Six Things College App Essays Taught Me About Writing

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

john-stewart-happy

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?

2017 Resolutions

IT’S 2017! LET’S DO THIS.

2016 was rough, but I managed to accomplish 6/10 of my blogging resolutions. This year, I’m widening my resolutions to include blogging, reading, and writing. We’ll see if I can accomplish them.

blogging

1. Post three times a week. This is a constant goal of mine that I struggled with in 2016, but that I want to bring back for 2017.

2. Write more discussion posts that I’m proud of. I accomplished this in 2016, but I want to push myself even further.

3. Be more consistent with Top Ten Tuesday posts. This fell apart at the end of 2016, but they are honestly so much fun to read and write.

4. Stay up on my reviews, and make sure I actually have fun while writing them.

5. Make my reviews more thorough, including calling out problematic things I notice and including trigger warnings.

5. Keep making 52 Letters my own, especially with adding some more personal posts and working on my graphics.

reading

1. Read 60 books. Last year I read about 55, the year before, about 70, so 60 seems like a good goal. I want to push myself without stressing myself.

2. Read more diverse books, especially ones by marginalized authors and #ownvoices books. Hopefully at least one a month

3. Never take longer than 2 weeks to read a book. After that, the book is kind of dead to me, and I just need to move on.

writing

1. Edit my WIP and get it to a place where other people can actually read it.

2. Bring back Hell and Styx, my short story series. I’ll need something to write while editing my novel.

3. Work on my short stories and poetry. One of my main regrets is that I did not do this in 2016.

4. Just keep writing.


What are your goals for 2017? Are there any I should add to my list?

2016 Blogging Wrap-Up

Hi everyone! As 2016 (finally) ends, I wanted to look back at what I accomplished as a blogger and as a writer this year. To see my favorite books of 2016, you can see my reading recap from yesterday.

2016 was both a great year for blogging and a rough one. With second semester of junior year and first semester of senior year, it was easily the busiest year of my life so far. I blogged less in 2016 than I did in 2015, but I wrote more posts that I’m proud of. I think my book reviews are getting better, and I pushed myself to write more honest, emotional discussion posts.


Resolutions

Here are the goals I made for myself for 2016, as well as if I accomplished them.

1. Post three times a week. ~ about 50% successful

2. Read 75 books. ~ Loool, no. I only read 

3. Use better graphics consistently. ~ Yep.

4. More discussion posts. ~ Yeah, actually.

5. Write reviews directly after I finish a book. ~ Yes…ish.

6. Interact more with the blogging community. ~ Sure.

7. Start doing readathons. ~ Lol, no.

8. Get back into Weekend Words. ~ Not even a little.

9. Increase the writing focus of 52 Letters. ~ Nope.

10. Have fun. ~ Always.

All in all, about 6/10 is pretty good. 


Blogging, Writing, and Life News

1. In March, I redesigned 52 Letters. I am still using that design that I created and am still 110% in love with it.

2. In April, 52 Letters turned 2!

3. In May and June, I took part in two University of Iowa International Writing Program #Flashwrite Poetry MOOCs and discovered how much I love poetry.

4. I started a bookstagram account (@52lettersinthealphabet)! (And then senior year started and it died…whoops.)

5. In June, I decided to start over with my WIP. Over summer break, that draft went from zero words to nearly 62,000 words!

6. In November, I created a review directory for 52 Letters.

7. 52 Letters reached 600 followers! Thank you all SOOOO much!

8. In December, I finished my WIP! It took me just over six months and is 99,800 words. It is the fastest I have ever finished a draft of a novel, and (I think) the best thing I’ve ever written. It still needs a lot of work, but that’s 2017’s problem.

9. Today, I turn 18 and officially become an adult! I’m half excited, half terrified. 


Blogging Favorites

Discussion Posts

The Importance of Platonic Relationships

Which Blog Posts Do I Actually Read?

What It’s Like to Read YA as a Girl Who Cries…A Lot

What Looking for Myself in Books Taught Me About the Need for Diversity

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Books I Have Enjoyed With Less Than 2000 Goodreads Ratings

Top Ten Parts of High School I Wish YA Authors Talked About More

Top Ten Characters I Would Name a Cat After

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me in a Haunted House


How was your blogging 2016? Which posts are you most proud of? What are your plans for 2017?

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?

Poetry: This Was Supposed to Be a Poem

I wrote this last night after an indescribable school day. I am extremely raw and frustrated right now. I know that we will get through this, but that does not mean that yesterday was not horrifying.

This was supposed to be a poem

About victory and relief

With lyrical metaphors of broken

Glass ceilings.

 

This is not a poem

About victory

I have nothing to share but what I saw today:

 

Empty faces

Scared

Shocked

Searching for something other than

This.

 

Off-balance bodies

That tried to step forward and were instead shoved

Back.

 

Wide eyes and muddled minds

That forgot youth

Was a bubble, and all bubbles

Pop.

 

My class is staring into our future

And a horrifying abyss is staring

Back.

 

We thought we would break glass last night,

But we broke instead.

October Wrap-Up 2016

In My Life

October was…interesting, I guess. It feels like it took forever to go by, but I can’t really remember what I did. Mostly, I worked on college apps and was overwhelmed by homework.

There is some good news, though! My school paper (of which I am the EIC) published its second issue, which turned out AMAZING. In ceramics, we are starting to make bowls, which is fun and difficult at the same time. And AP Art History is a ton of work but SUPER interesting. We’re on our ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome unit right now. Loving it 🙂

On This Blog

I had 12 posts this month, exactly meeting my personal goal of three posts a week. This is the first time since school started that I’ve been so consistent in blogging, so I’m pretty proud of myself. *high fives self*

Top Ten Tuesdays

Book Tags

In Reading and Reviewing

I read five books this month. Considering how much schoolwork I had (and that one of those books was 700+ pages long), I’m pretty happy with myself.

Books Read

  • Empire of Storms (TOG #5) by Sarah J. Maas — 5/5 stars (review)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares — 4/5 stars (review)
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares — 3.5/5 stars
  • Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley — 4/5 stars (review to come)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley — 3.5/5 stars (review)

Other Reviews

  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys — 4/5 stars (review)
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff — 4/5 stars (review)
  • Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray — 4/5 stars (review)

In Writing

October was a great month for writing! I added 7,600 words to my novel, way more than anything I had added since school started. I wrote on six different days, and some of those days were…wait for it…school nights. OH MY GOD. I hope that I can continue this momentum going into November. It will be my version of NaNoWriMo.

On another note, I got a lot of college essay writing done. I have finally finalized my Common App essay (YES!!), as well as three colleges worth of supplements.


So that’s it for October! How was your Halloween? What books did you read last month and which ones are you planning to read next?

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?