Review: No Plot? No Problem! – A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

no-plot-no-problemYou’ve always wanted to write, but . . . just haven’t gotten around to it. No Plot? No Problem! is the kick in the pants you’ve been waiting for. Let Chris Baty, founder of the rockin’ literary marathon National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo), guide you through four exciting weeks of hard-core noveling.

Baty’s pep talks and essential survival strategies cover the initial momentum and energy of Week One, the critical “plot flashes” of Week Two, the “Can I quit now?” impulses of Week Three, and the champagne and roar of the crowd during Week Four. Whether you’re a first-time novelist who just can’t seem to get pen to paper or a results-oriented writer seeking a creative on-ramp into the world of publishing, this is the adventure for you.

So what are you waiting for? The No Plot? No Problem! approach worked for the thousands of people who’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, and it can work for you! Let No Plot? No Problem! help you get fired up and on the right track.

I AM A VETERAN NANOER. This November will be my fifth time participating in National Novel Writing Month! So what is a person like me doing with a book like Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, which is kind of, sort of, as a matter of fact ENTIRELY aimed at first-time novelists?


I read it for two reasons. First of all, I expect that NaNoing while in college will be approximately 2000% more difficult than NaNoing in high school ever was. I actually had to skip NaNo last year because I was just too busy, but I’m doing it this year because I missed it so much.

And I really need to be on top of my game this year. Come November, I can’t fumble around. I simply don’t have time. That’s why I read No Plot? No Problem!: I wanted some advice. I wanted to know if maybe there were some tips and tricks that I’d somehow completely missed. (Spoiler: There were. Yay!)

The second reason I read this book was that I wanted to review it here in hopes that it would help some of you – whether you’ve been NaNoing even longer than I have or are taking part in your first ever NaNoWriMo. Now, obviously I can’t list all of Chris Baty’s advice here because that would be, like, stealing, I CAN tell you a little bit about what it offers.

I loved the organization of this book. Section one covers why you should do NaNo, how to get your friends and family on your side, what supplies/tools you need to succeed, and how to brainstorm characters and a plot. This section also includes a brief history of NaNo’s origins way back in 1999 which was really cool because somehow, even after four years of NaNoing, I DIDN’T KNOW ANY OF THAT.

The first four chapters of section two correspond with each week of NaNo, while the fifth and final chapter deals with editing, querying, beta readers, et cetera. (Since I planned to review this book in time for NaNo, I ignored the instructions telling me to wait a week between chapters. #rebel)

While I don’t agree with everything Baty talks about here – he thinks that the 49,999th and 50,000th words should be “the” and “end,” which seems a bit unrealistic to me – I otherwise found this book to be absolutely crammed with ideas. In fact, I need to read it again… and I’m already planning to write something here in mid-November about all the ideas that helped even me, a soon-to-be five-time NaNoer! SO STAY TUNED FOR THAT POST EYYY.

Some of my favorite sections of No Plot? No Problem! include:

  • The pros and cons of noveling in different places around town
  • How to plan out your book in ten questions or less
  • Using your friends’ stories about their weirdest family members as character inspiration
  • How to write 12,000 words in a weekend
  • Why you should always carry a notebook with you in November (hint: so you’ll never forget your brilliant flashes of novel-y insight that always come to you in the middle of the night)

All in all, I am SO glad I read this book. I borrowed it from the public library and was pleased to see how well-used and well-loved it was – dog-eared pages, coffee stains, cracked spine, and all. The date stamped on the first page indicates that the library has owned this book for twelve years and it’s interesting to think about how many people have read since then, planning out their novels, panicking, pantsing, plotting.

No Plot? No Problem! has lots of advice and motivation for either the brand-new or veteran NaNoer. I would strongly recommend that you find and read a copy of this book, no matter how many years you’ve done NaNoWriMo, before next month begins!

Rating: 3/5

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A Bookish Update #5

Hi, everyone! I’ve been sooo busy lately but I just thought I’d check in here with a quick post about MY BOOKISH LIFE. The last time I did an update like this, school had barely even started and I was still still wrapped in a happy cocoon of MOTIVATION and OVERACHIEVING-NESS (that’s totally a word, shh) that assured me that I could READ ALL OF THE THINGS on ALL OF THE DAYS

Aaaand it turns out that I actually CAN’T, because homework is a thing. And so is studying. And so is SLEEP. (Ugh. How rude.) But I am still trying, because I am nothing if not a persistent bookworm.


no-plot-no-problemFinished A Little While Ago

I set out to read a bunch of books about writing this year, aaaand… while I haven’t had time to read as many as I would like, I DID finish both No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty and  Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.

No Plot? No Problem offered some surprisingly helpful advice, considering that next month will be my fifth NaNoWriMo. At first I thought it would only be useful to brand-new NaNoers, but it soon happily proved to be otherwise.

Letters to a Young Poet, on the other hand, was much more abstract: It talked about the importance of art and the loneliness of writing and whatnot. It also got REALLY WEIRD REALLY FAST but you’ll just have to wait to see what I mean when I review it in a couple of weeks.

Just Finished

I finished Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris only last night! It’s a collection of humorous essays that came recommended to me by a bunch of different people: My mom, aunt, cousins, grandma, some online friends, et cetera… I rarely laugh out loud at books but that happened multiple times with this book!

Currently Reading

Sundays are my day off, which means that I cram as much reading as possible into that day! This morning I’ve already begun listening to the audiobook of Dubliners by James Joyce. I read a few of the short stories from this book for a lit class last year and really enjoyed them, so I’m excited to read the rest of them! It’s supposed to be in the 60s and 70s today, so I’m going to dress warmly and then find a pretty place outdoors to sit and listen.

Today I’m also going to read About A Village by Eamonn McCabe, which is a photoessay about a small English town. I looooove coffee table books and decided to read this one since I haven’t read very many like that lately!

100-years-wisdom-from-famous-writers-on-every-year-of-your-lifeReading Next

I found 100 Years: Wisdom From Famous Writers on Every Year of Your Life by Joshua Prager and Milton Glaser at the library on Friday and OH MY GOD IT LOOKS AMAZING. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Quotes about every age, from one to one hundred, beautiful illustrated and organized. I can’t wait to read it!

I follow Sarah’s Scribbles on Facebook, so you can bet that I was excited to find Sarah Andersen’s new book, Adulthood Is A Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection! I didn’t even realize the library had acquired it already.

Reading Soon

Black Panther, Vol.1: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi was one of my most anticipated comics of 2016 and GUESS WHO HAS HER HANDS ON A COPY OF IT NOW! AHHH! In order to stay motivated and avoid the temptation to just read comics all day long, day in and day out, this book will be my reward if I judge myself to have had a productive day next Saturday. (I mean… honestly I’m probably going to let myself read it regardless of how much I accomplish that day but I’M TRYING TO ADULT HERE, PEOPLES.)

On a similar note, I’ve also been waiting practically FOREVER (well, it felt like that, anyway) for the library to buy The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action by Kieron Gillen and now I have that one to read too!

your-illustrated-guide-to-becoming-one-with-the-universeRecently Added To TBR List

Some of the books I recently found and/or were recommended to me are:

  • I’ve been trying to focus more on self care lately, and as a result I found the book Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa, which appears to be a creative, artistic little creation that teaches you how to calm down and let things go. Perfect!
  • Hello Me, It’s You by Hannah Todd is a collection of letters written by teens and young adults who have mental health issues and I’m so excited to read it! It’s currently available only in ebook form, and I don’t have an ereader… but I’ll figure something out!
  • Reading Ursula K. LeGuin’s fiction has so far been a struggle for me, but I added her writing guide Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew to my TBR because I love learning others’ opinions on writing!
  • I’m really into the idea of combining self care with artistic pursuits, so I added Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life by Keri Smith (the creator of the Wreck This Journal series, which I hope to acquire sometime soon) and can’t wait to see what it has to offer!
  • I recently added Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler because I need to read more fantasy and science fiction by POC authors!


Feel free to steal this idea for your own blog, or answer the questions in the comments! Actually, PLEASE answer the questions in the comments, because I would love to know more about your reading habits! (And what is the best book you’ve read lately? Do you have any recs for me?!)

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Top 10 Literary Cat Names | Author Edition

This is my cat, Mr. Whiskers! He doesn't have a literary name... I'm just adding a picture here because he's cute and I miss him so much.

This is my cat, Mr. Whiskers! He doesn’t have a literary name… I’m just adding a picture here because he’s cute and I miss him so much.

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “ten characters you’d name a child/dog/cat/car/et cetera after.”

And, well, two of the things I love most in this world are cats and books! Spending time with either one – or, preferably, both – makes me feel so happy. I’d rather be around them than other people!

So, yeah. The more cats and books in my life, the better. Aside from education and career goals, one of the things I want most for my future is to live with my wife and some cats in a small house filled with books and plants. I have a running list of possible cat name ideas, most of which are organized in pairs because if you have two then they can be friends! (Or mortal enemies. It really depends.) Some of the names in this post come from that list, and others are brand-new.

In fact, I got so into writing this post that it turned into two separate posts! This one is just for author names, and on Wednesday I published one with character names. BECAUSE REASONS.


james-and-the-giant-peach1. Roald

I have this theory that old-fashioned names work really well as pet names, sooo… gotta have a cat named after one of my favorite children’s book authors, Roald Dahl!

2. Derek

This just sounds like the name of a mischievous cat, doesn’t it? Basically I just looked at my “favorites” shelf on Goodreads and picked out author names that reminded me of the personalities of cats I know.

3. Bram Stoker


4. Dante

His full name? Dante’s InFURno.

(I swear to god, my pun-making capabilities are 1000% whenever I’m around cats or think about cats. You’re welcome.)

bad feminist5. Roxane

I love how Roxane Gay spells her name, and now I want to use that name for someone or something! I don’t want kids, so I have to give this name to a cat one day. Obviously.

6. Neil

Like… this list is not that deep. It’s literally just author names that sound like sleepy cats. I hope Neil Gaiman appreciates that.

7. Suzanne

This would be an adorable name for an older cat! (If I forget to feed her… is that the Hunger Games?)

the dream thieves8. Maggie

IS THIS NOT THE FLUFFIEST, MOST SQUISHY CAT NAME EVER? Maggie Stiefvater seems decidedly not squishy, but I’m going to steal her name anyway and read my cat her books.

9. Bill

After Bill Bryson? After Bill Watterson? Who even knows?

10. Terry

For Terry Pratchett, of course. His middle name would have to be Maurice, after the feline main character in Pratchett’s book The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.


What characters would you name a cat (or dog or bird or fish or car or child) after? And why?!

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Top 10 Literary Cat Names | Character Edition

This is Nierme from the Haunted Bookshop of Iowa City and she has a literary name! Her name means "sorrow" in Sindarin, one of the many languages of the elves in Lord of the Rings. And it's true, she does get very sad when her owners wake her up from naps or forget to feed her.

This is Nierme from the Haunted Bookshop of Iowa City and she has a literary name! Her name means “sorrow” in Sindarin, one of the many languages of the elves in Lord of the Rings. And it’s true, she does get very sad when her owners wake her up from naps or forget to feed her.

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “ten characters you’d name a child/dog/cat/car/et cetera after.”

And, well, two of the things I love most in this world are cats and books! Spending time with either one – or, preferably, both – makes me feel so happy. I’d rather be around them than other people!

So, yeah. The more cats and books in my life, the better. Aside from education and career goals, one of the things I want most for my future is to live with my wife and some cats in a small house filled with books and plants. I have a running list of possible cat name ideas, most of which are organized in pairs because if you have two then they can be friends! (Or mortal enemies. It really depends.) Some of the names in this post come from that list, and others are brand-new.

In fact, I got so into writing this post that it turned into two separate posts! This one is just for character names, and on Friday I’ll publish one with author names. BECAUSE REASONS.


the great gatsby1. Jay Gatsby Catsby 

THIS ONE COMES FIRST BECAUSE IT’S THE BEST, OBVIOUSLY. I’m proud of myself for thinking of it. I mean, what’s better than cats and books and puns?! NOTHING, I TELL YOU, NOTHING.

And in keeping with my “you gotta have two cats at a time” principle, I would name the other one Nick and he would frown at the excess of Gatsby’s misadventures and/or catnip parties.

2. Petra

I’ve always liked this character from Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and I think this would be a lovely name for a female cat! I feel like it’s kind of dignified, though, so I’d have to first find a cat with the right sort of personality.

3. Minerva McGonagall

No one can stop me from doing this. NO ONE. I love McGonagall so much I sometimes forget she’s not a real person… so naming a cat after her is clearly the next best thing, right?! Possible names for my other cats at the time include Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris.

4. Callablue lily lily blue

This would be a great name for a haughty cat because the fictional character she would be named after – from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater* – is as well! It’s a gorgeous name, too, and I want to use it for SOMETHING. Since I’m never having children, I may as well give it to a pet.

*Wait, I mean Maggie StiefCATer. I’m sorry, I’ll stop now.

5. BartholoMEOW Cubbins

THIS IS ANOTHER OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE CAT NAMES OMG. This is from The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss… or is it the 500 CATS of Bartholomeow Cubbins?! SORRY NOT SORRY.

6. Gregor

I had the protagonist of Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles in mind when I thought of this, but Gregor Samsa from Kafka’s The Metamorphosis would be a interesting namesake as well.

I really love old-fashioned names as cat names, or as pet names in general. Perhaps because most of the cats I’ve known have been male and most of the birds female, I think old-fashioned male names fit cats’ personalities so well, while old-fashioned female names fit chickens’ personalities perfectly. (We have or have had chickens with names like Sheila, Phoebe, Priscilla, Mabel, et cetera…)

So Gregor works perfectly in my book. (PUN TOTALLY NOT INTENDED OOPS MY BAD.)

gregor-and-the-curse-of-the-warmbloods-29u31g4[1]7. Faust

I don’t even know why I want to use this as a cat name?! We just finished reading Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, a retelling of the legend, in one of my lit classes. So I suppose it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I don’t know. I think I like how outlandish this name is for a cat – I mean, this character sold his soul to the devil. It works as a cat name precisely because it’s so dramatic.

8. Martin Chuzzlewit

This is the only name on this list from a book I haven’t yet read: The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens! It’s just… so fuzzy-sounding… it would be perfect for a fluffy, chubby cat.

I have to admit that I didn’t think of it on my own, though. I stole it from a highly entertaining list of literary cat names published on Book Riot. OMG GO CHECK OUT THE REST OF THAT LIST IT’S SO GOOD AND MADE ME WANT TO ADOPT APPROXIMATELY 459823752935 CATS FROM THE ANIMAL SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.

9. Montmorency

This is the name of the protagonist in a kind of obscure YA historical fiction series by Eleanor Updale, which I strongly recommend! It’s fancy and kind of fuzzy and it’s just so much FUN to say! frindle

10. Frindle

I’M CHEATING HERE, I KNOW. Frindle isn’t exactly a charater in Andrew Clements’ book of the same name: It’s an alternative to the word “pen.” Buuuuut… this little pen plays such a big role in the story that it’s almost a character in its own right?! Maybe? I know it’s a bit of a stretch and that logic is not entirely on my side, but shhhh. Let me revel in glorious cat names.


Stay tuned for my upcoming post on author-based cat names! In the meantime, what characters would you name a cat (or dog or bird or fish or car or child) after? And why?!

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Writing In College | Some Projects I’m Working On During The 2016-2017 School Year

Writing is a difficult, though not impossible, hobby to maintain while in college. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. Day in and day out. I think more than anything it requires stubbornness: A determination to keep going, an obstinate refusal to give up. And I have plenty of stubbornness which sometimes, admittedly, gets me into trouble… but other times it comes in handy! Like now!

I am determined to write FUN STUFF (e.g. not papers or short answers on quizzes!) throughout my college years. Over the past year or so I’ve encountered quite  a few people who seem flabbergasted that after spending so much time reading and writing for school – I’m double-majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism, just to give you an idea of the sheer volume of words words WORDS I deal with every day – my idea of unwinding is to spend yet more time reading and writing.

My most recent conversation along those lines was just a few days ago and it got me thinking again about how busy and tired I am all the time, but I keep stubbornly trying to squeeze in as much writing as I possibly can in my free time.

With that in mind, here are some of the writerly things that I do in college. (I mean, besides, blogging. You already know about that.) This post was originally envisioned as a list of my top ten writing goals for the 2016-2017 school year, but I don’t think that format makes much sense anymore: Since I’m publishing this post several months into the school year most of these goals are already in progress, which means making a top ten list would be cheating! So as much as I love lists (YOU KNOW I DO), this post won’t be one.

First things first: I’m so proud of myself for attending Iowa Writers’ House meetings on a regular basis! The IWH is one of the reasons I love living in Iowa City a nonprofit organization that hosts write-ins, literary walking tours, genre-based writing groups, special workshops on writing and literature, and more.

I belong to three writing groups there: The Violet Realm (fantasy & science fiction), the Great Green Room (for writers and illustrators of children’s books & middle grade & YA), and the Rainbow Room (LGBTQ+ fiction). Each of these groups meets once a month on Tuesdays evenings – with the exception of the Violet Realm, which meets twice a month.

This helps me to not only carve out some time to write in my busy, busy schedule, but make new writer friends as well. Up until this fall I mostly did my own thing, writing-wise, so I really appreciate having such a strong network of IRL support.

Also, I might start working for the IWH soon! They had some organizational changes lately that led to desperately needing people to lead the Great Green Room and the Rainbow Room, so I may end up co-leading one or both of those groups. (It’ll look great on my resume, too!)

Wow, 553 words into the post and I’ve only scratched the surface of this year’s writing pursuits. Hmmm. OK. Next up is NaNoWriMo, which has been on my mind almost constantly these past few weeks. (You can check out my posts about the planning I’ve done for my 2016 novel here and here, if you’re interested!)

As I’ve assured my mom multiple times via text message and phone calls, I will not hesitate to drop out of NaNo at the first sign of being overwhelmed. I need good grades, sleep, a reasonably low amount of stress, et cetera… but if at all possible I want to attempt NaNo again, since I didn’t do it last year. Between the IWH’s write-ins and the ones hosted by the Iowa City NaNoWriMo group, I should have more than enough time and support.

Yet another project involves reading books about writing! I haven’t been able to do this as often as I would like, but I will continue to try. The Haunted Bookshop (AKA my FAVORITE place in Iowa City) has quite a few shelves devoted to all sorts of different writing guides so I found a bunch to check out, including:

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Half-Known World: On Writing Fiction by Robert Boswell
  • Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
  • Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer
  • Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing by Catherine Deveny

Lately I read No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty, as well as Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I read the first to help me prepare for THE BEST, MORE SUCCESSFUL NANO EVER (I hope) and the second one because my Travel Writing professor read some beautiful excerpts from it on our last day of class.

While I’m on the subject of writing guides, I should add that another project of mine involves doing the activities and/or prompts suggested in each book. This is very much still a goal and not a reality because I haven’t had time to do it yet, but I thought it would be a fun, constructive, methodical way to grow my writing skills. Also, since I have soooo many empty notebooks I’m going to use one of them for this project!

Yet more projects involve writing for various publications. I’m writing for Her Campus at Iowa again this semester! I missed the first few pitch deadlines, but thankfully they were very understanding of how overwhelming school can be. So I have two articles due in a couple of weeks. Now that midterms are over and I’ve got my life more under control I hope to keep up that same pace.

I would also like to write for the national Her Campus website, so I’ll have to see what the applications involve.

I want to write for The Daily Iowan, my school’s newspaper. (Bragging time: It’s the largest student newspaper in the country and is apparently considered one of the best?! HAVE I MENTIONED YET THAT I LOVE THE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM HERE.) I’m not going to say anything more about this project for REASONS, but just know that I AM WORKING ON IT. I applied for it last summer and didn’t get the position, but I’ve since realized that that was actually a good thing because my two ongoing journalism classes constantly remind me how much I still need to learn.

I’d also like to begin submitting some of my work to online publications. If you want to know more, you can read about it in my post about goals for the 2016-17 school year!

Finally, I’m going to think about GRAD SCHOOL. Several of my professors have recommended that I wait five or ten or even fifteen years before applying in order to give my writing skills time to develop, but I want to do a little research starting now. My dream is to earn an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The oldest and most prestigious creative writing program in the country, it’s located right next door to my dorm, which is very motivating… and also more than a little anxiety-inducing. GAH.

This is a lot to handle, but you should know that I’m not doing it all at once. That would be foolish and I would quickly burn out. Some days, weeks, and months are more productive than others. Some projects fall to the wayside so that I have more time to work on others. I just keep going, making sure that I write for purposes other than homework so that I maintain this passion for writing.

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An Update On My Classes | Midterms, Photoshop, & Edgar Allan Poe

Time for another monthly update on my classes! I can’t believe it’s October already. Halloween is almost here and it’s amazing how fast the days fly past when I’m this busy.


Prose Style

This course is designed to teach us about different types of sentences and how using them can enhance your writing. Well, at first I didn’t notice myself using those types more often, but now I do! I use them in essays, fiction, and blog posts… not this one, though, because A) it’s just a quick update and B) I’m super tired. But it’s been fun to experiment with sentence types, such as the suspensive sentence or the mid-branching cumulative sentence. I’ll have to write a post explaining what these (and others) are and include some of my favorite sentences that I’ve written in those styles!

Foundations of the English Major

Midterm grades were handed back today and I got 92% on mine! I’ve really been struggling with the essays required for this class but with everything else – participation, reading questions, tests, essay prewrites, et cetera – I do quite well. I know I do: My grades in those areas show it. So why do I feel like a terrible student in this class? Probably because I am a bundle of anxiety and think I’m LITERALLY THE WORST when I miss points on an assignment.

Media Shift

Gah, this is definitely my least favorite class this semester! Which is so unfortunate, because I’d been so excited for it. Oh, well. We finished up our unit on Benjamin Franklin and have now moved on to a unit on Edgar Allan Poe, just in time for Halloween!

One thing I am happy about regarding this class is that, because I gave a presentation and turned in the accompanying paper already, I don’t have any major assignments to worry about until much later. We have a humongous research paper AND a final exam at the end, which is unfortunate – most courses have only one or the other, not both – but it could be worse. I could have to juggle a presentation and paper on top of all that, so let’s just be glad that I don’t.

Journalistic Reporting & Writing

JRW and MMS (see below) are a huge part of the reason I’m so tired, stressed, and busy all the time! Yesterday I turned in a huge project that counts for both classes and I’m so glad that’s over… now I have to start working on the next one! I discovered that free tutoring/writing help is offered in the journalism resource center, so I’ve been bringing my drafts there to work on tightening up my prose and making sure I stick to AP Style.

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling

In this class we’ve been learning how to use Photoshop! For the humongous project I turned in on Friday, we had to cover a local event. In JRW we wrote a press release after interviewing its organizers and participants, and in MMS we photographed the event, compiled a slideshow, and create social media headers for a mock social media campaign designed to promote our event. That last part consisted of making graphics for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I spent soooo much time working on it, but I’m so pleased with the result! And grateful to my friends who helped me figure out Photoshop! Ahhh!


How has your life been? Tell me one new thing you learned in school lately! And tell me one schoolish thing that’s been stressing you out, too, because I think we all need to commiserate with one another about the hectic, overwhelming beastie that SCHOOL can be.

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Things That Happened Lately | RA Applications, Thinking About The Election, & I Have A Buzz Cut Now (!!!!!!)

Hey, everyone! Just thought I’d post a quick life-y update before I do one about my classes in a few days’ time. Life has been incredibly busy right now and I’m actually writing this in between journalism assignments, as I needed a quick brain break.

So here is what I’ve been up to! Enjoy!

unnamed1. Got a buzz cut


The sides of my undercut weren’t too long but the top part was in desperate need of a trim and I’d been meaning to see what I looked like with a buzz cut anyway so when I was over at my friend Jill’s apartment this weekend I asked if she could just buzz it all off with her clippers. And she did. And now my hair is SO SHORT. So, so short. I look like a smaller, softer version of Furiosa.

The seasons shifted from summer to fall incredibly quickly this year: The temperature was in the eighties last week, but this morning it was only 36 oF! Between that and my brand-new lack of hair, wearing a hat is a must and I’ve had SO much fun dramatically pulling it off to reveal my new haircut.

I think I’ve already said this before, and I’ll probably say it again later, but once I chopped my hair off this summer, changing my hairstyle frequently and trying new things suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal anymore. After all, the worst that can happen is that I don’t like how it looks… but even then it’s no big deal, because hair grows back. IT’S JUST HAIR. Why NOT buzz it all off just to see how it looks, since it’s hella short already?

2. Started the very long process of becoming an RA

That is, I went to a mandatory information session and have begun to fill out the application form! Since it requires a resume, two letters of recommendation, and several essays, it’s a good idea to start early.

I’m not sure if RAs are a thing at colleges in other countries, so I’ll explain: An RA, or resident assistant, is an upperclassman who lives in the dorms and ensures that life there goes smoothly. They do everything from manning the front desk and patrolling the hallways at night to organizing fun activities for their residents and being the shoulder they can cry on if someone is stressed.

I don’t know exactly how this job works at other schools, but at mine RAs receive free room and board, plus a $5000 stipend per year. All in all it’s a very demanding job – in fact, RAs here aren’t allowed to hold any other job during the school year because the university is concerned that they would be overwhelmed. It is also a very competitive job, with about seventy-five new RAs chosen from an applicant pool of about three hundred annually.

I didn’t apply for this position last year because I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility… also, I was just plain too depressed to get myself to all the informational and/or training meetings!

Once we’ve been selected, which is still a long way off, we can request to be placed in a particular LLC, or Living-Learning Community. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that this is where we’ll actually be assigned, but my dream RA position would be in the Honors LLC, where I lived last year. It’s such an AMAZING community and I want to contribute to it! My second choice would be All In, which does not currently exist but will debut for the 2017-2018 school year. Its focus is building a strong LGBTQ+ presence on campus.

3. Checked election news obsessively

Because I am required to read various newspapers for at least half an hour per day for Journalistic Reporting & Reporting… and also because this is my country and I care about what happens in November and who our next leader will be.

Anyway, I started following The New York Times (one of the required news sources for JRW) on Facebook so that I see the news even more often on my phone, and I’ve been checking FiveThirtyEight obsessively. It’s so satisfying to see Trump’s chance of being electing steadily dissipate.

For a while Clinton and Trump were almost neck and neck, getting dangerously even in terms of percentage points, and it was making me nervous. I mean, I still am anxious that something could go wrong because I have anxiety about literally everything and this election is so important, but I do feel a little better now. I’m planning to vote early in a week or so because if there are fewer people at the polls on election day, it makes things easier for people with limited time who may not visit their local polling place if they see long lines. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.


What have you been up to lately, especially apart from schoolwork? I can’t believe this fall has gone by so quickly!

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