What Writing For Odyssey For One Year Has Taught Me

What Writing For Odyssey For One Year Has Taught Me

Writers aren't paid, but that doesn't make it come with fewer benefits.

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This article is the 53rd I've written, meaning I've been writing for Odyssey every week for the past year. Before I wrote for Odyssey, I had very little writing experience. I published a few bits online for my internships but hadn't had the freedom to write about anything I wanted. While I joined Odyssey, I also joined a few other common news sites and wrote articles for them. However, Odyssey is the one that has stuck through. I've never missed a deadline, and I get to write about whatever I want every single week, and it'll be published online.

Writers aren't paid, but that doesn't make it come with fewer benefits.

For one, writing for Odyssey taught me concrete PR and communications skills. We can see the statistics of which articles got which views, and we can see the numbers go up if we market the article successfully. Moreover, the weekly deadline keeps our minds awake for any topic that could be worth writing about. None of the other news sites I wrote for setting these deadlines, and that's partially the reason why only Odyssey stuck around. Odyssey was also the only news site that didn't restrict what topics we can write about - we write about whatever we want, without having to run the topic by anyone, every week.

I committed myself and saw results.

Though there are admittedly a lot of "filler" articles with content no one is too interested in, every once in a while, an interesting topic comes up that begs to be written about.

Odyssey is a huge news site, with a recognizable name and high viewer counts. That means that we can use the name to our advantage. For one, it looks great on my resume! Lots of big events also search for media representatives, so you can get discounted or free passes to events.

I got to go to Lollapalooza for free this summer!

- just by mentioning that I write for Odyssey and promising a couple of articles. Moreover, as an entrepreneur, Odyssey can be a great way to spread the news of different upcoming businesses. Companies are constantly looking for PR channels, and Odyssey is one of them.

Odyssey is easy to get into as a writer. Check if your college campus has a chapter, and apply as a writer. Lots of people I know had little to none writing experience when they first began with Odyssey. It's not important that you have incredible writing skills - what's important is that you have substantial content to contribute. Odyssey is built on a crowdsourced model, meaning it's powered by thousands of volunteer writers.

You just might find your new community here. If you'd like to apply, go here!

Happy writing!

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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 tryout, 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 castmember 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 payoff 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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Writer's Block: A Road Block We've All Hit

In the corner, the deer head is mocking you.

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It's two hours before your deadline and everything you start to type sounds terrible. You get five words into a sentence and you immediately hit the backspace button or throw your notebook across the room.

You think you have something solid and then you read it out loud and it's worse than you originally thought possible. Nothing sounds right to you and the clock is ticking. Minutes pass, but you can't seem to find anything that works.


You look all around the room for inspiration. In the corner, the deer head is mocking you and in the other corner, the hole in the ceiling is just reminding you of how empty your brain feels at the moment. Nothing is coming to you and it's no longer silent because your brother is upstairs singing in the shower and your sister is listening to music as she falls asleep.

Another half-hour has passed and you're drenched in sweat. Your pen is slipping out of your hand and you are stressing. Your fingers are sliding across the keys and not in the cool confident way. Your eyes are burning from the sweat droplets on the corners of your eyes.

It's writer's block and we've all been there.

In fact, right before I began this, I was experiencing it myself. I tried moving to different rooms in the house, asking three different people for ideas and listening/watching multiple platforms: acoustic music, sports, Amazon Prime TV, etc. Nothing was working and I was sure that I was going to miss my deadline and have nothing to turn in.

I honestly thought I was going to end up in a ball of tears.


However, I turned my problem into my solution and wrote down everything I was feeling.

Now, this may not always work, especially if you're writing something for school on the War of 1812 or Abraham Lincoln. One thing that will work is taking a deep breath. Write whatever comes to your mind and don't delete it, even if you think it's absolutely terrible. Some of my best writing has come from what I thought was terrible.

But most importantly, remember: Writer's block is real, but it's also overcomeable and you've probably dealt with it more than you realize.

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