Thought Collective #5- How I Feel About Social Media

It’s not secret that I have been trying to spend more time away from my phone for the last few months. I even wrote a whole post about going off the grid (sort of) for a week, and that experiment was really eye opening for me.

Since then, I have really been paying attention to the way I use social media and how much of my time I spend on it.

Before I get into the darker side of the internet, I want to acknowledge some of the good that is has brought me! Social media is a wonderful tool, one that I am so grateful for.

Because of it, I…

  • found a community of like-minded readers
  • made amazing friendships
  • discovered new passions
  • became informed on topics that I otherwise would not have ever heard of

I would not take back any of these things that social media has given me.

However, I think it’s also equally as important to talk about the bad, too. We all know that social media affects us tremendously. It has been the cause of anxiety and depression for me, given me FOMO, triggered unhealthy perceptions of my body, and overall just helps me waste time.

I think that what I’ve realized about social media is that you need to remember that it is a tool. You are supposed to be in control of it, not the other way around.

I am much more conscious of how I use social media now. I use it for interaction with friends and fellow readers. I use it to share parts of my day that I think others will be interested in. I use it to stay informed and to inform others. I use it for inspiration. And that’s it.

I don’t use it for mindless entertainment the way I used to. I don’t use it to compare myself to others. I don’t use it to follow petty drama.

And I have truly seen a huge improvement in my mood.

I thought that I would share some things that I did that really helped me break my social media addiction of mindless scrolling.

  1. Don’t be afraid to unfollow: I know that it may seem harsh to unfollow someone, but I think if you are not benefitting from their content, you don’t enjoy their content, or you’re just not interested in it, you should not feel guilty for unfollowing. You are allowed to curate your space for yourself! I regularly go through my following lists on various social media sites and unfollow accounts that don’t align with my values. When I do scroll through my feeds, I only see content that I am genuinely interested in!
  2. Set limits: When I first began shortening my time online, I found it super helpful to implement the downtime feature on my iPhone. From 9:30 pm to 8:00 am, I set a control that blocked all of my apps! I no longer use it now, but I conditioned myself not to go on my phone for the first hour after waking up, and I try to get off of it at least 30 minutes before I go to bed. There are other ways to set limits, too. You can allow yourself to go on social media for one hour a day. Or you can delete the apps on your phone and only check it on your desktop. Or you can schedule specific times throughout your day that you will check it. Figure out what works best for you!
  3. Decide what you want to use and figure out your why: Having a ‘why’ for spending less time on social media is really effective. What can you accomplish in the 5 hours that you don’t spend on your phone? Maybe you can pick up a new hobby. Maybe you can improve a skill or learn something new. Maybe you can use that time for self care or to spend time with your family! You don’t realize just how much time you are spending on social media if you don’t pay active attention to it. It also helps to know which apps you actually want to use. For instance, I spend much more time on Instagram than Twitter now, and I deleted TikTok entirely a few months ago. I only use Snapchat for sending videos/photos to friends, but I otherwise don’t go on it. Again, decide what works for you!

How do you feel about social media? It’s definitely one of those things that’s in the gray area. It’s neither good nor bad. Again, I think it all depends on how you use it!

I hope this post was helpful, though, and that you took something away from it! I would love to know what you think.

Thought Collective #4- On Becoming a Minimalist

I first heard of minimalism back in high school, and I was immediately drawn to it. I watched the Minimalism documentary, and I thought this is what I want my life to look like.

So I decluttered my space, but then carried on about my life. Weeks went by, then months and years. Every now and then I would go through the process of cleaning, organizing, throwing away.

It was a cycle that I kept going back into, but the habits of minimalism never really stuck.

It wasn’t until recently, though, I started listening to a few different podcasts, watching youtube videos, and had a huge mindset shift that I finally started to see the benefits.

Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps you simplify your life—this includes your mental and emotional life, too—in order to live a more meaningful and intentional life. I realized that I don’t care about shopping, I don’t need to own a lot of things, I am happy when I’m doing rather than buying.

I thought that I would take you through my 4-step process/journey of transitioning into this lifestyle, and maybe some of these tips will be useful for you, too!

  1. Prioritize: The first thing I did was made a list of my priorities. For me, this was school, writing, family/friends, paying off student debt, and health. Obviously everyone’s priorities are different, but make a list of 3-5 priorities in your life, and try to keep these in mind with everything else you do. You don’t want to have too many priorities because that will just make things overwhelming and you won’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time to all. The minimalists talk a lot about their 5 core values, and that might be a helpful place to start!
  2. Declutter: Obviously, a big part of minimalism is getting rid of that excess stuff you have lying around your house. Take your time with this process, and really think about what you’re keeping and what you’re not. I even recommend doing a second or third sweep of your stuff. Sometimes you come back to something and realize you don’t actually need it, you were just keeping it around for sentimentality. Aside from your physical space, there are also other things that you may want to declutter in your life- your relationships (cut out the toxic ones), your digital space (clear out your files, unfollow people on social media who don’t add value to your life), and your mind (I’ve incorporated meditation into my life, which has helped me stay in the present moment. It really keeps me grounded and my mind uncluttered).
  3. Change your Habits: Decluttering is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if you keep buying more stuff, keep creating more waste. Therefore, once you have started with a fresh, clear space, work on your habits so that you don’t go back to how you were living before. For example, I have been creating a budget for myself every month, and I try to stick to it as closely as possible. I just started this a couple of months ago, so there was quite a bit of trial and error involved in determining how much I spend in the beginning. Now, though, I’m pretty good at sticking to it! Also, before I buy anything new, I write it down in a wishlist I keep on my phone. I wait at least 2 days (if it’s a big purchase, I give it a week or more) before deciding if I really need it or not. This has stopped me from impulse buying a LOT.
  4. Put It to Action: Now that you’ve given yourself this blank slate, use it to your advantage! Go back to your priorities and start centering your days around them! For instance, I like to write. All I need for that is my laptop or a pen and paper. Now that I’m devoting less time to cleaning and organizing my stuff (because there’s less of it), I have more time to write! I also have more time to spend with my friends, and I’m focusing on the things that really bring me joy. I’ve honestly found a freedom in owning less and not wanting to buy more. I feel like a lot of weight has been lifted off of me.

Some resources that helped me:

  • The Minimalists: They have a podcast, a documentary, and a website that are all full of great information! I am currently going through their podcast, starting from their first episode, and I’m loving it!
  • Millennial Minimalists Podcast: I recommended this podcast in my last favorites post, but I just wanted to include it again because I’m really enjoying it!
  • Ashlynne Eaton: This Youtube channel is so cozy and nice to watch! Ashlynne also gives some really great advice, so if you are someone who prefers visuals, this is the place for you!

There’s obviously so much more I could say on this topic, and I really only covered the bare minimum here, but I think it’s a good, simplified place to start!

What are your thoughts on living a more minimalistic lifestyle? Have you tried it?

Thought Collective #3 – Being a Female College Student & Campus Safety.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post in my Thought Collective series! A few weeks back I talked about my high school experience and how that affected my mental health. Today I want to talk about what it’s like being a woman in college.

First off, this post is sponsored by Bond*. This is a personal safety app that I think everyone should have, but it is especially vital for college students.

*But all opinions are my own.
**Trigger Warnings for rape/murder/kidnapping/assault

Before I tell you about the app, let me give you some background:

As a freshman in college, I was always the safe one, the cautious one, the ‘mom’ friend, if you will. My friends on the other hand? Not so much. They went out to parties with their phones at 20%, usually not planning ahead on how they’ll get home, etc.

This terrified me. They always relied on me to make sure they were taken care of and got home safe. Which I didn’t mind, of course, as I would have done it any way.

But the world is a pretty scary place, especially as a woman. There have been thousands of stories of women being harassed, attacked, kidnapped, etc. right on the street, with no one helping them. I often had to walk home alone after a late-night class, or even just to my car in a parking lot. Every person becomes a suspect when you’re a vulnerable person walking alone at night. It’s a sad reality that we’re unforunately faced with.

During my freshman year, a report also came out about a woman being kidnapped and murdered by a man who claimed to be her Uber driver. I have never forgotten about that.

There have been reports of break-ins in my area, recently, and just yesterday, a strange person had been knocking on our door, which was frightening. My friend’s TikTok feeds have even been flooded with safety tips for girls (many of them about walking alone at night). Girls are always thinking of the fastest exit in every situation, will carry their keys between their fingers, or have pepper spray at their side.

I can talk on and on about the various situations that girls specifically are faced with when going out of the house that never even cross the minds of men.

So let me now tell you about Bond. Like I mentioned, this is a personal security app that has so many amazing features.

I go on frequent long walks/runs around my neighborhood or on the beach (which you may have seen on my Instagram), and now whenever I do that, I turn on the “track me on the go” setting. This makes sure that my location is being tracked until I reach my destination. If I ever feel like I’m in a dangerous situation, I even put on the “ready an agent” feature, which will signal an agent if the situation escalates and I’m in need of assistance. These agents are ready 24/7, so you never have to worry about being alone.

I think my favorite part about it is that it’s not just made for you. You can connect all of your friends and family members, too. I personally created a group with my housemates so that we always know where each person is.

In the free version, you have access to the location services, dial 911, and siren features. You can get a free 3 day trial for the app, and after that it’s only $4.99 a month to unlock the rest of the features I talked about. That is such a low cost for all that it provides, in my opinion!

If you want to give it a try, click this link to read more and download it for yourself! Campus safety is of a huge importance to me, so I hope that this is something you look into.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll talk to you soon!

#personalsafetyforall #collegesafety #campussafety #staysafe #ad

Thought Collective #2: Let’s Chat About School.

I have always loved learning. As a child, I would look forward to the start of a new school year, more than any other kid. I couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom. I was also very independent, and I had so many different interests. In fact, I would become so enthralled by a topic that I would spend hours on my own researching everything about it. I would read books, watch Youtube videos, scroll through hundreds of websites.

My friends, family, friends of family, and teachers all saw my thirst for knowledge, and I was praised for it. I still am, to be quite honest. And I like that feeling. But at some point in my school career, my own, internal desire for more knowledge turned into expectations from others and a fear of failure or not being good enough. I felt so weighed down by the assumptions people had of me, by the presumptions that were place on me. So much so that eventually I cracked. I let my perfect exterior break, piece by piece, until I no longer knew who I was. I stopped caring about education.

In high school, I reached an all time low in terms of education. Learning became something that I was excited about to something I dreaded. I was not interested in anything I was being taught. I rarely studied, and when I did, I would have breakdowns at least weekly because I felt like it wasn’t getting through to me. Part of this was the environment of my school. I got accepted into a prestigious high school, and I was initially excited to go.

Unfortunately, my experience there was not good. The teachers expected a lot from us, and we were constantly made to feel like we had to be the best, and anything lower was not okay. The students all competed with each other and every conversation was centered around grades, studying, and anything related to school. I was looked down upon when I told people I was going to study communication in college rather than something traditional like medicine, business, or law.

To sum up, it was toxic.

Fast forward to the present. I just started my junior year of college this week. I told myself I would start fresh in college. I stopped trying to please others, and I was looking forward to studying communication. My love for learning returned.

Some of my negative habits and mindsets from high school are still with me (studying for way longer than necessary, getting upset when I get anything lower than an A+, etc.).

But my state of mind is so different now.

I just want you to know that if you feel like you aren’t doing well in school, or you’re currently hating what you’re learning, that can change! Don’t let the school system make you hate or fear learning. Because you should always want to learn!! Knowledge is such an incredible and powerful tool that can make you unstoppable!

And there are so many forms of knowledge- not everything is about being book smart! There are also so many ways to get an education that don’t require going to school. Reading, youtube videos, talking to your relatives and asking them questions, etc.

The moral of the story: learning is FUN!

I know this post is very ramble-y and doesn’t flow too well, but I hope some of you can relate to parts of this story! I want to hear about your experiences in school, and any thoughts you have about it!

Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

Thought Collective #1 – Getting Out of a Slump

I have been thinking a lot about my content online recently and what value my posts serve. Not just on this blog, but on Instagram and Twitter as well. I want my platforms to provide value of some kind and be a space that I am proud of.

In full transparency, I had an entirely different post planned to go up today, but I felt like it was so meaningless and I didn’t feel confident in posting it. Which is sort of where this post idea came from.

I feel like I have been writing a lot of posts this year where my heart is not entirely in them, but I knew that other people would be interested in them or they followed some trend, so I wrote them anyway. And that put me in a big rut. I haven’t been feeling motivated or inspired at all. There were even a few days where I considered just deleting my blog entirely.

But then I spent some time thinking it over and reminding myself why I started this blog. It is a creative outlet. A place to express myself. A safe space to share my thoughts and find others with similar interests. And I don’t want to lose that.

Essay GIF - Find on GIFER

However, I do want to start sharing more of my thoughts on here—my ramblings, the things that I am passionate about.

This is how the thought collective was born. This is a new series I’m doing, probably about once a month (maybe more, maybe less), where I just write about whatever topic is on my mind that week.

I hope that at least some of you will find this interesting or useful! Don’t worry, though, my book content is not going anywhere! I just need a bit of a bigger space here. And if there’s any topic you want me to write about, please feel free to comment or message me on any of my social media accounts :)


Now, onto the topic of today’s post- pulling yourself out of a slump!

During quarantine, I put a lot of pressure on myself to do, do, do. I thought to myself that if I have all of this time at home, I have to use it to accomplish everything and anything I ever wanted to do but kept putting off.

At first, this was great. I worked on a new novel, I started research for my undergrad thesis, I read more than ever before. On top of this, I started running and working out daily, baking, and taking on other projects (an internship for one).

This was a really toxic mindset, though. I didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago, when I tried to have a relaxing Sunday, but all I could think about were the tasks I had on my to-do list. I wasn’t enjoying reading anymore because it felt like I was only doing it to be ‘productive’, I couldn’t sit still long enough to watch a movie or even tv show because my mind was on other things, and I was constantly exhausted.

I’ve finally burnt myself out. Since the first of August, I have had no desire to wake up in the mornings and work on any of the goals I had set for myself. I would wake up, try to be productive, and then end up scrolling through social media or watching Youtube videos for hours.

I am slowly working my way out of this creative (& life) slump, which I talked a bit about on Instagram. There, I also shared some of the ways that I get myself out of this sort of feeling, so I’m going to elaborate more on those now!

Take a Break

The first thing to do is to give yourself a break. It was so hard for myself to accept that this was what I needed, if I’m being honest. I’m awful at taking breaks, and I can’t do it for very long. But this time around, I took a week-long break. That is probably the longest I’ve gone without being productive in years.

Your body needs time to rest and recover, though. And it’s so important! Not only is it a good time to refresh your mind and maybe consume some content that inspires you, but it can also improve your physical well-being, too.

**By the way—don’t wait until you’ve burned yourself out to take a pause. It is good to do so often!!

Change Your Routines

Change can be scary. But it is oftentimes exactly what we need. I tried out a new morning routine in July which involved me waking up extremely early and getting work done from the minute I got up until about noon. I quickly realized that this did not work for me at all.

So, I’ve reinvented my routine, and I made it much more suitable to my needs. I now get to sleep in more, I get a bit of work done, but I also have a slow, peaceful morning. And it is so nice! I can definitely do an entire post about my morning routine, as well, because it is something that I find is essential to a productive day!

Create Freely

One thing that I love doing when I’m in a rut is allow myself to create… ANYTHING. This is something I do just for me. I want to talk more about this in a future thought collective post, but I’ve realized that with having any sort of social media platform, there is a pressure to post everything you do. I share a lot of my days online through my Instagram stories, and I like creating things to share with others. However, you don’t have to post everything you create. Some things can (and should) be just for you!

I like to do this by painting or art journaling. Most of the time, the things I create are imperfect. They are messy. But they make me happy! That is all that is important here. Allow yourself to do something without the fear of failure or the pressure of critique’s from others! It is such a therapeutic thing to do. Trust me!

Write Out Your Thoughts/Feelings

The next step for me is journaling. Now, I try to journal everyday, but I usually just do morning pages where I write out anything that comes to my mind or I talk about my previous day, just to get my creative juices flowing.

But, when I’m in a rut, I like to specifically write about why I’m feeling the way I am. This journaling is much more intentional, and it takes more time, but it can really help you figure out the root of your slump.

Here are some prompts/questions to get you started:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is currently upsetting me?
  • What are three things I am grateful for?
  • What distractions are hindering my productivity and how can I eliminate them?
  • What does my dream life look like?

Revisit & Revise Your Goals

Finally, I think frequently reading over your goals can be super motivating! However, sometimes you may look at them and realize that they are no longer things you want to focus on right now. And that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to take off some of your goals or revise them to better fit your current needs.

I’m very competitive with myself, so I push myself to achieve goals even if I no longer care about them, which just isn’t productive. I’m learning to be okay with letting go of my goals, even if I don’t always achieve them! This is such a vital lesson to learn.

The most important point of reworking your goals is making sure you are making them realistic but challenging. And prioritize the things that are most important to you!

That is all I have for you guys today! I know this was a long and rambly post, but I hope you got something good out of it. If you have any other tips for getting out a rut, feel free to share them in the comments!

Also, remember that what works for me may not work for you! It’s all about trial and error because everyone has different experiences. If you do try any of these, let me know how they went :)

I’ll see you all on Thursday (with another post I am very excited about)!

Mid Month Writing Update

As many of you know, I am currently participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is a month-long writing challenge where you choose a word-count goal and try to complete it by the end of July.

My goal for this Camp NaNo was only 15,000 words because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself or make myself stressed out by it. Things are actually going really well so far, and we are only halfway through the month!

I am so happy to say that as of now, I am nearly at my goal. I just hit 10,000 words today! In total, my manuscript is almost at 30k words, which is exactly where I wanted to be as of now.

I thought that for this post, I would answer some of your writing questions (which I asked for on Instagram & Twitter), so let’s get into those!

What is my brainstorming/outlining process like?

I got a couple of questions related to my pre-writing process, so I wanted to start with this! My ideas come usually start with one single plot point, and then comes the main character (I think, “What sort of person would get themselves into this situation?”).

From there, I create an outline. For my current work in progress, I followed the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel method, which is basically a series of 15 beats (or plot points). I HIGHLY recommend trying out this method, especially if you struggle with the structure of your stories.

My outlines are always a couple of pages long at least. I’ve had one project where the outline was, like, six pages long. I am definitely a plotter. I like to know where my novel is going before I start writing it, but I know that this doesn’t work for everyone.

However, I will say, usually about halfway through, the story takes a couple of different turns, and I stray from my original outline. At this point, I go back and fix my outline to match where the story is going.

What is my writing routine?

I definitely prefer to write in the mornings. For Camp NaNo, I have been trying to wake up around 5 am, then I meditate and stretch, before writing until 6:30 or 7:00. This is not the only time I write. In fact, there have been quite a few days where I was too tired in the morning, so I didn’t write until the afternoon or evening.

I want to develop a stricter writing routine, though, because I think consistency when drafting helps to get you into the mood and correct mindset for writing.

I tend to write in sprints, between 15-25 minutes long, with 5-15 minute breaks in between.

How do you develop your characters and get to know them?

This is a really fun question, but if I’m being honest, I don’t really know? I usually focus all of my attention on my main character, meaning the protagonist. I start by figuring out what they want, what they actually need, and what is standing in their way (more in a tangible way- money, an evil villain, geography, etc.). I also think of what their fatal flaw is- the thing in themselves that stands in their way.

From there, I write out their physical features, and assign them personality traits and interests. I also spend an ungodly amount of time picking their names, as this is the most important part of their character to me. I need to get it just right.

I also give them a bit of a back story- where do they live, who are their friends, where is their family from, etc.

I do a much simpler version of this for the supporting characters, mainly just describing their features and personality.

I think that the best way for me to get to know my character is just to keep writing them. The longer they spend on the page, the better I know them and how they will act. As far as developing them, I think that if you have a solid structure for your story, that should come naturally! Overtime, the obstacles and challenges your main character faces should shape them in some way, and overall change their attitudes and beliefs.

Character Aesthetic: Best Friend

Here is a little aesthetic I created for one of my characters. I’m not going to share too much else about her, but I think this fits her really well!

I hope this post gave you a bit of an insight into me and my writing! If you want to get more updates, I post them on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me on there.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNo, please let me know how it’s going for you (& good luck with the second half of the month- you got this!).

Anyway, I will see you all in my next post!

July Bullet Journal Spreads 2020

I have yet another bullet journal post for you guys today, and it might be my favorite one yet. I think I finally found the perfect bullet journal layout for myself and I am SO excited to share it with you all!

Let’s just take a look!

First up is my monthly spread. I no longer make a big calendar on here because I never use it. All of my planning is done in my weekly spreads, and if I need to see a calendar, I use a digital one!

I do, however, have a section for my goals and habit tracking. In the past, I tracked so many habits (between 5-10), but I realized that I didn’t actually care about the habits I was tracking. For example, I was tracking the days I read and the days that I drank enough water, but I do those things every single day— I don’t need my habit tracker to remind me of it.

For this month, I narrowed it down quite a lot, as you can see. I am now only tracking the days that I go for a run and that I meditate because those are two habits I’m working on getting more consistent at.

Another spread that I think is extremely important is my expense tracking sheet. I like having a record of the amount of money I spent so I can budget better, and also just remember where my money is going, in case I need to refer back to it. I don’t always use my card, I use cash sometimes, so it’s easy to forget about small purchases. This is a spread I’ve shown before, but I added a little spot at the bottom to add my total spent and earned!

Going back to tracking, I also want to track the days that I write, but as it’s Camp NaNo this month, I made a whole separate spread for it, which you can see in the picture on the right. All I’m writing in each of the squares is the word count I reach each day!

To the left of that page, I have a Reading Rush spread, which is empty as of now because I am not making an official TBR for it. I’m simply going to write down the challenges and fill it in as I read!

Moving on, we have my weekly spreads! Here you can see a little bit of it filled out, to show you how I use it! The month started on a Wednesday, so I used the extra space I had on the left to write a little quote! In the picture under this one, you can see what a full week spread looks like, though.

For this month, I decided I wanted to use a vertical layout, as I had in a previous month, but this time, I made it a little shorter. Instead, I added a to-do list section so that I can easily jot down anything I have on my mind to do in a given week, as well as a meal planning section. I am trying to go as gluten and dairy free as possible this month (mainly to see if it improves my digestion), so I wanted to include this spot to track my food & how I feel.

At the top, I can write down either a schedule for myself, or specific tasks I need to complete that day. I also have a section for notes at the end, which I usually use to jot down things I need to buy, blog post ideas, and anything else that pops up in my brain.

Finally, on the last week’s spread, I had some room (ignore the white out, I made a mistake), so I wrote down my daily routine for the morning. This is something I want to stick to as closely as possible for the month of July, and so far, it’s been working really well for me!

That is all for my July bullet journal layout! I am not sure how I am going to make my wrap-up page look yet because it all depends on how much I read. Normally I fill one out as I go, but this month I want to create it afterwards.

What do you think? I know it’s simple, but that is how all of my spreads are for this year, and it’s what works best for me! I like the functionality of it more than the design :)

What are some of your favorite spreads to make?

July TBR 2020 + Camp NaNo Plans

Hello everyone! If you missed my last post, I talked about how June was my best reading month ever in terms of quantity. I read 19 whole books!! So, for July, I decided to slow things down and take my time with reading!

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and I really want to focus my time on writing. So, that means I will most likely be doing much less reading. But I’m okay with that! I also want to allow room for picking up whatever I want, instead of limiting myself to the TBR I pick. Also, I am planning on participating in The Reading Rush, though I’m going to make my TBR up as I go, so no official one this year!

So, I have chosen three books (though I’ll probably read more), which makes this probably my shortest TBR ever on this blog. One is a TBR jar pick, one is a libby loan, and the last one is an ARC.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel illustrated by K. Woodman-Maynard

I got approved for this ARC very recently and I requested it on a whim- I have been wanting to dive into the world of graphic novels, but I didn’t know where to start. I figured going with a book that I already love would help ease me into them.

I definitely want to pick up more, though (Heartstopper is on my list for sure), so please recommend me some of your favorites- contemporary preferred.

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

This was my TBR jar pick for the month, and in all honesty, I have no clue what it’s about. I’m assuming it’s about social media in some way, but aside from that, I do not know too much. I did take a quick glance at the reviews for this one, and they weren’t too great, so I am worried about reading it. Hopefully it will be something I at least somewhat enjoy, though!

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Finally, we have a book that I am BEYOND EXCITED to read! I have the audiobook on Libby, and I have been waiting for July to start so I could read it! I read and loved Beloved by Toni Morrison last year, and it completely blew me away. I have heard even more amazing things about this one, so my expectations are very high. I love Morrison’s writing, so I am sure I will love it!

Camp NaNo Plans

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month! Last month, I hosted a writing challenge where I set a goal to write for one hour every single day. I got to about the 50% mark of my novel, which is so incredible to me!! This is probably the most I’ve ever written for any novel I started.

For July’s camp, my goal is only set to 15k words, mainly because I know that I won’t write every single day the way I did in June. But, my more ‘lowkey goal’ is to finish the first draft of the book. That would be an amazing achievement on my part, though I do not know if I will be able to do it!

Anyway, if you want to add me on the NaNo website, my username is @jessicacwrites :)

My novel is a YA contemporary about an overachieving girl who wants to go to Columbia University. When she gets differed, she has to find a way to make her application stand out more- so she joins the track and field team!

That is a very basic summary, but it also involves some (mild) hate to love, a ballerina best friend, and MI representation!

Here’s an aesthetic board I created:

If you want to see more updates from me about it, I will be posting on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me there, too!

What are your plans for July? Are you going to do a lot of reading? Or maybe you’re participating in Camp NaNo, too? Let me know in the comments :)

My First Ever Reading Journal // Review

I am a big journal-person, as many of you know. I have a bullet journal, a writer’s notebook, a daily journal, and more!

Most recently, I was sent a reading journal by Kunitsa Co., and I was so excited to start using it! I’ve never really used a reading journal before- I always tracked my reads on Goodreads and just in a spread in my bullet journal. I’ve also tried keeping a notebook where I write down notes for book reviews, but I don’t use it frequently.

What I like about this journal is that all of the pages are pre-made, so I do not have to worry about creating a new spread every month. Plus, everything is in one place, instead of scattered between all of my various notebooks.

Now, let’s take a look inside!

Features:

First, between each section of the journal, there are different quotes about reading (mainly by famous authors), and they are such a treat to read. I think this is a great addition to the journal because it makes it easier to find each section that you may need.

As far as the actual spreads in it, it contains…

  • Daily Reading Tracker: This functions as your typical “habit tracker” if you are familiar with the spread in bullet journals! Basically, you can just color in a square for every day that you read!
  • Reading Challenge: There are 3 reading challenge pages where you can keep track of your progress and fill up the page by increments of 10%! I definitely want to take advantage of this when I set my reading challenge next year.
  • Books to Read: This is fairly obvious, but you can track what books you want to read (you can keep track of books you own but haven’t read yet, or maybe books you want to buy so you have a list next time you go shopping).
  • Books Finished: Here, you can track the title, author, and date you finished the book! My only wish is that it had a section for star ratings, as that is something I like to quickly refer to.
  • Favorite Books: Another self-explanatory one!
  • Did Not Finish (DNFs): In this section, you can jot down a couple of words/sentences about why you did not finish the book, which I think is very helpful!
  • Books Lent Out: If you are someone who lends out your books to others frequently, this is such a useful spread to have! I do not really ever lend out books (mostly because none of my friends are big readers), but if I ever do, this will be something I use.
  • Books Borrowed: I like this page because you can keep track of books you’ve borrowed from friends or from the library! I think this will be a really good spread for me to keep track of all of my loans, as well as what date they are due so that I do not forget!
  • Reviews: Finally, there are 50 blank pages specifically for writing reviews! On the left hand side of the page, you can write down the title, author, choose if you listened to the audiobook or read it physically, write down the date you started/finished it, and even write down some more details such as the genre, number of pages, whether it was recommended to you by someone, etc. It also has specific questions that you can answer about the book (which is super helpful if you are new to reviewing and do not know what to write). The right side is blank for you to write any of your own thoughts or quotes you liked!

In addition, it has a spot to write the start and end date for when you started using the journal, so you can get one for each year, every 50 books you read, every six months, etc. This is such a great way to keep track of your reading not just this year, but for many years to come!

There is also an index page, a small introduction, and some inspiration/sample pages at the end!

Quality:

As far as the overall quality, I would say this is a really solid journal. The pages feel thicker than your average book, and they are so smooth. The cover is covered in cloth, and the journal itself feels very sturdy. I definitely think this journal can withstand a year or more of use, so do not worry about that at all!

It also has two bookmarks, which are standard quality.

All in all, I really have no complaints about this journal! It is small, lightweight, and easily portable for those who read on long commutes or travels. It is aesthetically pleasing, and the pages are all designed with thought and care. The quality is great- I will definitely be using this product and I highly recommend you check it out if you are looking for a reading journal (or if you are looking for a gift to send to a bookworm friend!).

If you want to purchase this journal for yourself, you can do so by clicking here. You can also check out the company’s Instagram page if you want to keep up with any new journal releases they might have!

Do you use a reading journal? If so, what kind?

June Writing Challenge Announcement – Join Me!

Today I am making a super fun announcement to tell you all about the writing challenge I have created for myself (and for you guys) for the month of June!

Starting on June 1st, I will be challenging myself to spend one hour every single day on my writing.

I have always loved to write. I have started multiple different novels, I have written tons of short stories, and I am constantly jotting down lines for poems on my notes app. But, I never really prioritized it. I always told myself “when I have more time, I’ll finally finish that novel” and “I’ll work on that manuscript one day.”

I have no excuses now. The majority of us are currently practicing social distancing, meaning we are staying home pretty much every day. I know I definitely am. Now is the perfect time to finally commit myself to writing. I am done with school until the fall semester, and I don’t really have many responsibilities right now.

So, I created this challenge and shared it with you guys on Instagram and Twitter! So many of you told me that you are going to be joining me, and it was so incredible to see. I am even more excited to be doing this now, and I even created a few extra weekly challenges to make this more of a group endeavor! Feel free to do these if you want (and share them on social media if you are comfortable), but do not feel pressured if you do not want to!

If you want to share your progress or challenges on social media, be sure to use the hashtag ‘#HourToWrite’ so I can see your post!

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I decided not to have any word count goals or writing prompts because I want this to be as stress-free as possible. Use your hour every day to work at your own pace- maybe you are stuck at one scene and all you can write is a couple of sentences. Maybe you’re revising the first draft of your novel, so your word count doesn’t change much throughout the month. That is ok!

I also created a Discord group chat for you all to join if you want a place to chat with others about writing!

Also, I am posting updates and other things on my Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me on those if you want to keep up :)

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let's chat

Please let me know in the comments if you will be participating in this challenge, and tell me about what you’re going to be writing :)

Jessica