Book Worm · School

Best Writing Advice I’ve Received

Hey everyone, sorry for the last two weeks of silence but I’ve been dealing with some laptop issues. Luckily, my lovely mother is allowing me to use her’s so I can get back to blogging ❤

 

I will admit, I am not the best writer there is (shocking, I know). However, I have been blessed to have some amazingly talented teachers and professors as well as had the opportunity to meet a few stunning authors at my university. Today, I thought I’d share some of the best advice for aspiring authors that I have heard from these professionals.

 

Focus on character, not plot.

I took a student-led workshop and the women running the show urged us to avoid ‘genre writing’ meaning not creating an epic horror or fantasy and instead creating a character first and seeing how that character interacts with the world. They said this helps avoid archetypes, cliches, and allows the readers to relate to the characters more because they turn out to be more life like.

The 1 inch picture frame.

One professor told me that when you’re stuck, fill in a 1 inch picture frame. What he meant was, when you don’t know where you are in a scene or what is happening, imagine the person or setting and just try to explain a 1×1 inch square of the full picture. It will get you started and help keep moving you forward.

best book ever

Write what you’re bad at.

The brilliant Junot Díaz spoke at my university my first year there. Many of his books are written in second person point of view and when asked why he writes that way, he responded that point of view is the one he is worst at. So, he writes books that way so he can get better because otherwise he would never improve. I try to emulate his approach by trying to write short stories and thrillers every once in a while to mix it up and practice. It’s kind of like switching up exercises in the gym so that all your muscles get stronger rather than just one.

Edit at the end.

Nanowrimo taught me this. Before, I’d write twenty pages then spend hours painstakingly looking over word choice and spelling errors rather than writing twenty more. By not looking back until you’re done, you’re less likely to get disgruntled and more likely to finish.

kermit writing

Rewrite rather than edit.

My creative writer professor is a novelist and his main advice for editing drafts was to literally retype the entire piece rather than just edit an existing document. He encouraged this for poem drafts, ten page stories, and claims that he does this for his novels as well. Although time consuming, he guarantees that it helps slow you down and will allow you to catch mistakes and areas to improve that you may otherwise miss. While I have yet to do this will a full novel, I did recently retype rather than edit a twenty page short story and I do believe it helped.

 

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. Please share your own in the comments because I’m always looking for new ways to approach telling a story!

Lifestyle · School

Advice for my 18 Year Old Self

It has been exactly one week since I graduated and like many other new alums, I’ve spent some time reflecting over my college experience. I wanted to share advice that I wish I had known as an 18 year old entering college.

grad 1

You’re no longer a big fish in a little pond

You’re not going to be the smartest in your class, the most active in your sorority, or the best on your intramural team. You’re transitioning from a 400 person class to a 1400 person class so it’s okay that you aren’t number 1. Don’t let it get to your head.

Find people who make you happy

Don’t spend time with negative people who talk behind each other’s backs. Don’t be a negative person who talks behind someone’s back.

grad 2

Ask people out

Okay, by this I mean 2 things. 1. Feel free to ask boys out. Hook up culture does exist but who cares, if you like someone, ask them out. 2. Ask out friends for dates. If you meet someone cool, ask them to grab coffee. It’s not weird to pursue friendships.

Grades are important but you don’t need to work as hard as you think you do

Now, we both know that you’re a neurotic freak who obsesses over grades. But being happy and having a balanced lifestyle is just as important. In fact, if you’re happy, you’ll do better in school. Having fun for a few hours a day will make you more productive in the long run.

It’s okay if you don’t meet your best friends right away

Freshman year is overwhelming and you’ll make friends but it’s okay if they don’t carry you through all four years. In fact, you may meet your best friend as a senior and that’s great too.

Last but not least, enjoy yourself. It’s gonna be a great four years!

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Medical Student · School

Tips for MCAT Test Day

The MCAT is a beast of a test and there are so many tips and tricks to use for preparing for it. However, not a lot of people share their ‘day of’ tips. Here are some of my personal tips for what to do the day of the test based on my personal experience.

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1. Try to have a relaxing night

Obviously you want a good night’s sleep but if you can’t fall asleep because of nerves, try to do something relaxing that does not include technology. Maybe read a book or journal just to keep your mind at ease and rest.

2. Get there early… duh

You will not be the only one and it will cut down some of your anxiety.

3. Stretch during breaks

You’re going to be sitting for a long time. During my breaks I did full yoga stretches and even sat down on the floor to do the butterfly – I didn’t worry about what I looked like, I just wanted to feel comfortable.

4. Pack smart

I brought plenty of snacks and a cardigan because I tend to get cold.

5. Know the rules

You need proper forms of ID. Also, some places will only let you bring in ear buds to the testing site if they are still in the package so double check this.

6. Don’t make plans

You may be mentally exhausted by the time the test is done. If you want to celebrate after, do so but don’t plan anything too strenuous otherwise you may regret it.

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School

Finals Study Schedule

Finals are going to be coming up sooner than you know it… *insert groan here* After four years of college finals, I’ve accumulated some tricks for planning and sticking to a study plan in preparation for exams.

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Write it down

I always either physically write out study schedules in my bullet journal, planner, or I create an excel spread sheet to assign and track hours. I include the day, times, and subjects. I try to assign study times to the morning because I know I work best then. For example, on Tuesdays I don’t have class until 1:00 so I would write 9:00-11:00 immunology, 12:00-1:00 anatomy.

Be realistic

If you know you cannot study for four hours straight, then don’t assign yourself that. It’s just setting you up for failure and that will discourage you from sticking to the rest of the plan. Set realistic goals and if you surpass them, that’s even better!

Alternate Classes

I always study better if I alternate subjects meaning that I work on immunology for two hours, take a break, then study anatomy instead of continuing to overload on immunology. It helps me stay fresh and prevent zoning out.

Be specific

Assign certain classes to your study hours but be even more specific than that – perhaps you write down that you’ll reread chapters 1-3 or will be meeting with a study group to review key concepts from the first month. The more specific your assignments are, the more likely you are to accomplish everything you want.

I hope some of the tips help. Best of luck studying!

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School

Make Studying Colorful

Any of my friends and classmates can tell you that I am OBSESSED with making my notes and study guides as pretty and colorful as possible. I utilize gel pens, fine tip sharpies, and bright cardstock all in the hopes of making my studying a little more exciting – and as a happy addition, making these study guides helps me retain the material better as well.

 

 

I try to do only one cardstock (front and back) per chapter or main topic so I only focus on the truly important details. you have to prioritize and organize to make these and by doing so, you are already studying. I include charts, lists, and key diagrams.

By rewriting and drawing out important diagrams and charts, you are implementing more senses than just listening especially by using multiple colors. This helps reinforce the material so much better than just looking at notes.

 

 

One thing that I highly recommend is color coding your study guides. I pick one color of cardstock per class so when I go to study, I can just grab all of the sheets of one color. Immunology is green, Anatomy is orange, Molec and Cell is pink and so on.

Happy studying!

 

 

School

School Work Music

Nothing can keep you motivated while doing school work quite like the perfect playlist – except of course coffee 🙂

The music that I choose to listen to greatly depends upon the work that I am doing.

 

Making Study Guides Based on Old Notes

My friends definitely tease me for this playlist but something about Eminem rapping always makes me feel like a badass even if I’m just organizing and re-writing biology notes. It helps me stay motivated.

Writing a Paper

When writing a scholarly paper, I prefer music without words. I find that Spanish guitar is a bit more energizing than classical pieces like Mozart or Bach.

Reading the Textbook/Taking Notes

Disney keeps me happy and I can hum along to my childhood favs without being too distracted.

Creative Writing Class

For writing poetry or stories for my creative writing class, I love these songs because they are all pretty emotional but I know them well enough that I don’t get inherently distracted by them playing in the background.

 

What do you listen to when working? I’m always look for new recommendations so hit me up in the comments with suggestions!

School · Uncategorized

My Cadaver Experience

It’s officially the midpoint of my  last semester of college (eek!). For this last semester, the class I am most excited about is my anatomy class which also has a gross anatomy lab meaning that I get to work with 3 human donors or cadavers to learn about the material. I wanted to share with you all about my experience working with these donors and what I’ve learned from it.

For those of you who are a little squeamish or freaked out by the process of dissecting bodies, proceed with caution.

anatomy lab

I was more unnerved the first day than I expected to be.

I had seen human donor labs before and had participated in lots of animal dissections so I didn’t really think I’d be too upset or nervous. But there are a few things that throw me off in lab. For example, one day I was dissecting the back of a cadaver’s neck but cutting it made me sad because I could see the individual’s hair. When I get thrown off, I usually put my instruments down, take a step back, count to ten then get back to work. I’m still new to this experience so I’m never embarrassed when I need a moment to collect myself.

The smell can get to you.

The chemicals used to preserve the body have a strong smell that can be overwhelming when in the lab for many hours. If you need to excuse yourself for a few minutes just to get away from the smell, that’s fine. Also, a tip that I use is to only wear the same sweatshirt in lab (it’s super cold) that way only one of my clothing items smells like the lab. But don’t worry, a turn in the washing machine and the smell disappears!

Beware of the splash zone

This sounds kind of crass but when your dissecting a body, sometimes ‘juices’ from the body can spray on you so make sure to wear an apron and do not wear an outfit that you care a lot about. Most labs also offer goggles to wear over your eyes. My best advice is just not to think about what may or may not be spraying onto your T-shirt.

Take a moment to realize how freaking awesome this is!

A few weeks ago, I got to hold a whole human brain in my hands. Part of me was anxious to accidentally drop or break it. Part of me was terrified I would never memorize all the required structures within it. The other part of me was mystified. In my hands, I held someone’s entire life – their memories, their motor control, their skills, talents, and beliefs. I am literally tearing up at the memory.

Blunt dissection can be better

Blunt dissection means that you mostly use your hands rather than scalpels. The first few weeks, I only wanted to finely cut with a scalpel because I have a Grey’s Anatomy obsession (no apologies!) but often times, its more efficient just to use your fingers to separate muscle fibers and connective tissue. Also, this lessens the possibility of accidentally cutting something you don’t mean to (I say because I cut the cephalic vein two weeks ago…)

Human donor labs are overwhelming, but they are such an incredible opportunity to see how the body works that so few ever get a chance to experience. It is a privilege.

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School

Second Semester Senior Slump

Well, if any of you are like me, you are a second semester senior currently struggling to stay invested in your classes and keep up with your academic work. There’s just so much temptation to slack off – either you’ve got a job lined up, you’re burnt out and tired of schoolwork, or you’d rather spend your last few months with friends.

I get it and I’m compiled a list of tips to hopefully help both you and me stay motivated to end our undergraduate experience on a high note!

 

Relate class to what you will be doing

If you’re anxious to get started in your graduate program or in your career, find ways to see your classes and assignments as training for your future rather than another hurtle to overcome before you graduate.

 

Take more frequent breaks

Take shorter but more frequent breaks while studying or working to keep from draining yourself. For every thirty minute of work, take a ten minute break rather than a longer break every hour.

 

Study Groups

Working with other students will help you  stay focused and invested. Even if your besties aren’t in your classes, just doing work by each other will still feel like bonding time and you can finish your homework.