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Lazy update (6/17)

I’m not going to post anything too crazy this week. I’m very tired, so I don’t really have anything to talk about. Instead, I’m just going to do a small update.

Things are about to get a little crazy for me. Between taking multiple freelance jobs (which I’m so glad to be doing!) and some games coming out, I don’t have much free time. I’ve also been having sleeping trouble, so I’m dragging just to keep up.

Hopefully, I can think of some new topics for next week, but don’t be surprised if I miss a week in the upcoming months. That’s really all I have to say. Here’s to hoping that next week I have a real post. Thanks for reading and I’ll maybe see you then. πŸ™‚

let’s talk about #blm

The past weak has been, for lack of a better term, insane. If you are inside of the US right now, I don’t think I’ll need to explain, but for those who don’t know, I will.

George Floyd

On the 25th of March, something shocking came to light. The death of a man named George Floyd swept the nation and the citizens of our country were disgusted by what they saw. Evidence surfaced of how a cop knelt on the neck of George Floyd after in an attempt to detain him. This resulted in his death because of a lack of asphyxiation. He even told the officer that he couldn’t breathe and his please were ignored. Floyd was a 46-year-old African-American male and this was a perfect example of how African-Americans have been victims of cop brutality. This isn’t anything new to the world, but after this event, the response escalated to the point where it could no longer be ignored. To people that tried their best to turn their backs on the situation, the protests that started because of this made it impossible to look away. This exploded and became a movement telling the rest of the world that black lives matter. I’m here to talk about my thoughts, personal experience with this, and ways you can help even after the protests die down. It’ll be a long-winded one, but I will put my heart and soul into this. I will say everything that I’ve felt over this past week and, for once in my life, will voice this opinion as loudly as I can. If this bothers you, then I advise that you don’t look away. This should bother you and it should bother anyone who reads it because the way things are now, we should not accept it, and we never should.

My Personal Experience

I’m going to talk about my personal experiences first. I am a 25-year-old half white and half Hispanic male. I take after my mom so I look like your average white male. If I took after my dad, I could’ve seen my life being different. Growing up in Oklahoma, I lived next to another Hispanic family and became childhood friends with my neighbor. As a kid, I never questioned the color of anyone’s skin. I even went to a school where white kids were the minority. Thinking back on it, my first experience with racism was with a cop. My dad got pulled over and my mom was in the car with him. I distinctly remember how that cop treated my mom differently than he treated my dad. Back then I didn’t realize it, but now I see that he saw my dad’s skin color and assumed the worst. Upon seeing my mom, his attitude changed and we were let go without a ticket. Over time, I moved away from our city (Oklahoma City) and moved to another one that was less diverse. Racism became clear to me and slowly I started to understand. I had friends who feared cops just because they weren’t white. I didn’t understand it at the time and even to this day, I can’t understand it. Not that I don’t see what’s going on, but because I look white, I have never had to experience that fear. I can stand behind people who have and support them, but I can never know what that’s like.

My Thoughts on George Floyd

So what do I take from recent events? I am absolutely revolted by not only how our government has treated this situation, but also how the world has. I have seen videos of cops throwing tear gas at innocent peaceful protestors and stories of them macing a 10-year-old kid! Who does that? A cop is supposed to serve and protect us and they are willingly harming us to quiet our voices. Over this past week, I’ve seen countless atrocities highlighting how prevalent our corrupt system has become. We’ve elected a president who is obviously racist and has allowed it to seem okay to be racist yourself. We allowed a horrible person like Trump to be in office and lead our nation destruction. The world has literally been on fire and he was hiding away in a bunker or tear-gassing people so he could get a photo op in front of a church!

Another big problem people seem to have is the rioting and looting. What is my take on this? Well, I am never going to be someone who advocates for violence. I am a pacifist at heart, but even then I can’t fully stand against them for that. People have responded with anger and violence because they feel that they have nowhere else to turn. I am aware that not everyone standing against how George Floyd’s death was handled is a rioter. There are people who are using this as an opportunity to loot and cause destruction. I cannot approve of those who would want to cause chaos just because they can and not because they are hurting. Everyone will remember this moment in the future and the rioting just puts the world on red alert which is what, I believe, makes this something that can no longer be ignored. I don’t want the voices of those revolted by George Floyd’s death to be snuffed out in six months. This needs to be a wake-up call that is screams we will no longer allow this to go on. Even if that cop is fully prosecuted (along with the others involved) we need to make sure that the rest of the crooked cops are off our streets. When someone wears that badge and takes an oath to protect us, we need to make sure that they are there to protect, not harm. We need a president who doesn’t threaten a military presence because he’s afraid of the power that the people have. To everyone who walks the streets in protest, please stay safe, and continue allowing your voices to be heard. The world cannot know peace until there is justice for what has happened.

What Can You Do?

My last point will be one I’m sure you’ve heard before. How can you help? If you want to protest, then pick up your signs, and allow your voice to be your weapon. They may use rubber bullets and tear gas, but our words are just as powerful. With a pandemic still on our hands or fear for your own safety, I understand those who stay inside. Just because you do stay inside, doesn’t mean you can’t help. Use whatever influence you have to spread awareness and voice your own opinion. Whether you’re someone of color or if you’re white, your voice can be heard. If you are of Caucasian origin, just make sure that you are supporting those who have been hurt, and not making this about yourself. Stand behind and not in front. Add your voice, don’t drown other people’s out. Show the world how it should be and don’t give in to how it is.

Finally, there is one last thing you can do. You can sign petitions, donate, and reach out the best you can in other ways. I’ll provide a link below filled with resources. Financially, I haven’t been able to contribute, but I implore that you do if you can. Petitions are always a solid way to contribute as well. You’ll find plenty of them to support those who are victims. Regardless of your situation, there are always ways to help. Now is not the time to close your eyes and stay quiet. We need to do everything in our power to fix these injustices. Stay strong and keep pushing as hard as you can. Don’t stop until the world has changed.

Ways To Help

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

finding my style

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do longer posts, because I’ve gotten quite a large workload. Usually I think of a handful of topics over the weekend and write something on Monday. The last one I wrote I did put a bit of feeling in; this one I thought up on the spot. I was between two and I settled on talking about my process of creating my own style for writing. Now when I talk about my style, I mean how I write my novels. When I’m at work, I have to keep the style consistent with the other stories, so there is a bit less creativity when it comes to how I write. However, when I sit down to write my own stories, the style is completely up to me.

When I first started writing, I tried to adopt other styles that have proven to be successful. This is how We Stood Alone is written. I remember that at the time the Divergent series is what inspired me. Back then, I didn’t have nearly as much experience as I do now. Somewhere down the line, I felt like there was no creative spark inside the style. An artist’s brush strokes are unique to them just like the words I put on a page. I know that’s an unorthodox way to put it, but the way you write should reflect your own unique style. What makes your style stand out? Is your style too niche to become popular? These are questions I’ve asked myself and I’ve found a simple solution.

What Style Do I Use?

Before I talk about the solution, I want to talk about my own style. In my book series Heroes and Vigilantes I’ve created a unique style. It took a lot of practice and tweaks before I came up with a solid concept. I’m fully aware that it won’t be accepted by a large group, but I think there will be those who realize it works. The unusual thing about my book is there isn’t a defined protagonist. There are a lot of characters and each chapter seems to jump into a new character. (This isn’t guaranteed as I do stay with one character across multiple chapters when it’s necessary) Tackling the questions that I asked earlier; what’s my solution? Well, after I came up with my style I had to ask myself one more question: why? Why did I choose that style? What does it add to my story? I mean, I could always just make one of the multiple characters my protagonist and call it a night. To answer this I’m going to pull something from one of my previous posts. The post talking about writing female characters. (You can find that post here) I mention this post because I’m going to talk about a series that I bashed in that post. My inspiration from this style comes from Fairy Tail. Where I think the female characters are written poorly, I can’t deny that that series is fantastic at writing character backstories. It seems like each character has their own big moment. That has always been something I’ve wanted to do in Heroes and Vigilantes. I want each individual student to have their own moments and ambitions. If I focus on just one student as my main character, then the reader is tethered to that person. For example the closest character in the first book is Ellie. She gets a lot of development in this book, but if I stuck the readers inside her head and only her head, then you’d never experience any of the other kids’ experiences. To answer the question of why it’s to tell the stories of multiple characters. I’m sure there will be issues with there being so many perspectives, but I think it works. There’s a flow to my style and I hope readers don’t discredit it upon seeing how different it is.

I wanted to make this post short and sweet. I can’t promise that they will get more in-depth over the next few weeks. I got a big workload on me, but I’m going to keep my promise to update weekly!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week πŸ™‚

Tackling serious issues

After a rather eventful week for me (and playing way too much Persona) I completely let my mind slip about this week’s blog entree. It wasn’t until I saw a specific video that I had an idea of what I should write. It’ll probably be shorter, but this week I’ll talk about tackling serious issues in writing. These can often be relevant topics to what’s going on around us today or issues that may seem out of place when it comes to your usual style. The perfect example comes from the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the episode titled Moo Moo. Despite the show’s rather comical nature, this episode tackled a real world problem in a tasteful way. Where there are jokes sprinkled in, the issue isn’t overlooked. It’s surprisingly serious tone at the end shows that the writers gave the message the attention it deserved. I’ll link a video down below to show exactly what I’m talking about. Hopefully it skips directly to the moment I want. If not, start around 2:24 in the video. The scene I’m talking about ends around 3:06.

I’m going to talk about a couple of points that I pulled from the writing in this scene. When writers (especially comedy writers) have to talk about a topic that has a more serious tone to it, they tend to ruin the message with badly timed jokes. It’s a way to talk about something serious, yet keep up with the lighter tone that they’re going for. Marvel is known for doing this. They are in no way known for their comedy (outside of maybe Guardians of the Galaxy) yet they find themselves taking you out of a scene with a badly timed joke. That’s something that doesn’t happen in this scene. For the next thirty seconds, we feel the emotion behind the scene and it isn’t killed with a badly timed joke. Terry conveys his anger for the situation that is, in our world, a real problem. As Terry puts it, bad cops do in fact exist. They do racially profile people and as someone who is mainly Caucasian, it’s something I’ll never understand. I’ll never get stopped on the side of the street because of the color of my skin. However, as a writer that shouldn’t stop me from talking about the issue. As writers, we can make a difference with our words. If there’s an issue we can speak about and spread awareness, then we should. When we do talk about these issues, we also have to respect them.

My last point will be about how I handle talking about these issues. Well, the things that I believe in I make themes in my stories. I show and not tell. I show kids who deal with trauma or abuse and their journey of overcoming it. The point is to instill hope to those who might need it. I also talk about racism and the benefits of standing against it without using violence. I believe it’s our responsibility to our readers that we tackle these issues. When we do, it should be done tastefully.

Alright, I think that’s all the time I’ve got for today. Sorry for the rather short post. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me this week, but I hope I can give you more next week.

As always, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

My Writing Process

Last week’s entree I put a lot of thought into and I’m hoping to more posts like that; so I thought about doing a similar post for this week. I’ve been asked a couple of times about my writing process and how I keep myself motivated to write. To put it simply: writing is hard. You’re taking something inside of your own head and putting it down on paper (or a word document) and that’s easier said than done. How do I write consistently? That’s what I’m here to talk about and I hope what I put helps you. Just read with a grain of salt, since this is my way to keep at it. Not everybody is the same and you should strive to find your own way. As some would say, cut your own path. (Only some will get that reference and I love you if you do)

My Morning

Now I want to start by saying that I get paid to write. I haven’t been getting paid to do this for very long, so a lot of this is new to me. However, for me, I’ve noticed that just rolling out of bed and writing never has worked. This takes a lot of brainpower, so I’ve always had to give my brain some time to boot up. Some people can just start their day running at max capacity, but I’ve never been able to do that. For normal people that aren’t me, I would assume a good breakfast is a great way to get your brain working. I’ve never been a big breakfast person and that results in me needing caffeine to get going. On top of not being a breakfast person, I also hate coffee. The taste of it is just putrid to me and I can’t stomach drinking the stuff. This means I take the unhealthy option: energy drinks. I’m not suggesting that because it’s incredibly unhealthy, but it’s what works for me. Once I’ve got caffeine pumping through my veins, I begin to get to work.

Motivation

How do I stay motivated? This is a difficult question to answer since motivation is a hard beast to describe. I’ve battled with motivation before and I know how hard it can be to stay motivated in your daily life. On top of that, not everybody gets paid for writing and money is a large motivator. Think about it; when your boss threatens to write you up at work for doing a poor job, aren’t you motivated? The same exists for me. I know that if I don’t do a good job, then I could wake up tomorrow with my writing career out the window. Before I got paid I found my reason to continue writing slipping through my fingers. What always brought me back was reading or watching the thing that motivated me in the first place. If you want to be a playwright? Then watch that piece that made you want to become one. A film director? Great, go rent your favorite movie on Amazon. How about a New York Times Best Seller? Go to the library and check out that book that you adore–if you don’t have it in your own personal collection. I’ve always made it a thing where I absorb the media that inspired me in the first place. This includes anime, visual novels, and books. Remind yourself why you want to write and remember the goal you set for yourself. I know that I need a constant reminder, so don’t feel bad if you do too.

The Process

I’ve covered my motivation and my mornings, so it’s time to talk about how I actually write. I usually write using Google Docs. I’ll seriously show you how much of a mess it is below.

I’ve censored some of the pieces I can’t share, but as you can see I have a lot of documents. If I kept scrolling, I would have had a lot more to show off. That isn’t even my work documents, those are just my personal ones. Every day I have a solid plan on what I need to write. Some days I work on projects for work and others I work on my blog entree like this one. I’m in the middle of writing right now and that makes explaining my process that much easier.

I start by opening my playlist on Youtube. I’d share it, but out of fear of getting judged by my weird writing music, I’ll keep it to myself. Just like before, I’ll show a quick screencap below to convey how much effort I put into my writing.

I ended up naming the playlist after my main series since that’s when I use it the most–when writing that book. As you can see, I have almost 400 songs dedicated to writing alone. I’ve found that having certain music that inspires specific scenes helps me tremendously. At the same time, this allows me to build a decent-sized playlist of music to write. Now, you might be different. You might not be able to write with such loud music. If that’s the case, there are plenty of calm playlists that’ll work a lot better. I find that listening to this playlist cuts me off from the outside world. I can’t hear the conversations going on a floor above me or my cat trying to bust her way into my closed door. I can isolate myself and get my writing done. I use Youtube’s paid service so I don’t have to deal with advertisements to make distractions minimum. Cutting myself off keeps me on track. For the last part of my process, I flick a switch in my head. I have a brain that’ll go a mile-a-minute and if I don’t turn it on and off, then I’d never sleep. So as soon as I open my documents, I let loose and allow my brain to explode.

That’s the bulk of my writing process. It definitely won’t be the same for you, but maybe you can take some ideas from how I do things. I’m nowhere near good enough to offer you advice, so please don’t think of me as a simple amateur trying his best to help. If you want some of the best advice I’ve studied, then I suggest a Youtube page called Author Level Up.

Notorious Writer’s Block?

I figured I would save the elephant for the final part. Writer’s block; have you heard of it? If you’ve written for more than a week, then you probably have. Simply put, it’s a block we put in our own minds to keep us from writing. This doesn’t just include writing, we block so many things in our lives. We block making up with someone to repair a damaged relationship and we also block working on homework. It’s my personal opinion that there is no cure for this since it’s a state-of-mind. How do you get over procrastination? You just do it. There are tips to help, but ultimately it starts with you. My personal experience with this is stopping for the day if I’m finding myself blocked. The best way to describe it is maybe a foreign reference. I’ve met a lot of my friends through playing a game called Destiny. In this game, there is an in-game activity that requires 6 people and a ton of teamwork. After a while, we’d find ourselves at a block and consistently failing. Even if we knew how to do it, we’d fail to the point of exhaustion. When it got that bad, we always stopped for the night and picked it up the next day. It’s funny how after so much failure, we could come back and finish it first try. That’s something I’ve used for my own writing. If I find myself struggling and forcing words out, I would stop for the day. Then, if I don’t find motivation in the middle of the night, I’d finish the next day. Take a deep breath, it’ll be okay. When you pick it back up, come out of the gate with twice the energy you had yesterday.

Conclusions

Well, this one went on a lot longer than I thought it would. I wasn’t sure I’d have the words to make a complete post. I hope this gave you a bigger insight into how I do things. I leave you all with one last piece of advice: keep going. No matter how bleak it may seem, just keep going. Who knows; maybe you’ll have a breakthrough.

As always, thank you all for reading and I’ll see you next week. πŸ™‚

Joe Allen Writes

I know, I know, the first post here is the title of the website itself. Quite clichΓ©, right? However, I think that it perfectly sums up what my website is about! This is a blog mostly to outline me, Joe Allen, as I go through my career as a freelance writer. If you’re interested in learning more about me, then I implore you to check out my about me section as well as my projects section. If you interested in visiting my social media pages you can click on the social media icons at the upper right of the website. (For far all I have is Twitter and Facebook pages, but I’m definitely gonna work on adding more!) Finally, you can check out my blog here. Outside of that, thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy what I have to say.