Stop Degrading Liberal Art Degrees

At what point did I, or we, if this applies to you as well, accept the stereotype of liberal art majors? When did we stop defending ourselves? Reading Silva’s essay opened my eyes. I had already known that the stereotype against English majors existed, but I never realized how strongly it prevailed.

As a double major in Photography (an art degree) and Writing (an English degree), I receive double the amount of heat. I jokingly switch between the two depending on the situations I am in. (For example, being with my two very left-brained biology degree friends while they discuss anatomy: “What? I’m an art major!”) The fact that I switch between my majors and willingly degrade myself to those with “harder” degrees, shows just how much this stereotype has permeated into daily life.

In the essay, Silva states “But as far as I’ve seen, none of the stereotypes of a STEM or hard science major undermine their future and choices. That’s exactly what the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding liberal arts majors do.” Throughout my college career, I have had people assume that I want to be a journalist (I do not like factual writing), doubted that my Writing major was a real degree (‘It sounds fake.’) and ask what I plan on doing because neither of my degrees guarantees me a job. When in all actuality, everything that we associate with on a daily basis deals with writing or photography, specifically social media and advertisements.

I believe in the art of storytelling. And I also believe that I can change society, even if that change is small. The moment I stop doubting myself, my abilities and my degrees is the moment that I start to change the minds of those around me.

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How to get writing again!

Scrolling through Tumblr (I follow the #amwriting) I found a post that I think would help writers, including myself. Thank you, Kira Martin, for your wonderful advice!

Hello! I am a writer that is fairly new to the game. I realized I wanted to write full time a few ago. Since then, I’ve been working on a book, that I consider to be my baby; the masterpiece that will create my overall brand. However, I struggle with the discipline of it all. I have such a hard time getting myself to just sit down and finish! I’m currently working on my 23rd chapter but I know I still have so much to go. Working 40 hours a week isn’t necessarily helping either. Advice?

[asked by Anonomous]

 

What you’re experiencing is what a lot of aspiring/newbie writers go through–you need to sit yourself down and come up with a plan of action. And because it’s my style, here’s a list to help with that plan of action:

1. Find your motivation. What inspires you? Why do you want to finish your book? Why do you want to write? Once you find your motivation, surround yourself with it. Realizing that you will never be a career writer unless you write your book is a good kick in the ass.

2. Make writing a habit. The way to form habits is to do them daily. Put aside an hour every day to focus on your manuscript—you can even set an alert in your phone. Be very clear to everyone that if they interrupt you during this time that their deaths are on their hands. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes natural (the writing, not the interruption murders).

3. Set goals. Find what works for you. A page a day? 700 words? Set you goals as your phone’s lock screen. Put sticky notes on your mirror. Do a goal thermometer and scribble out a notch for each chapter/page you complete. Hang it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.

4. Create a ritual. What I’ve always done is play some music, open my document, and read what I last wrote. By now, when the music comes on, I know it’s time to get to business. Combined with my habit of listening to the same song on repeat for days, I once accidently conditioned myself to open my doc when I heard a certain song. Find whatever works for you.

5. Consider your future. How serious are you about being a writer? For any sort of dream, there are risks/stresses/extra work required for them to come into fruition. If you can’t find time to write, you need to think about what that means for the future. In five years where will you be if you continue down this path? Where do you want to be? What are sacrifices (time/energy/money) you might need to get there?

3 Ways to Edit Your Own Book!

Thank you, Book Doctors, for this video and these tips. Check out the video here.

  1. Read it out loud!
    • Trust me, hearing is different than seeing.
  2. Have people read it!
    • But not people who are related/biased toward you
    • Join a critique group (Goodreads is a good place to meet people who love to read)
  3. Hire a professional
    • If you have a smaller budget, try a librarian.
    • Make sure that they are experts in your genre!
    • Do research before you pay anybody–you don’t want to get scammed.

 

 

After College Portfolio Tips

So you’ve graduated college and you don’t know what to do. I’m sure I’ll be there in a couple years, but HEY! congratulations you made it.

A few months ago, I had a little seminar/chat thingy with a professor who gave me some tips and tricks on what to do afterward and I thought I’d share with you.

  • Step One: A real career
    • Is it right for you? Do you have roots anywhere? Travel first. Once you get a career, you’re locked in.
      • But a gap in a resume can be killer and draws attention
    • Location: it’s all about your personality, you have to like where you live.
    • Experience with Reservations: don’t get a soul-sucking job
  • Step Two: Welcome to the Jungle
    • What type of gig is it? Don’t appear too desperate when hiring, then you’re easy. Different jobs are connecting points to each other and the latter up.
    • Opportunity: you can have a day job that will support you until you can get to your dream job
    • Culture: Does the company care about their employees? Beware of gimmicks that get you to stay, lack of dental insurance in exchange for free coffee.
    • Are they connected? Big names à working with each other à it’s who you know
  • Step Three: Finding a Job
    • Indeed.com
      • Taylor the portfolio for the company
      • Make it as personal for the hirer as possible
      • Try to drop it off in person; physical rather than digital
    • Shutterfly? Other printing sources
    • Glassdoor.com
    • “Headhunters”… like Creative Circle
      • Pretty much sells you to companies
      • It sucks that the system is rigged, but it happens
    • Network!!!!!
    • Go to visiting artists
      • Don’t be a rude.
      • People want to work with people that they get along with
  • Step Four: Common Creative Gigs
    • Freelance
      • Pro: Your hours, your money, you choose, build your name
      • Con: Client is the boss, TAXES, inconsistency
    • In-house Industry
      • Pro: Doing something you love, clocking in and out (most places don’t pay overtime), moving up
      • Cons: Consistency, politics, glass ceiling, company pace
    • Creative Agency
      • Pro: Creative living, variety, good pay, great opportunities
      • Cons: Small fish big pond, design culture can suck, trust in leadership
  • Step Five: Present Your Work
    • Know the market: be prepared, double check, present your work, don’t be vague
    • Fake it ‘til you make it
    • Student work: have you peaked? Continue to work, work outside of class
    • Portfolio site, is it updated? It should be about the work that you want to do.
    • A little mystery is okay, but don’t go crazy
    • 10-16 pages of work…20 maximum; make it efficient
    • Reels: 2:30 or less. Make it good enough that they want to see more
  • Step Six: Resume
    • Keep it clean, HR doesn’t care about your icons; it’s a resume not a poster
    • It’s not fun
    • Make it easy for them to see the information
    • It doesn’t need to be cute or creative
    • Copy and paste will make your life easy
  • Step Seven: Showcasing
    • Know the role you want; assess your clients’ needs
    • Don’t include every piece of work
      • That lucky shot isn’t enough; you have to be able to nail it
    • Photo and video are mashed together now, am I skilled for that?
    • Understand your client
      • Your reel should reflect the clients
    • Music selection can make or break you; play it safe
      • Audiojungle.com
    • Viewer fatigue is real
    • Show work that benefits the employer and the customer
    • Explain your role
      • Context to show how you work
    • A wide range of work is okay
      • Unless you’re going for specific companies
    • Make your portfolio easy to update
      • Make it presentable in every way
      • It’s okay to have different versions of the portfolio
  • Step Eight: Show That You Care
    • Hard work is obvious
      • So is laziness
    • Half of design is marketing and presentation
    • Where?
      • GraphicBurger, Pixeden, Dribbble, PSDCovers, Behance
      • Not all are free, but they’ll be worth the investment and a tax write-off
    • Showcase your work, but don’t distract
    • Don’t put it on a loaf of bread just because you can
  • Step Nine-ish: Process and Details
    • Employers hire people for talent…and to make it easier
    • Be a jack of all trades on styles, learn how to replicate and understand
    • Show off your ability to conceptualize and execute in short and long term
    • Have 10 ideas and pick the best one
  • Step Nine-ish: Webheads and Tech Nerds
    • UX/UI people
    • Show that you are a great communicator
    • Employers need to see that you can handle structure and a lot of information
  • Step Nine-ish: Photography isn’t Magic
    • Be prepared to achieve the results you promise
    • Show variety
    • Adapt with new technology
    • Do you know your equipment, lighting, and studios?
  • Step Ten: Interviews
    • Congrats!!! You’re qualified!
    • This is NOT show and tell!
      • They’ve already seen your work and they like it.
      • Bring another portfolio with different stuff unique to the employer/company, if you want to
    • Communication is as a creative is employable
      • Communicate with employers, coworkers, clients
  • Step Eleven: Checklist
    • Printed portfolio (or iPad) ready to go
    • An extra copy of your resume
    • Business card, makes you stand out
    • Dress to impress
    • HANDSHAKE
    • Don’t overtalk
    • Be cool, be respectful, be yourself
  • Step Twelve: Interviewing Basics
    • So, why do you want to work here?
      • Research the company
      • Kiss booty
      • Be prepared
    • What can you bring to the table?
      • Note some of the campaigns, expand on ideas, show your own creative thinking
    • What about your process? And your struggles?
      • Stick to the basics
      • Collaborate, learn, adapt
      • Don’t say that you’re a perfectionist.
    • Any questions for us?
      • NEVER SAY NOPE!
      • Ask about their favorite project, challenges
      • Learn
    • Should you follow up?
      • YES
      • Only after an interview
  • Backwards Step One: Didn’t get the Gig
    • Don’t get discouraged
    • Occupy your time
    • Find your stoke
    • Persistence pays off

 

  • Closing Checklist for the Real World
    • You’re outward facing in many ways
      • Control your social media
    • Is your work readily available, how is your brand?
      • Site, reel, business card, resume, portfolio, do they all have the same theme, are they consistent, is it great?
      • Update often
    • Are you evolving?
      • Work will evolve; design and visuals change.
      • Make sure you know the trends
      • Does it look current for what people are paying for?
      • Know what people want
    • Double check the contact
      • Have it simple yourname @gmail.com
      • Make your brand consistent
    • Earn it!!!!
      • Do whatever you can to progressively make yourself better every day.

 

 

If any of this is confusing, comment below so I can clarify for you.

8 Basics of Creative Writing

According to Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five), the following are eight basics of creative writing.

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that they will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just on person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

 

Now, I’m not saying that every single piece of writing you every create has to follow these basics…in fact, nothing you write has to follow these. Break the rules if you want.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK: Step One

BECOME A READER

I am a strong believer in the idea that to be a writer, you must also be a reader.

Read everything, classics, romance, children’s books, fiction & nonfiction anything you can get your hands on.

I know you’re saying something along the lines of “If I only want to write Young Adult books, then I only have to read Young Adult books, right?”

Wrong.

Yes, you want to ready YA, and probably 60%-70% of what you’re reading should be YA, but you want to read other things to exercise your brain and to get your writer juices flowing.

In order to write, you must also read.

For any more advice, check out my YouTube video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5BYafaKBmo&t=24s

 

a reflection on 2016

Personally, 2016 was not an awful year.

  • I finished my first year of college, on the Dean’s list, no less
  • I was elected president of my building and co-president of the Creative Writers Club
  • I published my very first novel, Blue Vigilante
  • I work a lot
  • I bought a kayak
  • I was more constant on uploading videos to YouTube
  • I read more
  • I was, overall, way more healthy than I’ve ever been
  • I finally died my hair red
  • I grew into the version of myself I want to be
  • I went on several dates, after only having been on one ever before
  • I found an amazing boyfriend
  • My cousin and I reconnected in a way we haven’t since we were very young
  • I finally built a headboard for my bed that I wanted to build for years
  • I got a rewards card for my local movie theater (I go to the movies so often, it was well needed)
  • I started my second year of college
  • I found my limits for many things, for example: how many credits I can handle a semester without losing my mind
  • I met one of my favorite professors
  • I made my own planner (I’m really excited about that one)