Author Archives: Tessa

My End of Semester Motivation Slump

It’s that time of year again! (No, I’m not talking about Christmas)

It’s time for term papers, finals, and an unbearable amount of stress. There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by spending all of your time and energy focusing on school, right?

For real though, the end of each semester is always the absolute worst. As an English major, I always have multiple term papers and at least one final exam. This semester, I have three research papers, which I hate writing because finding journal articles is super difficult and time consuming, and I’d rather just write a simple essay analyzing the text. To make matters worse, all of my papers are due around the same time (as usual), so I have to scramble to get them all done. I am currently on the verge of a breakdown because of all the work I have to do, and this isn’t even counting the final I have for my online class, which I am super behind in because it’s so boring that I’ve just been putting it off for the last month (which I bitterly regret now).

As my general motivation continues to drop every semester, so does my motivation at the end of each semester. It’s been three months, so the last thing I want to do at the very end of it is write a bunch of papers and study for exams. I’m already completely burnt out at this point and have very little energy left to give, so I can’t be expected to do my best work. I tend to write papers as quickly as possible and only do minimal editing because I’m so done with the semester that I don’t care anymore and just want it to be over. I know I should be working my hardest at the end of each semester, and technically I do (because I have the most work to complete at that point), but I don’t put in as much effort as I do earlier on in the semester when I’m not totally dead inside.

My lack of motivation at the end of each semester is exacerbated by my tendency to procrastinate, so in addition to not wanting to write a bunch of essays, I also tend to put them off to the last minute. I say that I won’t do this every semester, and yet here I am in the same situation I’ve been in at the end of every semester of my degree. You would think that I would’ve learned by now, but apparently not. In fact, I think it’s gotten worse. This semester is a prime example of that, as I haven’t even started my biggest term paper and it’s due in a week. I had plenty of time to work on it earlier, as I had very little homework the last few weeks, but instead of getting a head start on any or all of my papers, I just watched YouTube videos and hungout with my boyfriend. I wish that I hadn’t been so lazy in that last few weeks, because if that was the case, I could have been finished my term papers by now (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but I’d have a lot more work done for sure).

Now is the point when I’m supposed to offer advice for motivating yourself and not procrastinating in the last few weeks of school, but, as you can probably tell, I’m not in much of a position to be giving anyone advice. All I can say is that you do not want to be in my position right now, because I’m literally spending all day every day doing homework, so try your best to work on it earlier. The sooner you finish, the sooner you can relax and just watch Netflix all day (or go out if you actually have a life).

Right now I’m trying to get all my papers done as quickly as possible because once this semester is over, I can spend all my time doing Christmassy things, like listening to Christmas music, watching cheesy Hallmark movies and classic Christmas movies from my childhood, and dragging my boyfriend and friends to as many Christmas events as possible. I suppose having something so great to look forward to makes it a bit easier to get all this work done.

My Publishing Experience

I have loved writing ever since I was a child, and for most of my life, it has been a dream of mine to become some kind of writer, whether it be an author, screenwriter, or journalist. I have wanted to create a blog for several years now, as I thought it would be both fun and beneficial to create a space where my writing could live. I hoped to use it to express my thoughts, improve my writing, create an audience that could follow me on my future endeavours, and perhaps make some money doing what I love. I have not accomplished all of these goals yet, but my blog is still new, so I have plenty of time to work towards them.

I was both apprehensive and excited to create my own blog. I decided early on that I wanted it to be a personal blog, as that gives me more freedom to write about various subjects and allows me to write essays about my thoughts and experiences while showing off my writing skills. I aimed for an audience of people around my age, and while many of my blog posts are about the student experience, I want my blog to be accessible for those who are not in school as well, as I want to talk about the young adult experience. My idea of what I want my audience or public to be lines up with Michael Warner’s in “Publics and Counterpublics”, as he states, “A public is a relation among strangers”, and I want my blog to be a place where people can read about experiences similar to their own and feel a sense of connection with them. I also want my public to be a “social space” as described by Warner, as I want to foster a sense of community among my readers and give them a space where they can discuss their own experiences and struggles.

I changed the theme of my blog several times before deciding on my current theme, as I initially wanted something very simple so I could focus on my content, but I was unhappy with the first few themes I tried and wanted something more visually appealing. Travis Gertz discusses the importance of design in his article “Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse”, and his insights convinced me to place more emphasis on the design of my blog, as it is what attracts readers. Gertz believes that a website’s layout should “[connect] the content to the medium”, and that connection is what I want to achieve. I chose a simple, easy to navigate theme that emphasizes and works well with my content. I have a lot of white space on my blog, but my header picture, Instagram feed, and blog post images contrast it. The blog post images also draw attention to the posts themselves and connect to their topics. Gertz emphasizes the relationship between design and content, stating, “[D]esign augments the message of the content”, so I am trying to connect my content to my design to create a uniform feel to my blog. My header image is a picture of clouds, which connects nicely with my blog’s title. I want to make it clear as soon as people visit my homepage that I have put a lot of time and effort into the design of my blog, and that the design quality reflects the quality of the content.

I intend to continue blogging after this course, and I am planning to take information from lectures and readings into account as I maintain and develop my online presence. The course reading “Make Your Thing” by Jesse Thorn has many helpful insights for finding success in independent media, but the one that is most useful in my current situation is “Keep Your Legs Moving”, as with the course ending, I need to keep working hard to maintain my blog and its audience. I intend to continue posting on my blog at least once a week, perhaps even more during school breaks. I would also like to work on cultivating my social media presence and expanding the reach of my blog’s Instagram account. Most of my readers have come from my Instagram, so I plan to post on it more often to attract people to my blog. Ideally, I would like to post on it at least twice a week, although I realize that will be difficult while I am in school. Regardless, I want to post on my Instagram every time I post on my blog to alert viewers of new posts. I would also like to post pictures of myself, where I go, and what I do on my Instagram, so my audience can get a sense of who I am as a person and follow my adventures through multiple channels. Another goal of mine is to gain enough viewers to be able to make money from my blog, whether it be from Google ads, affiliate marketing, or sponsored posts on my blog or Instagram. I would love to be able to support myself doing something that I love, whether it be running my blog or becoming a journalist, author, or screenwriter because of my blog’s success. Regardless of what the future holds, I am excited to continue this journey and see what lies ahead.

 

Works Cited

Gertz, Travis. “Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse”. Louder Than Ten.

            10 Jul. 2015, https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines. Accessed 23 Nov. 2018.

Thorn, Jesse. “Make Your Thing”. Transom. 11 Apr. 2012, https://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-

            make-your-thing/. Accessed 23 Nov. 2018.

Warner, Michael. “Publics and Counterpublics”. Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 88, no. 4,

            Nov. 2002, pp. 413-425, http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf.

            Accessed 23 Nov. 2018.

Week 12 Process Post

I have not received many comments on my website so far, and the ones I do have are from Ellen, Suzanne, and a few classmates. I would like to encourage active participation and discussion on my website, but I think that will not happen for a while because most of the people reading my blog right now are friends or family, and if they have any comments on my content, they will tell me in person or over text/social media. Once I expand my audience to people that I do not know, I believe and hope that I will receive more comments. In the meantime, I do think it is a good idea to set up guidelines for both myself and anyone else who wishes to comment on my posts.

Maria Konnikova discusses the benefits and issues of online comments in her article “The Psychology of Online Comments”. Online comments can be dangerous, and can “lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse”, and the last thing I want to do is create a space where that can happen. Konnikova debates the issue of whether comments should remain anonymous or not, citing compelling arguments on both sides. I decided early on that I do not want the comments on my blog to be anonymous, as I believe it can open up a space where people feel free to say anything without experiencing consequences because no one knows who they are. I ask for first names of anyone wishing to post a comment so they are less inclined to post anything inappropriate or hateful, and because I believe having first names makes the commenters feel more real and easier to engage with in conversation.

Below are my community guidelines for commenting (I have co-opted some from The Guardian, as they have a great list of community standards).

 

  1. Be respectful. Debates are allowed and even encouraged, but personal attacks and offensive comments will not be tolerated.
  2. Do not discriminate against others. Any kind of hate-speech, or anything that could be interpreted as hate-speech, will be removed.
  3. Do not include spam, advertisements, or self-promotion in comments.
  4. Use appropriate language.
  5. Stay on topic. Comments should be relevant to the post to keep the dialogue on track.

Any comments that do not meet the above standards will be removed.

 

I am hoping that these guidelines will encourage positive participation and dialogue in the comments section of my blog. I have included them in my About section so they are available for viewers to see when they visit my website.

Course Selection is the Worst

A few days ago, I had my enrollment appointment for the spring semester. It was a nerve-wracking experience that created a significant amount of stress, but that’s nothing new. Course selection has always been a stressful time for me, because I like to have everything planned out exactly how I want it but I’m also really indecisive, so it can be difficult to figure out what I want. My usual worries were even worse this semester, as I am nearing the end of my degree, so I have to organize my courses well so that I can graduate as soon as possible. To make matters worse, I also decided to do a minor in Publishing, which adds more courses and pressure, as I have to make sure I take all of the requirements in both Publishing and English. I have to roughly plan the rest of my degree, but that’s difficult when course offerings are different each semester and I can’t always see what is offered in future semesters.

To make matters worse, several of the courses I needed to take this semester conflicted with each other, which meant that I had to choose what to prioritize. I kept worrying that I was making the wrong decision and that my choices would make my life difficult in future semesters, but I can’t do anything about it so I had to just choose the courses I thought were most important (or the ones that didn’t fill up immediately) and hope that it would all work out. I also had problems enrolling in one class because I found out after trying to enroll that a certain amount of seats were reserved for students in a specific program, which is fine, except that it did not state that anywhere and as a result I had to enroll in another course to make up for it. Additional problems I found were that not many third- and fourth-year courses are offered in my major in the spring semester, meaning that the same number of students were competing for a smaller amount of classes, and some of the classes I was hoping to get into filled up before my enrollment appointment.

As it turns out, my problems aren’t even the biggest issues. Some students are stuck in university for much longer than they planned because they can’t get into one or two specific courses that they need to graduate, because these courses are only offered once a year and/or they always fill up. All of these problems point to a broken system that desperately needs repair. Students should not have to struggle so much to get into the classes they need and complete their degrees. Not being able to get into required classes or required classes not being available causes a severe amount of stress and forces students to spend more money taking courses they don’t need or spend time waiting to take those courses and delaying their graduation. Taking classes that you need and graduating on time should not be difficult, so why do universities make it this way? More importantly, what will it take to get them to stop using a broken system that only creates more stress for students who already have enough to deal with?

Week 11 Process Post

Currently, my only source of social media integration for my blog is the Instagram account I made for it. On that account, I have a link to my blog in the description, and most of my posts encourage viewers to go back to my blog to read my recent posts. It is going well so far, as I have amassed a fair amount of followers and my blog has gained viewers from Instagram, but I could definitely do better. I do not post on my Instagram as often as I should, as I sometimes go a week or two without posting anything, and this causes people to unfollow me or diminishes their interest in the content I post. My goal is to post on my blog’s Instagram twice a week to gain followers and bring people to my blog, in addition to creating a place where my followers can get to know me and interact with me.

I have not received many comments yet, and most of the comments I receive are either encouragement from friends or promotion of other people’s Instagram accounts, so I am hoping to encourage active participation in the future. I would like to be able to pose questions to my audience and have discussions with them in the comments to create loyal fans and allow them to get to know me. I believe that I will need to build a bit of a bigger following to do this, as most of my Instagram followers are friends or people promoting their own accounts, not random people who are genuinely interested in my blog. I am hoping that I can keep posting content and promoting it on my Instagram to gain more fans and facilitate interaction in the comments of both my blog posts and my Instagram posts.

There are several reasons why I decided to focus primarily on Instagram. For one, Instagram is probably the most popular social media platform right now. Facebook is far less popular than it used to be, hardly anyone uses Twitter, and even Snapchat is not as popular as it once was. Logic follows that if I promote my blog on the most popular social media network, I will be able to acquire the most followers. Additionally, Instagram is my favourite social media platform, and the one that I use the most, so it is easiest for me to promote my blog there. Another reason why I am using Instagram is because I think it complements my blog well, as it is a personal blog that consists primarily of essays, so I like that I can add a visual aspect with my Instagram in addition to giving my followers the chance to get to know the person behind the blog. Based on research I have done, consisting of looking at the social media accounts of other bloggers, I noticed that many personal bloggers have Instagram accounts and it seems to work out well for them, so that encouraged me to create an Instagram for my blog as well.

I cannot see myself making a Facebook page for my blog unless it becomes extremely popular, as it feels a bit vain to make a Facebook page when I am not famous. I imagine that the only people who would like my page would be my friends, which beats the purpose. Twitter might work better for my blog, as it is short written content and could allow people to get to know me better. My only trepidations are that Twitter has fallen out of popularity and that I rarely ever use my personal Twitter account, so I would be worried about either forgetting to update my blog’s Twitter account or not receiving any attention or followers from it. For these reasons, I will likely stick to Instagram for now and focus my attention on promoting my blog and creating content that people want to see.

Peer Review 3

For my final peer review, I will be reviewing Erika Cocco’s blog, The World of Irish Dance.

Erika’s blog documents her journey to become the Western Canadian Regional Champion in Irish Dance, while also educating readers on the training and work involved in being an Irish Dancer. Her homepage is simple yet appealing; it shows her blog title, main menu, a white background, and a massive picture of her dancing. This picture adds some needed colour and visuals to her homepage, and as one of the first things viewers see when they go to her website, it creates interest and its tagline makes the focus of the blog clear. The typefaces she uses on her homepage work well together and complement her blog’s simple aesthetic.

I did notice a few things on her homepage that could use some improvement. Her Instagram widget does not work, as I tried to click on it and could not reach the site. I would suggest that she fix this so users can check out her Instagram and see some dance-related pictures in addition to learning more about her life outside of Irish Dance. Erika also has a Recent Posts widget, which is helpful for users, but it mostly shows Pub 101 posts, which are not the reason why people would visit her blog. She should update it to show only her dance-related posts, as that would make it easier for viewers to find what they are looking for. Additionally, the blog posts on her homepage are underneath a Recent Posts section, which is confusing as she also has her Recent Posts widget that shows different posts. I would recommend that she remove the Recent Posts tag above her homepage blog posts. Lastly, she has a Category widget, which is very helpful, but it is underneath her other widgets, and would work better underneath the search bar so her viewers could easily choose what they want to read.

Erika’s About page is very informative and helps me get to know her and understand the purpose of her blog. It is very effective at drawing readers in and piquing their interest in her blog. Beside the About page is an Achievements section, where you can select different competitions and see where she placed in them throughout the years. I like the idea of it, but I wish these posts talked about her experience in each competition instead of just listing her placing, as it would make the reader more interested in the results.

Her blog posts are very interesting, and I really enjoyed learning about her experience as a dancer; however, a few changes would make these posts even better. The typeface she uses is very small and hard to read, so I would suggest making it bigger, especially since her pictures currently take up more space than her text. I noticed some grammatical errors in her posts as well, so it may help if she proofread them before posting to make them look more professional. Her posts also contain long paragraphs that would benefit from being broken up into smaller sections. I additionally noticed that it says the author of her posts is “admin”, which appears impersonal, so I would recommend that she either remove this or change it to her name. Erika’s posts are also quite short, with some of them only consisting of one paragraph, so I would encourage her to write longer posts to tell her audience more about her experiences, as I am sure they will be eager to learn more about Irish Dance.

Lastly, I noticed that Erika has not posted on her blog in over a month, which makes it difficult to attract and maintain an audience. Michael Warner discusses this in “Publics and Counterpublics”, stating that publics “commence with the moment of attention, must continually predicate renewed attention, and cease to exist when attention is no longer predicated”. Erika’s blog would benefit from her keeping up to date on her posts, as it would maintain her audience’s interest and keep them coming back.

Overall, Erika’s blog is very interesting both to Irish Dancers and those who would like to learn about Irish Dance. I would recommend that she make a few design changes to make her blog more visually appealing and user-friendly for her audience, and that she keep up to date with her posts to keep viewers engaged and encourage them to revisit her blog.

Why I Decorate for Christmas in November

It’s not even halfway through November and I have already put out all of my Christmas decorations and started listening to Christmas music. I may seem crazy, but I do this every year and I have no regrets. Christmas is my favourite holiday and always has been, so I like to decorate as soon as I can to enjoy it for longer. I’ve always felt like the Christmas season is too short, as after Christmas ends, all I can think about is how I didn’t listen to enough holiday music, watch enough holiday movies, or do enough Christmas activities. For that reason, after I moved out I decided to start decorating and celebrating the holidays as early as possible in order to enjoy them for as long as I can.

There are many other reasons why I decorate for Christmas so early, and one of them is because of the nostalgia associated with the holiday. As I stated, Christmas is my favourite holiday, and I have many fond memories associated with it. It reminds me of my childhood and of simpler times, when I was carefree and not stressed about everything, and when I could simply revel in the joy of the holiday season. Since I’ve gotten older, Christmastime hasn’t been quite as special, which makes me sad, so I compensate for that by decorating and listening to Christmas music super early to get me into the holiday spirit and recreate the joy it brought me as a child.

Christmas also comes at a time when I am finishing my semester and struggling with term papers and exams, and celebrating it helps relieve some of the stress I experience from school. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with homework, I look at my Christmas tree or I put on my favourite Christmas album and I instantly feel happy, or at least somewhat relaxed. Getting into the Christmas spirit in November helps me deal with the anxiety I experience from working on papers and studying for exams, and gets me through that difficult time while also giving me something to look forward to once it’s over.

Another major reason why I like to decorate for Christmas early is because it helps me deal with my mood changes that are brought on by the changing of seasons, which I believe is a mild form of seasonal affective disorder. As soon as the days get shorter and the weather gets gloomier, my mood is instantly affected. I feel weighed down by sadness and don’t want to leave my house or do anything productive. I will be unhappy for entire days when it is especially dark or gloomy, and I have little energy. I don’t know when exactly it started, but I suspect it began or got worse when I moved to Vancouver, where fall, winter, and spring all consist of gloomy, rainy days. It gets worse after Daylight Savings ends, as when I see darkness in the early evening I instantly feel drained of happiness and energy. I realize that I should probably talk to someone about this, but I have found one thing that helps me deal with it, which, as you can probably guess, is Christmas. When I start feeling down because of the weather, I remind myself that it’s rainy and it gets dark early because Christmas is coming, and soon it will snow and be beautiful. Starting my Christmas celebrations early gives me a reason to be happy in the fall/winter months, and prevents me from dwelling on the seasonal changes.

For me, Christmas is the best time of year, and decorating for it early in November allows me to enjoy it for as long as possible, while also relieving stress caused by school and alleviating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Because of this, I will continue to decorate for Christmas in November and I encourage everyone else who celebrates the holiday to do the same, so they can bring a little extra joy into their lives during the winter season.

Week 10 Process Post

I picture my audience consisting mostly of girls between the ages of 18 and 25, as that is the demographic that I fall into, and although I do not post about female-centric things like clothes or makeup, I feel as if a female audience would be more interested in my blog, especially my contemplative essays. To my surprise, 54% of my audience is male, and the primary age group that my viewers fall into is 25-34, with 18-24 being the second most populated age group. I do find this surprising, as I have been trying to make posts that appeal to a female audience, but none of my posts are specifically about the female experience, and the content of my essays could easily apply to males as well. I guess I just do not picture males being as interested in reading blogs as females, especially a personal blog like mine that talks a lot about feelings.

I am also surprised that mostly 25-34 year olds are reading my blog, as I was certain that only people between 18 and 25 would be reading my posts. The reason I believe this is that I thought that most of the people reading my blog would be my friends, since many of them know about it, have followed the Instagram account I created for it, and have liked or commented on my posts, and I do not have any friends over the age of 24. The age demographic reading my blog is surprising because I did not think my experiences would necessarily resonate with people who are much older than I am, especially since I talk a lot about being a student, while people of that age group are typically graduated and have careers. I also wonder how they found my blog and what made them want to read it. I find it very interesting that my audience consists mainly of a gender and age group that I did not expect.

The question I now have for myself is if I should make any changes to my blog to accommodate my primary audience. Most of my essay posts are relatable for people of any gender, as they talk about general experiences that most people in my age range can relate to, so I do not think I will need to adjust them too much. I will try to continue writing posts about life in general that anyone my age can relate to, although I may occasionally write posts about more female-centered experiences. The bigger issue, to me, is the age range of the people visiting my blog. I did not think my blog would be appealing for anyone over the age of 25, as they are typically in a different stage of life than I am and cannot connect to posts about school. I could see how some of my other posts may be appealing to people of any age, such as my film and tv show reviews and posts about life in general, so I will try to write more posts about those subjects to draw in a wider audience. I definitely want to write more film and tv reviews or essays in the future, as I want my blog to be more evenly split between essays and film/tv, but I have not seen anything in theaters recently. I have thought about writing about films that have already come out, potentially years ago, and giving reviews/recommendations or writing essays on them (akin to Youtube video essays on movies, which I spend way too much time watching), so I will probably spend more time pursuing that direction in my future posts. I love movies and I love talking about them, and they are a subject of interest for any age group, so I definitely want to write more about them in the future.

Delving into my Google Analytics has taught me a lot about who my audience is, and I will definitely consider my findings as I continue to improve my blog.

The End of the F***ing World Isn’t That Exciting

I recently finished watching the Netflix original series “The End of the F***ing World”, and while I didn’t dislike it, I am not super impressed. I had heard from many people that this show was amazing, and despite my apprehensions, I decided to give it a shot. After all, it only has eight twenty-minute episodes, so at least I wasn’t committing myself to a multi-season show.

The show centers on two teenagers in England. One, James, believes he is a psychopath, as evidenced in flashbacks and a voice-over monologue showing how he feels no emotions and loves killing animals. He wants to try something new and kill an actual person, which is where Alyssa comes in. She is a rebel who shows few emotions other than anger and indifference, which is somewhat understandable given that her stepfather treats her terribly. She develops a sudden fascination with James and begins dating him, though he secretly plots to kill her. After an unpleasant interaction with her stepfather, she decides to run away, so she and James steal his dad’s car and take off.

The premise itself is interesting, but I felt something was lacking. I found the first couple episodes boring, partly because they were too short to develop the characters and story and partly because I didn’t like or care about James or Alyssa. This was a major letdown for me, given that I had heard such amazing things about the show. Nevertheless, I stuck with it, and it did get better over time. A second set of major characters came into the story a few episodes in, and I found the new characters and their storyline far more interesting than the main characters and their storyline, which I think is a big flaw. However, even the main characters slowly started to grow on me, and I found myself somewhat vested in what happened to them. I liked James better than I liked Alyssa; despite him being a budding psychopath, I found him much more likable and relatable. By the end of the season, I did like and care about Alyssa to an extent, but not as much as any of the other main characters.

The story itself was mildly entertaining. It was a good break from homework that allowed me to turn my brain off, but I didn’t see it as much more than that. The show fluctuates between being a comedy and a drama, which makes the tone somewhat inconsistent. Overall, I was not very impressed with the storyline, although it did become more interesting several episodes in, which is what made me continue watching the show.

The tumultuous first season ended on a cliffhanger, which is one of the main reasons why I will probably watch the second season when it comes out. The ending also brought about many interesting possibilities and directions in which the show could go, and I am interested to see what will happen and where the writers will take these characters. I am optimistic about the second season, as I expect it to be an improvement on the first in both storyline and characterization, which I am eagerly anticipating.

Overall, The End of the F***ing World is an alright show. It’s definitely not the best show out right now, and I do think it’s overrated, but it is entertaining and the second season seems promising. For that reason, I would rate it around 6.5/10 and tentatively recommend it to viewers if they can get past the first few episodes.