If you ever experience the frustrating mindset that is writer’s block, you know how tough it is to get your fingers typing again. Here are a few of my favorite ways to break through the wall, and finish the paper.
Written by Emma E.
This is my season of stagnation. I don’t know what it is about the second-half of February that makes me feel so stale and uncreative, but I hit a mental roadblock around this time every year and sometimes it takes until April to get back into the swing of things. So this year, to shake off the late-winter blues, I have compiled a brief list of six great quotes for writers to remind me (and hopefully you as well) why we devote ourselves to this wild endeavor.
I carry these with me like good luck charms to ward off the insecurities that keep me from putting words on the page, and to remind me what a pleasure it is to live this life and be able to write about it every day. To that end, here’s one more quote that comforts me always as I move along in this mad, wonderful, endless quest to write.
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac
Written by Cara B.
Here's a question that's worth considering, if you're ever wondering about the process of R2 or why it is our magazine picks what it does. It's a confusing process to someone not intimately involved in the publication, so let me give you a little insight on what R2's process looks like. Treat this as a little update as to where we are at this point in the semester.
Step 1: Submit - Submit - Submit! The Solicitations Phase
As R2 is a university publication, we operate on the schedule of an academic year; we spend the fall semester preparing for the spring publication and distributing the previous edition of R2. Starting at our Open Mic Night in October, we are open for submissions and accept until mid December. The most important part of this for staff members is the solicitation process: making posters, doing announcements, popping up around campus handing out copies of last year's magazine, and anything else we can think of. As a result, R2 usually has a hefty number of submissions from which we choose.
Step 2: The Big Read
The Big Read is an annual event held on the first Friday of the spring semester and lasting for a number of hours. It's the biggest event of a staff member's time in R2, completely exhausting, and also one of the most exciting days of the year. Over winter break, our section editors, managing editors, and editor-in-chief have gotten to work sorting through some submission, but what makes it to the Big Read are a huge collection of pieces. There, each staff member sits around reading and thinking about what sort of place the pieces they're reading could have in the magazine, doing this until every piece has been read three times. From this process, we get a general opinion - any piece that was somewhat enjoyed by the three readers makes it to section meetings.
Step 3: The Fight Begins
The next step is section meetings: meetings conducted by section editors with the people that read and select for that particular section. Each staff member signs up to read the possible pieces we may publish and leaves comments, and then those comments and any further opinions are discussed in section meetings. And section meetings can go from complete agreement to complete dissent, where a few members of the staff just fell completely in love with this one piece that the other members just aren't getting. The problem is just that every piece that makes it this far is incredibly, incredibly good. And there are a few things we're considering when compiling the magazine: what would make the section fit together as a whole, how much we would potential ask of the writer to adjust (we don't want heavy edits, obviously), and how much the piece stands out and calls to readers. Since the reading experience is so subjective, it can be super hard to come to a decision! But it's in these decisions that our magazine begins to come together and be formed into a real publication.
That's where we are now - making selections and forming a complete magazine. It's a long process to distill the many incredible pieces that were submitted, but we're working hard to produce a magazine that functions as a cohesive unit to showcase some amazing voices on-campus.
Prepare for a follow-up post to this one to show the rest of the publication process! And if you submitted something and don't see it in the end result - don't be discouraged! There are a plethora of incredible voices and pieces in our submission pile that made it a super-long way down the process. It's always possible that a piece we just couldn't fit in one year turns into the standout piece in the next. Producing R2 is a process that's identical to life - timing matters, and art is never standstill.
Written by Erika S.
Happy Holidays! With second semester just starting a few days ago, it feels like everything went from a calm and happy new year’s to the panic of the semester, and it can be easy to want to push things off...especially forming new habits. But starting from the very beginning is exactly how a trend in behavior becomes a routine. If you're interested in upping your writing game in 2017, here are a few tips and routines for you to consider getting into this year.
Maybe this is an obvious one, but it's challenging to find time to read for fun in college. I mean, you're already reading two novels a week for your two English classes, and there's your chemistry textbook, and there's those articles for sociology, and why would you want to read after that again? But reading really is the best way to get better at writing, and picking what you read feels like a little dash of freedom. But it has to be a routine. So, if you want to really read more books, treat it like a daily/weekly challenge: read 30 minutes of a novel, or 2 poems by a new poet, or one creative non-fiction essay.
2. Give yourself deadlines.
I’m one of those people who started making time for writing early in my life (good job, past self), but I still accomplish the most work (and sometimes the best work) when I set deadlines for myself that I treat like normal school deadlines. Add “Write 500 words about protagonist” or “Go to a coffee shop and write” to your to-do list, and then make sure you check it off! If you’re one of those people who have trouble meeting deadlines or goals you set for yourself, get your friends involved. (My roommate just got an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas, so I’ve been considering having Alexa yell at me about my deadlines, so there's a protip also.)
3. Engage with a new form.
This is a pretty easy one to do, because it can be a lot more fun and less of a routine than the other suggestions I've given. In my opinion, any sort of art can inform your writing, no matter what it is, and it gives you a better appreciation of what the written word can accomplish when you compare it with something else. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, go read one. If you’ve never listened to a podcast that tells a story, go listen to one. If you’ve never watched K-Drama, go watch one. It’s important to engage with the type of writing you want to be doing, but you can also learn a lot from the expectations and warping of expectations that happen in other forms of media.
4. Sharing is daring!
“When are we going to read your poetry?” asked your great-uncle from Oregon over break. If you’re like me, you’ve probably stuttered something along the lines of “Well you see I’m working on something but I don’t really like it and uh I’ll it’ll be uh yeah when I’m ready, when I polish it more, then you can read it.” Maybe you don’t have to share your precious soul-space with Great Uncle Freddy, but getting feedback from a friend, or a classmate, or your Tumblr followers can be extremely helpful, and everyone should practice doing it if you're serious about writing. It tells you what is working and what still has yet to work, which we as writers can't always see on our own. Plus, the more you share things by your own volition, the easier it gets when you have to.
There are lots of possible things you can do to better your writing life in 2017, and if these aren't doing it for you, there are so many people on the internet that are doing the same thing this blog post just did. Whatever your new year's writing resolution is, good luck!!
Written by Erika S.
Whenever we have that rare and indescribably wonderful experience of indulging ourselves in a phenomenal book, nothing can compare to that consuming feeling of obsessively flipping through the pages, hooked to the characters and imagining oneself interacting with them, overcome with a strange sensation upon finishing the read and attempting to visualize how the storyline might have continued after the final words.
Many books have given me that experience, yet what I find upon finishing them is that certain lines stand out to me and remain imbedded my mind for days on end. They’re insightful lines that cause me to rethink certain aspects of my life and of the world. They’re lines that I recall when I’m in a difficult situation, lines that somehow soothe me and allow me to regain a sense of composure. Although it was difficult to choose, here are what I find to be ten incredibly powerful quotes that perhaps you too will remember in tough times and help you stay strong:
Written by Sarah S.
Rice's classes end today, so this is our last blog post of the semester. From all of us on the R2 staff, have a great holiday season!
When moving across the country this summer from Seattle, WA, to Houston, TX, I had to pack up my entire life into a few boxes. Clothes were easy; I was able to leave the parkas and wooly hats at home. Books on the other hand, I saved until last, unable to execute the inevitable downsizing that my library required. I had decided to choose from my floor to ceiling bookshelf just ten books to make the cross-country trip with me to my dorm room. The last thing I did before I left was carefully select this group, like a well-balanced Spotify Playlist. I tried to mix books I had read thousands of times with ones I hadn’t even cracked the spine on. I placed fun five-minute reads next to heavier, more serious books to match my future moods. In the end, these are the ten books that made it into my U Haul box:
1) As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Why: A Shakespearean classic, and also one of the few I haven’t read, As You Like It was the first book tossed into the box. It sits on my shelf in order to inspire me to one day read an unassigned Shakespeare play.
2) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Why: This book serves as a little bit of a reminder of home for me, as this was the first book I read in freshman English with my all time favorite high school teacher. I also love dystopian novels, and this one is a classic.
3) The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Why: Sylvia Plath’s haunting handle on emotional turmoil can sometimes be cathartic to read, and though the subject matter can make for upsetting and not exactly pleasant reading, her prose always draws me in.
4) The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Why: What kind of Biochemistry-English double major would I be if I didn’t have a biography of a gene in my bookshelf? This book expertly combines compelling stories with real information, and avoids the dense downfall of most scientific writing, so you look smart and learn something while still enjoying the writing.
5) Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham
Why: Sometimes I just want to read something for fun, and Lena Dunham’s comedic memoir is a perfect pick me up. At the same time, this book’s feminist messages are empowering.
6) Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
Why: While this book will never thrill me in the way it did when I first read it, by pulling an all-nighter to get to the big reveal, it’s still a page turner. Everyone needs a bit of excitement in his or her library, and I can always count on this book to provide that for me.
7) We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo
Why: This book was my “something new”. I bought it the day before I flew out to Houston. The idea of having an entirely untouched book in my collection was exciting, and a friend who knows me very well recommended this book, so I look forward to reading it.
8) Internal Medicine, Terrence Holt
Why: This is the book that made me want to be a doctor. It doesn’t glamorize medical professions a la Grey’s Anatomy, but instead shows you the nitty-gritty side, as real as it can get without violation patient confidentiality. While the subject matter is what drew me to this book, it’s also one of the best-written doctor’s memoirs I’ve found in a while.
9) Looking for Alaska, John Green
Why: As a busy college student, sometimes I need a book I can fly through in an hour, and Looking for Alaska is that for me. I’ve read it so many times that I can skim the whole thing and still understand it, but still get the escapism of living in a different world that books provide for me.
10) And of course, a copy of R2
While these books might not appeal to you for the same reasons that they do to me, they’re all great, and I recommend them to anyone. Or, if none of these appeal to you, start building your own well-balanced college bookshelf.
Written by Emma E. ('20)
SUBMIT TO R2: THE RICE REVIEW!!
Publication | $2,500 in Prizes | Fame | Glory
Just a quick reminder that THIS SATURDAY is the FINAL day to submit your entries to R2! We're taking written pieces in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, and also taking art pieces for the magazine this year, so there are plenty of chances to get published in the magazine. As if mere publication weren't enticing enough, there are also PRIZES for first and second place winners in each writing category, as well as for the winning art piece selected to be the cover of R2! So go nuts, get cranking, and submit to R2! For guidelines on how to submit your pieces, please click on the "Submissions" tab above.
We look forward to seeing everyone's entries!
If you haven't noticed, the R2 website has changed drastically. We decided to switch hosts and revamp how we use the website, hence the change. Look forward to short creative drabbles and reviews of literary events around campus and the greater Houston area by our staff, as well as the winning pieces of our soon-to-be-launched monthly writing contests! Of course, updates regarding R2 events and submissions to the magazine will also be posted here.
We hope that you like the new site!
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.