Sunday, February 28, 2016

Monthly Highlights: February 2016

Sentiments of the month have been soft and wistful while storm clouds and musings of the heart have been ever present in the sky. So pink clouds seemed appropriate as this month's image.

It has been a packed month, filled with pinnacles of encouragement and sudden drops into doubt. A lot of what I learn month to month shows up here on Forgotten Featherpen. If this is your first visit, the Monthly Highlights are where we take a look back over all the things that happened on Forgotten Featherpen this month. I also like to share a bit of what's going on in my life and let you know my plans for next month's blogging.

Let's begin shall we?


This month I shared Why I'm Saying No to Stress.  Stress likes to invade our lives. It makes us run to stay ahead of it or hide to keep away from it. This semester I decided to start looking at stress differently. Let me tell you, it's hard to keep this perspective. But it's so worth it.

Valentine's Day can be rough for a lot of us. I struggle every year with how to orient my chaotic thoughts for it. I don't usually enjoy reading posts about Valentine's Day because they all start to sound the same. But, this year, I decided to write Five Notes for Valentine's Day to offer encouragement and some humor to my sisters.

I have learned so much about Creative Writing this Semester. Ooh there's just not enough time to write all the posts about it that I want to! To summarize some of the lessons I've learned so far, I shared the 3 Notebooks Every Writer Needs. These have been SO helpful to me! If you've started using something similar, I would love to hear about it!

I'm gonna be honest. At first, I didn't think a class about Communication or Politics would impact my abilities as a creative writer. Man, was I wrong! This month I shared the Five (Strange) College Classes To Help Your Writing. If you have the right mindset, every single class you take can make you a better writer.

My life

I've spent most of this month either keeping up with my homework and extracurricular activities or wrestling inwardly with my own thoughts. That can get pretty exhausting, let me tell you. I'm already looking forward to Spring Break so I can get some rest. But, all in all, I am living my life here at college to the fullest that I can!

What to Expect Next Month

More Creative Writing Posts! 

The ideas for these just keep coming. The textbooks I am privileged to be reading are just chock full of incredible tips for the creative writing process. I can't wait to share what I'm learning about dialogue, setting, and space in creative writing.

College Stuffs

Classes keep me musing. Especially the classes I take for my Liberal Arts major. There is some seriously good stuff in those classes that I would love to share. Keep a look out for more posts that tie back to my college journey.

Ancient Man

As always, this interest nags at the back of my mind. I'm almost finished with The Secrets of Ancient Man Book. As soon as I'm done I'm going to write that review for you! I've also been able to do some fun research into other ancient man topics this month for a class that I would love to share with y'all here. Keep your eyes open for it!

Maybe some New Stuff....

I have an idea for a new weekly post. Or maybe a bi-weekly post so I can still keep my sanity.
My creative writing classes have been encouraging me to respond to prompts and work on short stories throughout the semester. What would y'all think of a serial story or responses to writing prompts every other Wednesday?

This is the time of month when I really look forward to hearing your thoughts. What sorts of posts would you like to see? What have you liked so far? There have been some new faces around here this month, and I'm very excited to meet you all. I hope you've had a wonderful February! 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Five Strange College Classes to Help Your Writing

Many people think you have to be an English or Creative Writing Major in college to learn about writing. Well, I am not going to argue with those of you are are English and Creative Writing Majors, but I am a Liberal Arts Major, and I am learning way more about writing than I expected. And I am learning it from some unexpected classes!

Last week I talked about the three notebooks every writer needs. In that post, I also talked about how I kept these notebooks on hand at all times so I could write. Even during classes! But what I've discovered is that I am not just writing down stray thoughts. I am writing down ideas from my college classes that I can use in my writing.

Imagine it. Classes besides writing classes that can make you a better writer!

Before I get into some of those classes, allow me to promote my Major here really quick.

The Liberal Arts

If you ask around you might hear that this major is kind of like the "jack-of-all-trades" sort of thing. Or you might hear that it gives you a broad overview of every subject. While all that is true, I've discovered that this major is SO much more.

Just to keep it short, studying the liberal arts equips you to apply what you've learned in almost any practical arena you could imagine. A liberal arts education is the oldest major in the world if you think about it. The Greeks came up with it first as a way to produce fully-rounded citizens. It trains your mind to think and equips you to understand and use words well. I've got to do a separate post on this sometime. But trust me! This major is worth it if you want to expand your horizons as a writer.

Because I am a Liberal Arts Major, I have a lot of freedom with the sorts of classes I take. Yes, I am minoring in Creative Writing. But it has not been my Creative Writing classes that have prompted real growth in my writing lately. Here are the classes that have changed how I write.

1. Psychology Class

Useful For: Character Development

Those tutorials you read on Pinterest are helpful. But do you want to write a character that has real depth? You want to write a character with psychological disorders and do it justice? Take a Psychology course. You will learn more about human nature than you ever wanted to.

The Gen Psych class at my college was fantastic. I learned about social disorders, anxiety issues, and the whole range of things that can go wrong in the human brain. The subject matter from class sparked tons of character traits to store for a future story. If you ever have a Psych class, take advantage of it! Keep that writing notebook handy to capture all the cool bits for your characters later on.

My college offers a Psychology of Personality class next semester, and I cannot wait to sit in on it! I bet that will generate even more character ideas. 

2. Communication Class

Useful For: Character Development, Setting, and Worldbuilding

As writers, we are communicators. Don't make the mistake of thinking Communication classes always mean journalism. The theories of communication are essential to us writers. Think about it, our characters are in constant communication. Either with each other or with their surroundings. So understanding communication becomes a big deal.

I've taken two Communication classes here so far.

The first was Interpersonal Communication. We basically looked at how and why people communicate. I learned two essential things in that class...

  • Nonverbal communication - We all know how important this is in good writing. 
  • Dialogue - Seriously, when you take a class about talking, you learn how to craft good dialogue. 

The second class was Intercultural Communication. Guys! I am not kidding! This class has done more for my worldbuilding skills than anything I have ever read on the internet.  I learned about...

  • Taboos - what does your setting/world accept or not accept? 
  • Stereotypes - do you have any and how did they form? 
  • Stories - every culture has them! 
  • Traditions - what are they and how did they come about?
  • Racism - is it present and how does it affect your story?
  • Language - every culture has good words and bad words

The list could go on and on. My notes on worldbuilding grow with every class. I cannot recommend this enough to writers. Take a Communications Class! 

3. Politics Class

Useful For: Worldbuilding and Plot Development

At first, I thought this topic was the furthest possible thing from my Creative Writing Goals. How would reading about our political process help me write? As it turns out, it's extremely useful. I'm only taking a general politics course right now. It covers how our government works and the history behind it.

Instead of falling asleep in class, I began to see the story of the United States unfolding as I learned about the government. We are a product of our government. If America were part of a fictional story, then our government would be part of the worldbuilding and even a possible contributor to plot development!

If you want to have some political facet to your stories, or you just want a believable world, you have to take a politics class. You'll be better off for it I promise.

4. Art History Class

Useful For: Worldbuilding

Guys, you do realize that art does not exist in a vacuum right? It is directly influenced by culture and even predicts culture change in the future. Consider it a dialogue in physical form or the world around you. How can this be used to better your writing?

Worldbuilding. I know, you don't often talk about art in your stories. But take a look at art history and see how the art of the day highlighted the movements of culture. Especially if you're writing a historical fiction, this is the sort of class I would highly recommend you taking.

5. General History Survey Class

Useful For: Worldbuilding and Setting

History is the story of the world. Writers should pay close attention in any history class they take. Nothing could be a better example of setting, backstory, rising action, and plot climaxes!

If you're a writer of historical fiction, then you should be in several of these classes. Historical fiction comes alive when the setting feels lived-in. Even if you're not a writer of historical fiction, a history class has a lot to offer you. 


I've got nothing against people who major in English or Creative Writing. I just want to encourage fellow writers to expand their horizons and explore! Take a class you never would have thought of taking before. Take classes that deal with the humanities, the arts, history, and the sciences. Getting involved in these subjects will prime your mind to create real fictional worlds with believable characters.

What classes have you taken that have really impacted your writing? College students, what have been some of your favorite classes this semester?  If you've got questions or comments feel free to post them below! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

3 Notebooks Every Writer Needs

College can be busy. And that's only one stage of an even busier life to come. For us writers, we have to get used to snatching moments to write whenever they come. A lot of the time I write on my laptop or jot things down on my phone. But let's face the facts here. In the middle of class, you're not always allowed to have your laptop or phone out. And you're not always going to have access to your laptop or phone in real life either. So what do you do? Your ideas need a place to be stored or they're going to vanish! You need a backup plan.

You need a notebook. From my experience, you need three notebooks. They need to be in your backpack, purse, or whatever at all times to be available to store your strokes of genius whenever you have them. I carry these three notebooks in my backpack throughout the week. I bring them out for lunch breaks and even during class! Since I started using them regularly, I have had a surge of creative productivity. Want to hear about them?

1. A Life Notebook 

So Pretty!

Let's face it, the day can get pretty crazy. Things can go really bad. You get sad or mad. Things go really, really well. You get happy or excited. Our emotions from either end of the spectrum can overwhelm us throughout the day. Maybe it's not an emotion per say, but a problem or thought that is growing in your mind. Recording these while they are fresh can help you release them. Once they're on paper and out of your head you can process them and deal with them.

As a Christian writer, I also use this notebook to record lessons God teaches me throughout the day. I record encouragements and doubts, triumphs and failures, and how they impact me.

This notebook is not meant to be a diary. You don't have to make it personal and secret. Try recording your thoughts and experiences from a different point of view. Who knows, these insights might prove useful in future character development.

2. A General Creativity Notebook

As writers, we notice things that other people don't. That's a unique talent of ours. We notice. We observe. Throughout the day, any number of things can strike you. The person who sits alone at lunch, the look of the trees in the winter, or the color of the sky at sunset. These images in your head deserve to be recorded!

A general creativity notebook is where you want to record these snatches of life that you observe. That could be anything from creatively describing a person's appearance to jotting down an interesting section of conversation. You never know what random detail will spark a story in your mind. This notebook could become a future goldmine for you if you work to keep it full.

3. A Main Novel Notebook

Because your main story needs it's space!
This is the notebook where you keep those tidbits that you just know could be used in your story! Character descriptions, setting ideas, character quotes, the possibilities are endless!

Sometimes, I've been sitting in class and something the professor says will give me an idea. I take out my novel notebook (looking extra studious) and write it out in class. It's amazing the story ideas that come to you in college classes.

I like to fill my notebook with FreeThinking exercises too. I choose a character or plot point and just write out my thoughts until the thoughts stop coming. Through this exercise, I've been able to clear out my head enough to make breakthroughs in character and plot development. 

What You'll Need

This is all up to personal preference of course. But here is how I went about creating my three writer notebooks.

Pretty Main Novel Notebook!
For my Life Notebook and General Creativity Notebook I wanted to go with something small. You want them to be able to fit into your purse or your backpack without taking up too much room. The pages will be tiny but remember you're not writing a whole story in them. They're just for recording snippets. My two notebooks come from Punch Studio. I loved the designs on the front. They keep me inspired! Make sure you either make or buy notebooks that appeal to you aesthetically.

My Main Novel Notebook needed to have more space for creativity to spread around. At the time, since I was already buying college notebooks, I bought one more and set it aside as my Novel Notebook. It's a Five Star single subject college-ruled notebook with a pretty plastic cover. It even has a pocket inside where I can stick any random notes or inspiration that I need to.

I keep all three of these notebooks in my backpack, so I always have access to them. Even though I've only been using all three for a few months and I'm already seeing a big change. My writing habits are growing and I'm feeling much more productive amid my busy schedule. Remember, not all college classes/or real world situations allow you to have your computer nearby. You need to be able to capture all your creative thoughts immediately!

Have fun making or buying your own writing notebooks! Tell me if you have any other tips for capturing ideas or making use of free time for writing. Do you already have a creative writing notebook? How has it changed your writing habits? 
Have a great day, everyone! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Five Notes for Valentine's Day

I've started seeing pink, red, and little hearts in my peripheral vision. My inbox is full of flower delivery advertisements and invitations to dating sites. I guess it's that time of year again.

I've struggled for days on how I wanted to address Valentine's Day. There's been a long-standing opinion of mine that I shouldn't write posts like these because I didn't want to be cliche. I didn't want to come across as mushy, repetitive, or bitter. So what did I want to say about this red, love-filled day that's coming up?

I wanted to speak to my sisters in Christ. So I decided to write a series of notes to address different groups of my friends where they were this Valentine's Day. As you're preparing for the romantic weekend ahead, I hope you find these encouraging.

1. To those who have a date, 

This is apparently the year for all of my dear friends to get married or engaged. Not a day goes by when I don't see a new social media update on their romantic adventures. Dear friends are getting married to the love of their life. Others are being rewarded for their long and faithful waiting with real-life Prince Charmings.

Girls, I am so happy for you. I wish you a wonderful Valentine's Day with your date. This is a time you've been blessed with. Don't feel bad when your friends ask you to stop being such a "couple" in front of them. Like me, they're just happy to see you happy. And you guys are probably adorable together too.

So enjoy yourselves, and have a happy Valentine's Day!

2. To those who are suddenly single this year, 

Maybe you didn't plan on being single this time of year. Maybe you've gone through a bad break-up. But be encouraged, your girlfriends have got your back! This may be a very bittersweet and sad day for you. We understand, and we have access to chick-flicks if you need them.

Please don't feel pressured to be in a relationship again just because you might be afraid of being alone. A lot of growth can happen during a season of singleness. Take this Valentine's Day as an opportunity to treat yourself. Indulge in some old-fashioned self-care. You can buy yourself some chocolates and some flowers you know.

3. To my sisters who are still single, 

Like... this is your fifth or tenth Valentine's Day as a single. You're an old pro at surviving single awareness day. You're not alone! I am totally there with you, and I would like to encourage you.

I know it can be easy to be bitter and gloomy on this holiday. But you could try being content instead. Remember, this is where God has you right now. He wants you to be a woman after His own heart right here, without a man to impress. Take heart, God has a plan for you and your future spouse. Yeah, I'm writing to myself here too.

Just remember to have fun on Valentine's day. Go out with all your other single ladies for some fun and relaxation. Treat yourself!

4. To my practical girlfriends, 

You know who you are. You're the one's that don't click with chick-flicks or the rest of this romance stuff. This holiday doesn't make a lot of sense to you. It probably really annoys you too. Please be patient with us helpless romantics. We only get to be this love-crazy once a year after all. Thanks for keeping us grounded, and thank you for letting us have fun anyway. You guys are really awesome.

5. To my fellow dreamers, 

If you're still waiting for your perfect man to come around..join the club. It is perfectly okay to have a sensible head on your shoulders and understand that you need to keep living life with or without a man. But I would also like to tell you there is nothing wrong with dreaming every now and again.

On Valentine's Day, I tend to spend a lot of time wondering what my future husband is up to. Is he out on a date? (Which I'm fine with) Is he alone like me? If I get around to thinking like this, I'll usually sit down and write him a letter. I let him know I'm thinking of him and praying for him. I tell him how I've spent my day and the sorts of dates I think we should do once we're together. Or, if I don't write my future husband a letter, I might tell God what's been on my mind for Valentine's Day.

There isn't a thing wrong with dreaming about your romantic future. You do want to be careful that such thoughts don't become idols in your life. Remember that your relationship with Christ comes first.

I hope you all have a fantastic Valentine's Day!

I hope these were an encouragement to some of you! What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Plans for survival or success? What are some of your favorite Valentine's Day activities? 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why I'm Saying No To Stress

Choppy schedule readjustments, forgotten items, the missed lunch hour, social drama, and the pile of assignments waiting for me on my desk have me struggling. I gravitate towards my bed, my laptop and headphones, to pull up the new favorite show of mine on Netflix. It's time for a break even though I haven't even started. I'm escaping. Running from the staticky thing waiting nearby.


Escaping is what I often do. But I can just as easily be overwhelmed. When I totter on the edge of control and live like I'm being pursued by a vicious beast out to smother me with the things I haven't done yet.

Does stress ever take control of your life? Does it make you run away from responsibility or make you race around in a mad rush to get everything done? It has done that to me for years, and I've decided to put a stop to it.

I made the decision after listening to a woman talking about how to make stress your friend. I'll let her say all the science and statistics stuff. I'm more concerned with the implications of her talk. Listening to her helped me realize a few things.

Stress is Natural

You're taking a math test you didn't study for. That tough teacher gives you a huge assignment on a topic you don't understand. A long week stretches out before you with more bumps than a backcountry dirt road. What are you experiencing?

An accelerated heart rate, sweating, breathing faster...these are all symptoms of being under stress.

They can also be symptoms of other things like running a marathon, talking to your crush, or even playing laser tag. So why do we label one situation as stressful and the other as exhilarating? I'll get to that in a moment. But first, I want to mention something very important here.

This may come as a surprise, but our bodies are prepared to handle these symptoms. Yeah, really! God created us with the ability to deal with the surprise situations that pop up in life. Everything from financial woes to a new sport, we are equipped to process the stimulus and deal with it. So why do we hear about people who have mental breakdowns or heart problems because of too much stress? Isn't stress always a bad thing? Maybe, to some extent, we are not looking at stress the right way.

A Gateway to Courage?

Think about how we normally deal with our bodies natural reactions to difficult or unseen circumstances. There are two basic ways that people can default to when confronted with a potential stressor.

  1. We can process the situation as threatening and become tense, resulting in Stress
  2. We can process the situation as a challenge and become alert, resulting in Eustress, the good stress. 

We all know what reacting the first way does to us. We become miserable. Our lives become an endless cycle of worrying and nervous fretting. But the second option, what does that look like in real life?

I can remember one time way back in my elementary school days when I had to give my very first public presentation of a report. My report was on wolves, and I loved wolves! Having to give a report in front of people was super scary and I could have been overwhelmed. But I chose to see this public presentation as a huge opportunity to tell everyone all about wolves! Seeing that stress as an opportunity, even a personal challenge, became my gateway to courage. It happened so long ago, but I still remember that presentation as the day I discovered how much I love researching topics.

What if difficult situations could be your gateway to courage? If you saw stress as a challenge to rise to, how would your world look different?

Saying No To Stress

The bad stress that is. I'd like to keep taking part in the good stress. Stress can be very beneficial you know! Looking at it the right way, Stress can help you...

  • be more social with new people
  • work faster under pressure
  • tackle large problems
  • try new things

Yes, the schedule will still change suddenly, I may end up forgetting something on an assignment or deal with social bumps in the road. But I don't have to let that overwhelm me and neither do you. This is a challenge to change how you think about stress. Instead of looking at the new or unplanned as a threat, see it as an opportunity to grow. This is not the one tip that will make life perfect, but I hope this is a perspective changer that will encourage and help you.

How do you deal with stress? Have you ever found that feeling a bit stressed actually helped you? What ways do you have to relax and de-stress? Any questions or comments are always welcome.