Tag Archives: advice

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 4: Feeling Like a Boss

As my first update for Camp NaNoWriMo, I must say that I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far in my writing journey.

As I stated last time, my story is bigger than I thought it originally was going to be. As I continue writing I’m discovering more and more about what I want the story to be and how I want it to unfold.

Hell, I even figured out that I want it to be a trilogy.

That said, my writing the past four days has been an epic one.

As of this moment I am currently at 16,803 words of 50,000. That’s 34% of the way to my goal. And I’m not even close to being done yet.

It feels amazing to write almost 5k words per day and to just see the story unfolding in front of my eyes. I’m learning more about my two main characters, as well as the world surrounding them, and I love it.

Though right now I’m still working out kinks and how I want certain things to flow, I do have a vague idea of major plot points, as well as some scenes I really want to work up to.

Especially the romance parts. *teehee* (I’m such a goob.)

But as of today I’m feeling like a boss. Which means, pretty much, I feel great and like I can conquer the world (muahaha!).

Now this doesn’t mean I’ll keep up my writing streak for long. I am trying to reach the next milestone every day (5k per day), so my next milestone I want to reach today is 20k words.

I’m determined, though, and I am truly loving this novel so much.

Now for today’s advice because I need it as much as any writer out there:

  • Don’t let what future reviews might say affect how you write. Do you worry about what future readers might think about your writing? I’m the sort of person that hates disappointing people, and if they’re disappointed in my work then I feel I’ve let them down. I’m already thinking of future reviews when I should be focusing on the now, on my writing, on my first draft. Don’t think about what may be; think about what you have right in front of you.
  • Reach a milestone per day and reward yourself somehow. Rewarding yourself is something that everyone loves doing. If it weren’t for rewards I’m sure a lot of us wouldn’t be doing what we love to do. I haven’t rewarded myself yet, but that’s also because I’m trying to think of something that’ll work for me. So whether that be an hour or two of Netflix after reaching your word count goal for the day, or going for a walk with a friend, or chocolate, give yourself a reward.
  • Give yourself a challenge to reach toward. I find that I’m a competitive person at times when I’m otherwise a very relaxed person (in most cases). Giving myself a challenge to strive to achieve is one such way that helps drive me to my goal. That’s why I’ve been thinking of raising my word count goal from 50k to 100k: it’s a challenge that I can strive for, and the way I’m thinking of my novel, that’s what it’ll turn into.
  • Keep cheering for yourself. There’s not shame in keeping positive in your own writing and giving yourself a pat on the back each time you reach a milestone. Others will be proud of you, too, but also try not to overdo it. Moderation is key.
  • Keep writing! Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind. It’s still early on in the month and so you just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep writing!

Anyone participating in Camp NaNo this month? What’s the story you’re working on about? How far have you gotten? Let me know!

Advertisements

Motivation: The Struggle

I’m feeling a theme for my blog entries today. It’s a real struggle to find the motivation to write lately, but when I do start writing I don’t want to stop until I essentially finish the chapter or the scene.

But finding that initial motivation to start writing is the real struggle.

Between work and just relaxing I find no motivation to write unless it’s at the most inopportune time, such as when I’m attempting to sleep. Though I was very successful during a slow day at work (I wrote over 1,000 words on paper that day), that doesn’t mean I’m successful during any other time of day.

Finding motivation is a challenge in of itself. Yes, I really want to finish this story and yes, I really want to get it out there eventually to the public. But there are several things going through the back of my mind that are related to both my personal life as well as my writing life.

Questions pertaining to jobs and financial stability are big one on my mind right now, but in terms of my writing I ask myself is it good enough? Will people be interested in reading this? I know there will be both good and bad reviews, but will the good outweigh the bad? Why am I worry about all of this now before I’ve even finished rewriting?

Frankly, I don’t know those answers. And then there are the questions about finding an agent, publication, etc. There’s a lot of things that I need to think about for this novel.

The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately, though, is: is this the novel I want to write? As in, is this the novel that I want others to read?

I love the concept behind the story and how the story is playing out, don’t get me wrong, but I have so many other ideas that I want to get out there that I’m unsure of what to go with first.

Plus I hate writing drafts with a passion. But I got to do it, right?

The motivation thing is killing me, here, but I’m trying to find times where I’m really inspired to write. I find it difficult to just “do it” and instead try to find the times where I feel most capable of actually doing it.

Do you struggle with motivation for writing or anything else you do? Do you have any advice?

Writing Classes: Pros and Cons

Last time I discussed literature classes and some of the pros and cons associated with them, so today I want to talk about writing classes and some of the various pros and cons regarding them.

Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a knack for it and I always wanted to do something with writing (hence the blog), but when I took writing classes at my university I started to learn much more about writing and just why I chose it for my concentration.

Writing is a great way to open doors to new worlds, people, places, smells, and it is a great way to relieve stress if you’re having a rough time. Writing classes can be the same way, and to start off, let me state some of the writing classes I took at my university: Fiction Writing, Creative Non-fiction, Journalism, On-line Magazine, Writing for Business and Technology, and Creative Writing. Each of these classes had their own style of how we would write and different “tools” we could implement into our own writing.

Not every college will offer the same classes, and some will have completely different ones, but these are just a few I took during my time at my college.

So, with that being said, let’s start with some cons, shall we?

  1. If you don’t like writing, don’t take the classes. Kind of self explanatory, but it needs to be said. There’s a difference between being good at writing and not liking it, so make sure you know that difference because you can only improve if you’re not good at it.
  2. They’re writing intensive. Shocker, I know, but it’s true. Depending on the professor and the level of the course you will be writing a lot of material, and frankly, it can get confusing if you have multiple writing classes in one semester.
  3. Sometimes you’ll get reviews that “rip” your paper to shreds. Some professors, and even peers, can take that red pen to a page and find every little thing that’s wrong with it – don’t take it too heart, though, as it’s typically a way to help improve your work.
  4. There’s reading involved. Oh no. Reading really boring books on how to write can be torture, yes, but if you don’t read you won’t be able to improve your writing – keep that in mind!

Okay, now that I’m done with my sarcastic cons, let me move onto the pros (disclaimer: I’m biased):

  1. You learn techniques you might otherwise have never known. I never knew about the “show, don’t tell” technique to apply to writing, or that flash fiction existed. You can learn a great variety of tools and tricks of the trade, which is fantastic to grow in your craft.
  2. You gain a new appreciation for reading. Surprisingly writing is a great gateway into reading new and different works that you might otherwise not have read until further developing your style.
  3. You get to hear others’ styles of writing. It’s always fascinating and fun to hear other people’s stories because not everyone thinks the same, so not everyone is going to write the same.
  4. They help to build your portfolio if you’re planning on doing writing as a career. I know that the many classes I have taken have helped me to grow my own portfolio, which can be a great way to appeal to employers.

Now I’m sure I’m missing other pros and cons for the list, but these are some of the tops reasons why I prefer writing classes. They’re more engaging and enjoyable and they help to develop skills that I might otherwise not have learned. Of course literature classes can do the same thing, but I prefer writing, myself.

If you’re thinking about taking some writing classes, think about what your university might be offering. Though I’m graduating this Saturday, May 17th, I know that the Fall 2014 semester my university is hosting a whole ton of new types of writing classes, such as Environmental Writing, The Short Story, Experimental Writing Workshop, and Digital Journalism, just to name a few. Take the time to look at your university’s catalog and decide if what they’re offering will help you grow as a writer or if it piques your general interest.

 

Have you taken any writing courses? If so, how have they helped, or hindered, you in your own writing? Let me know in the comments!

Reaching Your Potential As A Writer

We all have moments of doubt about ourselves, our abilities, our emotions, etc. We all have felt what it’s like to suffer and struggle through times of pressure and stress to either reap the benefits and rewards or the catastrophes that ensue. We don’t all feel 100% like we can do something 100% of the time.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something.

Writing is a skill and it is an art. Like all great art forms it takes time and practice to perfect it. I’m not claiming to be a know-it-all or authority about writing, because I’m not, but I still do have my own opinions like any person would.

So cast away your doubts! Cast away all those fears you have about writing your first manuscript or your first poem. You have potential as a writer, just like all of us.

How can you reach your potential as a writer?

  • Just start writing. You may or may not like what you’ve written, but you have to start somewhere. Don’t delete or erase anything and don’t throw it away. Your first “masterpiece” (or attempt thereof) can be something you look back on to see how much you’ve grown as a writer.
  • Read! Yes, reading! You know those magical tomes of information and fantastical stories that can come to life in your imagination? Reading is actually a great tool in helping you write because you can adapt your own form of writing by looking at how authors write their novels.
  • Don’t let the critics get you down – they’re there to help! Sending out work to friends isn’t always a great idea because they may not want to hurt your feelings, so find a professor or a copy editor online who may be able to read and proofread your work. Always ask for their honest opinion!
  • Write every day. It seems like a hard task, but if you write every day for just ten minutes a day, your writing will improve immensely. You don’t have to write intricate and elaborate sentences that stretch on for miles; even making a list of points that you want to improve in your writing will help.
  • Writer’s block is just a myth. You can overcome writer’s block by doing a writing exercise every day. There are a variety of different types of exercises that can work both the left and right sides of your brain, I recommend reading “Your First Novel” by Laura Whitcomb and Ann Rittenberg.
  • Accept that you might fail. This is a tough thing for anyone to accept in any aspect of life. Don’t be afraid that what you’re working on may not fit the requirements or preferences of someone you’re writing for. It’s okay! Remember that you can always improve it.

There are more ways to reach your potential as a writer, just do a general Google search of how to do it and you’ll get tons of results. There are no specific right or wrong ways because you really have to find what works for you. One way may work for one person but not another.

Just remember that you have to keep your head up and you have to keep on writing. You’re not a writer if you don’t write!

 

What ways have you tried to continue to reach your potential as a writer? How do you keep moving forward? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keeping a Journal

Remember when you were a kid and you tried to keep a journal? We’d usually start it with, “Dear diary…”

Many of us may have fallen out of the habit, though, and haven’t been able to keep one going after a certain age. But the thing about journaling is that when you’re having a bad day, or a good one, and you don’t have an outlet from which to share those emotions, it can become bottled up in the wrong way and come back to bite you later.

The benefits of journaling as an adult are endless, plus it’s kind of fun to have something secret like this. Some of the benefits of keeping a journal are:

  • Letting your emotions out onto a page rather than out in public, especially if they’re negative emotions.
  • Going back and looking at how you were one day compared to now (this can be over the course of a week, month, or year).
  • It’s healthy for you emotionally and psychologically. You don’t have to suffer and it can reduce stress.

If you haven’t had a journal for a while, or ever, I suggest starting one! You don’t have to write in it everyday, but a couple of times a month or when you feel you need to can be very helpful in improving your health, or even your day.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t even have to be paper, but start a journal today! There are various types of journals that you can start, it doesn’t have to be a “Dear Diary” journal at all! In fact, I got some tips from a video by OrganizedJen and started four journals based off of hers:

  • Gratitude journal – a journal to write in every night with 5 things I am grateful for for that day
  • Health journal – a journal to write how I’m feeling health-wise, including both mentally and physically, and possibly how any diets and exercise routines are going
  • Spiritual journal – a journal to log my spiritual journey and how I’m growing in my relationship with Christ (you can obviously tailor this to whatever religion you follow, if any)
  • “Dear Diary” – it’s exactly the one you did as a kid: it’s for your eyes only and is used to write down your deepest thoughts, desires, feelings, goings-on, and so forth

There are more types of journals that you can start: dream journals, family journals, project, gardening, and more. It all really depends on who you are as a person, what your hobbies are, and what you hope to get out of journaling. Take a chance and try it! There’s not right or wrong way with journaling as it’s all up to you on how you use it. But the best advice I can give you when it comes to journaling is:

Start today!

Maybe you’re having a really bad day and need to write it out before you explode, or maybe you just had the best experience of your life and you don’t want to forget it any time soon, including your emotions of that event. Write it down! Create as many journals as you want, and don’t be afraid to keep going further!

If you’re going the digital journal way, try Google Docs where it automatically saves your work as you type and you (hopefully) won’t lose it, or keep it in a Word document. Keep each day on a separate document and save them as the date, or keep it all in one document and style it however you want. There’s no end to the possibilities when it comes to creating a digital journal because there are so many different types of fonts, colors, and styles you can use to make it look pretty – which can also be pretty detoxing if you’re having a stressful day!

Don’t be afraid what others may think of you as a result of journaling – it’s none of their business, anyway! It’s for you to grow and express yourself. So don’t hesitate and start today!

 

Do you have a journal? And if so, what kind is it and how do you use it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Mini-Series Part 3: Developing Content

Placing characters into your setting is the first step of creating the content of your story. But what about the content of the story? You know, the stuff that makes up the meat of it? How do you form that around the characters and the setting you’ve chosen to write about?

Take out a scrap paper or open a new document, but also open the document you put your initial idea about what you wanted to write about on. If you’ve chosen to write about a teenage girl who ends up at an asylum because she hears voices, but she’s really seeing the ghosts of her ancestors, or if you’re writing about an alien planet where you characters have supernatural powers, then start there.

I’ll use the asylum idea as my example for the upcoming tips and advice I’m about to give.

  • Start with a scenario. What’s the main idea of the story? For my example, the girl who is essentially a medium tells her parents about the occurrences and she is thought to be crazy, so she is sent to an asylum.
  • Begin at the end! Sometimes starting at the beginning is more challenging than starting at the end. Think of how you want your character(s) to end up and how you want your plot to end. Will the girl escape the asylum? Will the bad guy get what’s coming to him? Or are you going to have a cliffhanger and make a series out of it?
  • Don’t write the climax too soon. The climax of the story is the “big bang” that happens usually toward the end of the middle half of the book. For my example, the climax could possibly be when the girl in the asylum discovers that the person she had been sharing a room with is actually dead, but she’s been controlling everything around her. What does the main character do? Does she run for help or does she find another means to the end? Or does the person she discovers to be dead help to plan her escape? The climax is typically the most interesting part, so don’t write it too soon in your story!
  • Write the beginning as if you, yourself, were the main character. Typically writing a story is from your perspective through your character, but instead place yourself in your character’s shoes. Take a moment to close your eyes an imagine yourself as the girl with the ability to see and talk to the dead. Imagine the fear she must have of telling her parents, imagine the scenario of telling them and being called a freak. Imagine what happens when she is rolling up to the entrance of the asylum in her parents’ car and how the nurse and doctors are both in white. Think about everything your character is going through and write it down. You might not use all of it, but you’ll get the idea as to how it should begin.
  • Don’t write “filler.” Filler is not fun, not engaging, nor interesting. Filler is just to get something more out of the story, but nothing is really going on. You can write for pages about how white the walls of the asylum are and how white the floor is and how white the hair on the old lady sitting in the corner is. But it’s not interesting, it’s not filler. Don’t get me wrong, you can mention these things, but don’t go on for pages and pages about it. Always have something going on that can further engage your story.

So we have the bones, the blood, and now we have the vital organs of a story. The content is what makes the story, well, a story! It can turn a one page paper into a novel and it can turn an idea into something great. Without the content of the story, you really have nothing. Take the time to think about how you want to write this story and how you want to connect your plot together while placing the characters into the plot.

You’re well on your way to having a completed story! If you haven’t already, just continue to write about what is going on in your story and try to complete it within a year’s time. Yes, it takes time, and when you do finish just remember to breathe and pat yourself on the back for completing such a fete.

But there’s just one thing I want and need to cover: audience. It’s an important aspect to writing a story and is probably the most important aspect of story writing next to actually writing the story itself. So tune in next time for the last part of my mini-series on development!

Mini-Series Part 2: Setting Development

The sky allowed only a few rays to break through, casting a glow on the pavement ahead. The road stretched on for what seemed like forever, disappearing over the hills to unknown lands. The car’s radio was playing the typical things, pop music, country, and whatever else she felt like listening to. All she knew was that her hometown sucked and she needed a new place to go.

Welcome to part two of four of my mini-series for creating stories! Tonight I’m going to talk about setting and how you can include the characters you made from the advice I gave last time into your new setting.

Okay, so you have your character and you know him/her inside and out. Great! Now where do you place them?

There’s many different settings you can place a character, whether it be in the realm of fantasy or reality is up to you, though. If you plan on writing a story of fiction, placing them in the realm of reality – a familiar place – is something to think about because writing from experience is actually something that I have often read about as advice when writing a story.

If you decide to write in a realm of fantasy, be sure to keep in mind the climate, the culture, the flora and fauna that belong to that world, and more. Think about your favorite sci-fi movie or novel and how the directors and producers (and the rest) made the world come to life. You obviously don’t have to include every single little detail in your own story, but writing down everything in a separate log will help you to remember just what is included in the world you’re creating.

If you create from reality, be sure to also know the same types of things that you would have to know for a fantasy world – culture, food, flora and fauna, etc. For a beginner, you might want to consider writing in reality because it might be easier to write from what you know.

When creating a setting, there are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it within a small range. Unless you’re writing a story about pirates (which you should do research on, if you are), try to keep the location of your story down between one to three areas. You don’t want to over-complicate things by making your character go from Boston to Cairo, Egypt to Manhattan all within the same chapter – unless it’s relevant.
  • Write down everything. You’re going to want to write down everything you can think of about the setting you’re placing your character, from their home to their room to their car (if they have one) to the outside world. Do they have a magazine collection? What does their car look like, smell like? Has he/she ever been to the other side of the state? Write it down!
  • Show what your setting looks like, don’t tell us what it looks like. Instead of saying that there was a “red house with white shutters and a white porch,” show us what it looks like, for example, “The house was dull from years of rain and whether, the red paint chipping away onto the clean porch.” It’s okay to not tell us the color of every little thing that’s in the setting – give us what we need, but show us, don’t tell us.
  • How does the character act in this setting? Take your main character and place them in the setting you’re thinking of. Do they fit in? How do they feel when they’re there? Are there a lot of memories for them there? Do they associate some event with the location? Write it down and incorporate it into your story if you like.

Though these are just a few tips, there are always hundreds of thousands of resources you can find out there on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores. But for the sake of my mini-series, try to utilize the tips and start jotting ideas down for your story.

If the characters are the backbone of a story, then the setting is the blood of the story. It provides the story with filler and it gives the character a place to live and grow. Without a setting, all you have is a character, and where can you go with just a character without having some sort of setting?

Take the time to plan out your setting, from sky to grass, from mountain to sea, from house to skyscraper, but sure to include every detail that you can about your setting. Placing your character(s) there and making them feel at home will be its own project, but as long as you mold the setting around your character, they should fit together nicely!

Next time I’ll be talking about the content of the story, a.k.a. the body of the story. I’ll provide some tips on how to start and finish the story, and how to not lose the climax of it.

Optional: Tell me your new setting and how you came to the conclusion for it!

Mini-Series Part 1: Character Development

Characters are the heart and soul of your writing piece. Not only do they take on a life of their own, but they also bring the story’s environment, nature, and more to life. They can make you smile, laugh, cry, rage, and throw your cat across the room. They are powerful and they’re all from your own mind.

In the first part of this four part mini-series, I will be discussing what characters are, how to make them, and why they are so important to your story.

Well, for starters, why are characters so important to your writing? Without characters in a story, there really is no story. It’s just a bunch of happenings and goings-on that are taking place for no reason whatsoever. That’s a boring story, to say the least.

Also, readers want to be able to grasp the concept of what is going on in the surrounding area: why someone is reacting a certain way, what smells weird, and more.

Without characters, you don’t have a story. So, let’s take a look at how to start developing a character:

  • Think of personality. Personality is what makes the character unique and separates the main character from the supporting and background characters. It can make a character a protagonist or an antagonist, and it can also make the reader either cheer for that character in dire situations, or cheer for another who is more tragic or epic in some way. *Warning! Watch our for Mary Sues and Gary Sues! You don’t want a cliche character – those are boring!
  • Physical appearance. Yes, even though your character is just words on a page, they still need to look like a person (or a monster or alien or what have you, depending on the genre you’re writing for)! Try starting out by jotting down simple physical appearance details: eye color, hair color and length, skin color, male or female, etc. Then go back and start filling in smaller details: does he/she have freckles, an elongated nose, a broken wrist, etc.
  • Likes and Dislikes, we all have them. So should your character if you want to make them believable. Give them an insatiable desire for chocolate, or a hatred for the color green. Anything! List them out for your own reference – your reader will be able to discern their likes and dislikes through the story itself.
  • A back story is just the beginning. A character needs to have some sort of back story or history to know who they are, where they came from, who raised them, etc. Make it tragic or make it happy, it’s up to you.

You can use these few simple tips for creating any kind of character, no matter if they’re the hero or the villain, the supporting or background character. Each tip will apply to each character, so take the time to write them out for each character.

Characters are the backbone of your story. They help to create the world around them through their language, their appearance, their likes and dislikes, and more. Without them, you’d be up the creak with no paddle. If you take them away you lose the backbone to your story and it would just fall apart, and that might make it difficult to salvage.

So take the time to write out your character’s, well, everything! You should know your characters inside and out before you get going anywhere with them. Yes, sometimes it works out before you get to really know your character, but unless you start with the basics you aren’t going to have a clue as to where your story is going and it might turn into a mess.

Of course characters are just one of the many important factors in creating a story. Next time I’ll be discussing setting development and how to place those characters you just created into a setting. Stay tuned!

Optional: Leave comments about characters you have created or are creating and how you went about creating them!

Writer’s Block: The Five W’s and the H

We’ve all had writer’s block at one point or another. It’s always a pain and it comes up when you need it to be at bay the most. But why? Why does it do that and who does it affect? I’m taking my own personal views as to why writer’s block comes about and possibly give ways to get rid of it.

Who: This affects you, obviously, but it also affects your target audience, your boss (if you’re working to write a blog, newsletter, email, etc.), and even your peers. If you don’t keep working toward getting your work done, you won’t be able to succeed and work past the block.

What: Your piece of work, whether it be a longer article, a short email, or a book, your work will be affected. If you have a writer’s block, often enough the work that you are trying to get done won’t have nearly the same amount of quality and effort put into it if you didn’t have the block. Though, sometimes, the work may even turn out better because you have to work through the block!

When: Writer’s block can sneak up on you when you least expect, and more often than not, it comes about when you’re on your last few pages of your novel, or on the last few paragraphs of a research paper. Whenever it pops up, it’s a nuisance. It also happens right before a deadline, making your suffering even more unbearable.

Where: Your writing, obviously. This does’t need much explanation.

Why: Writer’s block is like your brain saying, “I know you’re doing a good job, and you’re on a roll, but I need a break right now, so…” And it’s as though your brain conspires against you when you need to get that very important piece of work done before the deadline.

Okay, so I gave a general, broad overview of writer’s block. They’re the five “W’s” that we wonder: “Why does this happen?”

Well, here’s the “how,” a.k.a. what you can do to help get over your writer’s block.

How: 1) Put it down and come back another time. This is seriously one of the easiest things you can do, but probably also one of the most dangerous. If you put it down for a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days, be sure to come back to it. Don’t just leave it to sit and gather dust!

2) Try a writing exercise. Instead of trying to write what ever you’re working on, grab a separate paper or open a new document and just write the first words that come to mind. One word per line. Just write for five minutes and see what you can come up with. It helps to get your brain muscles working and helps to get your thoughts flowing easier.

Or you can try writing a small blurb for a novel you’ve already read. Add on to the story, change the ending, change the love interest, add a new creature – anything you want! No one’s going to see it, anyway, but this is just a fun way to see what you can create. And who knows? You might even come up with something that you’re working on at the moment.

There are many places online and in hard copy books that you can find where you can find various writing exercises. I recommend “Your First Novel” by Ann Rittenburg and Laura Whitcomb, as one example. I thought that their views and opinions on writing, as well as ways to get published, were useful and easy to understand. (This is mostly for the writing exercises Whitcomb uses throughout many of the chapters, not so much the publishing side of it.)

3) Have someone talk to you about your idea. Yeah, sometimes you don’t want anyone, not even your agent, to know what you’re writing about. But sometimes talking about it and having someone ask questions can open up a whole new door – or onslaught of doors! – for you to consider adding to whatever you’re writing about.

Now these aren’t necessarily the only ways to work through writer’s block. There may be plenty more out there or you might come up with something on your own. Either way, a writing block can be a pain, but if you work through it then you’ll be golden!

Here’s a few other blog posts floating around the Internet that you can check out and see if anything catches your eye:

Just try to keep your chin up! Your writer’s block will be over soon enough (I hope)!

(Just as a small sidenote: I had writer’s block while writing this, starting on January 9th and completing it today, January 14th. Happens to everyone, right?)