When faced with the decision to blog or not, I often opt to not, simply because I whine myself out of it. I tell myself, no one will read your posts anyway, and they kinda suck, and… etc. etc. Then, I have to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if I don’t post, people won’t find or follow. So maybe I should post more often… just a thought.
Okay, so you’ve probably noticed by now that I haven’t posted in a loooong time. Like, two weeks, at least. Sorry if you’ve been depending on my writing prompts. I’ll try to get back to them soon. (Although I really doubt that any of you have really been thinking, “Wow, I wish there was a new ‘Aspire to Write’ post to read,” but if you have actually thought this, I’m honored. I would be even more so if you would tell me about it. 🙂 Anyway, I think now would be a good time to explain myself, or rather, the lack thereof.
This week, I had AP Exams. Now, if you don’t know what an AP exam is, you are (or were) either very lucky, smart enough not to self-inflict unnecessary pain on yourself in high school, or are (were) too lazy to attempt college courses before graduation. Basically, an AP exam is a test that usually lasts about 3 1/2 hours and follows the completion of a college level (Advanced Placement) course. It is meant to reward those who worked diligently throughout the year by appropriating a grade that equates to a specific number of college credits, which varies depending on the college. So, now that you know what it is, let me tell you more.
Before I continue, it is important to note that I did not say I had an AP EXAM. No, I had AP EXAMS, plural. In fact, I have undergone approximately fifteen hours of testing during the course of this week alone. I guess you could say I’m a pro now.
In order to avoid making this entire post sound like a pity party, I will try to offer you any tips that might possibly be of help to you if you are planning on taking an AP exam or exams. If by chance you have already taken them, and don’t plan on taking any more, you can simply read this article and reminisce about all the time you wasted back in high school and kick yourself for the things you didn’t do but should have done in preparation.
- Don’t wait to start studying until the last semester. This was a mistake on my part. I should have begun studying for the AP exams literally on the first day of school. It is never too early to begin, especially if you aren’t accustomed to timed tests and difficult, involved questions that require more thought than any question presented on an SOL.
- AP prep books are useful. I know that they are expensive, and that they are thick, and that they look utterly boring and arduous, but do not underestimate their ability to help you become efficient at taking AP style tests. If there is any way that you can get your hands on one, you are a lucky soul, my blog-reading friend. Most of the books are limited to one subject and contain a number of practice tests and questions, as well as summaries of all the topics within the said subject that you need to know for the exam. Because the AP exams are frequently redesigned, it helps to have the newest edition possible, but a few years difference will still be helpful.
- Time yourself when you practice. If you are like me, timed tests freak you out, big time. I can understand a topic completely, yet when I sit down to take the test and realize that I’m only technically supposed to be using a minute per question, I blunder, big time. (And yes, for most AP exams, the test writers recommend using about a minute and a half for each question, and there are usually about sixty questions and sometime between sixty to ninety minutes to complete them.) I know this all sounds terrible, but if you prepare by practicing with the amount of time that you will be provided with on the actual test, you will be much better off when it comes to test day.
Alright, so I think that’s about all the helpful advice I can squeeze out of my brain right now, but if you have any questions at all about what it’s like to take AP exams, or how else I prepared, please feel free to leave your questions in the comments. I’ll be happy to answer them. Hope this article is helpful for someone out there. 🙂
Again, instead of a prompt of the day, I am going to offer just a small tidbit of wisdom. In writing my book, I’ve found that some of the worst work I’ve ever done was a result of my trying to rush things. If I am determined to get a set amount of pages completed in such and such a time, for example, I usually find that the quality of my work is far less than average. Now, I’m not speaking for every writer, and I admit that there is more than one way to write a book, but it is my personal opinion that having a very loose deadline when writing your first book is best. Also, when I say that rushing things results in poor writing, that includes rushing dialogue and scenes. If you are cutting out valuable emotion and insight just so you can get to the “good stuff”, you probably won’t be satisfied with your work later on. Keep re-reading what you’ve already written, the good quality writing; look back to the last chapters. Even if you know your story inside out and it feels like you’ve re-read it a thousand times, and trust me, sooner or later it will feel like that, keep doing it. It helps to ensure consistency in your writing and keeps you on track with what the overall feel of your book should be. Then, if you have to cut down on a particularly long and unnecessary scene later on, you can do it confidently, knowing that there is enough emotion or scene elaboration before or after the chunk that you’re cutting out.
In conclusion, I would like to note that you may not agree with my advice at all, and that’s perfectly alright. 🙂 Like I said, there is more than one way to write a book. Please, if you find something that you do or don’t agree with, let me know, because sooner or later, I will probably be at the same stage that you are in writing, and I might come to find that my own advice isn’t working as well as it once did before.
Instead of a prompt of the day like I usually do, I’d like to take a moment to say something that pertains to, specifically, book writing. As I’ve probably mentioned before, my friend and I are co-authoring with each other, and have been for about two years now. Today I have had a tremendous amount of inspiration, or at least, inclination to write. I want to encourage those of you who are completely stumped on what to do right now in your novel; don’t give up just because you haven’t had good writing time for a while. Sometimes it takes me almost a month to get back into the swing of the things, but if I keep trying, eventually I hit a sweet spot. Like this morning, for example; I worked for nearly four hours without getting tired of it, and I’m about to go back at it again. In short, just keep trying, because at some time or other you will be inspired to really get things done. Keep writing!
Today’s prompt might seem extra challenging to you, but then again, it may be the easiest thing you’ve ever written; write a poem, a “rhymey”, sappy, run-of-the-mill poem. This is a great test to see whether or not your vocabulary is extensive. If it is, you’ll find that bizarre words, or at least those uncommonly used in everyday conversation, will come to you almost immediately. If you’re vocabulary is weak, or you are a little out of touch with your inner writer, you’ll find the poem will be utterly simplistic and probably won’t be good enough to please you. Try it out!