The Writer's Den

UCLA's creative writing student group

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The Expansion of the Den

I didn’t mean to spend the whole day tabling at the Enormous Activities Fair, but once you’re there it’s hard to leave. There’s always someone new to tell about the club, and once that person signs up and disappears, another one pops up and I launch into my spiel without even thinking. Continue reading


An Unproductive Day

I fell asleep at my desk today trying to write my novel. Several hours later, I woke up dizzy and confused. There were pen marks all over my face and the remnants of a squished banana in my hair. My scene cards were out of order and the Pokemon theme song had been playing on repeat in the background, meaning that Ash, Pikachu and co. now claim 1st place in my iTunes “top songs”. Oh, and my coffee was cold.

Tragic, I know.

It used to be, when days like this happened, that I would get depressed/freaked out/stressed because I hadn’t written the amount of pages I was hoping to. After a while, though (this type of thing seems to happen to me ALL THE TIME), I’ve learned to be more chill about it. Some days were just never meant to be productive. You’ve just got to accept it, sigh, and wash that icky banana juice out of your hair.


Letting Go

I cling to stories the way I cling to old clothes.

My closet contains far too many old shirts, dresses, and pants from as long ago as my freshman year of high school. Some of these clothes are faded, others torn, but most have nothing wrong except for the fact that I’ve simply stopped wearing them. (When you’re in college, would you want to wear clothes you picked out when you were 14?) They’ve run their course, and now all they do is take up space.

But I don’t get rid of them. A small part of me is convinced that, someday, I’ll wear those clothes again. In the meantime, that hanger space could have been used to store clothes I would actually wear (but never bought because I didn’t have room in the closet).

The same goes for writing. I have drafts of stories that I’ll never be happy with. Instead of acknowledging that I’ve done what I can and move on, I stay stuck on those specific projects, never progressing, never changing anything significant, never letting go. Those stories were started in high school, a time of adolescent mood swings, if-he-would-only-notice-i-exist crushes, and teenybopper outlooks on life. Plenty of them need to either be finished or rewritten.

Look, I know that you’re supposed to finish every story you start, but I’ve changed so much as a person in the past two years that they’re just holding me back. I have all of these grand new story ideas that I’m not starting because, just like the old clothes in my closet, I’m convinced that I’m eventually going to fix all of the stories I wrote back in high school. But because I don’t want to work on these stories since they no longer apply to me, I end up avoiding writing altogether. The new stories inside me that sing to my soul and reflect my inner self much more accurately than years-old quasi-abandoned projects end up fizzling and fading before I finally capture them in real words.

Is it better to keep trying to revive lifeless stories, or just man up and move on? How do you know when to let go?

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Structure in Fiction

That title fails but I had to refrain from referencing Batman, which I promised to not do.

As usual I will spit out some article from Writer’s Digest. It suggests you use index cards to structure your plot. I didn’t actually read it (and yes, I do read the others), but today I really don’t care what they have to say.

More importantly, how do YOU structure your fiction? Heavily detailed outlines? A single picture in your mind? Channel the spirits?