Monday, July 18, 2016

On Three Teen Writing Comps You Should Definitely Try :)

On Three Teen Writing Comps You Should Definitely Try :)

This post is going to be a bit different, but since it's nearly application season for so many writing competitions and programs out there, I thought I'd talk about this. If you're looking for a place to get your writing recognized and/or awarded, here are a few places to get started!

1) Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (link)

Age group: 7th-12th grade

Scholarships: Yes

Selective: Very (regional is a bit easier; national is a lot harder)

Application Date: Annually: Every September-December

Fee: $5 per entry; can be waived

So, I'm probably (definitely) a bit biased towards this organization, since last year in the Awards I received a national Gold Medal for my novel, along with two regional keys for my other work, but believe me when I tell you that this is a terrific competition. They have scholarship opportunities open for high school seniors and special cash awards for few other categorical entries. But money aside, this is a great organization if you're looking for a place to get your work fairly judged and possibly awarded.

Just a quick disclaimer, though: The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is a very selective competition, so no award is earned without merit. To put it into perspective, over 300,000 entries were submitted to the Awards last year alone; only 2,000 received national honors.

2) YoungArts Foundation (link)

Age group: 15-18 years or in 10th-12th grade

Scholarships: Yes (Cash prizes; can be applied for scholarly uses: tuition, etc.)

Selective: Very (more competitive than Scholastic, but like Scholastic, there are different levels, ranging in difficulty)

Application Date: Annually, in fall

Fee: $35; can be waived

I don't have any firsthand experience when it comes to this competition, but from what I've heard and seen, YoungArts is an excellent foundation. You can apply in a variety of "disciplines", and within the writing discipline alone there are multiple categories (including poetry, short story, novel, etc.). You can be awarded a Merit Award, an Honorable Mention, or be named a Finalist. Finalists can then become eligible for a U.S Presidential Scholar of the Arts award. If you become a Finalist, you are invited to a program, either in New York, Los Angeles, or Miami, to further your learning in your selected discipline.

Like I said before, I can't speak for the experience, since I don't have any, but it sounds like an incredible opportunity for high school students of age. You can bet I'll apply as soon as I become eligible!

3) Creative Communications (link)

Age Group: K-12

Scholarships: Not exactly (small cash prizes awarded)

Selective: Slightly (Much easier than aforementioned competitions, but definitely still noteworthy)

Application Date: Seasonal (one is always going on)

Fee: None!

In Creative Communications, you can enter in either the poetry or essay category. The contests are seasonal, so you can enter at nearly any given time. The top 45% of the entrants are invited to be published in an anthology, and the top ten winners of each grade receive $25 and a free copy of the book. It's an easier contest to enter, as listed above, but it's still a good one. I was in seventh grade when I entered. It was the first writing contest I'd ever entered in, and I was over the moon when I discovered I'd won. I really like this organization for that reason. Creative Communications is a great platform for beginning writers to get validation in their work, and start to believe in their writing.

That's it! Those are the main contests I'm covering today. I steered clear from contests that have a clear prompt present, mainly because I find those to be constricting in terms of creativity. I may end up adding to this later, but that's what I have for now.

Much love,


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to Combat Writer's Doubt

How to Combat Writer's Doubt

Self doubt is something that every single writer deals with. If someone tells you that they haven't experienced it before, they're lying.

I feel like the absolute scariest part about writer's self doubt is that there's no surefire cure for it. I think of self-doubt as one of those terrible illnesses that can only be treated, not cured. But it can be treated. And that's the important thing to remember.
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Because you can. 

Over the years, I have experienced firsthand so much self doubt that I consider myself an expert on the topic. For me, self-doubt begins to hit me hard right around the time I'm about a quarter through writing the first draft. Up until then, everything's been going great. It's a new book and I'm excited about writing it. But then, suddenly, all this negativity starts flooding through my head, and I think, Dawn, you're never going to finish this book. And you shouldn't, either. Because it's freaking terrible. 

And then I actually start to believe what I'm thinking. Which is awful.

Here's what I can tell you. Self-doubt is like a slow spreading poison. It stops all of your creativity and zaps you of your talent. You need to stop it before it spreads everywhere.

If a snake bites you, you suck up the poison and spit it out. That's essentially what you need to do here. And this is how:

1) Remind yourself that the first draft does not need to be perfect. No one goes out there and writes a killer novel on their first try. That's not how it works. First, you write the first draft. Is it full of plot holes and awkward dialogue and underdeveloped characters? Maybe. But that's okay. The editing process exists for a reason. That's when you go back and fix all the errors you made before.

2) Whatever you do, do not edit while you go. For me, personally, when I try and edit or reread my work while I'm still writing, it tends to be crazy counter-productive. All it does is show me all of the terrible mistakes I've made and overall just makes me feel shitty. You don't want to feel shitty.

3) If all else fails, take a break. Whether it's ten minutes or two months, sometimes all you need to do is take a break from your novel. It's possible that you're too invested in your work for you to see it with open eyes. You see all the flaws, but none of the good things. And trust me, there are good things. When you come back, reread all your work. (This may seem contradictory to what I said above, but it's not. This method is for when you want to fall in love with your novel all over again.) Remember the reason you started writing it in the first place.

4) Listen to some music. This last one may seem kind of funny, but personally, nothing gets me more inspired and in the mood to write than listening to some good novelling music. (I recommend Emily Hearn.)

And finally, keep at it. Don't give up. If you're serious about this thing, go and write. Really, truly, believe in yourself. Finish that book. It doesn't matter if it's next week or next year, this book or a different one, but someday, you will finish your book. So write. That's the most important thing (and the best thing) you can do.

Overall, the entire writing process can make you doubt yourself. Writing a book is intimidating. Scary. People might even laugh at you. But—and this is possibly my favorite quote of all time—, remember:

That's all I have for you! Of course, these tips are just what I think works best and what I've learned from my personal experience. That doesn't mean it'll work for everyone, but it worked for me, so I thought I'd share this with you guys.

Much love,


Monday, July 11, 2016

The Greatness of NaNoWriMo

The Greatness of NaNoWriMo

I've heard a lot about NaNoWriMo in the past, but this month I decided to give it a shot. (Well, kind of. I was halfway through a novel when the month started, so my goal for NaNoWriMo was to complete the first draft, rather than write an enitre book in a month.)

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a month-long project where you attempt to write a novel in one month. I've always been a little skeptical (and a little jealous) of authors who can write a book that fast, but I decided to try it out this month.

Typically, NaNoWriMo is held in November, but every April and July the organization holds two "camps" where you do pretty much the same thing, only during different seasons. 

I'm only halfway through the month, but I'm already a pretty big fan of this process. There a lot of different little quirks about NaNoWriMo that I think will really appeal to all writers, no matter their personal writing process. 

At the beginning of the month, you set a word count goal for yourself that you hope to accomplish. Generally, it's 50,000 words, but you can make it more or less based on your personal preference. Make it realistic. Then, NaNoWriMo pairs you up with other writers working on similar projects as you (this is called a cabin) so you can collaborate with one another and motivate and support each other while writing. They also have these fantastic things on Twitter called "word sprints" which are basically thirty minute bursts of writing where you bust out as many words as you possibly can. 

And above all else, NaNoWriMo helps you write a book. Fast. I think that's why I love this so much. Personally, I'm the kind of writer that has a really mean inner-editor that's always doubting me. And when I'm working on just cranking out as many well-written words as possible, I don't have the time to pay attention to that snarky inner-editor. So instead I just write. And write. And get closer to finishing that first draft. 

Granted, the first draft is nowhere near perfect, but its done. Complete. And ready to be rewritten, edited, and revised. 

Which, I think, is every writer's goal. 

So if you're looking for a way to finish your novel (or just for something to do) try out NaNo next time. Even if you don't reach 50,000 words, you're still writing. And that's what's important. 

Much love, 
Dawn Avachat

Where Rainbows End

Where Rainbows End Book Review

It's a little ironic that my very first book review on my primarily YA fiction blog is on an adult book, but after reading Where Rainbows End (also known as Love, Rosie), I really couldn't think about anything other than the novel, so here I am. Writing about it.

RATING: 9.5/10

The novel is by the Irish author Cecilia Ahern, who wrote WRE when she was only twenty-two. I've heard about Ahern's other novels many times before, but this was the first one I actually read. 

The way I came across Where Rainbows End is actually quite untraditional. I saw the movie adaptation (Love, Rosie- 2014) first, and I loved the movie so much that I wanted to give the book a read. 

And I'm so glad I did. The thing that's so special about this book is that it manages to make such an overused idea (childhood best friends turned childhood sweethearts) into something so heart-wrenching and beautiful. When you hear the loose plot of the novel, it sounds like your usual cliche romance with a teen pregnancy thrown in. I actually didn't even want to watch the movie at first, but my sister made me. But I promise you, I swear it, Where Rainbows End is a phenomenal, spectacular read. It is one of my—and I don't use this word lightly—favorite books. Ever.

To sum it up into a few short sentences, Where Rainbows End is a novel that follows the life of Rosie Dunn and her friendship-turned-halfway-sort-of-romance with her childhood best friend, Alex Stewart. It's clear from the get-go that the two have feelings for each other, but afraid of compromising their friendship, they both keep quiet. You feel frustrated and in-love along with the characters, and that, to me, is a mark of a good book.

The entire novel is told through emails, letters, IMs, and text messages. Normally, I'm not a fan of this format, but the way Ahern works with this is so intelligent and to-the-point that I don't think it could've been done any other way. Their love story is full of just-misses and accidental babies (surprise!) and loathsome significant others and many, many, road bumps and roadblocks, but it's a love story definitely worth reading.

Have a wonderful day. :)

Much love,


P.S. If you'd like to purchase the novel, simply click the link above.


Hello and welcome to my little corner of the internet!

My name is Dawn Avachat and I am a teenage girl from California. I'm a complete bookworm, and I'd like to think this site showcases that pretty well. On here, you can find neat little things like book reviews, writing tips, posts on my writing process, and random rants, among other things.

So go on! Look through my posts (I promise, I will write more!) and let me know what you think down in the comments.

With that said, here are a few fun facts about me that you probably don't want or need to know, but I'll tell you anyway:

  • I'm an aspiring writer. Emphasis on the aspiring part.
  • I'm a YA junkie. I can read pretty much any genre, but, being a young adult myself, I write exclusively Young Adult fiction. All my tips and tricks of writing on this site are geared primarily for other Young Adult writers. Specifically of the teenage variety. (Of course, older writers are definitely welcome.)
  • I hate peanut butter.
  • I love dark chocolate.
  • I really, really like the nighttime. Like a lot. 
  • I get addicted to trashy TV shows very quickly. Some of my personal favorites include: The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and Pretty Little Liars, to name a few.
  • While I'm a fan of many poor quality television shows, I'm proud to say at least some of the shows on my watchlist are good quality: Friends, New Girl, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, etc.

That's (most of) it! I hope you all have a wonderful day and life filled with donuts and sunshine and all good things.

Much love,
Dawn Avachat

*Logo for this blog was created by Logomakr. They're fantastic!