Tag Archives: reading

5 things that happen when you do something creative instead of watching Netflix

Twenty episodes into a new season of that show you’re addicted to, you start to feel a guilty sensation every time you press that “Next episode” button. So turn off the TV and put down the remote and do something creative like writing a story (or maybe a script for your own irresistible show) or reading a book or drawing a picture. Here are seven things that happen when you decide to hit “Power off” instead of “Ok”.

1) You have more energy

While watching Netflix is highly entertaining, it doesn’t make your brain work like being creative and using your imagination does. Netflix will lull you into a lazy mood, but doing something creative is like a work out for your brain. You know those amazing endorphins you feel straight after a great workout? Your brain gets those too. Being creative will make you more alert and feel far more productive.

Put creativity above your Netflix habits. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Put creativity above your Netflix habits. Graphic by Katie Gibson

2) It will defeat mental blocks

Netflix is an easy way to avoid writing when you have writer’s block or reading when you can’t focus. However, those are mental blocks that you need to work through, not put off. I tried to put them off one time and ended up going two years without writing a word or reading outside of school. Don’t let your brain get lazy.

3) You’ll be happier

I know, I know, nothing will make you happier than *insert favorite show here*. But think of all those days you spent staring at your TV without moving, forcing poor Netflix to make sure you were okay fifteen times. After days like that, you’re bound to feel pretty crappy. That’s just human nature. People want to feel like they’re getting stuff done. Do something with your brain will give you that sense of productivity and keep you from feeling miserable after a day of binge watching TV.

4) You’ll become more creative

If you run a mile every day, you’ll likely to be able to start increasing your distance and times. The same goes for your brain. That mental workout mentioned early, will help you generate creative ideas faster which will help you in all aspects of your life.

5) You’ll be a more interesting person

Next time you go out into the real world, keep track of how many people are talking about Netflix and TV shows. That’s completely cool, but it will make you seem far more interesting when people find out you can write a novel or draw a killer picture or compose an amazing piece of music. Personally, I feel like I’ve lost my “sparkle” in college mostly due to being overworked and stressed constantly. But I get a little bit of that “sparkle” back when I can talk about a book that I’m reading or a novel I’m trying to write rather than just discussing how subpar season two of “Orange Is The New Black” was in comparison to season one.

Once again, absolutely NOTHING is wrong with watching television. However, you will be a happier, more well rounded human being if you break that bubble every once and a while and shake things up.

Four haunting must reads

In a world of Netflix and endless hours spent online or on a phone, the act of simply reading a book has become something of a novelty. While nothing’s wrong with some mindless television every now and again, it is my firm belief that reading is not only good for the mind but also for the soul. Finding a good book can be hard, but here are five extremely great books that will ignite your love for literature.

"The Haunting of Sunshine Girl" is a must read. Graphic from Good Reads
“The Haunting of Sunshine Girl” is a must read. Graphic from Good Reads

1) The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

Based on her hit Youtube Series, “The Haunting of Sunshine Girl”, talented teen, Paige McKenzie, released the first book in her series earlier this year with plans to release the sequel soon. In addition to her numerous book deals, a movie for the first book is already in the works.

The story revolves around a bubbly teenaged girl named Sunshine and her mother who begin experiencing disturbing paranormal activity upon moving into a new house. While the plot seems cliche, the story is incredibly creepy and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

2) Anna Dressed In Blood by Kedare Blake

This lesser known, but awesome, novel follows high schooler, Cas, a ghost hunter. Cas travels around, ridding towns of ghosts that plague the locals. When he embarks on a mission to destroy the bloodthirsty spirit of Anna Korlov, a teenaged girl murdered decades ago, he finds himself infatuated with the enemy making it difficult to complete his mission.

The book is the first in a series and will soon be made into a movie.

3) Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore revolves around a teenager, Ever, whose life is turned upside down when she loses her family to a fatal car crash. Once the most popular girl in school, Ever becomes a recluse, depressed by the death of her family and disturbed by her ability to read people’s minds when they touch her- a power that emerged after the crash.

Soon she meets Damen, a handsome Immortal, and discovers the troubling secret about who she really is.

This book was slightly popular in the Twilight craze of 2006-2010 due to the mortal/immortal love story. However despite being a seemingly copycat novel on the outside, the story is well written and entertaining.

4) Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

While her books are mostly marketed towards middle schoolers, Mary Downing Hahn is the queen of thrilling ghost stories. While you will find her excellent novels on bookshelves everywhere, Wait Till Helen Comes is one of the best.

Following her mother’s remarriage, Molly and her brother Michael are forced to move in with their new stepfather and devious stepsister, Heather.

Their new house is actually a remodeled church, which means that an old cemetery lies behind the house. Heather is drawn to the cemetery and Molly soon discovers that Heather has befriended the ghost of a young girl named Helen. Helen is malicious though and has sinister plans for Heather, leaving the burden of saving her step sister on Molly’s shoulders.

The book is a quick and chilling read. The movie is in post production and is set to be released in 2016.

Maybe it’s time for a trip to Barnes & Noble?

Ways to become more creative

My whole life, I’ve thought of myself as a creative person: I was a writer, I was a reader, and I had a crazy imagination. One day all of that went away. Technology started dominating my life to the point where I had no real use for my imagination anymore. I didn’t read or write or do anything remotely creative for a while because I felt like I had such a mental block in my brain.

This semester, for my Marketing minor, I had to take Marketing 101: Creativity and Innovation. In just the few weeks that we’ve been back at school, this class has really helped me open my mind back up and let the creativity back in again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever suffered from a creative block so I’m going to share a few tips that have really helped me out.

1) Stop writing boring notes

abstract
“Shut off the laptop, turn of the television, and step away from your phone. Instead of staring at a screen all day, read a book or draw a picture.”

We’re all so conditioned to write our notes in perfectly straight, black inked lines. This standard formula definitely hinders creativity. In class, we were instructed to get an unlined notebook and colored pens and pencils to take class notes in. Because of this, we’re able to create colorful mind maps and it really helps think out of the box.

2) Say everything that comes to your mind (within reason)

The most helpful thing I’ve learned all semester is that you have to fail in order to succeed. That means if you have a thought, say it. This can apply to anything in life, but it will especially apply if you’re doing a group project and want to share an idea, but are afraid of sounding stupid. If you can get over your fear of failure then it’ll be a million times easier to truly be creative.

3) Turn off the electronics

Shut off the laptop, turn of the television, and step away from your phone. Instead of staring at a screen all day, read a book or draw a picture. Actively using your imagination this way is like exercise for the brain. Creativity is very “use it or lose it”. If you don’t keep your brain functioning on a high level then it won’t work when you really need it to.

Everyone is born into the world with an active imagination and the ability to be creative. This is why children have imaginary friends and can play with dolls for hours. Along the way, the rigidness of the school system, stress over every day life, and technological advances shut out the creative parts of our brain until they barely work anymore. The good news is that you can always get your creativity back. You just have to be willing to break out of your comfort zone and think outside the box. Once you achieve this, you can do anything.

Knowing a writer is a unique experience

People who read get a lot of credit as deep thinkers whose intelligence is unparalleled. They visit and visualize worlds inside their minds simply by looking at words and absorbing the information in front of them. There’s something beautiful about a person who can sit in complete silence and ponder the meaning of and visualize a world outside their own, or feel the feelings a first-person narrator describes. However, has anyone ever thought about the beauty in the person who can create those worlds?

Sure, authors make a lot of money for popular books, but in daily life and in movies, people who read are always these mysterious, deep characters with big hearts. No, this isn’t some ploy to get my friends here at Whim laid (sorry, guys). I think people who prefer to read and those who prefer writing are kindred spirits, but us writers deserve more credit than we get.

I think there’s something to be said about those who can observe things around them and use words to touch the souls of an audience. Reporters get a lot of negative coverage these days . Sometimes journalists are accused of being nosy and overbearing. Recently, Brian Williams was suspended for exaggerating details of his coverage of the war in Iraq.

It’s disappointing, as a student of journalism, to see someone who so many look to for news abuse his position. It also makes me worry that this incident will increase the distrust that many have towards media. But for those who approach their job honestly and creatively, there’s a world inside their mind which holds immense beauty.

In one of my classes, my professor stressed how the use of words and language in general can paint many different pictures. News stories that would be bland from one perspective can be deep and thought-provoking in another. It takes a lot of skill to write something that will truly stick in the reader’s or viewer’s mind.

If you come across the opportunity to befriend, date or simply know a writer, do it. We see things in many different perspectives because we have to. Being a good writer means being able to comprehend that your perspective isn’t the only one possible. Good writers have empathy and a desire to understand the feelings of others so that we can project them in our writing. Whether someone’s a creative writer, a news writer or someone who simply writes in a journal, there’s something beautiful and sane about someone who can take feelings and put them into words.

Change your major, change your life

When I left high school, I was pretty sure about what I wanted. I entered RU with my wonderful boyfriend of two years on my arm and a passion for Psychology. I was positive that I wanted to continue on to grad school, get my Ph.D, and go through my life practicing psychology in a therapy setting.

A lot has changed since then. I’m still with that boyfriend, and he’s still wonderful; but nothing else has stayed the same. After a year of working with Whim, I’ve decided that I want to work in media. I love chasing stories and beating deadlines- it makes me feel alive and happy. I’ve done so much debating about this, but I finally made an important decision. I’m ready to change my major.

photo 1 (2)
“My fiery passion for psychology burned and then fizzled. I still like reading about psychology, but I don’t feel anywhere as excited about it as I used to.” Photo by: Sydney Crawson

As you can imagine, the feeling of uncertainty about my future was weighing heavy on me for a while. My fiery passion for psychology burned and then fizzled. I still like reading about psychology, but I don’t feel anywhere as excited about it as I used to. At first, I thought that this was just normal. I figured that once I took a class whose content I was most interested in, my flame would be reignited. Try as I might, though, it never was.

Throughout my life, I’ve always held a love for English deep in my heart. During much of my childhood, I didn’t find friends in the children at school. My best friends were my parents and the friends I found in the pages of my favorite books. I visited these friends every day during recess, and every night before I went to sleep. No matter what was going on in my life, these friends could always cheer me up.

During my first year at RU, I took a few English classes for fun. Out of all the classes I’ve taken, these were easily my favorite. I never found it hard to pay attention, and I actually wanted to write my papers. A flame that I had momentarily forgotten existed grew and grew. I felt happy again. Life made sense. This is where I was meant to be, and what I was meant to study.

Never be afraid of change- its inevitable. Sometimes you need to try new things in order to know for sure where you are supposed to be in life. Remember- you’re in college to decide what you’re going to do in YOUR future, not anyone else’s. It may seem selfish, but often you must hold your happiness above the happiness of others or you’ll end up miserable.

NaNoWriMo: What is It?

National Novel Writing Month Starts in November. Graphic by Alex Morgan.

I was surprised when a professor and a friend of mine brought NaNoWriMo to my attention. As a hopeful writer and an editor, I relish the chance to get a little practice and NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity for anyone who enjoys writing or wants to start.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It starts on the first of November, a date that is rapidly approaching. It is a month-long frenzy of writing just to write. The basic premise is this: writers from all over the world will be writing a novel of at least 50,000 words before the end of November.

Before you say that NaNoWriMo sounds like a way to an early death, hear me out. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing something good, or something that is ready for the world. It is simply about writing. Let’s face it: a lot of us writers procrastinate. NaNoWriMo is an excuse to sit down and write it out. If you don’t reach the goal of 50,000 words, then oh well. You’ve started a novel, and you have some extra practice under your belt. I didn’t even get 10,000 words last year.

NaNoWriMo isn’t about quality; it’s about volume. Your job is simply to crank out as much of a novel as you can. For the most part, you can write about anything. Say you’ve got a brilliant fan fiction burning a hole in your mind. Just start writing on November 1st and see how far you get. Each week you receive encouraging e-mails from various writers. I saved one from my favorite author, who happened to be one of the writers as well. This year, a few of the ‘pep-talkers’ include Lemony Snicket, Mercedes Lackey and Holly Black, among others.

If you are interested in NaNoWriMo, sign up on their website. Then, when November rolls around, you can submit your novel as you write it to the mechanical word counters. They offer a scramble feature so you can keep your novel secret if you like. Your word count total gets added to the region you are registered with to see how much each region writes.

It might seem hard, but it really is a lot of fun. As college students, of course, your exams and school work are important and should come first. But even people busy with life can give it a try. Who knows, when you’re finished, you might have a diamond in the rough, something that, with a little refinement, will one day be a published book. If you don’t finish, that’s fine too. You still have something that you can go back to, and practice, which is extremely important to all writers. Like the website says on their “How NaNoWriMo Works” page: “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”

Pirate Latitudes: Exhilarating read

Photo from Creative Commons

Michael Crichton recreated the terror and triumph that came along with piracy in its golden age in the 1600s. Pirate Latitudes follows an English privateer, Captain Charles Hunter, as he assembles a crew, sets sails, attacks a Spanish galleon and returns home. Obviously none of these tasks were simple.

At the beginning of the book, Hunter meets with the Governor of Jamaica, Sir James Almont, to discuss his next endeavor for the king. As a privateer, Hunter is allowed to utilize all his pirate knowledge but not be arrested. Privateers are servants to the king who share their plunder with the king. Because of this, they have papers stating that they are not to be arrested for common criminal acts of piracy. Hunter’s next mission is to attack a well-known Spanish fortress, Matanceros. At the Spanish stronghold is a galleon filled with treasure. It is one of the most dangerous journeys to make because of Matanceros’ rocky shoreline.

Hunter gathers a crew of fearsome characters to assist. They all seem loyal to him, but they are also all pirates. Loyalty doesn’t run deep in their blood. Along the journey, the English crew encounters storms, sea monsters, attacks from other ships, capture by the Spanish, subsequent escape from capture and trouble on an island where they stopped to escape a storm. It seems the sailors will never make it to Matanceros and home to Jamaica. The ones that make it home alive don’t know how long they will stay alive.

This book keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what the crew will encounter next. There are so many shocking twists in the plot, you will be guessing the entire story who is good and who is evil. The characters switch which side they are on so quickly and sometimes don’t announce a side. You are left guessing right up until the end about who will betray whom next.

The historical accuracy of this book is fascinating. Crichton seems to get the facts spot-on in terms of life at sea for pirates on a raid. It was a fiction book that seemed so real. The short chapters also kept the book flowing. I never wanted it to end, knowing I would have to leave Jamaica and come back to the present.

One of the other fascinating parts of this book is that it was published posthumously. An assistant discovered the manuscript on one of Michael Crichton’s computers after his death, and it was published a year after he died.

If you are looking for an action-packed, swashbuckling tale, or just a good book to read, this book is an excellent one. The writing style keeps a steady pace, and the plot twists make it hard to put down.