instead of writing words

I dislike the rhetoric that there’s no such thing as writer’s block, that it’s just fear or laziness or procrastination. Sometimes mental illness gets in the way, or exhaustion or work or grief. Sometimes my head is full of static instead of words, and I couldn’t write a chapter if my life depended on it. I’ve started the same story twice, and it feels like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together. Sometimes you’ll open the same story every day for a month, and then one day it’ll feel right again. Or it won’t. And that’s okay. You don’t need to force yourself to write every day; in fact, you shouldn’t. That’s how you burn out. If you want to write every day, great. But if you are staring at the words and nothing is coming, step away. Take a breath. Write something else if you can. Do something else if you can’t. Give yourself a break. It’s better to rest and start again than to burn out and hate it all.

Public speaking is very few people’s favorite thing. It can be so terrifying to get up in front of a whole class and present your project, so here are a few tips on nailing your next speech and feeling a little less nervous while you’re at it.

i. preparing your speech

  • Start with a topic that you care about, and be sure that:
    • It’s not too general that you don’t have enough time to cover it (like ‘the history of the US’ for a five minute speech) or too specific that you will run out of material.
  • Some people talk faster when they are nervous, some people slow down. Find out which you are and plan accordingly.
  • Make several drafts, and send them to your teacher if you can.
  • Create your visual aids (PowerPoint, handouts, etc) before your final draft, so you can make changes as necessary.
  • Don’t put too much text on your slides, other wise your audience (and maybe you) will get distracted by trying to read them.
    • Stick to using slides for quick facts, statistics, and pictures.
  • Don’t use the sound effects options they have for changing slides, it will just be a distraction.
  • For a speech you’re just giving once, you probably won’t have the timing down enough to use automatic changes.
  • Don’t put too much information on one slide. Just the point you’re on, and maybe the next, will be enough to fill it if your font is as large as it should be. 
  • Make sure you have your slides saved in at least two places (typically a flash drive and your email) so that if you can’t access one you have a back up.
  • Think about what questions people might have about your topic, and be prepared to answer them. Also brush up on any opposing views if the exist so that you can address those, both in the speech and in questions.

ii. making your flashcards 

  • Write bigger and clearer than you think you need.
    • I find it a bit difficult to read when I get nervous, especially when I’m just glancing down quickly. Write in print, and stick to just one or two points per card so that you can write largely.
  • Don’t write whole sentences, just key words.
    • If you have too much information you’ll be tempted to read it all off. Instead, just write down a word or two that will remind you of your point if you get off track.
  • Number your flashcards, and consider putting them on a ring. 
    • That way, if you drop your cards on the way up you won’t start out flustered.
  • Remember to put when to change the slide so you don’t forget and end up behind, or leaving it on the same slide the whole time. 
  • Color code your cards so that you can see what’s happening at a glance.
    • I typically use blue for stats/things I need to quote directly, grey for slide changes, and pink for points to emphasize. 
  • All speeches should end with you asking for questions, so be sure to add that into your last card. 

iii. practicing

  • Always practice out loud, even if you feel silly. 
    • It’s important to hear and feel yourself saying the speech to get comfortable performing it.
  • Time yourself practicing your rough draft a few times, so you know if you need to make it longer or shorter. 
  • Practice with your visual aids a few times
  • Practice it all the way through if you can; if you mess up, brush it off and keep going.
  • Film yourself practicing, so you can see if there’s anything you’re not noticing that you need to adjust.
  • Practice everyday, even if it’s just for a few minutes some days.
  • The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.

iv. getting ready to speak

  • On the day of your speech, be sure to eat a good breakfast/lunch so you don’t get light headed.
  • Dress in an outfit that makes you feel confident and isn’t distracting: no busy patterns, large logos, or short hemlines that you would be tugging at the whole time. 
  • Double check that you have everything you need before you leave – cards, slides, and any handouts you may need.
  • This TED Talk has some great tips on faking confidence. I highly recommend watching it, but if you don’t have the time one of the take aways is that certain poses can trick your brain into feeling confident. She actually suggests going into a bathroom stall and standing in a “Superman” sorta pose for a minute or so. You’ll feel really silly, but strangely it helps. 
  • While you’re in there, adjust your hair/check your teeth so you’re not worried about that when you get up there. 
  • If you get to choose when you speak, think strategically: will going first and getting it out of the way make you feel better? Or would you rather wait and see a few people speak first?
    • I really don’t suggest waiting until the very last slot, but I like to go second or third to have the best of both worlds.
  • When you get to class, lay out everything you need and glance over your notes one more time. Then take a deep breath. You’ve got this.

v. the speech

  • When you get up to speak, take your time laying out everything you need and setting up your slides. 
  • After you’ve gotten the slides on, test the remote to see how sensitive it is. Just flipping to the first slide and back to the intro will help you feel less flustered if it’s more sensitive than you think and jumps around.
  • Take a deep breath and get started. If you mess up, no will know but you. Just keep going and act confident.
  • Glance back for just a second when changing slides to make sure you’re on the right one.
  • Make eye contact! The biggest mistake I see people make is to look down or above everyone’s head. Make eye contact with everyone more or less equally so it doesn’t look like you’re staring people down (but, if there’s someone that’s extra smiley/encouraging don’t be afraid to come back to them when you get nervous).
  • If you feel yourself starting to get nervous or starting to talk too fast/slow, it’s okay to take a second to take a deep breath and center yourself. Don’t be afraid of a couple seconds of silence if you need them.
  • If the podium helps you feel less nervous, use it. If moving around helps you loosen up, that works too! 
  • If you get off track, you are likely only one that even noticed that you messed up, so just take a deep breath, take a look at your notes, and get back on track the best you can (”going back to the second point,” or “but before we get to that,”).
  • If you’ve noticed that something’s wrong that needs to be addressed (like you’re on the wrong slide, or you misspoke and gave an incorrect fact) you can say something simple like “Sorry, I misspoke, it’s actually 1 in 3 Americans, not 1 in 4″ or try to make a joke if the subject lends to it and move onto your next point.
  • No matter what happens, it’s all good. Try to to panic and say things like “sorry, guys, I’m just so nervous” because that’s basically the only thing that will tip them off that you are. 

Above all, just try to relax and remember that you’re doing a good job. No one but you can tell how nervous you are or will know if you mess up. 

Memorization Tips

Hey guys! Here’s a collection of all the tips I use on a regular basis to help with memorization. Three things before we start. One, keep in mind that this is mostly geared towards both visual and auditory learners. Two,, I’ll use Biology examples, but these tips can be applied to a variety of subjects. Three, when I talk about drawing, 5-year-old level doodles will do just fine. So, I hope you find these helpful!

  1. Draw pictures of what you have to remember – break up whatever word you need to remember, associate each part with something, draw that something. Ex: thermogenin, you draw a thermos and inside of it, you draw a gene (as in, you draw a chromosome and shade a small part of it). This is my ultimate foolproof method for remembering vocabulary.

  2. Make each page memorable. You can use colors, draw little arrows, make doodles, even if they are irrelevant to the subject you’re studying. Making each page unique will stimulate your visual memory and you’ll be more likely to remember things (this is why I personally include pictures of structures if I’m rewriting my biology notes on my laptop, otherwise, it’s pages and pages of text blocks and it all blurrs together in your mind)

  3. Test fonts. Times New Roman in size 12 is the easiest font for our brain to process. There are studies that show that information written in fonts that are smaller and harder to read is actually more likely to be remembered. If you’re a visual learner, this is probably not true for you, I, for example, remember info best in Times New Roman 12, so that’s the font I print all my notes in. Try printing three paragraphs of information (two different pieces of information that you’ve never gone over and that is easy to understand, needing only memorization) in both styles and test yourself to see which one you remember better.

  4. When you have to learn a process, visualize it, picture it in your mind, you’ll understand it a lot better than just repeating the steps in words. If a proteín is recognized by the cytoplasmic membrane and then enters in through a pore, imagine it happening. If you can’t picture something, such as structures, look them up on google images.

  5. Sticky notes. Need to memorize a formula? Write it down on a post it note, stick it on the cover of a notebook/book and force yourself to recall the formula whenever you have to use said notebook. Check whether you got it right. If you didn’t, look at it, repeat it out loud. Try again next time.

  6. Highlighter and annotations symbiosis. Don’t stop using highlighters, you still want them to mark important parts of the text. However, if what you want is to stay present while you study, the best method is to go through a paragraph and then write in the margin whatever you understood. This is not really useful in subjects like Biology (because you basically can’t summarize all that much, everything is important) but it’s perfect for more logical subjects like math or chemistry. I find it especially useful in summarizing formula deductions - instead of writing the steps in numbers and symbols, write them out in words, you’ll remember it much better.

  7. Get the whole picture. Every time you come across a piece of information that relates back to something you’ve already learnt, recall that whole other topic. It’s a great way to review.

  8. Rewrite your notes, don’t recopy them. By this, I don’t mean “put it in your own words” because you probably have already done that in your original notes (if you just copy what comes out of your professor’s mouth word by word in class, don’t, it’s not doing you any good). What I mean is, if you’re taking the time to rewrite them, you may as well reorganize them. Have to memorize a bunch of facts about a type of cell? Group them together. Which ones refer to its functions, which ones are related to its shape and size and contents? Put those together. If you don’t know how to regroup them just by looking at your notes, read through these and underline facts in the same category with the same color. You’ll be surprised. 

  9. Try to link facts or concepts when rewriting your notes. Ex: Don’t write

    “-Meristematic cells’ primary function is to divide.

    -They have little cytoplasm.

    -They have few organelles.”

    But: ”Meristematic cells primary function is to divide. That’s why they don’t need to have a lot of organelles or cytoplasm.“

    Following this same line of thought, when highlighting, highlight only the ‘main’ point. The consequences or everything related should stem from there.

  10. Say it yourself This method consists of reading two/three paragraphs, making annotations if necessary and then repeating these paragraphs to yourself OUT LOUD. You’re not repeating things like a parrot, you’re putting the information into your own words. This is the main method that I’ve been using since I got my first textbook and I was honestly so shocked when I saw that people usually study in silence. It makes the information stick so much better, but forget about libraries and oh boy, when you get to college be prepared to get creative with your study spaces if you have a roommate.

  11. Make flashcards of vocabulary. If a month from now you’re asked to explain a theory or a process you’ve already studied, you’ll probably be able to recall the main idea. If you’re asked to explain a certain term/vocabulary word, the chances of you remembering it are… well, slim. So, even if the moment you’re studying it you’re convinced you will remember it, make the flashcard anyway. Oh, and remember the ‘drawing pictures for vocabulary’ thing? Draw those on the back of the flashcards.

Other masterposts

creative writing "advice" always be like

- Restrict your pool of words like a simpleton
- Write like you’re turning in a history essay instead of a creative writing piece
- Commentary on the word “said”


never compare yourselves to other canon blogs who play the same character as you. not one person is the same, we are all different and unique, thus that makes the roles we play so much more better. everyone has a different take on a character, none is better than the other.

look, we all start somewhere, and as we spend more time doing this we improve our writing. I’ve been writing optimus for nearly 5 years. that’s how long it’s taken for me to be where I am. did I get there by comparing myself to other optimuses? no way, otherwise I would of quit a long time ago. Surround yourself with positive influences and befriend each other, support each other and offer critique and help.

there is critisism, which is supposed to be helpful, and then there is doubting yourself.

don’t doubt yourself, okay?

Not gonna lie, sometimes I really wonder how the Murphys’ didn’t realize Evan was lying sooner. Of course, that wouldn’t help the plot, but it seems pretty early on that Jared and Evan are writing rehab into the emails, and to some unknown extent, are writing about Connor’s experience there. I am sure we all assume that Connor has been to rehab (though not technically confirmed, Cynthia does mention it and as Connor’s classmates, Jared and Evan probably would have heard about it at some point, explaining why they’d bring it up in the emails). But, as I’ve seen other people mention on here, Cynthia says that she ‘fought for rehab’, not that he actually ever went. Though we can’t actually be sure that Jared and Evan ever included the reference to rehab,, because it was the whole ‘sucking dick for meth’ bit which obviously got deleted, and therefore, the mention of rehab as a whole could have gone too. 

Arguing that Connor did go and they did bring it up in the emails, I do question how two boys who have never been to rehab could have written about the experience even remotely accurately. Plus, there are so many specifics that could have so easily gone wrong. How long was he in rehab for? How did they get those days right? Even if he missed school for quite a while, surely he wasn’t at rehab that whole time? There would have HAD to have been days where he was just at home. So for Evan and Jared to get the timeline even remotely close, seems pretty impressive to me.

Which leads me to what I’ve been thinking about for a while. Evan is a watcher. An observer. He knows about Zoe filling out quizzes in magazines and how she dances because, for Evan’s entire life, he’s sat on the sidelines. You can argue that he only noticed this stuff because he liked Zoe - but I wouldn’t reduce him to that. When you have no one to talk to, you fill the void by placing yourself into other people’s conversations, and eventually other people’s lives. Also known as Evan worming his way into the Murphys’ lives. I would argue that Evan did this long, long before we ever saw it.

Evan was injecting himself into Zoe’s life long before the narrative began. And so was he, with Connor. Even if we say that Evan didn’t have any reason to want to know more about Connor, he would have ended up doing so just because of Zoe. How do you get to know someone? You get to know the people around them. Plus, Connor and Zoe going to and from school together would have been something Evan noticed. He would have noticed Zoe at the jazz band concert, and he would have noticed how her brother didn’t show. He would have noticed when Zoe came to school alone for a while and wondered where Connor could be. Evan would have seen these things, and I like to think that sometimes Evan would have wondered who Connor was. 

That’s why I think Evan was so good at writing the letters. Sure, he was projecting himself onto Connor. You can’t get to know someone just by watching them. We see this with how Evan and Zoe play out. But, I think Evan spent quite a while catching glimpses of Connor and that wove itself into the letters. Of course, Evan’s not perfect at it. Alana notices that things aren’t making sense, which just drives home that despite Evan watching Connor for who knows how long, watching someone doesn’t equal knowing someone. Regardless of how much Evan thought he knew, at the end of the day, he could never know enough. 

I guess that’s why the letters worked so well and then failed so badly. Evan knew the big things, the moments like rehab, printer throwing, getting high, going to school with Zoe, that Connor was alone. Things that the Murphys also knew about Connor. But Evan, just like the Murphys, didn’t know the details. He didn’t know what Connor wanted to do after high school, or his favourite colour, or his favourite song, because he didn’t actually know Connor. Just like how, despite their best attempts, the Murphys didn’t either. So it worked for a while. Until Evan had to keep projecting himself into the letters, because the big things were becoming too small, and the small too big. Until things were crumbling and Evan couldn’t keep up anymore. All of that just makes me that much sadder. That Evan and Connor could have been so close for so long, so present in each other’s lives, and yet somehow never quite meet. And doesn’t that make the whole computer lab scene even worse? That Connor was telling Evan, ‘now we can pretend we both have friends’, and for a moment, maybe Evan thought it could have been possible. Maybe he thought that Connor, just like Evan, had been watching too. 

literally the dumbest writing tip but: if you keep trying to edit a section instead of writing more, highlight it so you know and your brain knows it will need to be fixed. then when you want to go and edit again you know where it was, and in the meantime, Highlighted Sections are a Problem for Future You. Present You is going to drink her tea before it gets cold, do a stretch, and write fifty words instead of worrying about Future You’s Problems.

At Swords Points

Part II

Part I

Riskua the redhead is quite pretty, Ace’s decided.

He doesn’t know what it is (because those eyes have put more than a few of his brothers off already) but there’s… something about her.

She’s sitting upon the railings of the Moby right now, looking out to sea with her long red hair pulled up into a high pony, the sun catching on the exposed tanned skin of her legs… Yeah, there’s something about her.

Keep reading

Dean stares at Sam in utter disbelief and shock, his voice horrified when he says: “What the fuck do you mean, ‘you told him’?”

Sam’s heart hammers painfully in his chest, his hands twisting anxiously together. “He’ll understand, Dean, he has to! I just couldn’t bear hiding anymore, please, don’t hate me!”

Sam stumbles towards Dean. He waits for Dean to take him in his arms and kiss him like he always does; waits for Dean to tell him It’s alright, baby boy, we’ll get through this.

Dean does none of these things.

Instead, Dean takes a step back and looks at Sam like he’s never seen him properly before and when Sam reaches out for him, he slaps Sam’s hand away.

 “Don’t,” Dean tells him warningly, his eyes glinting like the edge of a sharp knife.  

Dean’s shoulder bangs into his as he storms out from their motel room, and Sam feels like he’s going to be sick right there on the carpet.

Later that evening, John comes into their room and drops, without a word, a stack of college applications in Sam’s lap.

When Sam, hours later, tries to cry himself to sleep, Dean finally comes back. He has a black eye, and he doesn’t even look at Sam.

Sam wants to ask, but he doesn’t.

He knows who blacked Dean’s eye.

Dean crawls into the bed next to his, his back against Sam.

“I just wanted to be with you,” Sam whispers into the room. He feels like he can hardly breathe.

“Yeah,” Dean answers, tonelessly. “Me too.”  


“Neil, what is this?” you gurgled. “What does it mean ‘said is not dead’?”

“It means exactly what it says,” I screamed. “I’m saying that those posts about words to use instead of the word ‘said’ are absurd and unnecessary. People need to stop telling writers to stop using the word ‘said’.”

“But Neil!” you hissed. “Isn’t it true that ‘said’ is boring? Don’t you want your writing to be more descriptive?”

“No,” I uttered. “Not at all. Just because the word isn’t exciting doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it.”

“That’s silly,” you yowled. “Of course it does! Why would you want to write anything that doesn’t include excitement and creativity bursting out of every sentence?”

I sighed and rubbed at my temples, trying to stave off the migraine that was beginning to rear its ugly head. “That’s ridiculous,” I sobbed. “Why on earth would it be a bad thing to cut words just because they’re commonplace? Do you think it would help your writing if you stopped using the word ‘it’? Or ‘and’? Or ‘the’?”

“Well, no…” you rejoiced. “But this is different.”

“It’s really not,” I reported. “In fact, there are two extremely important reasons why you should keep ‘said’ in your writing.”

“Oh? And what are these reasons?” you articulated.

“First, said is more or less invisible,” I moaned. “When the reader is sucked into your writing, they won’t even notice the dialogue tags if you’re using the word ‘said’. This helps prevent those tags from breaking up the flow of the dialogue, and thus the scene.”

“What’s the second reason?” you reassured.

“The second reason is that when you use a fancy and highly descriptive verb for every dialogue tag, it lessens the impact of the description,” I blabbered. “The same way if someone calls every movie they see ‘amazing’, you’re not going to take their word for it when an actual amazing movie comes along and they’re trying to tell you about it.”

“So, let me see if I understand,” you taunted. “If I keep using all those other dialogue tags, then when there comes a point when I need a character to actually mumble, or snap, or blubber, using those dialogue tags carries less impact?”

“Exactly,” I mentioned.

“But, wait,” you expressed. “Does that mean that I’m not supposed to use any dialogue tags besides ‘said’? I feel like that’s limiting my creativity.”

“Not at all,” I implored. “I’m not saying that you can’t use them. I’m saying that you should only use them if that is the actual type of speaking you want to convey. If a character is shouting, feel free to use ‘shouted’. But don’t throw those words around willy-nilly. They’re not decorations. They mean things.”

“All right, I think I’m with you,” you boasted. “So you’re saying I’m only supposed to use ‘said’ if the character is speaking with absolutely no particular emotion or inflection?”

I stared at you for a moment, wondering if perhaps you were trolling me, but the sincere expression on your face told me you were completely serious. “No, that’s not what I’m saying,” I meowed. “You can often use the actual dialogue and the context of the scene to get a sense of the tone of what is being said. Additionally, you can always use ‘said’ along with adverbs.”

“Adverbs?!” you yodeled. “But I thought adverbs were evil!”

“You thought wrong,” I threatened. “If there’s a certain descriptor you want to use for your dialogue tag, and there’s no equivalent word that fits correctly, adverbs are fine and dandy. ‘“It’s not important,” he said dismissively’ will have a very different meaning from ‘“It’s not important,” he said hastily’.”

“Okay, I guess you’re making sense,” you voiced. “So, that means that all those posts I see about words to use instead of ‘said’ are…?”

“They’re total bullcrap,” I alleged.

“Well, thank you Neil,” you squawked. “I think I now have a much better appreciation for dialogue tags and their meaning.”

“You’re welcome,” I ejaculated.

childish pastime, you shouldn’t
have expected me to love for long.
rash of a girl,
i was too young. is your heart
still caught up in the idea of me?
—  L.H

So according to an interview with Neil Gaiman in the back of Good Omens, before Terry Pratchett became a full time writer he wrote at least 400 words a day.

I’ve been trying it out for a couple weeks now and let me tell you 400 words is a totally awesome goal. It is very approachable and not intimidating, often leads to more than 400 words cause well now I have to finish this scene

Seriously I probably would have written nothing in the last couple weeks, instead I’ve written 1000′s of words. 

10/10 would recommend.