I’ve Moved!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to pop a quick note over here that I’ve moved sites! As you know, I’ve been focusing more on making videos than blog posts over the past year, and I didn’t feel quite right about bombarding all of you who originally followed this blog for written posts with twice-weekly YouTube videos.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise to most of you, since I haven’t updated here in quite a while. But I know there are many people who visit this site still, and I don’t want to leave anyone behind!

So I’ll now be posting over on my new site, cassandrajaye.com. I’m very excited about nabbing this domain, and I’ve just gotten the basic layout set up and made my first few posts.

If you want to stay up to date, please consider following me there–I plan to post with each video I upload, sharing further insights and life updates that didn’t fit into the video itself. You can also follow me directly on YouTube, or on my non-youtube-related Tumblr.

Cassandra

March Favorites: Better Late Than Never?

One of my 2015 resolutions was to spend more of my non-work hours making more stuff—writing, cooking, and trying out making videos for the first time. It’s March, and I’m happy to report that I’m still creating videos semi-regularly!

In this video: my thoughts on spring cleaning, modcloth, broadcity, podcasts, and other fascinating topics.

Sorry for the drought of  posts about the actual writing process, guys, but I’m having a hard enough time holding myself accountable to my writing goals that I don’t feel equipped to tell y’all how to live your writing lives.

7 Reasons You Need a Writing Group

Hello writers!

About a month ago, I joined a brand new writing workshop group. Remember when I said like seven months ago that, when I moved, I wanted to find something like this? Well, it’s taken me this long.
My latest video is about the logistics of creating such a group of your own. Think of it as a checklist for the expectations and ground rules you need to establish, plus a quick guide to how many writing workshops, collegiate and otherwise, operate.

I talked about writing because that’s what I know, but this could apply as well to drawing and painting, film, academic writing, etc.

Here are seven reasons you need to start your own workshop:

1. Writers need community too

So much of the creative process is solitary for writers and other artists. Commiserating and celebrating with your fellow writer-beings can take the edge off your existential loneliness for an hour or two.

2. That last paragraph you wrote is not as great as you think it is

Sorry, boo.

3. Your story is not as awful as you think it is

Of course you hate it; you’ve been hanging out with the same stupid characters trying to get them to do the same tired plot for the last six months. New readers will (hopefully) experience that joy you did when you started the project in the first place.

4. When else do you get to read work by your peers?

I mean unless all of your friends are part of the literati, you probably don’t get to read many things in their original, un-published state.  It’s refreshing to see that no piece of art is perfect when you first make it.

5. Train your critical eye

Dissecting why another piece of writing works or doesn’t will help you do the same on your own work.

6. They hold you accountable

For getting shit done, for avoiding clichés and other lazy writing, for not dancing around the issue you’re trying to address and diving into the epicenter of your topic.  For holding nothing back.

7. Deadlines!

Never underestimate the power of a good old kick in the pants. Students, you don’t know how blessed you are to have these evil little devices built into your curriculum.  The rest of need to create them for ourselves.

____

Are you all a part of any sort of workshop? Has anyone found success making their own as part of that post-grad life?  Lemme know in the comments!

7 Reasons You Need a Writing Group | Don't Be A Writer, Be Writing! Blog

Writing Vlog I: Novel Outlining (with Sticky Notes!)

Hi friends!

I haven’t been posting as regularly to Don’t Be A Writer this past year as I did the year previously.  A huge part of that is just my obligations and schedule changing as I go from college student mode to…post-college student?  I don’t want to say adult because, come on, we’re all adults here.  And all of this, no matter what you’re doing, is “real life.”

But I think there’s another, less glamorous reason I haven’t been posting as frequently, which is that I’ve gotten a bit bored.  I feel like I don’t have a ton to contribute in the way of writing encouragement or tips when my writing practice is primarily me waking up early in the morning, hammering out 500 words or so before heading off to work, and calling it good.  I haven’t been thinking as deeply about writing itself because I just don’t have the energy.

One of my projects in this Year of Projects I wrote about last time is to address this.  One thing you may not know about me is that I love Youtube.  Like, a lot.  When I get home in the evenings, sometimes I’ll watch a show, but more often I’m catching up on the latest from my favorite Youtubers.  I sort of thought that everyone had vloggers, etc. who they follow and keep up with, but I understand that’s not the case!  And I pity you.

Saying you don’t like Youtube is a bit like saying you don’t like reading.  There are just so many different types of videos/books that I think you likely just haven’t found the right channel yet.

Enter my video.

Just kidding!  I’m not saying I’m the right channel.  There are many, many more experienced, thoughtful Youtubers than myself who have been doing this for years and really perfected their craft.  I’ll link to some of those below.

But it’s true that I’ve recently started a Youtube channel.  Just to try something different.  You’ll see that so far I’ve talked primarily about books and writing (shocking), so really I’m thinking of this as another format through which I hope to connect with other people who are interested in this stuff (MAYBE PEOPLE LIKE YOU?!?!).

I may start posting more of my thoughts on writing and progress updates in video form.  It felt nice to talk through my struggles and worries just me and the camera rather than writing it all down and then to go back and edit my post.  I still had to edit this video, but the footage was done–I’d said what I’d said, and there was not really a way to edit the content of the video–just taking out a lot of the “um”s.

So watch if you want to. Subscribe if you want updates when there’s more.

Bookish Youtube Channels I recommend:

booksandquills

Ariel Bissett

tyrannosauruslexx 

Other channels that any human will find interesting:

Vlogbrothers

ASAP Science

Wheezy Waiter

Good Mythical Morning

Nerdy and Quirky

VSauce

Smarter Every Day

The Year of Projects

GUYS.

It’s been 2015 for over two weeks already, which has given me just enough time to think through the whole new year, new you sort of thing that has been running around the internet like this dog on a playground merry-go-round.

hyper dog gif

My 2014 ended with more of a sigh of relief than a bang, and after that I went on vacation, so on the 1st of the month I was nowhere near ready to come to any sort of “resolution.”

I’m not as into structured resolutions now as I was as a kid.  Rather, I’m more about initiating some personal-life-fulfillment momentum.  A kick in the pants to stop whining about the things I don’t like, and put that energy into doing more of the things I enjoy.  Although I haven’t defined exactly where I want to be by December 31st, 2015, I’ve thought about how I feel about my life now, and how I want to feel the next year, and the year after.

Allow me to get more specific.

There are things that are good for me which I don’t do enough, like write and exercise.

Then there are other interests which I want to continue devoting time to and write more about, like cooking and reading.

And then there are other, newer interests; creative endeavors I haven’t devoted much time to in the past but want to explore because I feel like they could enrich my life.  Or at the very least amuse me for a hot second.

I’m going to try more of the routine thing.  It’s success will be entirely dependent, I think, on how flexible my sleep schedule proves to be. Perspective is another biggie here.  With the demands of a still adjusting to a newish job (and one for which, let’s all just face it, I don’t exactly have a natural aptitude), I sometimes allow the stress to follow me out the doors of my office building, into my car, all the way home to the oasis of my couch, where it makes itself comfortable.  No way can I get shit done with that going on.

I got a new Moleskine notebook to kick the year off, and I intend to use it solely for the purpose of planning these projects I’ve outlined for myself.

2015/01/img_0661.jpg

What I’m reading this week:

A visualization of how creatives throughout history structured their days.  Do we really know for sure the exact hours these folks slept, wrote, etc.?  Whatever.  I feel like this would make awesome wall art.

The Dear Prudence advice column on Slate, which never ceases to stir within me some combination of amusement, pity, and horror.

The infographic on the age at which our favorite writers have published their most famous books from Electric Literature.

And lastly, this blog with some awesome writing tips.

Project for Awesome 2014 – 826 National

For anyone who’s not familiar, the Project for Awesome is an annual event where Youtube comes together for a couple days to talk about and donate to their favorite charities.

This is my first time making a P4A video (which should be painfully obvious–hello, webcam!), but considering I’ve spent a couple hours tuning into the livestream, I felt like I should do my part.

I’ve been volunteering at 826 Michigan for the last couple months.  My own writing practice has been stop-and-go recently, and based a lot on guilting myself into working.  So going to these writing workshops with young, hyper, hilarious children has been an awesome way to get back to the “fun” side of creative writing.

Learn more about 826 National and the 826 Michigan chapter if you’re interested, and be sure to check out the Project for Awesome site to see other videos.

Perhaps most importantly: donate if you’re able!  There are some awesome nerdfighter perks available on the Indiegogo. :)

Should I Major in Creative Writing?


…is a question some of you may be asking.  And by some of you I mean probably one person who is under twenty and about to start college later this year.

My answer goes a little something like this:

I don’t know.  I did, and I learned a lot.  When you talk about books and share your writing with other people who like books and write, good things will happen.

You likely don’t need an official program to do this, especially if you know a number of writers, some of whom are more accomplished, experienced, and wise than you are.  Of course, that wasn’t the case for me in high school.  I always did NaNoWriMo alone.  The only people I showed my writing to were my English teachers, and they gave me constructive criticism like “Great!” and “Nice work!”

You also likely do not need to major in it.  Like, if you took a handful of workshop classes over the course of your college career, while majoring in Biology or something, you’d probably get almost the same benefits as you would if you actually majored in the discipline.

But since I did not know other writers, and am not half as interested in other subjects as I am in Literature, I went ahead and majored in Creative Writing.

And you guys, I did it.  I wrote a thing.

I’m graduating next week.  People seem to like my short stories, and I’m not even paying them to say so.

Also I have a job lined up.

Things are going well.  So you don’t have to be a Creative Writing or Lit major in order to be a writer, but you can if you want to, and things will work out just fine.

YOU DO YOU.

***

A little life note: After graduation, I’ll be traveling a bit, apartment searching, visiting loved ones, and moving to a new state.  So I will either have a ton of time to blog or (more likely) will be a bit preoccupied.

In the meantime, allow me to share with you one of my current interests outside of writing:

Small Animals Pretending to Be Unicorns

You’re welcome.