In the spirit of school the start of the dreaded second semester, I found this the perfect time to feature an amazing review from an amazing writer! We all struggle with balancing our passions and our schools/jobs, so I hope this helps ease that!
For that reason, I determined that the best person to collab with this month is a hard-working student herself, @rubyruins (if you’re comfortable with sharing your real name or an alias, that would be great!). I’ve been following her work on Wattpad for a while now. She is an amazing graphic artist and writer, who has amazing near 2k followers and about 500k collective views on her fabulous books. She has immense writing talent and happens to be a university student, and I thought gaining her insight on how she manages would be amazing for all us students out there. So, Ellis, is there any other introductions you’d like to include before we dive in?
Ellis: Thank you so much for that amazing introduction, love! I think you’ve got it all covered (: Hey there, guys! I’m @rubyruins, but I go by the pen name Ellis or Ruby. I’m so excited to get an opportunity to be interviewed by our lovely host!
Riya: Thank you for joining us! You’re a well-known writer around Wattpad, amassing about 500k views on her book and near 2k followers. That’s a big feat, especially when you’re a student like yourself! For all young writers out there like you, what’s your secret to making it big while still attending to your schoolwork? Tell us your story.
Ellis: Well, I’d say there isn’t any hard and fast rule – it all depends on how you want to work things out without compromising on your studies or your writing! I, for one, knew that even while pursuing storytelling as a hobby, my grades couldn’t suffer. So I made up my mind to study as hard, as diligently as I could – leaving all my free time open to writing.
It works up to a point, I’d say. But all my free time just went into writing, I couldn’t find any time to do anything else. Leaves you feeling pretty drained ): I had to think of another way.
Then it struck me. I do have a very long time commuting to college, nearly 2 hours in a one-way trip. That totals a whopping 4 hours every day where I did nothing but stand in a train! However, where I live, they do get pretty crowded and it’s hard to do anything else. So I started leaving my home a little early to get less crowded trains, where I could write (or at least plot down my ideas) during the journey. I do understand that it’s hard to actually write anything proper or publishable, so I spent that time in my thoughts and on the net, doing research, gathering ideas, names, inspiration – and jotting it all down. Come the weekend, I’d carve out an hour or two on a Sunday after doing all my schoolwork. With all those ideas and plot points gathered during the weekdays, I could easily join them and write out a proper chapter on the weekend. It cut the time for plotting and weaving ideas from scratch since I already had some material to start with – so all I had to do was to piece it together to make a story!
In fact, leaving my home even a bit early ensured I reached college quite sometime before classes started – giving me time to study and revise some notes. With this, the burden of studying reduced when I get home. Sometimes while traveling, if I’m bored, I check and reply to comments and messages instead of researching. It doesn’t get monotonous if you work it out this way. I don’t even need to spend extra hours revising on weekends, and I don’t even need to drain myself out trying to write on weekdays – it’s a win-win situation!
Riya: Honestly, that makes so much sense. For college students who commute, I think this is perfect, but like you said, it’s all very personalized. I’m still in high school, my junior year in fact, and it’s so exhausting with the SAT and my 6 APs. I balance it by picking my rocks, per say. My psych teacher told me that I had to pick three rocks in my life, things that I really value. Everything else is pebbles and sand. Family, Academics, and writing are my three rocks, three things I can’t live without. I rank those of time importance with school first, family second, writing third. This doesn’t mean I don’t spend time on writing, but that I organize my life where I can do them all and still sleep. I always make sure to finish my schoolwork and talk to my family before I get into writing. This way, I have a clear mind and a lot of pent up ideas.
Often writers get major writers block during work season or the school year. How do you combat that?
Ellis: Picking your rocks makes so much sense! I’d say I’d pick mine the exact same way – family comes first, academics second, writing third.
Well, when it comes to writer’s block – I sort of try to find the cause of it. Why am I not able to write? Am I out of ideas? Am I too tired? Am I just not in the mood?
You see, if you’re just totally drained due to school and have zero energy – beating yourself up over not being able to write is terrible. I tell myself that it’s not my fault if I can’t write in such situations. Any normal person would be totally burned out trying to write like this. So in such times, I don’t even try to write – I just let that exhausting period pass.
If I figure out that I’m not exhausted, that I’m just out of ideas, I chalk it up to lack of inspiration. Maybe its because life is just monotonous, and that’s pretty bad if you want to write fantasy. So I try to find some inspiration – maybe rewatching Game of Thrones for the 100th time, maybe starting a new show, maybe listening to new music that gets me up and running. I’ll read a book, have some coffee, and try to hammer out a few words – once you start, its easy to continue! You just have to put yourself in the right mindset and see how the words flow (: Even if I’m not drained with schoolwork or anything – or not even out of ideas, sometimes I just don’t want to write. It happens sometimes. You just don’t feel any urge to write. Those days, I go on Wattpad and answer some comments. I tell myself that my readers want me to continue, to write – so if not for myself, maybe I should write for them. I try a bit to write then – if I can, it’s fine. If I can’t that’s fine too. We’re humans, after all. We can’t be perfect. And beating yourself up over something you enjoy is bad!
Riya: That’s really good advice. This school year has been tough for me cause I have
a lot of homework, so writing one has been scarce. I’ve even had to drop out of a couple book clubs, which broke my heart because I just couldn’t do it all. I really want to write, but by the time I finish my homework, I don’t even have energy to get out of bed and brush my teeth.
Beating yourself up as writers for just not being able to find time…especially if you’re a student or have a day job, is like Ellis said, terrible to do to yourself.
I reserve writing for the weekends now, finishing my homework and then chugging out a bunch of writing, including this blog. I find that my creative energy clusters in my brain and bursts in the weekend.
As a student, what’s your number one tip for students who just don’t have time to write, but still really want to?
Ellis: That’s really sad to hear! As a student, when you want to write but cannot – it is quite disheartening to have to drop out of book clubs and other hobbies.
I’d say my only advice is to stay strong and not let it affect you – you don’t have power over some things, and that’s fine. Academics obviously come first, and no one is going to criticize you for having to put studies first and writing second. Don’t lose heart if you can’t take out the time to write, remember – there’s a time for everything. Maybe God plans for you to write later on. Maybe you’ll have more wisdom then. Whatever happens, don’t get discouraged and drop your hobby all together!
Riya: What I do right now is get in the groove of my schoolwork, grind during the week, and then write a lot on the weekend. Instagram has served as a place of great motivation for me. There’s this 10k writing sprint challenge that I’m partaking in and it really gets work done. I think I’ll try to do similar writing sprints down the line to keep up with writing.
Are there any challenges that motivate you?
Ellis: Wow, it’s great that you take part in challenges! Unfortunately for me, I find it a bit hard to maintain consistency of writing in a challenge – I think I find it a little bit pressurising. Although, if done right, challenges are amazing to keep you motivated.
Riya: Nanowrimo is a wonderful tool for writers, but I find that word count goals don’t help me. Instead, the plot progress and chapters. Word counts will vary, but progress comes through how the story actually develops. You could write 10,000 words, but If its utter garbage, what’s the point, you know?
Ellis: I completely agree! Word count can be daunting. It’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity (:
Riya: Word count is useful, but to an extent. Y’all shouldn’t stress about it too much.
Ellis, it was great talking to you! Do you have any last tips before we go?
Ellis: Agreed! Think we’ve got it all covered (: you’ve been an amazing interviewer, love. Thank you so much for this!
Riya: Of course! We hope to have you back soon.
If you all still have questions about this balance, drop a comment down below and I’ll get to it in a spiffy! Have a great day!