'Lo!
Welcome back to another installment of Tea and a Read! If you're new here, Tea and a Read is a monthly link-up celebrating good books and good teas (or other drinks you like to sip while enjoying a read). 

                                                                      // Reading //


Claim the Stars by Brandon Sanderson. This is the first book in the Skyward series, and I can't wait until the next book comes out later this year! I really enjoyed the character development, worldbuilding, and well-written dialogue. Spensa (the main character) is a dynamic character with many weaknesses (and strengths), and Sanderson did a good job with portraying internal conflict and the idea that strength doesn't always have to be obvious or loud--it can come from conquering doubt or prejudice within oneself. I also LOVED M-Bot's sassy comments, as well as the descriptions of all the spacecrafts! XD
There were several unanswered questions I had while reading, but I have a feeling that they'll be answered in a future book (agh, it doesn't come out until this fall)!
I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys the YA genre, sci-fi (this book really gave me Star Wars vibes), and strong female characters. 

// Drinking // 

I've been enjoying the Bigelow Benefits Chocolate & Almond Herbal Tea. It's got a warm, full-bodied taste, but isn't too sweet--the perfect combination of subtle cocoa flavor and almond essence. 






Inlinkz Link Party

I can't wait to see what you all have been reading and sipping this month! There aren't really any "rules" for the link-up, just share your tea and a read + pop in a link back to this blog if you feel so inclined. 

Have a great day!


~ K A T H R Y N

Tea and a Read / / January 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019

'Lo!

Initially, I was just going to do one post on this topic. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I couldn't limit myself to just one post.
*squeaks excitedly*
Ahem. As I was saying, I will be doing a short series of posts on one of my favorite literary genres: dystopian fiction. I'll share some of my thoughts on the genre as well as some interesting facts on how the genre has developed throughout time. 



I know that there are many controversial opinions regarding dystopian fiction. Some people love it, some people hate it. Dystopian literature has provided the basic premises for many popular YA novels (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, The Maze Runner, The Selection, to name a few) as well as several classics such as Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm,  Fahrenheit 451, etc.

 But before we talk about dystopias, we first need to examine what a utopia is. 

A dystopia starts with a desire for a utopia.

The idea of utopia was first introduced by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 work, Utopia. I'm not well acquainted with Greek, but I do believe that utopia comes from both the Greek words "no place", outopos, and "good place", eutopos. My good friend Google defines it as "an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect." I find it interesting that one translation is "no place", as in, a utopia doesn't exist. Huh. 


Utopia

A utopia sounds pretty cool, right? Who wouldn't want to live in a world where pain (be it physical or emotional) is non-existent, and everyone gets along just swimmingly?
But here's the thing. If you start out with a "perfect" plan and then throw in a dash of human nature and a wee bit of disregard for natural law, you've got a recipe for disaster aka, the dystopia. 

dys·to·pi·a
noun

an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.


Why would anyone want to read that?

Yes, yes, I'll admit that I can be a bit of a pessimist at times. But I don't read dystopias for the thrill (or rather, curiosity) of seeing how broken and fallen our world could become. I don't throw aside the book with a shake of my head and a mutter about how decrepit and repulsive human nature is. Dystopias get me thinking, and it is crucial in our day and age that we become acquainted with well-written dystopias in order to seek truth and identify the issues with our present society. 

I read dystopian fiction because I believe that it is a testimony to the fact that humans do have a natural tendency towards the Good and that there will always be one voice (though it may be quiet) that will create change, even if that change is the small act of having a differing opinion. Dystopian fiction exhibits what happens when we strive towards a mistaken perception of what is Good.

I read dystopias because I believe they exhibit the importance of originality and thinking for yourself. If you don't think for yourself, if you don't take it upon yourself to be culturally literate, if you don't have a set of core values that you abide by regardless the repercussions, you are at the mercy of those who know how to manipulate others for their own gain. 

               


It's all about balance.

As mentioned before, I am a firm believer that humans have a natural tendency towards the Good (i.e., that which perfects or completes them). As also mentioned previously, we're fallen. We make mistakes. We screw up like no one's business.

Dystopian fiction is great because it explores the possibilities of what a perfect balance is. If you're balancing on a wall between a light side and a dark side, you want to figure out how much to lean to the light or dark so that you don't end up crashing to the ground. That's not to say that there isn't some gray area in there, but in general, most human decisions are made in accordance with individual core values. Dystopian fiction helps us explore what those core values are and whether they help or hinder our progress towards true happiness.



Are we headed towards a dystopian society?

Let me talk Plato's Republic at you for a moment. Basically, the Republic is a bunch of dudes in togas discussing what would be the best way to run their society. (I obviously internalized every detail of this dialogue when I had to read it freshman year).  Eventually (even though I don't recall this being explicitly stated in the text), Plato comes to the conclusion that an oligarchy (governed by super smart/high-status guys) was the best way to govern. This was all well and great for Plato who was a pretty brilliant fellow himself, and perhaps it would have worked in ancient Greece, but I don't think that it would work out today. So, that's the perfect example of how one man's vision for the perfect society was not realized, simply because it just doesn't make sense for our day and age.

I'm also currently reading Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson. The book examines how culture developed in Russia around the rise of Lenin and Stalin. It is interesting to see how  people perceived art and culture based on the ideologies fed to them. Marxism and communism had a pretty long run--one could even argue that those ideologies are examples of a dystopian society--an idea of a perfect society that (spoiler alert) is most certainly not perfect, as anyone can see by looking at history.

There are some interesting conflicts that have become prominent in our society in recent years. For example: How should a society be governed? What does it mean to be free? Is abortion and euthanization ethical? To what extent should an individual be allowed to make their own decisions? Should someone be able to write and say whatever they want? What should we keep in the schools and what should we take out?

Of course I have opinions on these issues, but what I'm trying to say here is that well-written dystopian fiction explores these questions and examines their implications on society. 

Dystopian fiction is the literary genre of our generation. Social media and other platforms have made it easier for us to share our opinions. We possess greater scientific knowledge than ever before. We have the benefit of historical context to help us make decisions. We have great power and therefore great responsibility.


__________

For the next installment of this series, I'll be exploring Thomas Aquinas's notion of the Common Good and how it relates to a society. I'll be citing famous dystopian works and investigating why a violation of Aquinas's views on morality is the root of a dystopia.


Do you enjoy dystopian fiction? What aspect of dystopias/utopias would you like me to discuss in upcoming posts? Do you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts? Let me know in the comments!




~ K A T H R Y N

I did my best to make sure all my information was accurate, but please notify me if I made any mistakes in regards to dates, titles, or other important information. 

Dystopian Fiction (I)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

'Lo, dear readers!

I hope you are all having a great day so far! I'm currently typing this while waiting for party snacks to come out of the oven. My family has a tradition of staying in on New Year's Eve to eat delicious snacks (duh), play board games, watch movies, and read the books we received for Christmas!

Delicious cocoa from Christmas Eve. 
This year, one of my goals is to read more. It's hard to find time to relax and focus on a book amidst the business of everyday life, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to read more if I stop waiting for the 'perfect time' to read and take advantage of the many small bits of free time I have during the day, whether that be when commuting or waiting for a class to start. 

My current TBR list is miles long, but I've decided to share a few books that I've selected using this fun reading challenge list from Modern Mrs. Darcy!

*edit* I'll be putting a check next to the books as I finish them!



➣ a book you've been meaning to read

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.


I'm actually in the middle of this one right now, and while it is definitely interesting (and inspiring), I'm not very impressed with the writing style. I feel as if the author could have done a better job elaborating on the characters of these amazing women--sometimes their personalities blend together. I've heard that the movie is actually better than the book (!) so I'm excited to see it. Even though this is a harder read because of the writing style, I'm definitely going to keep pushing on because I love the topic and am thrilled that the story of these unsung heros is being shared. Also, the author did a great job with the research aspect of the book--I'm learning a lot!


➣ a book about a topic that fascinates you

The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration by Robert D. Launius



Okay, this is one that I'm going to take my time with--I just keep it next to my bed and read a couple of pages whenever I feel like it. It's a great, well-written history book with awesome pictures.

➣  a book in the backlist of a favorite author

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier


So technically this doesn't even satisfy the challenge prompt, but this book came out a few months ago and I still haven't read it. Jonathan Auxier has quickly become one of my favorite authors the past year. I love Auxier's dark humor, unique character development, and striking observations on society, so I'm really excited to read Sweep. 

➣  a book recommended by someone with great taste

The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (phew, what a mouthful)

I've been told to read this by several of my fellow bibliophile friends so I'm finally going to order it from the library. Also, it's in epistolary format, so that's a plus! :D
I watched the Netflix adaptation with some friends at a sleepover a couple of nights ago and enjoyed it (despite it being very sad). Overall it was a great movie (and Lily James plays the leading character) so I recommend it! This was a rare incident where I saw the movie without reading the book first (le gasp) so I'm excited to be able to compare the movie to the book.

➣  three books by the same author

*sheepishly shares that I'm 17 and reading middle grade fiction about magical creatures and elves*
Actually JK, I don't care a button.
I'm currently working my way through the Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger and have three books left to read before I finish the series (until the next book comes out, of course!)
They are fun, light-hearted reads and while the writing isn't amazing I love the worldbuilding and loveable characters. :D Also, because the writing isn't super deep they're very quick reads.
#TeamSoKeefe
#moreDex


➣  a book you chose for the cover

Claim the Stars by Brandon Sanderson ✔


I was at Barnes and Noble and saw a purple shimmery cover (*loud shrieking*) so of course I took a closer look. When I saw that it was a new YA book written by one of my favorite authors Brandon Sanderson, I knew that I had to read it. I ordered it for half the B&N price on Amazon and just started it--it's fabulous so far! Look out for this book in my January Tea and a Read.

➣ a book by an author who is new to you

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes. I've seen this book floating around on several blogs that I follow, and it looks super intriguing! I'll have to let ya'll know if it's any good. It seems like an interesting fictional take on a fascinating historical event.


➣  a book in translation

Brand + Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen


I absolutely love Grieg's Peer Gynt suite, so I want to read the play that inspired it. I got the Penguin edition for Christmas (thanks, Grandma, hehe) which has lots of interesting background information and extra material which should be helpful in understanding the context in which the author was writing.

➣  a book outside your (genre) comfort zone

My friends are trying to get me into manga and have given me several titles to start with. I have to admit, while I LOVE the art in these comics, I really don't know what to expect story-wise. Also, I don't know how good the translation from Japanese to English is. Nonetheless, I'm giving the first Noragami comic a shot.



➣  a book published before you were born

Hm. That's pretty broad. XD Perhaps we should start with the classics?
I'll have to look through the classics on my TBR and see if I feel like tackling one. Last year was quite a year for reading dense classics, so I'm enjoying a change in pace with more recently published books. I think I'll delve into a Dickens novel--let me know which one you think I should read! (I've really only read Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol).

What's on your 2019 TBR list? Any good book recommendations? Tell me in the comments!

~ K A T H R Y N

2019 Reading Challenge

Monday, December 31, 2018

Hullo, dear readers!

I hope you're all enjoying your breaks and having a restful and festive holiday season. 🎄
I'm so excited to travel to Wisconsin to spend time with family! I plan on taking a blogging break until the new year so that I can focus on celebrating with family and friends, so I thought I'd do a recap of the year for my last post of 2018!

Stay tuned for plenty of fun posts coming in January. :D

This year, I realized I'm a total nerd when it comes to literary analysis and can't read a book without having a pen to jot down themes and ideas. XD

In all honesty, 2018 was a very hard year for me. So many things that I thought were concrete are now gone. I started realizing how much pain and suffering there is in the world, and I'm no longer able to distance myself from or ignore all the sad things I read about in the news or hear from friends. I feel powerless because there is only so much I can do to make a difference. I feel discouraged because sometimes it seems like my prayers aren't being heard.

In 2018, I realized how mistaken I can be. I realized that wishful thinking doesn't make something true. Some people don't want you in their life, and you have to stop trying to be accepted by those people. You can't look for your worth solely in what others think of you.

I've never been wordless. I've always been able to express my feelings and thoughts in a poem or story. This year, I've realized that it's okay to release your pain through tears. It's okay not to be able to describe something with words because sometimes that just isn't possible. Sometimes, you have to hurt before it gets better.

Taking quirky photos with the squad in D.C.

I've realized the power of gratitude. When I'm lost in my own sadness and nothing seems to be alright, I only have to remember someone less fortunate to feel better about my own situation--a change in perspective, a reminder that I am blessed despite my troubles. This doesn't mean you're not allowed to feel sorrow, but it does allow you to take a step back and see your dilemmas through a broader lens.

Partying with good friends.

I've realized the power of serving others. I may feel discouraged at not being able to solve everyone's problems with the snap of my fingers, but doing small acts of service and showing kindness to everyone does make a difference, even if it isn't always obvious.

Life is truly a roller coaster, and the ride can get pretty wild. But, there's always an up for every down.


Even though 2018 knocked me down for a bit, I'm ready to jump up and tackle whatever 2019 may bring! Here's to a new year of hope, love, learning, and gratitude.


⭐ 2018 Highlights ⭐
  • I really got into art, specifically sketching. I've been practicing constantly in my sketchbook and experimenting with charcoal and ink. I love going on Pinterest and finding inspiration!
  • I took a driver's ed intensive over the summer and have my learner's permit--can't wait to get my license! I'm not the best driver yet, but I haven't killed anyone/crashed so far, so I'd say that's pretty good! I can't wait to be able to drive myself everywhere. 
  • I cut my waist-length hair to my shoulders and am loving the easy maintenance. It's fun to try different looks. 
  • I grew as a writer and am halfway through writing a sci-fi novel. In the spring I wrote an eleven-page history research paper on the power of the written word. I'm actually really proud of all the work I put into it. 
  • I realized that I actually like science class and that it's really cool to be able to explain all the weird science stuff that you encounter in your everyday life. God's creation takes my breath away. 
  • I went to Washington DC and went to a ton of cool landmarks and museums. My favorite part was the Smithsonian museums (especially the air and space museum)!
  • I picked up the fiddle again and love playing and learning new tunes.
  • Over the summer my friends and I put on a production of The Importance of Being Earnest. We all had fun working on it together, and quite a sizable audience came to see it!  Definitely one of my favorite memories from this year.
  • I started thinking about what I want to do after high school and realized how privileged I am to be able to pursue my passions through education. 
  • I became more aware of the little joyful things in life like a warm cup of coffee, conversations with little kids, and random acts of kindness performed by strangers. I've realized that giving someone a smile is a small way to brighten a day. 
  • I got my first rejection from a magazine (it was also my first submission). While some might wonder why this is a highlight, I'm proud that I took the initiative and was brave enough to submit a writing piece to an 'adult' magazine. 
  • I read a ton of fabulous books + had many fangirl moments :D
⭐ 2019 Goals ⭐

  • Get better at letting things go and not taking myself so seriously. Learn to stop beating myself up for everything and become more confident!
  • Take more candid shots of everyone and everything. I love that looking at a picture can recall memories, and I can't wait to be able to look back on all the pictures I take throughout 2019.
  • Volunteer more.
  • Finish/edit my novel + share it with some beta readers.
  • Participate in a summer theater production
  • Prioritize tasks better and learn how to take actual breaks. 
  • Keep up with my bullet journal (I just got into bullet journalling and it is so fun!) I love having lists like 'books to read' and 'movies to watch' all in one place. ;D
  • Look for friends in the unlikely candidates. Sometimes, I tend to gravitate towards people who are like me, or I hang with the same friends all the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I'd like to make connections with people who are different than I am because I feel like I can learn a lot from those people.
  • Make some quality recordings of my music + delve into songwriting 
  • Continue to make new goals and document them on this blog! 
HAPPY HOLIDAYS + I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST FOR THE NEW YEAR! 

What were some of the highlights (or lowlights) of your 2018? What are your goals for 2019? Tell me in the comments! 

~ K A T H R Y N

2018 in Review

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

'Lo!

Tea and a Read hath been resurrected. 

If you're new here, Tea and a Read is a monthly link-up celebrating good books and good teas (or other drinks you like to sip while enjoying a read). 

I've fallen out of the habit of posting one of these every month due to the fact that I have very little time to read for pleasure what with school and other responsibilities (boooo). I've been doing some thinking, however, and will be making this series a priority because I seriously have no excuse not to be able to finish one book in a month + take 2-3 pictures for a post. XD 

So, without further ado, let's dive right in. 

P.S. I apologize for the crappy pictures...I wanted to take pictures outside but a) it's freezing and b) it's outside. 



// Reading //

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers


Powers writes an interesting mix between sci-fi and fantasy, and this proves for a fun plot. He seems to employ in medias res pretty often, so I was a little confused when I first started the book. Once I got a couple pages in, I was hooked! Honestly, this book reminds me of watching a film in the sense that you are dropped right into the action and have to sleuth around a bit in order to figure everything out. 

All in all, this has been a great book so far. I'll definitely be checking out some of the author's other works. 

Here's the Goodreads summary of the book if you're interested: 

Brendan Doyle, a specialist in the work of the early-nineteenth century poet William Ashbless, reluctantly accepts an invitation from a millionaire to act as a guide to time-travelling tourists. But while attending a lecture given by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1810, he becomes marooned in Regency London, where dark and dangerous forces know about the gates in time. Caught up in the intrigue between rival bands of beggars, pursued by Egyptian sorcerers, befriended by Coleridge, Doyle somehow survives. And learns more about the mysterious Ashbless than he could ever have imagined possible.

// Drinking // 


I'm going to be honest with you all--I rarely drink expensive, boutique-y teas. That's why you'll see quite a lot of Bigelow and Celestial Seasonings around here. ;) They're still pretty good, if you ask me!

This month I've been drinking the Celestial Seasonings Lemon Lavender Lane. I adore lemon-y teas, and lavender is such a calming scent. Tres good. 

I can't wait to see what you all have been reading and sipping this month! There aren't really any "rules" for the link-up, just share your tea and a read + pop in a link back to this blog if you feel so inclined. 

Have a fabulous day!

~ K A T H R Y N











Tea and a Read // December 2018

Friday, December 7, 2018

small painted canvasses
a beautiful proclamation of eternal sleep
small flames consuming shivering frames
holding on for dear life
loathe to let go

one last hurrah and they tumble to the ground
their death brings life 
enabling future flourishing

take a deep breath
a peaceful silence comes soon
 you'll be covered by a white blanket
its frigid embrace reminding you of the warmth you keep inside

sometimes it takes a little nudge from nature
to light us on fire
bright
colorful
holding on until you know
it's time to let go




~

This poem is kind of odd and I had no idea where I was going with it...BUT WE GOT OUR FIRST SNOW! Even though I've experienced snow so many times before, I can never lose that excitement that comes with the first snow of the season (but you'll see, I'll be complaining of dirty slush within the week XD). 

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. To quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” I totally get that fresh, optimistic feeling at the start of the season!

I guess this is sort of ironic, considering that the trees are losing their leaves and will be bare all through the long, cold winter (at least here in the midwest!) Everything is literally dead, and it can be a pretty dull couple of months while we're waiting for spring to bring fresh blossoms. 

Trees kind of remind me of people. Sometimes we need to know when to let go, having hope that we'll be renewed with the next phase in our life. Sometimes we have to go through those long winter months in order to bloom again. All those dead leaves eventually make it back to the soil, providing nourishment for new life. So in the end, things don't just stop with the dead leaves. There's always more, a hopeful spring-after-winter scenario. 🌳

______________________________________

What is your favorite thing about Fall? How do you keep yourself amused during the long winter months? Have you started listening to Christmas music? ;) 

~ K A T H R Y N



Farewell, Fall

Monday, November 26, 2018

HI

So it seems like I've gone on another impromptu blog hiatus. I think we've already established the fact that I just can't get it together, so I'm just going to dive right in. :D

this picture is from pinterest, but I did make pies for the first time and they were delicious :)

Thanksgiving was fabulous! This year, we hosted a small family gathering. It was extremely relaxing, and the food preparations went way better than expected (we've never made a turkey...) Everything was delicious, and we had a fun day of spending some family time together!

The day after Thanksgiving, we all went down to see A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre, and it was AMAZING. The special effects were very impressive, and the actors were extremely talented. I'm so grateful I was able to see it! It was fun to walk around downtown Chicago at night and see all the Christmas lights being set up! I am so excited for Christmas, hehe. : )

I've been very busy with school, extracurriculars, SAT prep, and NANOWRIMO *screams* 
I've made some pretty good progress with my novel so far, but I have a looonggg way to go until it's semi-decent. :D This month has been sort of discouraging for me writing-wise, but I've learned a lot. 

One of the things I've learned is that it's really fun to write about something you're nerdy about. For me, that's everything outer space. Getting enthusiastic about the research part just makes the novel so much easier to write, and you're constantly getting new ideas for which way your story could go. It's pretty awesome.

Something else I've learned this month: JUST WRITE. It was so hard for me to just get the words down because I'm a bit of a perfectionist and am constantly editing as I go along. Ignoring mistakes and imperfection and just getting the words down has done wonders for my word count goal. Also, I'm going to have plenty of material to work with when I actually get to the editing stage!

I'm taking a super fun short story class through Bravewriter this month, and I'm learning so much about what it takes to write a short story. I'm writing a Little Red Riding Hood retelling for the class, and am really enjoying letting my imagination run wild! I can't wait to share what I've learned with you all.



Junior year is shaping up to be quite a challenge (but that wasn't surprising, alas). However, these challenges are good challenges, and I've been trying to change my attitude towards the positive when it comes to doing things I don't particularly like (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, MATH AND LATIN). I'm also doing quite a bit of SAT prep, because I'm pretty nervous for the test and want to be as prepared as possible. I've been using Khan Academy for practice, and while I wouldn't call it fun, I am definitely feeling more confident in my skills (especially math, because that is a language I don't speak).

This year has been full of changes, many good, but some that need getting used to. I used to dance 14+ hours a week, now I only dance 1 hr. I'm glad I was able to remove myself from the toxic situation I was in at my old dance studio, but I don't quite know what to do with myself now that dance isn't one of my main focuses like it used to be for so many years. I know now that I'm not called to be as devoted to dance as I was, but it's a lot to adjust to. I still feel very sad and bitter that I can't pursue professional-level dance education and participate in productions. I'm still very angry at the people that made dance unbearable for me. But, I believe that time will make it all better. It's a lot of adapting and figuring things out! On the bright side, I've had way more time to write and read, both things I really enjoy. :)

It's just amazing how quickly things can change. Up until this year, I felt like dance was my life. Until recently, I told my mom I didn't want to cut my super-long hair until I was much older. I cut my hair short. I'm no longer spending all my free time dancing. I've realized that some of my friends weren't my friends after all, and I've re-connected with friends I've fallen away from. This past year has been chock-full of learning experiences, some delightfully mind-blowing and amazing, some incredibly painful and heart-breaking. I've been learning to roll with the punches and realize that there is always hope behind the clouds and that I've got my whole life ahead of me. Plenty of time to make a difference and continue trying my best, even if the experience is new and the going hard. Above all, this year I've become more aware of how incredibly blessed I am.



So, I know I always say this, but seriously--I'm going to try and post more often in the coming month. I can't wait to share Christmas preparations, writing snippets, and some more crazy randomness with you all.

Thanks for reading. :)

~ K A T H R Y N







The November Scoop

Saturday, November 24, 2018

I've had several people ask me how to get ideas and boost creativity.  Here are my top 5 tips!

1. Read. A lot.


I  firmly believe in the power of reading. Read classics, contemporaries, fiction and non-fiction, anything you can get your hands on that piques your interest and stretches your mind. Every book you read will add to your bank of knowledge, and you can analyze what you read, applying the things you like to your own creative works. Good books will make you wonder about things, ask questions, and contemplate what it means to be human. 

Some of my writer friends might be worried that they are "copying" a story if they borrow themes, ideas, or other elements from it. There are only so many storylines/themes in the world, and everything is inspired by something else, to some extent. Just make sure you are adding a unique bit of you to your creative work, and you'll be good to go!

2. Pay attention to the world around you

                                         

This sounds super simple, but you'd be surprised how much escapes us! Notice the subtle facial expressions that signify what someone's really thinking, listen to the calming sound of leaves crunching underfoot, touch things that have interesting textures, think about your favorite smells and why you like them so much. What memories do these sensations and observations trigger? What feelings are evoked? How could you express these things in art, writing, and music?

As a writer, I'm always looking for ways to make my characters unique and relatable. My favorite way to get character inspiration is "people-watching". I try to pay attention to what makes someone's voice unique. I like to try to guess their likes and dislikes based off what they're wearing. By doing this, I am made aware of how much I don't know about people. I can speculate and imagine, but the possibilities are endless. We all have our unique stories, and you can learn so much by observing what makes us tick and how we go about it in our daily life. The funny thing is, the more I people- watch, the more willing I am to give people the benefit of the doubt. Because, as I said before, there is so much I don't know about the person sitting across from me or the cashier or the bus driver. 

3. Change it up


Re-arrange your work space. Try a different Starbucks order.  Try a new kind of exercise. While routine is great and change isn't always comfortable, a stagnant lifestyle can mean a stagnant brain. Making small (or large) changes to your lifestyle can make you question why you have these habits in the first place. Creativity is dynamic, constantly changing and bouncing off your external surroundings. No change can eliminate that crucial stimulus your brain needs to get new ideas. 

4. Surround yourself with supportive people


When you are around people who support your creative pursuits and interest, you're more likely to share what makes you unique. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you, people who will be supportive as you work towards your goals. 
I've been in two different kinds of friends groups--the "friends" that you find yourself acting differently around, and the friends that you can be yourself around. I can be a total chameleon in regards to the way I act, speak, or share my ideas if I get the sense that the people I'm around wouldn't approve of my personality, interests, and lifestyle. This is the unfortunate thing about being a teenage girl--people tend to not include you or make you feel special if you're not just like them, following trends and constantly changing in order to be liked by the crowd. I deal with this a lot, actually, and I suppress my uniqueness out of fear that I'll be shunned. But, I'm unhappy when I do this and sooner or later, people find out. There's no magic spell for making people like you for who you are. 
BUT--when I'm around my group of genuine friends, I feel like I can be myself and be creative in my own way. We might not be exactly the same or have the same interests, but we respect each other's individuality and support each other's creative endeavors to the best of our ability. Find friends that will let you feel comfortable in your own skin. 

5. Don't let fear stop you


Whatever you create WILL have value because it's yours! You are a unique, beautiful, worthy human being, and you deserve to share what you love. Don't let fear of failure cripple you and inhibit your creative processes. Just savor the journey, and be proud of what you have accomplished! 

~

What do you do when you're stuck in a creative rut?

~ K A T H R Y N

*all images in this post via pinterest

Boosting Creativity

Wednesday, October 17, 2018