Kanban Boards: An Organizational Tool

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
Photo by Hayley Green

Photo by Hayley Green

Do you struggle to stay organized? Do to-do Lists just feel too plain and don’t motivate you enough? A kanban board might help you stay organized and get all of your responsibilities and goals done.

What is a kanban board?

This begs the question; what is a kanban board? It’s an organization system that helps you see at a glance what you need to focus on during the week and see what you’ve accomplished. There are three sections of the board: Goals, This Week (Do it Now), and Accomplished.

Goals

The goals section should take up half of your board. This is where every task goes at the beginning. You can color-code the Post-its to match the goals. On my board (above), purple is my writing goals, hot pink is schoolwork, orange is my internships, yellow is my critique group, blue is a newsletter, and pastel pink is miscellaneous things. You can do the same thing based on your goals.

This Week (Do it Now)

Move the Post-its here when you need to focus on them during the coming week. It should be the middle quarter of your board. It helps you to know exactly what you must do. You can move them around as needed. My “week” is fluid, and often these tasks are completed as needed because I have flexibility. If you crave more rigidity, then put the deadline in the corner of the Post-it and get the task done before it’s due.

Accomplished

Congratulations! You finished a task. Now you can move the Post-it to the accomplished section on the bottom quarter of your board. Not only does this give you a rush of dopamine, but also it’s incredibly motivating to see everything you’ve accomplished stack up.

Refreshing the Board

The board goes through cycles of being…[Read More]

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A Book to Read for Sarcasm Month: “Frat Girl” by Kiley Roache

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Publications on Functionally Fictional, Writing
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“Frat Girl” by Kiley Roache is a chick-lit book about a rebel. Cassie Miller is a girl who has aspirations to go off to her dream college in California. In order to do that, she needs to get a scholarship. The one she’s applied for needs her to propose a research project that relates to her major.

She’s a women’s gender studies major, so she proposes a project to join her father’s frat as a legacy. The frat has been in trouble for misogynist posters during a party. She proposes to expose the frat for its terrible behavior and disband the frat once and for all.

At first, things are going as planned. She wins the scholarship, rushes the fraternity, and survives all of the pledge tasks. She writes journal entries detailing their despicable behavior. But then things start to change.

Her frat brothers become [Read More]

Five Truths of Editing Fiction No One Tells You

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
Red Pen for Editing

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This is my latest on Coffee House Writers. You can find the full article here.

Five Truths of Editing Fiction No One Tells You

I’ve been chronicling my experience with editing here at Coffee House Writers with some of my past articles. “Starting Over: Mirroring Kristin Cashore’s Writing of Bitterblue” was about how rewriting the whole story was my original plan. “An Editing Process for Pantsers” mentioned a very analytical way of evaluating each scene and figuring out whether it was worth keeping.

I have been indecisive about how to edit, to say the least. This is, in part, because of the editing everyone talks about versus what it will actually look like.

We need an honest conversation about what the editing process entails.

When someone says the word “editing,” what do you see? A red pen fixing punctuation errors, awkward wording and grammar? That’s what I imagined. I didn’t realize one of the biggest secrets of editing: editing is, at its heart, rewriting.

Because of the common misconceptions about writing, I decided to list out the truths of editing. I stumbled across these through editing my novel.

Truth #1: Editing is Rewriting

In truth, everything after the first draft is editing. You must rewrite scenes, add scenes, delete scenes, and everything in between to get to the polished-draft phase. Everything you write after the first completed draft is editing, even if you are writing a completely new sequence of scenes for the first half of your book.

Truth #2: You Will Cut 90 Percent Of Your First Draft

I wrote 61,000 words for my first draft. The first 42,000 words will be completely rewritten. Some of the later scenes [Read More]

Character Creation: Why Is It Important And How Can You Do It?

Inspiration, Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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There are two main parts to every story: internal and external conflict. These are also known as character and plot, respectively.

One of the age-old debates in the literary world is which is more important to the story. Neuroscience has answered this question with fMRI technology. According to Lisa Cron’s book, “Story Genius,” the character’s journey is more important. Why?

It’s how our brains process the story. On page 109 of “Story Genius,” Cron writes, “Cognitive psychologist and novelist Keith Oatley… defines fiction as ‘a simulation that runs on the software of our minds.” We use stories as a way to evaluate different social situations and how we would react to them. Basically, it allows us to experience the situation and reap the chemical rewards of navigating it successfully without ever being in the situation for ourselves.

Your character’s journey to change is what makes the story compelling to readers.

You need to relate to the character on some level. Our brains are wired to relate to the character, not the plot. If the character is not relatable, then the reader stops reading.

That begs the question: how can you create a relatable character and make the story compelling?

First, by understanding a few key points:

[Read More]

An Open Letter to My Younger Self

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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Dear Younger Self,

You will be on a journey of learning your whole life. Along the way, there will be tears, great friends, betrayal, suicidal thoughts, and support. You will go through a lot of hard times, but the good times will make the hard times worth it.
You will be an energetic, stubborn, bossy child with advanced social skills and an affinity for writing. For you writing is an extension of playing pretend. It is fun and exciting to create a world all your own. Music and the life you observe and the worlds you experience from reading will inspire you.
Your parents have their faults but have redeeming qualities, too. You will think they are perfect and will have a hard time coming to terms with the fact they will be toxic for you later in life. They will play favorites and treat your brother better with more support later in your life. You will be on medicine from a young age.
You will experience a psychiatric unit and suicidal thoughts induced by medicine when you are just ten years old. You will come out learning of things like cutting and burning. You will be exposed to a world you shouldn’t have at your age. The next year your aunt will die from suicide. This will be hard to see your family so broken about it. You will feel guilty because you don’t cry. You will grieve your way, and that is okay. This event will save your life many times later in your life when you continue to have suicidal thoughts for yourself.

[Read More]

Big Dream: Exploring My Deep-Seated Fears

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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I had been thinking about a challenge. A challenge to identify my fears as they relate to my Big Dream from Debbie Burns book “The Path to Courage.” A Big Dream is the thing I want to do with the rest of my life to fulfill my calling. I had been thinking all day but had written nothing down. I wrote my Big Dream and all the fears and societal and cultural rules that were stopping me. For reference, my Big Dream is to support myself through writing and writing-related jobs. I don’t want to get stuck in an unfulfilling job and feel miserable. I noticed that a lot of my fears had to do with financial independence and autonomy.

It came to me; I am scared to depend on anyone but myself. I am scared of the rejection and the hurt that comes from trusting someone. I am afraid of having them disappoint or betray me. I am so frightened of trusting others, asking for help, and allowing myself to love.

Looking back on my childhood, this makes sense. From a young age, I was independent. My brother has autism and glaring behavior problems and has my parents’ attention. They praised me for being an “easy, independent” child. When I needed help, they told me too, “figure it out on my own.” I felt betrayed because my brother was getting all the help and attention he needed.

This pattern with my parents’ attention hasn’t changed in 21 years. I still don’t get help from them, even now when I need it more than my brother. He gets a lot more help than he needs. They hold me to higher standards than my brother. I am expected to be autonomous at 21 despite my severe mental illness.

To illustrate this: [Read More]

Is A College Education Right For You?

Publications on Coffee House Writers, Writing
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The Millennial generation and every generation after them are being encouraged to get a college degree. However, the cost of college tuition and materials has gone up exponentially while wages remain about the same. Many people of the older generation say how they paid their way through college working a minimum wage job. If you do the calculations, they look something like this:

College

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As you can see, things have changed a lot. The argument, “I did it, you can too,” is not valid. And people are getting thousands of dollars in debt, if not hundreds of thousands if you add in graduate degrees. All because our culture has instilled the mindset that you have to go to college to get a job. [Read More]