Serve. Challenge Complete!

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This is Day 15 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge. Challenge Complete!

So, this is a belated post for sure, but whatever. The fact that I finally have accomplished this is encouraging. I’ve always wanted to participate in a writing/reading challenge, but have never had the guts to. And I’ve always been late to the game, as I was with this challenge. But I’m so glad I finally stepped back and took a breath, and told myself, “Who cares if you’re late? Or don’t know what you’re doing? Just jump in and do it. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.” So I did. I’m so glad.

The challenge for today is to find a way to serve others. I’ve thought about this, and although I feel that I’m going to thoroughly accomplish this goal in the upcoming year, I’m going to try and accomplish it another way, too.

I’ve been hired as a Writing Consultant at the KU Writing Center for the upcoming year. I’ve wanted to work there since I was a freshman on campus and saw it for the first time. The thought of helping others improve their writing (which coincides with helping me learn how to effectively edit!) was so incredibly tempting. And I took the course and interviewed, and got the job! Goal accomplished. 🙂 So I’ll spend the next year serving others by providing a mentor and friend they can turn to in times of struggle with their writing. I’m hoping that I can help people academically, but also in the development of their writing style. I want to help develop writers, as any editor should.

I’m hoping to develop my writing, as well.

I would also like to serve others by promoting publishing opportunities. It can be so overwhelming to really dive into the field and search for an opportunity, and it can be very discouraging when you aren’t successful after searching forever. Hopefully, I can help with that somehow. I don’t know how, but I’m hoping to increase my online process by posting writing tips, linking to other blogs, and finding opportunities to become involved in the writing scene.

And along the way, I hope to accomplish my own personal dreams. I feel pretty confident. I’ve planned a lot, and I know the future only holds more stress, but I can get through it. It’s fate. Image

It’s going to happen. I’ll be successful. I’m going to start working on a children’s short novel manuscript, and hope to send out query letters by next fall. I’m trying to give myself plenty of time to get writing and planning and editing, so I don’t end up missing my deadline and feeling awful. But it wil al turn out okay. I know it will. It will.

Happy writing, everyone. I hope your week is splendid and full of inspiration.

Brand.

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This is day 14 in the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.

So I’m pretty sure I’ve missed at least a week of posts. Actually, more than that. Woops. What can you do? It’s finals week for my summer classes (five essays and two exams in two weeks… wheee), and summer is finally coming down to a close. Well, kind of. I still have three weeks until I leave home to go back to college. I’m so ready to go back.

But until then, I’m here. Jeff Goins has asked us to create a brand for ourselves in today’s challenge. I have to admit, this is a little confusing for me. I’m not a company, but I do have a product, I suppose. He’s broken it down into three steps, so here goes nothing.

1. Pick a name. Well, that’s easy. Kayla Overbey. My own name; it’s what I use on all my bylines, and I’m planning on using it for future publications.

2. Create an image. Ummmm well alright. I already have a photo on my professional-ish blog, right here, so I guess I will use that. It’s just a picture of me!

3. Find your voice. So, here’s the part where it might be a little more complicated. What is my voice? What’s my sound? My style?

I don’t think that a “voice” is a perfect, little package you stumble across. I know I’m not going to write something someday and think, “Aha! There you are, I found you!” I’ll never look at my work and think that it is a perfect representation of my voice. Rather, I believe that one’s voice changes and adapts to their situation, environment, and the time they’re living in. A writer’s voice grows just as anything else in life does. There is no set tone to our lives. We breathe and change and experience happiness and sadness. I think our voices change to best handle whatever situation we may be going through.

So am I going to define myself with one set “voice?” No. I’m not going to. I’m just going to recognize the ebb and flow as it happens.

Publish.

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This is Day 13 in the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.

Once again, I’m one step ahead of Jeff Goins in his request for today’s writing challenge. As you may have guessed from the title, he’s asked participants to put something out there (professionally!) for the world to see. This extends beyond blog posts.

And, I’m happy to say, I’ve already accomplished his request. About a month ago, I submitted an article I wrote for Fort Hays State University to a new magazine, “Better: Culture & Lit.” Right now they’re in the midst of an all-call for publications, and this can include ANYTHING. Seriously.

Here’s a link to the submission requirements so YOU can try to get published, too!

I wrote a human interest story over the Western Cast Iron Art Conference held back in early June, which was hosted at FHSU this year. The stories of participating students and instructors are incredible, and the crowd is so incredibly diverse! It was an awesome thing to be a part of. I also photographed a large majority of the iron pour, which you can see on the FHSU Facebook page.

So, I’ve submitted an article to this magazine, and am waiting to hear back. It should only be a few more months and I’ll know whether my efforts were successful or not!

Also, a few weeks ago I was conversing with some editors over at the Hays Daily News, my town’s local newspaper. I sent them a couple articles I wrote over FHSU, and after some editing, they decided to publish it! I was pretty excited.Image

The article is available to read online at Hays Daily News’ website, or you can hop over to my professional-ish blog “Just Keep Writing” and read my web copy. It’s identical to the published version, promise! I would really appreciate it if you popped over and took a look.

So I’ve completed Jeff Goins’ goal twice over. I’ve submitted something to be published, and something I submitted was published. Yay for me. 🙂 Happy writing, everyone.

(While I’m promoting myself and providing links, here’s a link to another FHSU album. It’s a Campus Flower Tour, and was pretty popular online. They’re using some of my photography in that album for newsletters, booklet headings, publications, etc. If you like flowers, you’ll like this album! Check it out!)

Provoke.

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This is Day 12 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge. 

My projects are piling up, my life is growing more hectic, my emotional life feels frayed and worn thin. And yet, I march on, as do so many others who are in worse positions. That’s where true conflict grows–within the hearts of those who are troubled at every turn.

A couple weeks ago my family went through some chaos. It was heart-wrenching. However, my parents and I have sworn the experience to secrecy in fear of bad outcomes. I’ve contemplated the reasons and outcomes to the point of exhaustion, and finally realized that it is from this emotion that the best stories are extracted.

I’ve decided to provoke and strain myself into forming this experience into a story… maybe. Someday. When tensions have died down and perhaps the incident is not as strong in the eyes of my family.

Also, I know I’ve skipped a couple days here and there, but since I’m not a part of the original challenge, I’ve decided I have a little leeway. This Challenge will be complete sooner rather than later. Happy Thursday to you all.

Declutter.

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This is Day 11 in the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.

I am a habitual list maker. I relish the thought of crossing something off and looking down at the little words and lines, thinking, “Success, sweet completion. I did it.” However, I am also very easily overwhelmed. Both physically and emotionally, it doesn’t take much to unsettle me and make me thoroughly uncomfortable.

I’m having a lot of trouble keeping the ground beneath my feet at this time in my life. Projects at work keep piling up, but with a 10-hour workday, it’s really easy to get going in the morning, then take a break, then become unmotivated. I just need to stay focused. This is where my lists come in handy. My workplace is a bit of a mess, but I can easily fix that. As long as I have my yellow notepad and pen, as well as materials I’m using for whatever respective project I’m working on, I’m just fine.

I’m also very overwhelmed emotionally. I’m in a long distance relationship with the man I’ve been seeing for one year and two months. That’s not an extraordinarily long time, but this is my first love and longest relationship, so I’m a happy camper. Normally, we have about 11 hours between us, as I live in Kansas and he, Illinois. However, he boarded a flight to Berlin, Germany, as of 2 p.m. this afternoon. So now, there’s about 4,000 miles between us. I don’t deal well without him, and have invested myself in distractions to keep me from thinking about how far he’ll be and how infrequent our communication will be.

Thus, I’ve made another list. A list of things to do, a list of distractions. Writing about it all in a catharsis-like manner also helps relieve my stress. Hopefully I can keep up my momentum and simply declutter my stress away. I hope all you writers and readers have had a good day out there.

Share.

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This is Day 10 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge! 

Without realizing it, I accomplished today’s post’s goal in the my last post. Jeff Goins asked us to share someone else with the world, to introduce their work in place of our own.

I did that in my last post, Connect, where I introduced three blogs and writers that I found inspirational! I didn’t know I was supposed to do that today. Well, I would like to keep my goal in mind and accomplish it a second time over, instead of ignoring it and giving myself an easy day off. 

So, today, I’m going to introduce another blog that I absolutely love and have recently discovered just a couple of weeks ago. They say that book bloggers are the new, unpaid and overly-willing critics, and so 101 Books blog author Robert Bruce has made a name for himself by progressing through Time Magazine‘s Top 100 Books list. He’s currently reading “An American Tragedy.” 

He is funny, charming, and intelligent. And witty! I love his blog because he tells it like it is, all while informing the reader of what book he’s on and what his thoughts are. I love his blog. Check him out!

Connect.

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This is Day 9 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge!

Writing has traditionally been looked at as a solitary craft. At least, that’s how I have always seen it. A single writer comes up with an idea, embellishes on it, and then starts an isolated journey to become published. However, this is not the case.

As I’ve explored the craft of writing and the field of publishing, I’ve realized that almost every book is a team effort. I have connected with so many readers and writers just by skimming through blogs. I have gathered such useful information, it is truly amazing.

And best of all, I realized I am not really alone in this. People want to help me, if I’ll help myself by opening up. So, to fulfill the challenge of connecting, I’ve linked a couple blogs and websites that I’ve found very useful. Please enjoy their authors and information. They’re great!

Rebecca Berto’s Novel Girl: Rebecca gathers information and links to so many awesome blogs. She is really on top of the ball, and has a great following. I’m subscribed to her, and I thoroughly enjoy every post. She writes book reviews, talks with authors, explains the different avenues of publishing, and way more. Check her out!

Hannah Jones’ The (Writer’s) Waiting Room: This blog is drop-dead amazing. I originally found it while researching publishing positions, and became absolutely hooked. Hannah is in the process of building her own reputation as a writer, and her hard work shows. This blog is polished and beautiful! I’ve linked you to the “So, You Want to Work in Publishing?” part of her site, as that’s where I initially became hooked.

Publishing Trendsetter: I stumbled across this website and immediately thought, “Goldmine.” It has a plethora of information on publishing and writing. It seriously blows my mind and can entertain me for hours! I’ve found so many useful tips, especially from their “How to Get a Job in Publishing” bootcamp! Hopefully this will help out some other writers and young publishing wannabes. 😉

Those are my three connections for today, though I have more! I hope this helps out somebody out there. If you enjoy them as much as I did, and still do, comment and tell me. What did you think? Has this encouraged you to start networking?

Build.

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This is Day 8 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge. A day late again, I know! I was in Chicago. 🙂

This summer, I have dedicated myself to building value into my life. At least, what I believe to be value. I have secured an awesome internship which will in turn build value into my resume. I have spent countless miles on the road to make my long distance relationship work, which proves I value my partner more than the time and money I would save. I have researched and built a plan, which will further deepen and appreciate the value of my time at college.

And now, I have built the will to move forward with two new steps in my life. I have built the plot and skeleton for a children’s book. I have decided to organize and start a book club at my university this upcoming year (I think!).

But instead of starting and building a multitude of projects, I need to focus and finish. Jeff Goins has given us the challenge of finishing something. Anything. Today. So, I’m going to work on some homework and finish that, so next week will be a little less hectic for me.

Between 6 credit hours of summer classes, a 40 hour work week, maintaining my relationship, and planning my future, I feel a little burnt out at times. But I know it’s all worth it.

As a bonus assignment, Jeff has asked us to start building a support team. He encouraged us bloggers to let two people know of our plans, and to gather their encouragement and support. Being solitary always makes everything harder, so knowing you aren’t alone should help tremendously.

I was so glad to learn of this assignment and then realize that I have already completed it. I have three supporters: my mom, my dad, and my boyfriend. Yes, three very close friends, but support is support, right?

So tell me, what have you finished today? And who supports you?

Start.

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This is Day 7 in the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.

This is it. I have an idea (why didn’t I think of it before?), and I’m ready to start. I need to go over the rough draft I wrote so long ago, polish the language, build the structure so it’s unshakeable. I need to make sure my plot does end with empty expectations. I need to make sure it is fulfilling, entertaining, engaging.

I need to start working on it.

I’m excited. I’m a little giddy. However, I’m sure that will vanish as soon as I start worming my way in to the details.  I’m sure I will get tired of it, annoyed and frustrated with myself. But I know this idea is golden. It has to be.

So, when I’m done working on the bare bones, I can really start to mold it, shape it, smooth out its frayed edges. Then I’ll show it to some people, get some audience advice, a little beta reader feedback.

This process will take a while, I know. But I am so ready. I’m so ready to start.

And, speaking of ideas, another one came to mind. This weekend, I went through a lot of emotional pain and difficulty. I came back to work for a few hours yesterday and had massive anxiety prevent me from being productive. The only way I could stifle it is to take a notepad from my desk and pour into it. I wrote for a solid hour, I think. And it was all clear, cathartic, emotional writing. The best kind I have to offer.

And afterwards, I felt as though the weight had been lifted. I could look at my pain, examine it, find where it is most raw and exposed to the heat of this world. And I thought, why couldn’t I turn this into a book? Or something like it? Maybe I can polish this up to perfection as well.

Do you have a hit idea you’re waiting to start? Are you in the process of writing? Promoting? Publishing? Tell me about it!

Steal.

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This is Day 6 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge.

I’m late. A day late. I’m sorry. This weekend began beautifully and then became chaotic, and I shirked my duties as a blogger. I apologize! But I’m posting twice today to make up for it. 🙂

My boyfriend has encouraged me time and again to start writing. To start working on a novel that could possibly take years to finish. He tells me, “Kayla, you need to write. You want to, I know it.” 

Each time I shake my head and say, “I know, but I’m waiting for that hit idea.”

I literally say that. Every time. That big, hit idea. I’m waiting for it to strike me down, to arrive as a thousand celestial voices ring from above and a golden light floats around me. I’m waiting for that old lightbulb to click on. And for so long I have obsessed over being truly original.

But here’s the thing. It’s pretty much impossible. Every angle on every idea has been done. There is just about no originality left, unless you pull a Tolkiens and create an entire world all on your own (how did he do that?!).

But I’m not Tolkiens, or Rowling, or Martin, or whoever else. I’m me. So instead of waiting for the idea, I need to act on my life experiences. What do I feel? Why do I feel that way? What event has happened that has shaped me? And now that I think about it…

I have a couple ideas. 🙂