Answering Your Questions!

So, I asked everyone on Facebook and Instagram to send me some questions. Here they are! I've taken yours, and thrown in a few of my own. I did take names out!


For those of you who don't know, I also guest starred on a podcast recently! (You can find it here: http://www.jasonearls.com/podcast) Go give it a listen!


Another quick update: my momma just had her second surgery last week. She's doing really well!


Now, let's go answer your questions.


“What’s the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?”


Thank you for this question. It's a definitely a fun start.! This is actually a really hard question for me. I'm not the most spontaneous person, so it's taking me a bit to think of this. I think it's one of two things. Going on The Hulk rollercoaster with you in Universal Studios, Orlando. OR, it was dying my hair pink. OR, buying a pink car. (I mean, I had needed a car, but I hadn't intended to get a pink one.)


“What’s your favorite color?”


I think my answer will change depending on the mood I'm in, but I think pink and yellow are the tying two! Maybe throw green in there too.


“Why did you decide to start doing this?”


I've actually been waiting on a question like this. I mention briefly on the website how I got into blogging, but I don't go into detail about it. How I started and why I started are two totally different questions, so I'll answer both!


How: I actually had a friend who for probably six months kept telling me how crazy my life was and that I needed to start blogging about it. I didn't start this blog until after I had my appendicitis because I didn't really believe it. I knew my life is always kind of a mess, but it didn't really occur to me how bad it was until after. After my appendicitis, I had a lot of people checking in on me, and to be honest, it just became a lot. So, I decided to start a blog.


Why: There's always been a part of me that's known I'm meant for something more than just a conventional life. There's nothing wrong with a conventional life, but God has really put it on my heart, ever since I was little, that His plan for me is s big and so crazy that I'm not going to see it coming. Maybe part of me started this to develop a following for my novel. Some people might think that, but that's not why. I started doing this because I want to help people. My story is TOO big to just sit on. God has literally given me life, and what a waste it would be if I didn't scream it from the rooftops.


"What brings you comfort and joy?"


Thank you for this question! This is a really good one, and a favorite of mine. Comfort and joy... I have a few things, actually. Coffee is a big one for me. A lot of people I know with anxiety say that coffee actually makes their anxiety worse, but for me, it's actually the opposite. Coffee/caffeine is a pretty big staple for me. When my anxiety is high, I don't sleep well, so having a creamy warm beverage in my favorite mug brings this nice cozy feeling.


Blankets! I'm unashamed to admit that I have a security blanket. I also have a teddy bear from when I was like six, given to me by someone I looked up to as a kiddo. Fun fact, if you look in the photo I've included from my ICU stay, it's the stuffed animal in my right hand.

Another thing that brings me comfort is actually rain. I love the smell of fresh rain, and the sounds of it. I'm not a fan of severe weather, but give me some light thunderstorms, and we're all set for a cozy night in.


On a deeper, more personal level, being validated is something that brings me comfort. I'm really hard on myself, and sometimes (most times) I end up belittling the problems that I'm actually having. Mostly referring to mental health here, but physical too. All I keep thinking is, "But, this isn't a real problem." And, for someone to look me in the eyes and say, "I hear you. These are real problems. You are enough."


Well. That means a lot to me.


Writing, though. Writing is my biggest source of comfort and joy.


“What do you do for writer’s block? Any other tips you’d give to young writers (especially novel writing)?"


Sweetie, I don't know that you want to get me started on this topic, but you asked, so I'll answer!


I could talk about writing forever, so if you have questions and want to sit down and talk about it, message me and I'm totally down!


Writer's Block: Honestly, I had to learn the hard way how to handle this one. Everyone's experiences with writer's block is different, but here's my take on it:


First and foremost, you have to be in a healthy place to write creatively. What I mean by that is, sometimes, I've had seasons where I'm too anxious or struggling too much with my depression to produce much creative works. And that's okay. Sometimes, you have to take a break from your stories for your own health. If writing improves your mental health, and being stuck is a detriment, well, I've been there too.


Second: Remind yourself why you started. For me, Jarric (my protagonist) has a story to share, and quite frankly, he won't leave me alone until I get it out on paper. I have more reasons than that, but I don't write for other people. I write for myself, and for my characters. I have to remind myself why I do it, and what my goals are.


Third: This is one you will hear everywhere. Just write. Just force yourself through it. Sometimes, that's all it has to be. You get stuck in a scene and you hate it so much, and your quality is lacking there and it's miserable. But, you can't edit something you haven't written yet. Quality of the writing doesn't matter. That's why it's called a rough draft. Change it later.


Four: If that doesn't work, take a break from it! Take a few days, or a few weeks, heck I've even had some spurts that last a few months. Take the time you need before trying again. I don't recommend waiting too long though. But, let the ideas stew in your mind for a while. Don't think about the story for at least three days. Then, try again. See how it goes. Maybe you'll have a fresh perspective.


Tips: I'm going to do my best to keep this relatively concise, but we'll see!


One: Outline! Outline! Outline! I'm a seat-of-pants writer for the most part (haha, yeah, I don't know how true that is), but I like to have a really flexible outline. For example, I know Major Plot Points A, B, and C, and roughly how to connect them, but I let everything else develop on its own. Then, if I get stuck I can go back to my outline and think on it. It really helps. A lot.


Two: Know your characters! I spent a lot of time with my characters, writing drabbles, filling out character sheets, and the like. It helps a lot with hidden motives, secrets, and side-plots. And, I would even write scenes where I wrote myself in a coffee shop with them, and interviewed them. It gives you what you need to know, and it helps the characters develop personalities.


Three: PINTEREST. I cannot stress this one enough. I have SO many Pinterest boards for novels, projects, characters, and writing advice. I HIGHLY recommend using Pinterest. I have a board for Secrets in Ashes where I break it down into subsections by character, scenes, clothes, setting, side characters, and aesthetic. It's the best decision I've ever made, honestly. I pin a lot of reference images for how my characters appearance, and it's really helpful to look back at when you're trying to describe something specific about them. Or, Secrets in Ashes is a fantasy/adventure YA type novel, so sometimes, wardrobe posed an issue. I saved a lot of images on what I thought Jarric's armor looked like, or maybe something Isabelle (fem. protag.) would wear, etc. (Another quick note: playlists are helpful too! The BEST.)


Four: READ! Consume media! Music, movies, television, novels, poems, short stories... Anything. Learn different types of characters, different story types, and things like that. Personally, before I started to take writing seriously, I read articles on writing and techniques on Pinterest for almost two years. Read technique articles (I have a full Pinterest board I can link you to) and learn from other people's suggestions. It really helps you develop a sense of style within your own writing, and you learn to figure out what you like and don't like. Read every genre. Learn what you like and what you don't. Do you want to write for television? YA? Nonfiction? I know it may not seem like it, but there's a MAJOR difference between YA Fiction and Adult Fiction. Reading as a whole helps a lot. You can't write well if you don't read. I learned what types of characters I enjoy writing. For example, growing up, I read a lot of books with snarky characters. I found that I like to write snarky, kind of rude, male characters. And, I found that I prefer to write from the male perspective than the female perspective. (Don't ask me why. I'm not really sure, myself, but all of my best works are from a male's perspective.)


Five: THIS ONE IS VERY IMPORTANT! Find someone (preferably not family) to beta-read for you and offer compliments as well as criticism. It's amazingly helpful. It showed me inconsistencies in my novel when I had my friend Sarah read it. She would say, "Hey, babe, I don't think this lines up with what you said earlier." or, "I thought you said she had green eyes?" or even just "Uhm. No. Don't say that." Our personalities compliment each other very well, so she would add snarky comments to the ones I already had. (It was kind of a game at that point.) Or, get into a creative writing class! You workshop things with other people. It's fun. I've personally been in two. My first one, at Collin College, I fell in love with. I'm still friends with a few of the girls from that class. We had so much fun together. My second one, at UTD, I hated. I felt like I was made fun of, and the structure of the class was different. We didn't lift each other up, just criticized. It was a difficult class.


That being said, I'm always up for beta-reading/proofing/editing. I'm honest about grammar, structure, story, characters, and the like, but I always do my best to point out things I enjoyed. I love editing, and I love talking to people about what they write, so I'm always open to reading people's works and working on them with them.


Six: Last one. And most important. Have fun! If writing doesn't make your heart soar and your spirit happy, then ask yourself these two questions: 1) Why am I writing? and 2) How can I make it make my heart soar and my spirit happy?


And, of course, if you have any other questions about writing or want to talk about it more, contact me. :D I love to talk about it.


"Any thoughts about the relationship between a (young) teen daughter + mother. Advice, reflections..."


My relationship with my mother is probably one of the best relationships in my life and I don't know many people that can say that. In fact, we have some of the best conversations of my life and it's amazing to have someone as wonderful as her by my side.


To be honest, I think my early teens were some of the hardest times. I was bullied pretty badly, and my sister had a lot of issues at the time, and my mom and I weren't close. We really didn't get close until I was fifteenish. After I was honest with her. I had to let myself admit I was having a hard time and I was hurting and that I didn't know how to handle it.


I think, for parents, it's really important to remember that you have to parent each child differently. I never hated my parents more than when they tried to parent me the way they parented my older sister. My older sister and I are almost total opposites in personality. It just doesn't make sense to treat the two of us the same way. We both had similar phases we went through, don't get me wrong, but we're two different people. Completely different. And, I was more emotional and sensitive than she was. I was more anxious than she was. So, if they parented me the way they parented her, it would often make my anxiety worse. My mom picked up on it before my dad did, and it made a huge difference in our relationship. I felt more open to be myself because I wasn't being treated like someone I wasn't.


For the daughters, just know that your momma is trying. She's trying so hard to do what's best for you and to also have a deep connection with you. She wants to be your friend, but her momma instincts are always going to sit on top of that. Sometimes, it makes things hard. I know that first hand. My momma isn't the only one at fault, of course. I lashed out at my parents a lot in my younger years because I just didn't know how to handle my emotions. My mom and I found a happy medium because we both adjusted to the other. Now, it's not as easy to do because we're both under high amounts of stress. And, that's okay. Your relationship with your mom doesn't have to be perfect.


And, here's the biggest question. Can you trust your mom? Momma's this goes for you too. Can you trust your daughter? Both of you: Why or why not? What at they doing or saying that won't allow you to trust them? Or is it an issue with your heart? If you can't trust each other, you will never have a truly meaningful relationship.


When I learned to trust my mom, my entire life changed. I don't even have the words to describe how close we got. She's my best friend.


“Favorite actor and actress?”


My favorite actor and actress... Dang, this is hard. Why'd you have to ask that?


I think for actresses, I have two. I really love Lauren Graham (because I relate the types of characters she plays), but she doesn't have a lot of diversity in her roles. I also really like Sandra Bullock. Oh! You can't forget Anne Hathaway. And Scarlett Johansson. OH! I love Chandra Wilson. I think she's totally amazing. (Of course, though, I'm a big Grey's Anatomy fan.) I really like Sandra Oh too.


As far as actors go, I think Milo Ventimiglia is one of my favorites. Any of the guys from A Million Little Things are fantastic. I love that show. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are pretty awesome too. Oh, I like Ryan Reynolds too. I know that he's known for playing Deadpool, but honestly, I like some of the other stuff he was/is in more. I'm really waiting because I want to see Free Guy. I think it's going to be comedy gold. I like Tom Holland too, but I would really like to see him as a villain in something. I feel like he doesn't have a ton of variety as an actor character-type-wise and would love to see it flipped on its head.

“What’s your favorite movie of ALL time?”


Um... I think The Princess Bride wins that one. Or, maybe The Proposal. I love The Princess Bride because it's such a cheesy parody. I love it so much. I think it's hysterical. I read the book too, and I loved it. The Proposal is just. I have no words. It's a funny movie. It's a rom-com with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, so watch at your own discretion?


“What are your favorite things to do?"


Well, I've touched on this a little bit. I really love writing. I spend majority of my time writing. Or, playing video games, actually. I play a lot of Animal Crossing right now.


I really enjoy reading, and I wish I made more time to do that too. My current read is (still) The Last Wish, but my amazing Mamasita bought me the Hunger Games prequel, so I might switch over to that. Or audiobooks. Anything to get myself back into it. I have such a big pile of books on my nightstand.


I really like spending time with people too. And drinking coffee. Preferably at the same time. I really love cozying up in the spare bedroom with friends and just hanging out, or playing Ultimate Chicken Horse (I love this game).


Surprisingly, I really enjoy studying as well. I don't actually know how surprising that it. Whether it be for a class, or researching different accents to figure out the closest one to the way my characters sound, or to the anatomy of a sword. I love to learn new things.


Editing, proofreading, writing... Anything of the sort, I love it more than words can describe. Even academic writing, but only if it's a challenge.


“What is one place you’ve always wanted to visit?”


Italy. No questions asked. Everyone already knows that though, so I'm going to give you a different answer, that is equally true.


I've always wanted to go to Italy, but another one really high up on my list is Ireland. <3


“How do you comfort someone?"


How do I comfort someone? To be honest, it really does depend on the person. Different people need different things. For example, the things that comfort me (as I mentioned above) don't always work for other people.


But, as a general type of comfort, here's what I aim for: I really do my best to listen to people. Most of the time, people just need to get it out of their head. When you're emotions are all jumbled up, it really helps to talk about it.


Then, I'll ask, "Do you want my advice or opinion?"


This gives them the choice to say yes or no. I used to not ask, but it caused one of my best friends and I to fight a lot. So, it's really helped now that I ask. This way, if she says yes, then she's not blindsided by it and it isn't unsolicited, AND, it also gives her the chance to say no. If you do this, though, it's kind of a given that I can't get mad if she says no.


"What is the point of life?"


Of course, this answer is going to change depending on who you ask. But here's my take.


My short answer: Life is about ultimately serving Christ. Standing up for what you believe in, loving others, and being the best person you can be.


I was put here on this earth to love other people. I am not here to judge. Ever. I'm here to love and accept. Jesus can handle the other stuff.


Life is about shaping yourself into your best form. Doesn't matter how you get there, so long as you do.


I could ramble on about it, but my philosophical musings are something I actually prefer to discuss in person. I'm not opposed to writing them out, but it can be really difficult to properly articulate myself when writing out my philosophies on life.


But, if you ever catch me in person, feel free to ask me. :)


I do also talk about it in the podcast from a few weeks ago! Again, that link is here: http://www.jasonearls.com/podcast or, you can find it on Spotify if you look up, Jason Earls Jokes Aside.


Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing this long overdue blog post. I'll see all y'all next time.


Have a restful week! You've earned it!


Nat

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