Name Name Name!

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Written by WriteGirl mentee: Joanna C., age 16

What’s In a Name?
Pens on Fire Creative, Writing Experiments for Teens from WriteGirl,  pg.81
There are moments that you want to change your name, don’t like your name, or wish for someone else’s name.
Write about your name: first name, last name, middle name, nickname, names you were almost called, names you wish you were or weren’t called.

My friends, family who aren’t close to me, and other new people call me Johnie, Hannah, Anna, Alla, Jojo etc. Sometimes it gets annoying  because people don’t adequately get my name and  spell it wrong. My name is Joanna. Sometimes I wish I could change my name to Paulette or some other unique name. It would be awesome to be different from other girls with a name that is not common and not often heard. My name is special to me and I love it because it means God’s grace and gift. When I was born the doctors said to my mom, “ Your daughter is not going to make it through her first year of life”, this was unbelievable news to her about her first child. Now I am still here alive with every body part, a gift

 

Write About Food and Family

Diana G., age 16

Pens on Fire, Creative Writing Experiments for Teens from WriteGirl, pg 14

Write about family through exploring food and family gatherings. Use the plethora of food stories from your family to write a creative nonfiction piece. -Write about a favorite recipe. -Write about your grandmother/mothers cooking. -Write what food brings to your family.

One thing that really brings my family together is food. Every time we have family gatherings there is always food. My family is from Honduras so it surprises people that we always have food from different cultures at our gatherings. We have Mexican food, Chinese food, and so many others. Most of the time my grandmother and godmother cook, while my aunt and my mom are in charge of the desserts. For Thanksgiving, everyone helps out, it is the day we have food without limits. My grandmother makes her famous turkey, I love to watch her prepare it but I am still not exactly sure how she makes it. We also have ham, which one of my uncles is in charge of bringing. My godmother helps out with sides, like rice and potato salad. My mom makes the most amazing flan I have ever tasted. Everyone in my family loves it! My aunt has fun making and decorating cupcakes for any occasion. I think my family can go on forever talking about the food we make and love. Even if we have small get togethers for a birthday or any other event there is plenty of food. To my cousins it does not matter how everything is cooked, they just love to eat it. As for me, I love being in the kitchen watching every step of how food is made because I always learn new things and someday I know I will be an amazing cook. I believe that in my family, food is very important, it helps us connect.

WriteGirl Welcome Day Experience

Ariel S. Age 16

I knew I was at the right place as soon as my eye caught the green, blue, and white balloons always present at WriteGirl workshops. I entered the building and the wonderful people at registration immediately welcomed me. Each mentee was given a nametag sticker, which also included a place to write your favorite genre of writing. I wrote journalism. It’s been a new passion that I recently pursued by joining my school’s newspaper, The Bamboo. Then it was off to the table piled with new journals. There were so many options. I was contemplating a simple black notebook or an orange striped journal or a pink one, and then I saw a baby blue journal adorned with what looked like dogs in watercolor. That was the one.

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I joined the other mentees who had just arrived at a table set up for us to “break in” our new journals. First I covered my journal with bling, emoticons and other stickers. Then I thought about what to write. The first entry in a journal is usually very stressful for me. I turn extremely nit-picky wanting things to be perfect. There were so many different options and so many different ways to start I wasn’t sure where to begin. Luckily there was a list of activities. I wrote an entry in my journal about what the change is like for me from an angry mood to a happy mood.

Then I wrote about a specific memory for each finger. Most of the descriptions had to do with my hardened hands due to my hours of writing without a pencil grip.

After working on my journal, I took a survey and had my picture taken. Then, I picked out a number from a tin can that would determine my fate for the day. The number correlated with one of five tables each with a different writing activity. I ended up at a table were our writing activity was to use our name as inspiration. I wrote about a childhood memory I had of writing my name:

I remember changing my handwriting constantly. It would change sizes and shapes. At one time my handwriting was getting smaller every day. My teacher joked about how my handwriting would need to be read with a magnifying glass by the time I got to college.

The next hour or so I moved on to various tables with exciting and unexpected activities. My favorite table had toys scattered all over it. It looked so festive. We were prompted to set up a scene with the toys. There were green dinosaurs, small cottages, ducks on wheels, pigs, and more! I chose a small cottage, a giant lamb, and a duck on wheels.

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We were then able to spin the wheel of genres. The wheel prompted us to write about our scene using whichever genre of writing the needle landed on. I spun and got autobiography.

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So I wrote about an awkward experience a giant lamb had with a rolling duck on wheels.

I was too big to go inside the cottage so I stood outside. After a while, a duck on wheels strolled by. I was so scared and confused! Where was I? Who were these creatures? And most importantly, why was the duck on wheels?

As the day came to an end, we carried out a WriteGirl tradition called “threads.” We gathered together in a circle and wrote our favorite thing about the day on brightly colored index cards. All in all it was an extremely fun day! I met new girls and I was inspired to write about things in ways that were unusual, new and interesting to me.

Write What You Feel and Feel What You Write

Inspired by page 24 in  Intensity: The 10th Anniversary Anthology from WriteGirl

Inspired by page 24 in  Intensity: The 10th Anniversary Anthology from WriteGirl

by Diana G., age 16, and Joanna C., age 16, WriteGirl High School Interns

Think about a feeling you don’t know how to express to another person. One idea is to write them an anonymous letter. Write when you are so mad that you feel like you are going to burst. Write about a conversation that was confusing to you. Let the things you wish you could say out loud flow onto your paper. Another way to write about your feelings is to use metaphors. (A metaphor compares two unrelated things.) A person who is intrusive and annoying could be described as a pesky little rat. If someone is being sweet and making your day, think of something that makes you happy, for instance Starburst candy – compare the person to the tangy sweet taste of a cherry Starburst.

College Mania: Choosing a Major

Yamuna H.

If you don’t already know, your major is the area of knowledge you want to study in college. Usually a major program takes up a third to a half of your classes, with the rest being general education requirements and electives. Every college and university is going to have a variety of majors for you to choose from, and they should be listed on that school’s website.

It is not vital to know your major before you apply. Unless you are going into engineering, nursing, or another highly-specified field, you usually do not have to choose a major until the end of your second year in college. In fact, most students change their major at least once before they graduate. However, it is a good idea to know what general area you would like to study. Maybe you’re not sure if you want to major in English or Political Science, but you know you want to study the humanities. Or maybe you can’t decide between Environmental Science and Biology, but you know you would like to study science. These are important things to keep in mind when researching individual schools.

Most students take on only one major, but some take on two or even three. Double-majoring tends to increase a student’s workload and reduce the amount of electives they can take. That said, taking two majors can be a rewarding experience if you truly enjoy both fields of study, and can expand your opportunities after graduation.

Besides majors, there are two other main types of undergraduate degree programs: minors and pre-professional tracks. Students can take, or not take, one or two minors or pre-professional tracks — but they must also have a major. A minor is a shortened version of a major. For example, a minor program in Political Science might require you take six classes, while a major program would require 12. A pre-professional track is similar to a minor, but it prepares you for future study. The most popular pre-professional tracks are pre-med, pre-law, and pre-business. Tracks are a series of classes that you are required to take as an undergraduate before you apply to post-graduate schools such as medical schools, law schools, and business schools. The class requirements are the same at every school. For example, the pre-med track is an 8-class series including Chemistry, Calculus, Biology, and Physics.

If you are certain of what major you’d like to pursue, it’s a good idea to know which schools are known for having strong programs in your major. Try some Google searches like, “Which colleges have the best biology programs?” or “Which California universities have the best biology programs?” That should give you some idea of what you should be looking for. Also, if you have a particular pre-professional track in mind, check to make sure it is offered at the schools you are applying to. It’s usually not mandatory to, for example, take a pre-law track if you plan to go to law school, but it is a good idea to do so. When researching majors on a college’s website, remember that names often vary from school to school. One school may have a major in Journalism, while another school has a major called “Communications, concentration in Journalism.”

The most important thing to keep in mind when considering your major is flexibility. Students who graduate with the major they applied as are in the minority among college graduates. It’s best to have a few possible majors and minors in mind, and plan to explore them in your freshman year classes.

College Mania: WriteGirl’s College Workshop

Yamuna H.

On September 9th, a handful of mentees gathered in the WriteGirl office to work on their college applications. They were advised on several components of the college admissions process, including SAT prep, college selection, and essay writing. Senior mentee Laura L. has this advice to offer to those who could not attend the workshop:

College applications are just around the corner! If there is anything I learned at the latest WriteGirl workshop is this: The petty and stressful years of procrastination have to come to an end. Missing a deadline due to the procrastination monster is NOT worth it!

SO GOODBYE HORRID GREEN AND EVIL MONSTER! GOODBYE!! You will no longer leave me in desperation to complete and turn something in last minute, and when that fails, turning in late assignments for half credit. After all, there is no half credit for college applications. I ask that you all do the same and banish the monster that has been lingering over your shoulders for the last 17 years!

Allison told us that, though the official CSU application due date is November 30th, we should all turn our applications by NOVEMBER FIRST. Let me repeat that, November 1st! And our UC applications should be in by November 15th at the latest. Also, be prepared to send Allison (WriteGirl’s associate director, who guides mentees through their application process) a list of the schools you’re applying to and explain why you’re applying to each. If you’re using fee waivers for your applications, you don’t want to pick random schools. What if the one you don’t like is the one you get into? And if you don’t get waivers, why pay for school applications if you’re not really interested?

One more thing: SATs and ACTs! Be sure to be done with the test taking by the end of November. Most colleges don’t take scores past November. Here’s a few tips for taking the SAT:

  1. Go in for the essay with a variety of ideas to write about in your head. Don’t assume you’ll have to write an essay about Shakespeare, because you never know if the essay will be about a reality TV show or something else. Draw materials from all parts of your life.
  2. Take snacks and water for breaks. You will need brain food!
  3. Obvious one now: Don’t spend too much time on a question you don’t know. Skip it and come back to it later. You lose points for incorrectly answered questions, so it might be better to leave a question blank if you are unsure.
  4. Take practice tests, if you get the opportunity. The more familiar you are with the test the better you’ll do.

Going to these college workshops are always really helpful especially for calming my nerves. If you can come to the next one please do. Good luck to all you seniors! Here are some other pieces of advice from mentees and volunteers who attended:

  • Do your research and make sure all the schools you apply to offer plenty of financial aid.
  • Spend some time on a college’s website before applying.
  • Use CollegeBoard.org to start narrowing down your college choices.
  • WriteGirl can help you get through the application process if you reach out to us!

We will be having another college workshop soon — we’ll be sure to keep you updated via email.

Today’s Writing Advice: Write What You Don’t Know

by Yamuna H.

Write what you know, but be courageous and write what you don’t know.- Lines of Velocity, page 173

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Winner of 6 Book Awards! The 6th Anthology from WriteGirl Publications, LINES OF VELOCITY is a wondrous and diverse collection — stories, poems, songs, musings, rants and essays — showcasing the unique and eclectic female voices of new and accomplished writers from WriteGirl.

Writing what you don’t know can be extremely difficult. It often involves a lot of research and care to make a piece sound authentic when writing with about a setting, occupation, or worldview you are unfamiliar with. However, 100% accuracy is not the foundation of a great story. Creativity is.

Consider icons like Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, or J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series. Neither of them had experience with the things the wrote about. In fact, Rowling created a whole fictional world in her series. Both Frankenstein and Harry Potter are well-loved because of their authors’ imaginative power. Don’t be afraid to write what you don’t know.

Today, write something you’re unfamiliar with. Pick an occupation that you have never considered for yourself, and write a day in the life of that world.