Six Things College App Essays Taught Me About Writing

I just finished all of my college apps!!! *screams with joy for hours*

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And while it was a horrifyingly stressful and (sometimes) tedious process, it did teach me some things about writing and myself as a writer.

1. How to write something that doesn’t rely on dialogue. Or sarcasm.

In my fiction writing, I rely on dialogue and sarcasm. College app essays weren’t really the place for that style writing, so it was an adjustment. Trying to find a tone that conveyed my personality without making me sound like a bitch was something that I’m proud I accomplished.

2. Just how many “voices” I have, outside the ones I already knew about.

This goes with the one before, but as I wrote more and more essays, I started to develop new writing voices. I still prefer my fiction/journalism ones, but I like that I discovered others.

3. How to be done with something. And actually be done.

I have been writing fiction for years, but I have never really finished something. I have reached the end of pieces, and edited pieces, but I have never really felt done. With college app essays, I had to write, edit, and turn it in. This was incredibly stressful at the beginning, but it also feels awesome to be actually done.

4. Kill Your Darlings is actually really good advice.

I have heard the classic writing advice “Kill Your Darlings” for a while, but college app essays were the first time I really had to use it. And damn, it works. I can’t tell you how many essays clicked into place when I got rid of a favorite sentence, metaphor, or idea.

5. How to write, even when I don’t want to.

My WIP started to teach me this over summer, but it was writing essays for college apps that finally drove home this lesson. Although I still occasionally give in to writer’s block, I am now able to get myself to sit down and write, even if I don’t feel “inspired.”

6. Word counts are the worst, but only sometimes.

This was my first real encounter with word counts, and it was rough. Of the hours I spent working on these essays, only half the time was writing. The other half was spent editing them down to the right word count.

But I also started to appreciate word counts for the direction they gave me. I knew how far to go with an essay based on the word count. Without them, I don’t know if I would have edited my essays as thoroughly. So I guess word counts aren’t the worst.


What do you think? Was this post interesting for you? Have you applied/are you applying to colleges, and if so, what was it like for you?

November Wrap-Up 2016

In My Life

November was a pretty terrible month. The election happened, and I’m still not over it (and refuse to get over it). Watching Trump’s cabinet assemble has horrifying and frustrating, making it hard to get excited about the year ending.

Other than that disaster, November was focused on college apps and schoolwork. I had a week off from school, which was great, but I spent entire days working on college essays, so it wasn’t all fun and games. Thanksgiving was filled with family and wonderful food.

On This Blog

This was an okay month for blogging. I did not meet my goal of posting three times a week, but I liked the posts I did manage to write. I posted 10 times.

Also! After two and a half years of blogging, 52 Letters now (finally) has a review directory. I have been putting it together since summer, but I managed to finish it over break.

Top Ten Tuesday

Discussion Posts

In Reading and Reviewing

I read 5 books this month, which is better than I expected, to be honest. They were all incredible, which is a bonus. I also caught up on one review (Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley — 4/5 stars).

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater — 5/5 stars (will not be reviewed)
  • His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik — 4.5/5 stars (review)
  • Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik — 4.5/5 stars (review)
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare — 4/5 stars (review to come)
  • Headless by Tristram Lowe — 3.5/5 stars (review)

In Writing

This was a great month for writing. I added almost 13,000 words to my WIP, which brings my total word count up to 84,500. That puts the end in sight, and I now officially think I can meet my goal of finishing it by the end of the year. I also shared one poem here, This Was Supposed to Be a Poem, in response to the election.


How was your November? Did you read any amazing books? What are you going to read in December?

September Wrap-Up 2016

In My Life

Ugh, this month was rough. School has started to get real, hitting me with a lot of tests and larger assignments. College app deadlines are quickly approaching, meaning that I have to spend any extra time working on essays or supplements. Not exactly my definition of fun.

On This Blog

I had nine posts this month. I would have had more, but the entire last week of September was crazy and I didn’t have time to finish up and post anything. The good news is that I am actually proud of ever post I published, especially my discussion posts.

Book Tags:

Top Ten Tuesdays:

Discussion Posts:

In Reading and Reviewing

This was an okay reading month. I have started to slip back into my school-year reading habits, finally (sort of) finding time to read during the school week.

I read 5 books this month and published two book reviews this month. I am currently reading Empire of Storms (NO SPOILERS) and it is killing me.

  • A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle #1) by Libba Bray — 4/5 stars (caught up on this review)
  • Medea by Sophocles — 4/5 stars (review)
  • The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle #3) by Libba Bray — 5/5 stars (review to come)
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys — 4/5 stars (review to come)
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff — 4/5 stars (review to come)
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas  — 5/5 stars (review to come)

In Writing

Fiction writing did not happen in September. I barely wrote 2,000 words in the entire month! (*covers face in shame*) My goal for October is to figure out a way to work writing into my weekly homework schedule. I cannot stand letting my WIP sit untouched for so long.

That’s not to say that I didn’t write anything in September. I wrote SO MANY drafts of college essays. I am finally getting to a place where I don’t hate everything that I write about myself (yay for small victories) but I still have a long road paved with supplemental essays ahead of me.

Part of me is glad that the writing skills and habits that I developed this summer transferred over to college essay writing. And part of me is really pissed that essay writing has replaced fiction writing in my life.


How was your September? Did you read any good books? What are you planning to read next month?

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award

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I was nominated for this award by the amazing Syc @ The Lit Mermaid. It was a long time ago and I can’t believe that it took me this long to get around to posting this (I’m the worst with awards). Seriously, check our Syc’s blog—she has amazing graphics and is a super nice blogger! Thanks so much for the award, Syc!!!

The Rules

  1. Display the award on your blog.
  2. Announce your win with a post and link the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Present 6 4 deserving bloggers with the award.
  4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
  5. Write seven interesting things about you.

Seven Facts About Me

Can I start off by saying that I LOVE the name of this award? I feel so legit writing out the name.

  1. I’ve never played a team sport, though I have taken gymnastics and diving lessons (the latter for a much shorter duration). I currently fence.
  2. I’m in AP Calculus, and I actually enjoy math classes, but I have less than no intention of pursuing math as a career.
  3. Even though I recently turned seventeen, I just started driving. I could have gotten my permit a year and a half ago, but I dragged my feet.
  4. Through my school’s journalism program and making graphics for this blog, I’ve started to really love graphic design. I find it a surprisingly relaxing hobby for something that is routinely so tedious.
  5. I am a cat person! My cat is named Muzgle and I love her soooo freaking much.
  6. I love rereading books! Most of the books on my “Top Shelf” have been read at least three (but probably four) times—and I have no intention of stopping.
  7. I’m a twin! A lot of you know this by now, but my twin is a really talented sewer sewist (she prefers that word, cuz, you know, it isn’t connected to sewage). Check out her blog here.

My Nominees

  1. The Galaxial Word
  2. Jess @ Princessica of Books
  3. Nikki and Amy @ Every Book You Need to Read and More
  4. Kat @ Life and Other Disasters

Congratulations to everyone! And thank you again, Syc, for nominating me!

My Goals For This Summer

Today is my last day of school. As of now I am FREE! (No really, I scheduled this post to go live one minute after my final bell rings.) Here are my goals for this summer, both relating to this blog and in my personal life.

1. WRITE

I can’t stress this one enough. I need to get back into writing poetry (which I kind of dropped recently). I want to get better at writing short stories and maybe enter a content or two. And I absolutely have to work on (and finish?!?!) my second draft of my WIP, Devil May Care. I haven’t worked on it in two months, but the last time I really got into writing it, it went well, so I hope I can get that productivity and confidence back, for two months at least.

2. Read 20 books

This is the goal I set myself last summer, and I think it will be a good goal for this summer as well. I haven’t been able to read as much this year as last year, but without school, hopefully I can at least catch up a bit in my overall total. I also really need to start working on my reading challenges (I haven’t even started some of them yet!).

3. Keep blogging (at least three posts a week)

Sometimes, when I have a lot of free time, I basically cease to be productive. I know this about myself. This summer, I want to make sure that I keep blogging, because I know at some point I’m going to get lazy and stop writing new posts. I’m setting a goal of three posts a week, though hopefully I will have closer to four. I also want to focus on getting some more original content, like discussion posts, and posting more of my writing, instead of just doing Top Ten Tuesdays and book reviews.

4. Spend time with friends

This one doesn’t tie into my blog, but I need to write it down somewhere. I love my friends, but last summer I didn’t really organize any get-togethers, and by the end of summer I was regretting it. This summer will be friend-heavy, even if it means I don’t read or write quite as much as I would have otherwise.

5. Catch up on TV shows

Once again, this one isn’t directly blog related, but I haven’t watched the new seasons of Doctor Who or Once Upon a Time, and I really want to. Also, I haven’t been able to go on the Geek section of Pinterest for months, and I need that back in my life, spoiler free.

6. Learn ballet

I don’t actually have a choice about this one. I’m taking ballet at a local community college to get PE credit for high school. I waved my second year of (required) PE last year to take journalism instead, and I have to make it up. Hopefully, this will be a good experience, though doing three and a half hours of dance four days a week for a month will probably leave me exhausted.

7. Finally Get my Drivers Permit

I started this last summer. I am so lazy in this regard. I have like one chapter of online drivers ed left and I just need to do it, but it is sooo boring. Honestly, I don’t really care, but the people in my life want me to be able to drive so…it’s on the list

8. Enjoy myself

Sometimes, during summer, I feel like I’m wasting my precious weeks away from school if I just read a book for the whole day, binge watch TV, or do nothing. I have to remind myself that I enjoy doing those things, and they help me relax–and that’s all that matters. Summer is about relaxing and having fun, more than anything else.


What about you? What are you summer plans? Are they they same as mine?

April Wrap-Up!

april wrap up

Where did April go? No really–I’m asking. This month flew by.

I guess it was a good month. I’ve been really busy because my first ever AP test is coming up. (AP euro for the win 5!) Lots of studying but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic (*cue mental breakdown*). Other classes have been pretty easy though, and everyone is starting to wind down in preparation for the end of school (four weeks away!).

In the blogging world

I had 19 posts this month, with at least four posts a week (except for this week, which isn’t over yet). Not my best showing, but at least I kept posting and reading with all of the craziness going on in my life school-wise.

I had three Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Characters I’d Like to Check in With, Top Ten Inspiring Quotes for Books, Top Ten All Time Favorite Authors. These were some of my favorite topics I’ve done so far, to be honest.

This blog turned one! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for over a year now! I also talked about how being a book blogger has changed me as a reader.

Thank you amazing followers for all of the likes and comments. This was a really active month in regards to comments, and I love it when you guys take time to interact with my posts and, through them, me. So thank you.

In the reading world

I posted six book review this month. I added a book to my Nonfiction Reading Challenge by reading The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter, thoroughly enjoying it. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket got me credit for my Rereading Challenge and brought me back to elementary school. Noggin by John Corey Whaley was weird in a woah-amazing way; The Murder Complex by Lindsey Cummings was weird in a not-so-good way. A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff was sweet but sad. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson gave me fangirl feels like crazy, definitely the best book I read this month.

I’m currently reading For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. It is soooo good. I accidentally read the companion novel for this book, Across A Star Swept Sea, (which takes place later chronologically) first. Technically, that gave me spoilers, but this book is so intense and unpredictable that I have no idea how it could end in a way that leads to the book I’ve already read.

In the writing world

I did not work on my WIP this month. It was horrible, but I had a bad combination of little time and less motivation. I’m feeling optimistic for May (*fingers crossed).

I did write poems though! Six of them. A Writer’s Manifesto and A Tired Ballet are more personally based in my life. All These Things I’ve Loved and Rusted Juxtaposition were aimed at being more solidly poetic, capturing moments in time. Aha Moment was my attempt to be funny (but it was also true). And What Matters was a show of support for the protesters on April 24 asking for recognition of the Armenian genocide. I left it obscure, with only references to it in the event in the tags, because I think the message I was conveying is larger than just one horrific event in history. Still, I wanted to make sure I did something to support the protests, and to draw the attention of people who might not be aware of it in my own subtle way.

I Got a New Bookshelf!

Okay, so I’ve needed a new bookshelf for a while. I got a lot of new books for Christmas and my birthday and I’ve wanted to move some of my big collections of books onto their own shelf.

And then it happened!

I was walking to a friend’s house and I realized that there were two bookshelves (completely built) sitting next to a dumpster near my house. My sister and I immidiately started brainstorming ways we could fit another shelf into our room and we figured out that one would TOTALLY FIT.

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that’s my sister awkwardly in the background…sorry Sam

When we got back from the friend’s house, we brought one of the bookshelves into our room (with our mom laughing at our pain as we dragged it through our apartment).

It came set up so there wasn’t anything to do other than decide where to put the shelves. (I used Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas to figure out how far apart the shelves should be.)

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Then we got to move new books in!

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The bottom shelf is Agatha Christie novels, The Cat series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and some other mysteries. The next shelf up is books by Janet Evanovich. Then there is a blank shelf (an excuse to get more books…am I right?). Between the awesome bookends I got for Christmas is my official TBR shelf (previously just a pile of books on my floor…). On the top shelf, Harry Potter and The Series of Unfortunate Events, both of which had been in a different room, got to move back into out bedroom!