how to

How to Critique Creative Writing: A Comprehensive Guide for Readers

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One of the biggest problems I see facing young writers is a lack of constructive criticism. Bad books get self-published because friends and family didn’t want to be mean. People are delusional that they’re good writers because no one has ever told them otherwise.

And it’s hard, giving negative feedback. But it’s necessary. It’s so, so necessary. (more…)

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The Well

I know a lot of random information, and I have the blessing-curse combo of being able to see every side of a problem. I figured I could put all this to good use. So I’ve introduced “the Well,” my contribution of knowledge to the world. Ask me anything—advice on a relationship problem, how to make your own jewelry, what book you should read next, how to properly use punctuation, whether the moon is made of cheese, etc. The world is your oyster, and I want nothing more than to help you harvest the pearl. So ask away! (more…)

How Not to Suck at Everyday Life: Personal Space and P’s and Q’s

I recently spent some time in Disney World, and the thing that struck me the most was the utter lack of regard people seemed to have for the people around them. Now this may turn into more of a rant than a how-to, but here are some things to remember next time you’re in a large crowd of people.

1. Your body is large. I don’t care how much you weigh; your body takes up space, and when it is positioned in front of mine, it blocks my view. Moving your head or body from side to side in order to get a better view makes me move to get a better view which makes the person behind me move to get a better view, and so on and so forth. It’s a chain reaction of annoyed people. So please, if you’re standing in a crowd watching something, find a good spot and stay there. It’s better to not be able to see a few inches of whatever is going on than to make everyone behind you want to punch you.

1a. When you’re behind someone, leave some room. I don’t want to feel your breath on the back of my neck or your hands on my back or butt every time you move; it gives me panic attacks and makes me want to punch you in the face.


Pictured: When not to practice jumping jacks, breakdancing, or random hug attacks.

2. When you add things to your body, it becomes even larger. While Mickey Mouse ears are adorable on children, after about the age of twelve, they start getting really annoying really quickly. Having a five-inch wide ear at eye level in front of me does not make you blocking my view any cuter. Wearing a backpack, too, means that if you’re not careful, you will hit me every time you turn to talk to someone. So please, just mind what you have on your body and how close it is to the people around you.

Blocking views since the 1950s.

3. Having something with wheels does not entitle you to run people down. I understand this is somewhat more controversial than the others, since people won’t get out of your way and there’s often no other way to move forward. But you can, however, learn the words “excuse me” or “pardon me.” I hear they work miracles. Strollers should not be used to push people out of the way. Just don’t do it.

Pictured: How not to move through a crowd.

3a. On the flip side, don’t move your wheeled vehicle slower than molasses. Your electric scooter chair is incredibly hard to pass when it’s moving at less than a mile an hour.

4. Walking to the front of a line and assimilating into it is not ingenious, it’s rude. This is the same concept as the cars who drive up the left lane of traffic to the front of a standstill and then put their blinker on. It’s just not okay. Don’t be that guy. I understand if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. But that’s generally the exception, not the rule. You’re not being sneaky, we know what you’re doing; wait in line like the rest of us.

5. Stopping in the middle of traffic is rude and inconvenient for everyone around you. If you’re on a pathway, don’t just stop. If, by some miracle, people don’t run into you or each other, at the very least you’ll cause a traffic jam. If you need to look at a map or see to your child, walk to the side of the path, then stop.

6. Do not text and walk. Or look at a map and walk. Or look at your child and walk. Watch where you’re going. I don’t want to run into you any more than you want me to run into you. But it makes it a lot easier when we’re both watching where we’re going.

If I’m looking where I’m going, I’ll expect you to do the same.

7. Keep your hands to yourself. If you’re in a thickly-packed crowd, stop talking with your hands. Stop pumping your arms when you walk. Stop widely gesturing. If I don’t know you, I don’t want you touching me, purposefully or not. And if you do accidentally touch me, apologize. Don’t make a stupid joke, don’t glare at me like it’s my fault, just say sorry and keep walking. Chances are, if it’s an accident, I won’t care. And neither will anyone else.

8. I don’t want to get sick. Teach your child to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs. Nothing starts deteriorating my mood quite like a child (or adult, for that matter) sneezing directly in my face. When there are people on all sides of you, simply turning your head doesn’t work. So please, cover your mouth, or your child’s mouth.

Pictured: What I don’t want all over me.

9.  Mind your p’s and q’s. Say please. Say thank you. Say excuse me. Let someone in worse health than you have a seat. Let people pass in front of you. Don’t scream at strangers. Don’t scream at your family. Wait patiently in line. Be nice to me, be nice to the people helping you, be nice to each other. It’s not hard.

If you’re a nice, conscientious person in large crowds, then thank you. And I understand that sometimes things just happen. But the rude people just ruin it for everyone.

Now, feel free to disagree with me. You are, after all, entitled to your own opinion. But know that at least one person out there feels this way, and please at least consider being more aware of the people around you. Let’s make the world a better place together.

And here’s a cheesy quote to help you on your way to not sucking at everyday life.

*Reposted from a site I worked on in college that is now, unfortunately, dead.