how to write as a non writer

If you’re an individual like me who intends to hop into the pool of people who can smoothly formulate words, you must sound as confident as they do. Although you might sound like an imbecile, accept it but act like you don’t know. Act like you are right and that your opinion means something. Don’t try to use semicolons, colons, dashes, or even commas if you don’t know the proper way. Pretend that by leaving them out, you are shooting for an eerie and interesting writing style. For a good piece, write how you would speak. For a great piece, write how you would talk. Sound assertive, curious, and with your own little twang. Use Trust me, you will sound like Ernest Hemingway’s protégé. Okay, maybe not his protégé, but at least a fan of his. Use slang. This will help you sound like you have an in and allow you to connect with an audience by making them feel comfortable. Lastly, always believe that you can and deserve to write. Whether your writing makes sense or is a jumble of words written down, at least you have ideas. Ideas are always the start.


Why I Write


The undeniable assurance that I am a woman who has riches building in my veins, elements of the cosmos running through my blood, the pressure of the universes accumulating like the process of impure carbon turning to gleaming diamonds, the diamonds of words, of expression, of articulation. There is nothing in this world more powerful than a person who can speak and who has something worthwhile to say. There is nothing more powerful than an articulate woman. There is nothing more powerful than putting one word in front of the other, one sentence after another, building mosques and schools and homes and worlds with nothing but the faculties of my mind, the untarnished tools I was given at birth combined with centuries of human development. There is nothing more powerful than words.


Where there is power, surely, it must come from something, and here is the secret of writing: that it takes the sticky, messy, confusing parts of human life– the conflicting emotions, the mundane routines, the war of evil and good– and gives it back in eloquence. It aims to understand, not merely as a means to an end, but just for the sake of the thing itself; writing aims to know, to untangle, to explore, to marvel at the gloriousness of life and living. To express what is in the heart, mind, soul, body can’t be an easy task, but when it is done and done well, it hits with the force of change. When it is done well, I’m sure the humanness of writing becomes utterly divine. Besides, in all different cultures of the world, hadn’t god spoken to his messengers? Speech is divine because it is an invention of man. The most powerful invention.


I know there are people that disagree with me, but beauty is the double-edged purpose of writing. There is more to words than mere aesthetics– there is argument. The beauty of words comes from their ability to cause real change in the world. I want to make a massacre of beauty and re-gift it as power– I want to burn the aesthete and use his ashes as fodder for the philosopher. I want to seize language by the reigns and shout at the mute: “Look at you, caged by your pragmatism, daily routines, your boorish practicality– how, if only you could speak, you would have been free.”

Taking Advantage of My Free Time This Semester

Well, it’s my last semester here at the University of Michigan, and I’m lucky to be only taking six credits. It’s a huge change in terms of how much time I actually have on my hands; suddenly, I have class only on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, leaving me more days without class than with class.

This was probably a good choice. For one, why take an excessive number of credits when each class costs a lot of money and I’ve taken almost every class I need to graduate? It’s also a welcome break after 2016, which I spent as a Senior Arts Editor for The Michigan Daily. It was a position that seemed to sap almost every night of free time, even though it’s a relatively small time commitment compared to an editorial position on the news section, for example.

The thing about the Daily was even if it could be a pain to spend so much time there when I had so much studying to do all the time, it was rarely not fun being there. I worked closely with many of my best friends there, and it was a comforting place to go to each night I worked, not an unwelcome one. So even though the end of my editor position means a lot of nice free time, it also means spending less time in that fun environment surrounded by the people I laugh around the most. As a result, I think, I’ve felt a little despondent in the week since we came back from winter break…a little unmotivated, unproductive, with too much time to just sit in my room. I’ve felt a little lonely, to be honest.

And we all know what the best thing is for feeling lonely: art!

So I’m determined to start taking in a lot more art this semester, and not feel guilty about it. To start, of course, I’m watching a lot of TV and movies, and listening to a lot of music, as usual. I recently finished watching The Leftovers, and I just started Bates Motel tonight. I also have The Americans and Twin Peaks on my agenda for this semester. I have an endless list of movies to watch, and I’m going to enjoy watching them.

The most notable things, though are these:

First, I’m going to read more. I feel like I haven’t really read for pleasure that much since at least the summer, but more realistically farther back—you could even extend that to high school. I’m finally finishing Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth after starting it over the summer and promptly stopping when school started. I also have Super Sad True Love Story checked out, and plan to read The Handmaid’s Tale and some other good stuff soon.

Second, I’m going to journal consistently. My journal is massively important to me—I still have to write a longer post about that sometime—and I always inevitably fall behind because I spend so much time on it, imbuing every entry with so many details. When I fall behind, it takes the emotional power out of some of the entries, because I’m recalling events long after the fact, so I’m going to make sure to catch up once and for all and journal consistently this semester.

Third, I’m going to start writing fiction again. I haven’t done this in a while, either, and I really need to just write a novel already. It’s not good to take huge breaks from writing, and I need to learn to really discipline myself when it comes to that.

Anyways, yeah, that’s it! I’m also, obviously, applying to jobs for after graduation and trying to spend time with friends, but sometimes it seems like I am the single least busy person this semester, so I’ll have plenty of extra time, and art is the best way to fill that.


The Magic of Grease Live! Why Representation Matters: Looking at the Korean Wave through the Asian Diaspora. A Success Story in the Making: Buzzfeed and the Era of Clickbait. How The Princess Diaries was my First Feminist Movie. Looking for Authenticity in K-pop and K-Hip-Hop. Is Music Dying – or is it Thriving? Why Children’s Movies Matter.

This is only a smattering of topics, only a few titles to future blog posts left unwritten. They are left unwritten because this is my last post on this wonderful, amazing blog.

When I first submitted my application to arts,ink, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had emailed my former-boss and now friend, asking about jobs at the office where Arts at Michigan is housed, the Office of New Student Programs. A friend of mine had told me that she had heard that they were hiring people to work at their front desk and answer phones. As someone who did not want to work in a dining hall (and succeeded in avoiding it all three years here), I took the chance and ran with it.

I got an email back saying there were no office positions open, but I could apply to two blogs – arts,ink and arts[seen]. I applied for both, and even preferred arts[seen], because I loved going to see shows and concerts, and I thought that learning to review them would be a good skill to add to my arsenal before I left college. I had low hopes, though, thinking every writer on campus would be applying for this job. Much to my surprise, I got an email a couple of weeks later welcoming me to the team – to the arts family.

I got hired as a columnist arts,ink, and I wondered how I was going write about something every single week for the rest of the year. I had so much writing to do for my classes already, not to mention the reading and other assignments for classes that weren’t English classes.

But now that I’m leaving, I don’t know where the time went, how I didn’t get to talk about these things that are still so important to me. It seems like just yesterday I was freaking out because Michigan Pops shared my post about their concert, or that I could not believe that I had gotten 5 comments on a post about what I thought was a little-known Chinese singer (the comments doubled to ten as I responded to every one of them).

A lot of people asked me throughout my time at Michigan why I never joined any of the other student publications on campus, as there are many. No one really reads these blogs. My friends and family of course read my posts, but even then, I know they don’t read religiously. When I send them links, they read, and they tell me how much they liked it, but besides that, Arts doesn’t get the readership that other places get. So why didn’t I join any other publications, you ask?

Because none of them felt like home like arts did. Arts encouraged freedom, encouraged discipline, encouraged creativity. I didn’t have to follow a weekly prompt or format. My task was simply to talk about art, in any way possible. And it’s in this freedom that I found my home.

I feel so incredibly blessed that I got to spend three years here. Writing, editing, reading other posts – I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s definitely been a challenge, trying to stay constantly creative while in a college environment that, at times, discourages creativity. And trying to keep up with posting every week while also trying to juggle school and clubs and friendships and families was never easy, especially this year, as a senior preparing to graduate.

But it was all worth it. I’ve become a better writer, a better reader, a better thinker – I’m constantly thinking and analyzing my surroundings, what I see in the media, what others tell me about their experiences.

Maybe there’s been some topics that have been left unexplored. But that’s okay. Because arts,ink will keep going, inducting new writers next year, freshman arriving on campus with wide eyes and ready pens, seniors looking to put their stamp on the arts community before they end their time at Michigan.

So this blog is dedicated to you, future writers at arts,ink. We may be the underdogs, but you have just found a community that will always support you, never limit you, always push you to write more, to constantly engage in the thriving arts community on campus. It may be time for me to leave, but it’s your time to shine.

Writing as Self-Care

Lately I’ve been pretty into self-care. Recently, I’ve been doing more yoga, and it’s definitely always made a positive impact on my life, especially when I can stop and just let myself breathe for a little bit, instead of letting myself get overwhelmed by circling my head around the infinite number of things I need to do before the end of the month. And I’ve been telling myself that I need to buy some actual yoga classes from a studio instead of just going around doing the free classes (thank you yoga studios for free classes though, they are the absolute best), although my wallet definitely does not agree.

But because of this increase in going to yoga, I’ve also just been thinking about self-care in general, in that it seems like in college I’ve always been stressed. It’s like I operate constantly on a small level of stress, and it always rises, and sometimes deflates, but never actually goes all the way down. And then the best way to deal with it is to read all the click-bait: “13 gifs of The Office that is College Life” or “15 tweets that completely explain how you’re doing in the semester right now.” We constantly circulate these posts of self-pity because we know that everyone else is doing as poorly as we are, and somehow twist it into entertainment.

But I remember a time before all this, in high school. I think it’s easy to think about high school as “the easy days” but also never wanting to go back (because let’s face it, high school sucks). But to me, high school wasn’t easy. It was honestly probably just as rough as college is now, just in a different, more naive way. I went to a college prep school where I was one of the top students, and even though I failed AP Calculus and only passed AP Chem because our teacher pitied our class, I still maintained just being shy of the top-ten percent my senior year (I was ranked seventh out of sixty-nine, so if you round up, I was). But I’d be lying if I said that was easy. I was stressing about getting into college, doing as many clubs as possible my senior year, as well as trying to take as many AP Classes without killing myself. I was crazy busy, even if now it seems like I barely remember it.

But the difference between me then and me now is that I wrote. I have multiple journals, both handwritten and typed, starting from middle school all the way until senior year. I documented much of my life, often because it was a lot harder to talk to my friends, and I grew up as an only child. I used my journal as a way of keeping my stress levels low – once I poured my heart out to my journal, I always felt a whole lot better.

Not only did I keep a journal, though, I was constantly writing. I have about a million different documents, some with bits and pieces of long forgotten projects, some filled with pages dedicated to one idea. I was always thinking of ideas, always writing them down, always staying inspired. I constantly looked up new artists, new music, looked for new books to read, bought more books to read. In some ways, high school was my most fertile time for creative exploration. I wrote poems, I wrote song lyrics, I wrote short stories, I wrote essays – but I never wrote because I had to. It was always just for the pure enjoyment of writing.

But now, in college, it feels selfish to want to sit down and write just for fun when I could be working on the next three papers I have due, or the discussion posts, or even my pieces for this blog. The weekend I cranked out over 20 pages of a story for the Hopwoods, my roommate told me how proud of me she was – not just because she liked the story (which made me so happy because part of me wondered if a lot of it was sleep deprived nonsense) but also because I sat down and wrote this entire story that still has places to go in a little over 48 hours, ignoring all my school work in order to focus on this mini passion project in the middle of the semester. She saw how happy it made me to work on it and to talk on it, and how inspired it made me.

But writing like that can’t always happen – I still have those papers to write. Sure, maybe if I want to go to graduate school and join a creative writing cohort, that’s what my life would be like. That’s not reality, though, and the truth is I have to graduate and find a job.

In some ways, I think that writing, reading, and staying creatively engaged was part of my self-care in high school. I may not have done yoga to calm my mind, but once I wrote a short story where the characters were probably too close to real life for comfort, I felt like I had gotten the problem off my chest. Maybe it wasn’t resolved, but it calmed my mind. And I miss that, I miss using my anger, my sadness, my happiness as fuel for writing, if only to keep me writing. Because although I feel like I’m constantly writing something in college, I still haven’t gotten to stretch my creative muscles out as much as I would like.

But the good news is I’m graduating, and even with job searching and part-timing and every other crazy thing that life throws at me, I know that I can always fall back on writing. Even if my self-care methods change, that love that I have will never change.

Passions vs. The Real World

It’s that time of the semester.

If you are currently in college, you know what I mean. Today in class one of my professors spoke openly with us, telling us that professors hated this time of year. After months of snow and winter and general gloominess, the effects are starting to show in students. They raise their hands less often, they feel more lethargic, and he described it as just a general atmosphere that all professors dread.

As for me, I can definitely feel it. It’s not only the lack of warmth and sunshine (that we seem to finally be getting here in Michigan), but just the everything-ness of this time of the semester. It’s not just having to do schoolwork, it’s having to do schoolwork, and find time for meetings, and friends, and jobs, and summer plans, and family, and – for some of us – graduation. It’s a list that goes on and on.

Last night I read through a short story I wrote this semester for the Hopwood Awards. I didn’t write a blog post about this, but it’s the first time I’ve been brave enough to submit anything I’ve written. I decided screw it, I’m a senior, it’s now or never, and wrote a 20+ page short story in the span of about three days, which, if you are a writer, know how incredibly short that is. I even got up at 9 a.m. to finish it up before the deadline, shocking my roommates who typically don’t see me up and awake before 11, sometimes even noon.

But I was thinking about how much joy that gave me, even in the midst of the crazy semester around me. I banged out a 20+ paper because it was something I’m passionate about. Writing, for me, has always been something I’m passionate about. And at the moment, I’m working on a research paper for a class..and yet I’m not. I can’t work on it, because I have so many other thousands of millions of things to do.

Inspiration and creativity are some of the most elusive characteristics of writing. A lot of advice I’ve been given in college surrounding my writing is to keep doing it, even when inspiration doesn’t hit.

But I never seem to have trouble with inspiration – it’s always the time. I get so frustrated that I have other things I could be doing besides working on a short story or writing Part 2 of the blog post about albums (I promise, it’s coming). And then this frustration gets worse whenever I realize that I have to do things I don’t want to in order to do the things I love, like write and read and watch TV (and think critically about watching TV).

But sometimes, life doesn’t work that way. I don’t like it, but it’s the truth.

This message is brought to you by a stressed college student who knows she shouldn’t be stressed but is anyways.*
*never stop writing, even when you’re stressed