Write drunk. I don’t know if drunk writing is a good idea. I’ve yet to give it a go. Let me know. 

Now that you know how to write faster, I hope you do.

Productivity · Writing

How To Be A Productive Writer

You’re probably a productive writer. At least more productive than the person writing this blog post. So why am I telling you how to get work done? Because I can.

Have a plan.

If you don’t know what you want to do, how are you supposed to accomplish anything? So decide the night before what you’re going to write tomorrow. Maybe it’s a poem or a short story. You can also take a few minutes in the morning to think about the tasks you’re hoping to complete before the day is over. Edit a chapter of your novel. Make a graphic for that blog post. You get the idea. Then get to work. 

Include tiny rewards.

Reward yourself after you write a page or edit a scene, not before. That way you have motivation to do stuff and get things done.

Take many breaks.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it isn’t. Your brain needs rest. Just don’t let that small break turn into a long spell of inactivity.

Stop procrastinating and start working.

Reading

How To Remember What Books You’ve Read

Unless you have a perfect memory, it’s tough to remember all the books you’ve read. But how can you keep a record of everything your eyes have pored over or skimmed? 

You want to remember the texts you read, don’t you? Imagine thinking you finished a book but not being entirely sure you did. It almost feels like a bookshelf falling to the ground.

Here are ways to remember the amazing, terrible, and mediocre books you’ve read. 

Use Goodreads. 

Goodreads is a godsend, especially since you can access it on a computer, laptop, or smartphone. I can’t believe I took nearly 18 years to make an account. If you’re looking for an online website where you can track books you’ve read and what you want to read next, get on Goodreads.

Keep a reader notebook. 

On the other hand, who doesn’t love using a physical notebook to record all the books they’ve read. I write down the author and title along with when I started and finished the text. I also tried getting into journaling about the books I’ve read to help myself with writing reviews after I’ve finished reading something. But so far, I don’t find myself reaching for that journal very often. Habits are hard to build.

Create an Excel spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets are fun, doubly so if they’re colourful. If you don’t want to make a Goodreads account but want a digital log, an Excel sheet might work well for you.

How do you remember what you read?