Personal Reflection

I Don’t Know What I Want To Do After University

In September, I’m going into my fourth year of university. And I can’t stop stressing about what I want to do once I graduate.

When people ask me, I tell them I don’t know. I have no idea.

Maybe it’ll help to narrow down my options by eliminating things I don’t want to do.

I don’t want to do more university. I’d prefer sitting in an office than siting in a lecture hall.

I don’t want to travel the world. I do eventually, but I’m not in a position to right out of school. Even if I do travel, it won’t be too far or too long.

I don’t want to take a gap year. I understand other people’s reasoning for doing so. But I don’t have a good reason to take 12 months off. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have 4 months of summer that more or less give me a break from school.

Now to figure out what I want to do.

I want to work. I want to write and blog. Creating content is still so much fun.

I want to learn. As flawed as the school system is, I’ve learned a lot from it. Kindergarten to high school to university. I love learning on my own through reading and researching as well.

I want to grow. To be honest, sometimes I feel stuck. I don’t want to stay in one place. I dislike being stagnant. I hate regressing. I hope to improve. To get better, not worse. When I see myself growing, I feel a sense of satisfaction.

Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen post-grad, I aspire to be better.

Writing

Advice On Starting A First Draft

Outline

Sketch a timeline of events that will happen. Brainstorm scenes using sticky notes and move them accordingly. Create character sketches beforehand, so you have a better understanding of key players in your novel.

Research

Reading articles, essays, or books might inspire you to write your own. Besides, Google is your best friend.

Write

At some point, that first draft needs to be written. Unfortunately, it won’t write itself. So pick up a pen or open your word processor of choice. Grab an idea and run with it.

Relax

Take a deep breath. You don’t have to get it right the first time. Try to silence your inner editor for now. You can always make a draft better, but you can’t if it doesn’t exist yet.

Writing

Write First, Research Later

I like to write before I research. At the minimum, I brainstorm ideas I have first and look for sources later. This is how I’ve written most of my essays in university.

Even though finding research that supports my argument takes time, knowing my stance in advance stops me from researching for too long.

I’m someone who doesn’t know what I think until I write my thoughts down on paper. Only after do I have more clarity.

I’ve found the better I know what I want to say, the less time I need to conduct research. When I’m lost, I’ll spend way too much time reading articles and not enough time writing essays.

I find the sources I want to use, find the quotes I want to include, and find I’m halfway there. Besides, half the battle lies in researching.

Writing isn’t so bad once I’m in the flow state. That lovely, blissful place where words flow from your fingers onto the computer. I quite enjoy drafting a paper during the early stages.

For me at least, editing is the other half of the battle. First drafts are messy. They require a lot of time and attention to make them better.

So when the first draft reaches the final stage, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Creating something great from nothing is an achievement in and of itself.

I guess my advice to other students is to write first, research later. Come up with ideas and figure out what you’re interested in writing about. Then find evidence to support your argument.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to approach essay writing. I’m not suggesting that write first, research later is a hard and fast rule you should follow all the time.

Still, if you feel stuck at any point, have a brainstorm session without referring to any external resources.

To quote one of my old teachers, “use the gray matter between your ears.”

Writing

My Novel Writing Process

I’ve written some novels in my lifetime. But whenever I undertake a new one, I’m not sure how I’ll make it to the end. This is a glimpse into my writing process.

Brainstorming

I’m a character-centric writer. Always have been, always will be. So I tend to come up with an interesting person and throw conflict at him or her as I go.

Outlining

Based on past experience, if I had to outline every novel for the rest of my life, I’d be on pace to never finish another one ever again. I sort of outline in my head. Depends on your definition of outlining though.

Writing

It isn’t too bad once I get past the beginning and middle.

Researching

I tend to research after I finish an initial draft where I brainstorm my own ideas first.

Waiting

I like to wait a long time in between writing the first draft and all that follows after.

Transcribing  

I handwrite most of my novels, so at some point, I have to type everything up onto the computer.

Critiquing

The one novel I sought feedback on was incomplete at the time, and it still is about six years after the fact. At least I like critiquing my own work. I’d much rather crush my own ego than have someone else do so.

Rewriting

I enjoy losing my sanity and seeing improvements at the same time.

Editing

Some stories don’t even get this far. What a shame.

Publishing

Obviously, I’m not at this stage yet. If my dreams come true, I don’t know how I’ll refrain myself from talking about my books.

Procrastinating

I procrastinate so much it’s a miracle I get anything done on time. Sadly, I put things off at all stages of the novel writing process. Nothing like consistency, am I right?

Reading

Even when I’m writing a novel and it’s a priority like during NaNoWriMo, I try to read as much as I can. Books inspire me. Other stories have inspired my own.

Celebrating

I celebrate the small victories as much or maybe even more than the big ones. I believe in rewarding myself. Otherwise, my motivation would be six feet under.

What’s your novel writing process like? I’d love to know.

Writing

Writing A Research Essay  

I love writing. And I enjoy researching. But writing a research essay isn’t much fun. In fact, the entire experience is more stressful than enjoyable.

I worry about researching too much. Or not researching enough.

I fret over citations, quotations, and punctuation. 

I stress myself out because I don’t know if I’ll enough time to not only write but to edit the essay.

I’m not even at the editing stage yet, and I feel like I’ve aged ten years.

School · Writing

Going Back To School: Pros (For Writers)

Researching.

Also known as stalking…observing people. Silly me.

Writing.

Whether you like it or not, you can’t make excuses, be lazy or avoid flexing your muscle(s) and training your mind.

Learning.

Now now I know what you’re thinking. You already have an IQ of 150. Still it never hurts to crack open a book once in a while.

Reading.

Speaking of books, you get to lug around a heavy 1,000 page textbook. And of course you can read that if you ever get bored of good ol’ fictional stories.

Lying.

Going to school has taught me one handy-dandy, life-saving skill. Yes, that’s right, it’s called lying. More importantly, I’ve learned how to lie and not get caught. If that isn’t useful, then I don’t know what is.

There you have it. Some of the writing-related advantages about going back to school. Except for the latter one.

Don’t take this post too seriously. I am doing everything in my power to preserve my sanity before school begins.

Writing

Tips On Writing A Research Paper

Today, a teacher of mine announced to the class that I wrote an awesome research paper. I’m not sure I believe him, but here’s what I did.

  • Start researching early. The earlier you start, the more time you have. The later you start, the less time you have. Simple, basic logic. Too bad people enjoy doing this thing called procrastinating. I advise you not to jump on the bandwagon if you plan on writing an A+ paper.
  • Let your teacher guide you. Ask questions if you are confused. Seek clarification so you know what your professor is expecting of you. Email them if you’re too shy to speak to them face to face.
  • Pick the right number of sources. If you pick too many, your paper may be all over the place. If you pick too few, your paper may sound redundant. Depending on the length of your paper, the number of sources you use will vary. Sometimes your teacher gives a range. If that’s the case, aim to fall in the middle of that range.
  • Select the right kind of sources. Some sources won’t help you formulate your thesis, arguments, etc. Pick what you use wisely.
  • Record references and thoughts. I didn’t do this but had I done this from the beginning, my life would have been so much easier. I’m giving you a chance to learn from me. Take it.
  • Don’t fixate on your arguments too quickly. They may change. So don’t get caught up in saying something that you neglect to say another point that’s even stronger.
  • Polish, polish, polish. Grammar mistakes make for bad impressions. Spelling mistakes make for even worse impressions. Your chances of getting a good mark increases every time you read over your work and fix your errors.  
  • Save, save, save. You never know when the power may go out. A friend of mine learned this the hard way. Don’t make the same mistake she did.