Kyra Wolff

Kyra Wolff

Home for projects by pop culture writer / artist / poet / creator Kyra Wolff


Blog

Non-Writing vs. Writing: Social Media & Composting

Non-Writing vs. Writing: Social Media & Composting

Have you ever noticed that really great comedy writers tend to have a really great social media presence? Sure, that is how one would get their name out now in this post-resume world…but it’s more than that.

You basically need social media to be able to “make it” these days, but I also believe you need it for a lot more than marketing and networking. Scoffing social media is not only a pretty elitist move, but it’s also throwing away a chance to improve your writing.

That’s right, you can become a better writer by tweeting on the toilet. It’s called composting. Seriously.

Facebook statuses are writing, but…not?

In The Writing Secret I touch on how silly it is that we have this concept of writing vs non-writing. The distinction between the two seems to be that writing is serious and “productive” while non-writing is all the frivolous, “unimportant” words we write when we’re not actually writing.
 
What? Non-writing is what we write when we’re not writing? 
 
Listen. Writing is writing is writing. It is.
 
I have spent years searching for this quote about bad or unpublished writing that has haunted me and became part of my own process. Today I finally found it.
 
“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
 
This was the first time I heard the concept of growing something beautiful from your useless writing. You know, the writing that isn’t in the final draft of your big project. That’s a lot of writing, not just the chapters you cut out of your novel to change the plot half way through. It is everything you have ever written that is NOT this big beautiful money maker.
 
It’s a bit strange to me that writers have more self-hatred than artists when it comes to time spent on an unpublishable piece or even just practice. Artists know they have to do to learn, they have to do a bunch of bad art as well as warm up and cool down sketches. Most other artists I know can look at a bad piece and go “well, I figured out a good color combination I can use later, so that’s cool.”
 
Writers are told to write as much as they can…you know, after they read for hours and hours. Even then “write” gets translated to “write a billion short stories and send them off to publications and get paid.” Then when one gets rejected a certain number of times it’s canned. Eventually this trash can gets full of your “shame stories,” pieces that took up your time only to be deemed useless. That’s not really what anyone means by practice.
 

So, let’s not call it practice. Let’s call it composting.

A few years ago I was googling literally every word I could remember from that Erin Bow quote about no wasted writing. I stumbled upon Natalie Goldberg and her book Writing Down the Bones while I was searching “quote about writing composting or something??” Here’s her quote about writing composting or something:
 
“Our sense by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this “composting.” Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogran, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories.
 
But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil. When we are raking our minds and taking our shallow thinking and turning it over, if we continue to work with this raw matter, it will draw us deeper and deeper into ourselves, but not in a neurotic way. We will begin to see the rich garden we have inside us and use that for writing.”

Not what I was looking for, but just as necessary. 

Because you know what’s really good for revisiting our rich experiences? Or for turning those words over and over until your hand hits something good and solid? A social media account.
 
I mean, or yes, a journal…but it’s just so easy to tweet or update a status. It is easy to retweet someone else inspirational garden and keep that in our records. It’s easy to find new angles to attack your experiences from. It is easy to throw all of our thoughts, as unorganized and ugly they are, and create your own fertile soil in this weird lil digital garden.

That regular “non-writing” is necessary and important to your process! 

The Procrastiwriter wrote about this a few years ago, too, and actually suggests not using your compost as a journal. Or your journal like your compost. Whatever.
 
“Write down all the garbage you’ve got, every day—not like a journal, chronological and neat, but more like a garbage disposal, throwing everything in. Half-finished essay introductions, to-do lists, poems, love letters to no one. Fill notebooks with it. And periodically, sift through what you are writing for the beautiful things that’ll start to grow in it. Sometimes you’ll find the roots of ideas forming in your mind; other times you’ll be rereading your accumulated inanity and stumble on just the thought you’ve been looking for, or the insight you need, to help you wrap up your current project or crash through a new one.”
 
That is one beautiful suggestion. And you know what? I think most of us do this already on twitter or tumblr or facebook or blog. I know I post half-finished poems, to-do lists, possible essay topics, and more on a regular basis. My old author bio used to say “find Kyra Wolff’s thought process at twitter.com/kyra_kat” because it’s very much were I brain dump. 

A Tweet is a Little Poem.

In the circles I run in, people will create these long threads trying to explain there feelings on a particular subject. Each tweet is an attempt to figure out the right words to get their point across. Then, eventually when they find the right words, they run with it in a word doc. It turns into a very smart sounding article that they can sell for a few hundred dollars.
 
For myself, I feel like I am constantly throwing my experiences at twitter trying to find the right angle. Twitter is constantly moving, everything changes so fast, that you can rehash certain things without seeming repetitive to your followers.
 
I love this interview with Precious Okoyomon from The Creative Independent (an amazing website btw) about the internet and the notion that everything is apart of everything. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who gets great poetic lines from angry social media rants. I’m obsessed with the idea that “everything is one big great poem.”

“I’m on the internet quite a bit. It almost makes me insane. Ben [Fama] has this line in a poem, “The internet is my home/ where it’s easy to be beautiful.” I agree with that like to the max. I’m constantly on my phone. I read my poems off my phone. I write on my phone. My phone is constantly in my hand. Being a contemporary poet and being on the internet go hand in hand. A tweet is a little poem. I send my friend a text—that’s a love poem! I want literature that’s not made from literature, like let’s destroy this idea of a pure form… everything is cross mutation of particles that merge with one another.”
“Some people feel like tweeting or texting friends can steal the energy that would otherwise get put to their work.”
“No. That’s all my writing. You can’t steal something that’s a part of everything, if it’s all connected and it’s all the same thing. What makes it different? I write it on paper so it’s more holy than if it’s on my phone or in a tweet or a text to a friend? No. The space your words are in shouldn’t matter more than your words. Some of my best lines will come from a manic Facebook post when I’m pissed off at someone. Little things that I don’t even think about, and I go back like, “Oh, that is a good line.” Everything is one big great poem. Why pretend otherwise?”
 
So go ahead and read through your old social media posts. Try to pick out some of the decent stuff. Rework that into new posts and repeat until you have something you can bring into your money making writing. 
 
Go ahead and download The Writing Secret and read more about not beating yourself up for “non-writing” activities. There’s this whole mental shift that happens when you realize it all really is connected. The things you do everyday can improve your writing career.
 
Thanks for reading! Let’s compost together, tweet me about a time when social media has inspired your writing! I personally have a whole first draft of a scifi novel based on a series of messages from me and my friends! What abut you?
 
Fiddling – August

Fiddling – August

What I’m fiddling with:

August was when I really, really tried to create useful content for other creators. It feels a bit backwards because I put my big workbook project aside to focus on the blog. I hope creating some helpful posts around the same topic for the next few weeks now will open my time up to continue working on it. I’m really excited about it because it’s so much fun for me to write and I hope it’ll be fun and useful for you guys too! I’m really focusing on helping other creators combat their fears and doing that while I’m dealing with my some of own fear is really interestingly challenging.

 
I’m always looking for new revenue streams to support my creative work and my efforts to help other creatives, and this month I’ve been working on designing premade book covers. I’m working with a company that has incredibly high standards, so it’s been a lot of trial and error, but it’s forced me to up my game. I hope to open commissions after a few more months of practice.
 
Because I’m creating book covers on a budget (no $ for certain stock image commercial licenses) I’ve been practicing my illustration and art skills. For the past year or so in which I’ve been IDing as an artist I’ve been using Kyle’s big brush pack but recently I’ve downloaded Borodante‘s brushes which I have been LOVING. There’s a textured soft brush that really fits into my process and it makes everything feel nice and glowy. I also feel like his blending brushes are what I’ve been looking for, I used them in my chubby witch piece. Basically they’ve made my process a lot smoother and improved my ability to create quality paintings in less time, which means more practice! 
 

What I’ve been inspired by:

 
I made my drawing inspo board public so you can see what visual works have been inspiring me. It was a bit scary unlocking it because I’m always scared people will be like “this is obviously your reference, that’s cheating” even though it’s not cheating and I only directly use like .5% of what I’ve pinned as direct reference. Or like “you’re just trying to copy [insert artist] style” when 1) I’m not 2) trying out what you like about other artists styles is how you find your own style. Building that visual library, y’all.

 I’ve been listening exclusively to Youtube’s Indie mix while I’m doing visual art and I’m kinda obsessed with Alvvays right now. Archie, Marry Me  on repeat gets me in the painting ZONE, my guys. 

Tacocat is always fueling my art-ing, and Mitski’s Your Best American Girl is amaze. Angel Olsen‘s and Vivian Girls/La Sera‘s music videos have been super inspiring my sketching lately like nobodies business.
 

In August I watched what I believe is the best film ever made, for the first time. Nolan’s The Prestige is honestly the greatest piece of storytelling of all time. Like, I’m planning a post on how to write plot twists with some major examples for this film. Like, oh my god. My mind is still blown. Ask anyone who knows me, I have not shut up about this movie for WEEKS. That’s how you write a mystery, y’all.  I have a project I’ve been in the early outlining stage and at a bit of a standstill with so I watched this since it’s the right subject and time period and whew did it help ground the magacian-y element of my story. Seriously, like, Now You See Me WHOO???

I read what will probably be my favorite YA book of this year, if my not favorite overall book of the year, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. You guys know I love Bollywood and playing with tropes and strong, smart female characters and soft, good boys…so obviously I love this!!! I can’t imagine being a fan of romcoms and not liking this novel. Plus, it’s #ownvoices, which we could all read more of. Five stars all the way around, y’all. Hollywood romcom’s should take notice, this novelist made a better romantic comedy movie than actual romantic comedy movies. I vote either Gauri Shinde or Farah Khan directing the probably-soon-to-be-announced film adaption.

Last, but certainly not least, The Writing Revolt has been saving my effing LIFE. So entertaining, so inspiring, so useful. Jordan is who I always wanted to be when I grew up. She’s a badass who took her life into her own hands to create a freelance writing business, but she didn’t confirm to the sugary sweet industry personality. She will kick your ass in the best way. Here’s my favorite post by her so far!

Thanks for reading! What were you fiddling with in August? What were you inspired by?

Music That Inspires My Poetry

Spotify Music is the single greatest invention in all of human history. I’m serious.

I’m one of those people who creates playlists for EVERYTHING: exercise, friends, job interviews, novels, that recurring dream, every age I’ve ever been, favorites TV shows, fictional characters, self-insert fanfiction, love interests, break-ups, business ventures, etc. I have “pump up” playlists for pretty much everything (thanks, anxiety), including writing.

This is just a small look at my writing folder on Spotify. 

I take my playlists seriously, y’all.

All of those are playlists I listen to while I’m writing, hence the sheer amount of instrumental lists. But like I said, I gotta get myself pumped up. Gotta get that inspiration flowing. In poetry especially I think you need to fill up with inspiration each morning.

So, I put on a playlist of lyrical inspiration while I click around twitter and tumblr for todays reading material. The majority of the music on my personal poetry pump up playlist are soft enough to have on while I’m reading (but not writing). 

It’s not about taking or copying anything from the lyrics, it’s just about “oh wow, this is my kind of stuff, I wish I could write a line as good as that.”

Mine isn’t full of the classic great song writers, I’ll admit. Only a few songs I’ve picked relate to the images or themes I write about. I don’t really know why these songs tickle my brain the way they do. I don’t know if they’ll resonate with anyone other than myself.

But I wanted to share my playlist because it was such a huge factor in my ability to finish my big poetry project. Like, I’m this close to thanking Erica Freas in the acknowledgments. I also wanted to share it because I feel like there’s this weird disconnect between music and modern poetry, when historically that has definitely not been the case. Like, go ahead and say you’ve been influenced by Beyonce, that’s more than okay!

Take a look at my playlist and then go ahead and make your own to get yourself in the zone!

                    

Thanks for reading! Comment and tell me what songs you include in your lyrical inspo playlist! You can tweet me your spotify link, too!

 
Is an Unconscious Fear of Money Stunting Your Creative Business?

Is an Unconscious Fear of Money Stunting Your Creative Business?

The hardest part of creative entrepreneurship for me is the entrepreneurship of it all. I know it’s that way for a lot of creatives who are trying to make their art their full time job. I feel like if you love writing, art, film, music, etc., and think of yourself as a writer, artist, director, musician, etc., that making money from it should be something you’re always striving towards. For me, making a living doing what I love would be the definition of happiness.

Making Money, Two-Fold

In my experience there’s two pieces that stand in our way when we’re first starting out.

The first, and most time-consuming, is learning the fine print of business. “Business” here means the blanket basics like marketing/analytics and the nitty gritty of whatever tools you plan on using. This is the in-between period after seeing one of your peers successfully making money off their craft & trying to emulate it and before you yourself are at the same level of success.
 
That piece is where Google comes in. Everything you need to know about running your business is online and most of it is free. 
 
For me, that isn’t the hardest part. Don’t get me wrong, it is HARD. There is so much trial and error. But personally, I love research and learning. I like sorting my to do list and deciding what’s important for my creative work right now. I guess it’s because I can totally push something out of my brain. “Sure I’ll buy that service instead of MacGyver-ing an incredibly time-consuming work around, after I sell x amount of x and can afford it.”
 
Buuuuut it’s right there where I hit a snag. Selling. Making money. Just the very CONCEPT of it. That’s part two. It comes with a lot of emotions, feelings and other mushy stuff us creatives deal with.

Complex Feelings about Money (and the people who have it)

(more…)

5 YA Authors Reveal Their Writing Process + A Discussion on Fear

5 YA Authors Reveal Their Writing Process + A Discussion on Fear

Scroll down for author processes + a downloadable PDF w/ more of their writing advice ♥

In the fall of 2015 I attended the very first Nerdcon: Stories in Minneapolis, MN. The convention basically catered to two types of attendees: the fan and the creator. It very much wanted the people who came into the convention center as fans to leave as creators, and the creators to become fans of not only their fellow creators but of their own fans.

Creator, Fan, Both, Neither?

I was at a very weird crossroads in my life where going into the con I wasn’t really either fan or creator.

Once I had been a huge fan of John and Hank Green, who were the masterminds behind this gathering. It was 2015 when I started drifting away from the nerdfighter community for various reasons. Let’s say I was…at odds with one of the Vlog Brothers at the time and the communities treatment of their audience. 

I love these people! I am actually in this, waaaay in the back recording Hank’s singing next to a pillar away from the anxiety of the crowd. Image from the official NerdCon twitter.

So, not exactly a fan of some of the “big name” special guests. I was definitely star struck by Mara Wilson, it’s always nice to see Lev Grossman, and the energy is always great at these things. The HPA 10 year anniversary gave me all the feels. I came away with a to-read list taller than I am, from all the great authors I heard speak but didn’t know about before hand. Not to mention, I became pretty much obsessed with every performer to grace the stage.

Every other con I had attended before this one, I at least always thought of myself as a creator. I was a YouTuber. Not just any YouTuber but a BookTuber. I was sent free books, I had an upload schedule, I had thousands of subscribers, I was a proper creator.

In the fall of 2015 to early 2016 I was struggling against the storm of a reddit community who didn’t like the content I was making. That makes it sound way more benign than it was, and I’ve talked about ways to avoid it, but long story short: I was scared. I struggled against my instinct to stop creating (not just YouTube, but everything) and my urge to create. The instinct to stop was largely winning.

(more…)

The Writing Secret You Don’t Even Know You’re Already Doing

A Writing Secret to Destroy Guilt

I am so happy to announce my new exclusive pep talk for writers and non-writers alike! The Writing Secret You Don’t Even Know You’re Already Doing is a 11 page PDF dealing with pressure, guilt, and self-hate while working on a writing project.

I hope by sharing with you what made me a more confident and relaxed writer, you will *fingers-crossed* gain a little bit more confidence, too!

The truth of the matter is, the writing secret that got me published is something you’re already doing. Yes, you! Even if you’ve gone two years without working on your novel, even if you’ve let your blog collect dust, even if your state of mind has not let you write a single poem in months, even if you don’t consider yourself a writer.

It’s realizing that you are already doing something that aides your writing that will allow you to combat the shame that often clouds our writerly brains. Writing is not like going to the gym, it’s more like riding a bike…kind of. Sort of. As you’ll read, I’m really bad at riding bikes.

In this zine-sized ebook I give you your first arrow in our quiver which will allow you to battle those feelings that you are not good not, not disciplined enough, not skilled enough to complete your creative projects. 

So, How Much Do I Have to Pay For This Writing Secret?

Lean in real close, friends, and I will whisper it in your ear. Ready?

♥ Nothing ♥

Didn’t catch that? Okay, gimme a sec.

♥ NOTHING!!!!!!!!!! 

It’s FREE. Plug your name and email into the form below to sign-up for my brand new newsletter and I will send you the download link! 

Join the creative community!




* indicates required

A New Newsletter

I’m not going to hold your inbox hostage, you’re free to unsubscribe at anytime. Like I said, though, this pep talk includes just the FIRST weapon to destroy self-doubt as a creator. I hope you stick around, at the very least to stay updated on other writing-related articles and releases. 

I’m sure the newsletter will grow as we, as a community, grow so I cannot guarantee what exactly it’s going to be. I’m kind of smashing what I currently do (talking about consuming & creating good creative content, publishing my own poetry/art/essays/hybrid weirdness), with what I’m developing (really clearly HELPING creators) with inspiration from my favorite newsletters. I really, really love Austin Kleon’s newsletter and I like Femsplain’s newsletter and Ruth’s updates from EBA. I don’t know about you, but that’s a Frankenstein monster I wouldn’t chase away with pitchforks.

This was such a long time coming! I hope you join me in this adventure!

Share on Twitter

Repin on Pintrest


An Alternative Solution To Depression

An Alternative Solution To Depression

Witchcraft > Running, digital speedpaint. Big thanks to my model Alyssa Panda Eyes.

 

There’s an announcement repeated over the speaker system of my life:

HAVE YOU TRIED EXERCISE? RUNNING MAKES PEOPLE HAPPIER

and one of these days I’m going to find the room

where this voice sits without a body

and perform an exhilarating exorcism

on that green tea drinking, cannabis oil infused,

higher middle class, failed medical school,

unconcerned concern troll while screaming

in it’s invisible pompous, genetically and chemically gifted hydrated face:

HAVE YOU TRIED EXORCISE? WITCHCRAFT MAKES PEOPLE HAPPIER

(more…)

Fiddlin’ – July

Fiddlin’ – July

What I’m currently fiddling with:
-This painting that actually looks better as a WIP than what the finished product will look like I’m sure. I’m trying to push myself to be less loyal to my references and making more experimental work so at this point I’m like, hey this WIP is like MODERN ART just by its self! It basically just went down hill from here anyway.

-Jack the Ripper and Frankenstein! Two wildly complex murder boys. Separate projects, a series of articles and a screenplay respectfully, but IMAGINE.

Toggl.com since I’m really focusing on the whole time management aspect of freelancing. You can organize different projects for different clients and record individual actions within those projects and then it tracks everything with graphs which are always nice. I’m this close to buying a pro membership because I’m really enjoying it and would love to be able to automate my hourly wages. Just excited about getting properly organized, not sponsored! 

-On the same note I finally tried out Evernote to keep all my smaller freelance projects organized which is nice. I’ll have to read up and all it’s features because right now it does seems unnecessarily tedious.

-The words to review or even talk about the utter perfection that is Dear Zindagi (2016) directed by Gauri Shinde. It is, in my opinion, the most progressive film dealing with mental health out today. Frankly it is not in my lane to talk about how being made in Indian contributes to the artful nature of the narrative but it is so hard to talk about when trying to dissect the culture from the story, since they are obviously so intertwined. So if I never find the proper words to review this film, let me say this: watch it, it’s great, it’s on Netflix.

-Scrivener for things that aren’t novels/novellas. I love Scrivener, like literally all writers who own it…but just like literally every writer I know, I do not utilize everything it could be. That’s not to say that I’m working with advanced features or anything, but whew boy is the screenplay format good. I also compiled my poetry chapbook, with an index and everything, last month which was exhilarating. I’m really doing so much that I just wouldn’t have tried or even imagined in Word or Google docs.

 

What I’m being inspired by:

 

-The Chronicle script, Matt Johnson movies,  and music mockumentaries, oh my! I’m not a fan of the writer of Chronicle but because it’s not improvised like a majority of found footage film, the formatting is super interesting. Also did y’all know that the ending of the script is super weird and not at all like the movie? Operation Avalanche by Matt Johnson inspired me to get my butt in gear and make movies, with which my recent viewing of both This is Spinal Tap and Popstar: Never Stop Stopping has really got me thinking about the strict technical aspect combined with the casual dialog.

Keep on reading!

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a YouTube Channel

What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a YouTube Channel

Alt headlines for this post: YouTube Advice From One of YouTube’s Bitter Exes, How To Succeed on YouTube Without Losing Your Goddamn Mind, Do Not Let a Social Media Platform Traumatize You For Life Please, I Only Watch Videos of People Painting Because Anything Else Makes Me Cry

I’m approaching the point where I’ve been on a hiatus for almost YouTube as long as I was actually on Youtube and I’ve been playing with the idea of getting back on the horse. Thankfully, if I do decide to start over with a new channel it’ll (hopefully) go much smoother than the first time around. Here are some things I’m glad I already know, that I wish someone had told me the first time around.

Keep on reading!

Doomed Films So Doomed They Spawned Another Film

Doomed Films So Doomed They Spawned Another Film

Cursed vs. Doomed

When you desecrate a sacred tomb while filming, you’re just asking for a curse. If an antisemite is making a movie about Jesus, the set’s going to be cursed and people are going to get struck by lighting. If a movie just can’t get off the ground or if everything goes strangely, hilariously wrong, that’s just good ol’ doom out for a joyride. The Exorcist is a cursed film, Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote is straight-up doomed.

Another difference between cursed films and doomed films seems to be “Can we make a semi-humorous documentary about these film mishaps?” If yes, it’s probably doomed. If no, there’s probably a creepy website that hasn’t been updated since 2002 all about how and why that particular movie is cursed, created by a grown man wearing fingerless gloves.

Keep on reading!