How Should I Balance Writing With Everything Else?

How Should I Balance Writing With Everything Else?

Life is packed, but there are ways to make writing a priority.
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A friend in my community asked me how I balance Odyssey with other things in my life. Considering how important writing is to me, and also considering how busy we all are, I figured it would be a better endeavor to dedicate an article to it.

So here goes.

First, some background: I've gone through high school, college and now adult/working life and have never stopped writing. I know exactly how busy you are and how frustrating and difficult it can be to juggle it all.

But fear not. There are ways.

1. Make time.

This ain't no joke. This ain't even negotiable. If you want to write, you're going to have to carve time out of your daily schedule. When you're a college student, you have to do this around the five trillion things you're already scheduled to do. You have to eat meals, go to class, do your homework, hang out with friends, talk to mom on the phone, sleep and most importantly, spend time with God. How in the world are you going to find time write?

Well, it's in there somewhere. When I was in high school, and for the first two years of college, I got up every day at 6 AM to write. Junior year onward, I got up at 6 AM to exercise (UUUUUGH) and then luckily only had classes after 10 AM, so I wrote after breakfast. This is the power of habit.

THE POWER OF HABIT.

I put that twice (and in really big font) so you understand how vital it is. If you start forming your writing habit now, it will never die. This extends beyond college, beyond internships and beyond those initial job interviews. You're going to take these habits with you for the rest of your life. The only way to write is to simply make the time to do it.

2. Get your homework done.

Hopefully that sentence didn't make you wail in agony.

But the gist of the message is this: homework is super important. You're in college for a reason, and that's so you can do what you want with the rest of your life. You don't want to compromise that with anything else while you're still in college, not even if it's your undying passion (as writing is mine). Please make sure you're getting your homework done before you write. Even if that means compressing your writing time to 30 minutes before bed, or the 10 minutes before each class, then at least you know you're not putting your education in jeopardy.

Also, it will make writing a heck of a lot less stressful. You try sitting down to write a short story while that World History paper is sitting untouched. Yikes. Your creative mind will thank you if you've already cleared your responsibilities beforehand.

3. Write what you need to.

This one is the easiest. All through high school and college, I fluctuated between full-blown novels and smaller projects. Sometimes, I could only focus on one at a time, and at other points, I could switch between three or four. These ups and downs depended on my schedule. If my days were strict and had almost no spare moments, I would allow myself to write tiny things that didn't take long, but still produced creative output (flash fiction and poetry are amazing for this). If my schedule was a bit freer, I could devote more time to major novels.

If you find yourself growing creatively frustrated, just sit down and write something. Even if it sucks, it's important to keep those habits going. In the long run, you're still doing yourself good. Writing is therapeutic in a lot of the same ways dreams are. They help you organize your thoughts. They help you escape into other worlds for a little while. They give you power. Write what you need to.

4. Cut yourself some slack.

DON'T.

FORGET.

THIS.

You'll have weeks where you don't write a single word. You might even go for a month or two. I've been there, and it's easy to guilt-trip yourself and sink into a pit of existential crisis. However, any writer will tell you that there is no magic formula for being able to write all the time. In fact, no one can write all the time. At least twice a year, I have long stretches of uncreativity, and it's torture. But I know I'll get through it. I know that at the end of the awful tunnel is another stretch of bursting productivity and ideas. I live for those stretches.

So cut yourself some slack. Your passion shouldn't wear you down. It should build you up.

5. (Odyssey-specific) Plan ahead!

I've been writing for Odyssey over a year and a half now, and I've learned some important things along the way. First, keep the above four points in mind. Second, plan!

-Keep a running list of ideas you get throughout the week. Jot them down wherever you are and keep them handy for reference later (especially when you get to the day before your deadline and you're like "AAA! What do I write about?!")

-Try writing a little each day for Odyssey. Pop open the Content Creator and add a couple sentences. Then go away. It feels great to be able to go away.

-Ask for help. We're a community, after all. Bounce ideas off fellow writers and see which feedback sparks your interest. As I've said in previous articles, writing friends are priceless. Use them to your advantage! (And we are always more than happy to talk about writing. It's what we do).

-Mix it up. Don't like writing about the same topic over and over? Write about EVERYTHING. Life gives us a lot of things to write about, after all.

-Or stick to a theme. Do you have a lot to say about something? (Sort of like the way I have a bajillion things to say about writing?) Then write about that! You can even do what I did and set up a blog for your specific audience. Mine is called The Feather Pen, and it's gained a lil pack of followers in the past year. It's another great way to build that social media repertoire.


These are the most important pillars as far as balancing writing life and other life goes. There are probably dozens more I could cover, but these embrace a large amount of them. If you have any more, don't hesitate to share! Writers should always support other writers.

Now go write!

Cover Image Credit: Monoar Rahman

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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