15 Writing Tips that Actually Work

15 Writing Tips that Actually Work by Katie
Hi, everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so I thought I would post this, even though I wrote it a while ago.  I’ve been having a hard time finishing up my novel (grappling with character deaths, trying to write a battle and failing), so I thought I’d post this in the spirit of writing.  Here are my tried and true writing tips.

1. Let’s just start off with some truths. Your first draft will be horrendous. Accept that. You will not create a masterpiece on your first try. So just get your ideas down on paper. Don’t worry about the little details, those will come later on in the second or third draft.

2. OUTLINE!!!! Now, I really hate outlining, but it really is a blessing. If you have an idea, map it out. Write a quick summary of the story. What I do is write an overview of all the chapters. So, I just write one to two sentences about what happens in each chapter. An outline really helps when you have no idea how to keep your story moving.

3. Have a writing schedule. this one is hard if you are in school or have a job, but it really helps you get into the practice of writing everyday. You don’t need to spend eight hours, writing though, it could be as short as a half hour. But make sure that you are WRITING during this time. If you have to, turn off the internet and limit yourself to only a few cups of tea or coffee.  Also, don’t fool yourself with doing research, especially when you don’t need to.  Research should not be done during writing time.

4. READ!!! Read a lot. READ EVERYTHING!!! For example, if you are writing a fantasy book, don’t just read The Lord of the Rings over and over again, read everything you can get your hands on. It doesn’t matter if its a dictionary or its Twilight. Study how other people write. It also improves your own grammar and vocabulary.   Also, if you only read a select genre, you’re writing may end up a regurgitation of other authors.  While it’s likely that this will happen to any novice writers, it’s less noticeable if your writing is influenced by a variety of sources instead of just one.  For example, I’ve recently been trying to read the Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and it is very, very similar to the Lord of the Rings, right down to certain plot points and evil creatures.  I can’t even focus on the story line because I’ve been so busy trying to figure out all the parallels.  I have also been a victim of this, I have to admit.  My first novel was a weird 21st century rewrite of the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings.  In my defense, I was about twelve and I spent all my time reading/watching the two series.  So, take my word of advice and read everything.  Don’t be me.

5. Condense your writing. Make it as short as possible. Your readers don’t want to spend three pages reading about someone’s eyes. Use the miniskirt rule- make it long enough to cover everything necessary, but short enough to keep it interesting.

6. Bring a notebook and pen with you everywhere you go. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it. I can name at least 20 times where I had a great idea for a story, or a great melody, or lyrics and I didn’t write it down, so I forgot it. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!!!! Please, you will thank yourself later.

7. Know what you’re writing about. Please don’t write about something you don’t know about. I am tired of reading stories about the medieval times where the cities were described as clean and beautiful and everyone was happy. Uh, no. The cities were disgusting, filled with rats and sewage. Research what you’re writing about, even if it means reading a Wikipedia page. But be careful, if you’re anything like me research will turn into 14 hours of reading wikipedia pages about Celtic mythology.

8. Don’t focus on the word count. I am one of those people who focuses on the word count. Don’t be me. Unless a story can be made better by being made longer, don’t do it. My mom always told me “To stop when the story tells you, not when you want to.” If you have a clear ending in sight STOP THERE. You can expand later if you have to. Don’t be me and write a rambling 60 pages about nothing. Learn how to stop.

9. Try Nanowrimo. At first I was daunted by the task of writing 50, 000 words in one month, the first time I did it, I didn’t win, but I’m now stricter about writing and much better at reaching deadlines. I did Camp Nanowrimo last year and I actually managed to finish. I strongly recommend it to anybody who likes to write and is up for a challenge. It’s really fun! And you get to meet people who are doing the same thing you are!

10. EDIT!!!! Editing is the most stressful part for me, mostly because I’m relentless and I don’t want to get rid of anything I’ve written. Be merciless when editing and if you’re in doubt about something take it out.

11. Make a writing playlist. Or make several. You could make one for each type of emotion. For example, if you’re writing a sad scene, make a sad playlist. Music really helps me and it helps me focus on what I’m writing by drowning out all the other noise. Music can also help in setting a scene. Pick songs that evoke an image.  Lately I’ve been really into using Celtic music to help my writing.  It actually makes me focus and I am able to get inside of my world, even if I am surrounded with distractions.

12. Practice writing setting by going outside and describing someone. Make sure it’s not so long that the reader will get bored, by make sure that they can see the scene in their heads. Go to the beach or the park and describe your surroundings, then condense them so they could fit in your story. It’s really good practice. Or sometimes I’ll take pictures on my phone and then write about them at home.

13. Don’t spend a lot of time getting ready. If you’ve spent four months doing character and plot sketches you need to stop and write. Just write. The more time you spend getting ready, the more time you have to talk yourself out of writing.

14. If a story’s not going anywhere, just keep writing. Write down whatever comes to mind. You can always go back later and fix it. Don’t stop writing though, ideas will eventually come.

15. Be willing to write badly. Just don’t stop writing. The bad writing is just something to build on. Don’t worry about it being perfect, you can fix it later.

I hope these tips help! Well, back to editing my novel. Go write guys!



Spring is coming… I hope.

i set all my regrets on fire...


So, I’ve decided to start posting things from my Polyvore as well.  (check it out here-ksewell17) I’ve used Polyvore for probably about five years now, and I can honestly say that I love it.  It’s not only putting the outfits together that’s fun, but I also love to create the perfect background around it.  Also, it gives me a chance to shamelessly promote my music tastes (check Green Day and Dallon Weekes), so it pretty much checks off all the boxes for me.

So, in this set, I was trying to create a look for transitioning from winter to this sort of spring like weather (60 degrees on February 3rd has to be some sort of record for Cleveland!).  I love the look of midi skirts for this time, because they’re girly and elegant and perfect for transition times because sometimes you don’t want to wear a short skirt in the cold winter months.  For someone who shies away from skirt at all time (pants are just so much more comfortable and less of a hassle), I actually like midi skirts because I never have to worry about if my skirts too short, or if the wind’s going to blow it up.  Plus, they look good on pretty much everybody, because they hit right below the knee, causing you to look taller and slimmer.  What’s not to love?

I paired this skirt with a thin sweater, mostly because I love sweaters and would wear them year round if I could (and sometimes I do, thanks to Northeastern’s Ohio fantastic weather.  Our average annual temperature is 51 degrees.)  If you don’t like sweaters, there are so many other other options you can wear with a printed midi skirt, such as this one.  A graphic tee, plaid shirt (bonus points if you can mix your patterns well), or a crop top  will also look great, and there are so many other options out there.

I paired this outfit with a simple pair of Chelsea boots, because sometimes you don’t want to wear an open toed shoe so early in the season.  Think about it.  Most of the time, there’s still slush or snow on the ground and it’s pretty cold.  I think that boots are a better choice for the transition months.  But if you live somewhere warmer, then you could totally wear something else on your feet.  Gladiator sandals, or even just a simple pair of heels can look just as stunning.

Now, I don’t usually wear orange.  I’ve worn orange once in this past month, and probably this past year as well.  While orange is typically associated with fall, I thought that it would look just as good in the winter months.  It’s a bright color, which I also think works well for spring and summer.  The black background keeps it from getting too bright, which provides a nice contrast to the outfit.

Here are some midi skirts you can check out if you’re interested in getting one yourself (I tried to find some over a variety of price ranges):

ASOS CURVE Midi Skater Skirt In Polka Dot

Floral Faille Midi Skirt

ASOS Pleated Midi Skirt

ECI Below-Knee Printed Pencil Skirt

Contemporary A-Line Skirt

Contemporary Floral Jacquard A-Line Skirt

Contemporary Striped Midi Skirt

Hobbs round neck sweater
$76 – johnlewis.com

Office brown chelsea boots
$60 – office.co.uk

Why I Refuse to Pluck My Eyebrows

It starts at a young age and then it never stops.  At first, you were blissfully unaware of everyone else.  You only focused on you.  Nothing else mattered.  Nothing was more important.  You stayed like this for some time, biding your days in a lull of peace, until you tripped and fell from the blissful Eden of ignorance and landed smack-dab in the middle of Judgement Day.  Your eyes had finally opened.  You could see outside of yourself.  Not everyone was the same.  Or at least you were very, very different.

That’s how it happened for me at least.  You start to notice little things.  Her hair’s blonde.  That’s pretty, I wish my hair was blonde.  Or, Look at her eyes.  They’re blue, everyone likes blue eyes.  Or, maybe one I’ve been plagued with, Everyone’s so tiny.  Short and skinny.   Short. And. Skinny.   And I don’t know what caused this revelation, and I don’t think I ever will, but what I do know is that every girl is destined to have these thoughts and it will change their lives forever.

From then on, you have to be the very best at something.  You have to find your niche.  If you’re not that pretty, you can be smart.  If you’re not smart, you can be athletic.  If you’re not athletic, you can be funny.  But you have to be something.  You have to be labeled.  If you’re not the best at what you do, then that’s not your thing.  When you’re a girl, there’s no such thing as shooting for the moon, and landing among the stars.  If you’re shooting for the moon, you better hit it with such precision and accuracy that you have enough confidence to put a flag on it and call it yours.  If you don’t, you’ll probably end up crashing towards Earth in a ball of flames.  Our prospects aren’t pretty.

And if you can’t be the very best version of yourself, then you’ve got to change to unlock your true potential.  It starts off small.  You tell everyone to start calling you “Kate,” which is much more grown up.  You get a haircut maybe, or you buy that pink sweater that you saw some popular girl wearing.  You may hate pink, but that sweater will help you move up the ranks.  Nothing was going to stop you from getting a spot at the pretty table, and that pink monstrosity was your ticket in.  But then suddenly you notice that even though you’re wearing the same sweater as every other girl at the table, it looks better on them.  You decide to wear some makeup the next day.  You have no idea how to apply it, and you hate how the mascara made your eyelashes stick together, but as you sneak past your mother who disapproves, you hope that this is the secret to being pretty, to fitting in.

It isn’t.

Maybe next you try getting your ears pierced.  It hurts a lot, and you wonder if it’s worth it, but you know you have to go through with it.  The only consolation is how pretty the other girls look with their ears pierced, and the hope that you will look just as pretty, and if not more.

You don’t.

It’s a vicious cycle.  One little change turns into a lifestyle change and suddenly, you aren’t sure who you are, but you do know who you’re supposed to be.  Then you’re stuck.  Do you follow your dreams of becoming head of the pretty table, even if you hate everything you’ve had to do to get there, or do you stop and try to figure out what you enjoy?  It’s a crossroads that many of us sit at for a while.  Some of us have been stuck there our whole lives, while others took the wrong path, and are desperately trying to find their way back to the other road.

I think that many of us get lost at whether what we’re doing is self-improvement, or improving ourselves for others’ sake.  I’ve had short hair all my life.  But at one point, I noticed everyone else had long hair.  So I said, “I’m going to grow it out.  No more haircuts.”  I grew my hair out as long as I could possibly could.  I hated it and it looked nothing like the other girls’.  So I parted it differently.  It still looked awful.  It was then I realized that I wasn’t growing my hair out for me.  I was growing it out so I could fit in.  So I could blend in.  So I would automatically be grouped together with all the other pretty girls based upon the fact that we both had long hair.  But I never felt like I deserved to be grouped in with the pretty girls.

So I cut it.  I lost ten inches of hair that day, and it felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.  I felt happier, and much prettier than I ever felt with the ridiculous haircut I had before.  I finally felt like me.

So here I am today, facing my horribly overgrown pair of eyebrows.  I hate plucking my eyebrows.  It hurts and there is a large chance that I will make them look worse.  It doesn’t bother me that they aren’t neatly trimmed; it bothers me that I will no longer be grouped together will the people who have nice eyebrows, i.e. the pretty group.  But why should I care?  Is there even such a thing as a pretty group?  Because to me, the pretty group was everyone, but me.  It was a party that every single girl I knew got an invitation to, but I was somehow left off the list.  That’s why I have to ask myself if I care.  If overgrown eyebrows will make me a worse person.  If they will make me unhappy.  If they will change who I am.  No.  They won’t.  And I’m fine with that.  Maybe your answers are different.  Maybe you feel differently on the topic of overgrown eyebrows, but that’s okay because we have to remember that not everyone is the same, or at least, we are all very, very different.