Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Top Five Tips for College Success

Here in the northern hemisphere, high school graduates are getting ready to head out to their first semester at colleges and universities across the US. While it is exciting, it can be a challenge, too. Here are a few tips that can make the transition from high school to college student that much easier.


  1. Read Your Syllabus. On the first day of class, your professor will hand you a syllabus or course outline. This contains a lot of very important information: The name of the instructor, contact information, what the class will cover, as well as due dates and other information about assignments. It does you more good if you read the paper and hang on to it, as opposed to tossing it in the back of your car. Few things annoy an instructor more than having a student ask a question that was already explained in the class outline.
  2. Get to Know Your Tutors. Most schools have some sort of tutoring and/or writing center. It's paid for out of your tuition, so they generally are free to students. Do yourself a favor and find what's available sooner rather than later in the semester. A good thing to do during the first few weeks of school is to take all your course outlines and bring them to a tutor. He/she can review your assignments with you, help you set up a plan to get everything done on time, and can usually set up appointments, so you can bring your work in for feedback. Some people won't go to the tutor because they feel it's a sign of weakness. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even if you did well in your high school classes, college work can be very different, with much higher expectations. The tutoring center tends to get busy at midterms, and by the time finals come around, it's almost impossible to get help, so the sooner you get in, the better.
  3. Get Involved. It's easy to get bogged down in the cycle of responsibilities, especially if you've never been away from home before, work in addition to going to school, or have family members to care for. What people forget is that school isn't just about assignments and going to class. It's about trying new things, meeting people, and getting out of your comfort zone. A good way of doing this is by attending events on campus and joining clubs. Studies have shown that students who get involved in school outside of the classroom are more likely to graduate on time and with a higher GPA.
  4. Plan for Fun. Sometimes you need to just get out and do stuff. Relaxation is important, especially if you're under academic pressure. The problem is that you need to get away whether or not you plan for it. If you don't allow time in your schedule for some fun, and you do decide to take time off, it's easy to get behind in your responsibilities, creating more stress. One solution is to make time in your schedule for an afternoon off, a social event, or whatever else you want to do. If it's on your schedule, you can work around it.
  5. Start Early. When I teach my Freshman Seminar class, on the last day of the semester, I always ask the students what they would tell themselves if they could go back in time to the first day of school. Nine times out of ten, they tell me "I wish I would have started my papers sooner." It's an easy trap to fall in to: It's August, you read the course outline, and the paper isn't due until December. That's because it will probably take you that long to get everything together to do the project, especially if you have to work with a group. By starting sooner, you can ask your professor questions (they are generally more cooperative if you ask a month before the due date as opposed to the night before), you can meet up with that tutor, and if you get stuck, it won't necessarily be a disaster for your grade. Besides, how would you rather spend your Thanksgiving, relaxing or hunched over your laptop all weekend? The choice is yours.
  6. Take Care of Yourself. I threw this in as a bonus. School, and all that comes with it, can be very stressful. You need to pay attention tot he basics: Get enough sleep, eat properly, drink water. Most schools have gym equipment for student use. If you're not feeling well, see the folks at the medical department. More importantly, if you feel like you are under a mental strain that is affecting you, please seek out help. People care about you.


Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri

Monday, August 7, 2017

What Stops You From Writing (And What You Can Do About It)

What I'm about to tell you isn't new. J. K. Rowling has said this, as did Chuck Wendig, as well as a lot of other writers.

Basically, if you want to write, write. And if you're going to write, you need to finish. 
Now, this is easy to say, but not always easy to do.

Lots of us take up writing, painting, or some other form of creative expression. We abandon creative works for a lot of reasons: lack of time, flagging interest, uncertainty.

We can't control everything, but often our issue is with fear.


  • Can I finish this story?
  • Is the story good enough?
  • Am I good enough?
  • What if no one likes my work?

We all feel it, the anxiety of being a failure, to be found out as a fraud. Even established writers with millions of fans feel it, so you're in good company. But what can you do?

The exact process may vary from person to person, but you have to ignore the voices in your head (or the "advice" of well-meaning friends and family) and get to work. You have to put aside the idea that your painting/short story/novel/screenplay is going to be your masterpiece that brings you fame and fortune, and Just Get It Done.

It may very well be your breakout work. It probably will not be. It could, however, bring you to a place, teach you a lesson, or just give you the confidence boost that takes you to a place you'd never think you'd be.

And isn't that worth trying for?

Now, get to work.





Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Business of Art

Quote courtesy of +Crystal Lake and +Joe Mynhardt 
We like to think of writing, visual arts, music, as this free-flowing beautiful thing that should be open to all. It's pleasant to think of the lone artist up in an unheated garret waiting for the muse to set in and reveal artistic brilliance.

 Unfortunately, it doesn't really work that way. To begin with, the public, for whatever reason, seems to think it's OK to get free art for "exposure." Can you imagine going to a brain surgeon and asking for a free procedure in exchange for a good Yelp review? I don't either, but it doesn't seem strange to ask the same from painters or writers (or editors, for that matter). If it's important, it's worth paying for.

Another misconception is that artists just, well, just flop around and wait for inspiration. It is fun to not have a plan or deadline for ideas, but it isn't conducive to being an artist. In the words of Jack London “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” The best, most prolific artists gave themselves a schedule and then stuck to it, working around day jobs, families, and everything else adults have to deal with. 

What is all comes down to is being a professional isn't just about having an excuse to get business cards. An artist's professionalism actually serves to protect the art. It's tough to be productive when you not only give away your art, but it costs you time and money in the form of training and supplies you aren't being reimbursed for. It's hard to maintain any sort of continuity when creating is something that's done when the mood strikes. Here's a hint: The muse tends to show up more often when we're working. 

I've had the pleasure of working with the publisher of +Crystal Lake, a publishing house located in South Africa. +Joe Mynhardt has taken his company from humble beginnings to a solid company with titles from people like Jack Ketchum and Neil Gaiman. Joe gave an excellent piece of advice to a writer who is just starting out: Writing might be an art, but your career should be handled like a business. Meet the right people. Help others and pay it forward. 

It's certainly worked for him. I think it'll work for you, too. 

Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri

Monday, July 3, 2017

You Are the Author





There's an old joke where a doctor is pointing to an x-ray and telling his worried patient that there's nothing wrong, there's "just a book inside that's waiting to come out." 


It's not just a joke, though. Think about what you do on a daily basis. Consider the things you've experienced over the course of a lifetime. There are people out there who could benefit from what you could share with them.

"But I can't write," you say to yourself. How do you know? Did someone tell you that when you were a child? Did a well-meaning family member encourage you to "get a real job?" Did a teacher from long-ago instill a dislike for books?
The good news is that you don't need your approval to open up a file on your computer or pick up a pen. The process isn't always easy, even for people who write for a living, but if you're reading this far, I'm guessing you'll find it all worth it.

One of the nuns in my school once told me "if you think you'd like to teach, you should." I say the same to you now.

If you feel the need to write your story, you should. 

 Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here. N. M. Scuri

Monday, June 26, 2017

Goals: Never Hurry, Never Rest

Photo Credit: N. M. Scuri

Goals. All writers have them, in some form or fashion. Some want to get published. Some want to make a million dollars. Some want the respect of their peers or family members. Others just want to write on good sentence. 

We get a lot of advice when it comes to goals, too. We’re told to write every day. Were told we can write a novel in a year, or three months, or even one month. Ultimately, though, our goals are up to us. The important point is to be clear on what we want, set ourselves up for success, and then execute.

Once we have some goals before us, it's important to put something on the schedule so we can get what we want.  

How this happens is up to the individual. The preferred thing is to get some writing done every day, as this becomes a habit we are more likely to stick with. For people with jobs and families, it may not be practical. In this case, setting aside "writing days," or even weeks (in the case of a teaching friend, she would dedicate summer breaks to major writing projects), may be the solution. Another is to block off small amounts of time (15 minutes or a few hundred words) per day. 

What ever you decide, the important thing is to guard your time and do what you set out to do. Accountability  is key. Joining a writing group can help you produce, because people will be looking to read your work. Another is to join a public challenge. The important thing is to find what works for you and follow through. Good luck!


Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri

Monday, March 6, 2017

Writing. Life.

Life can be, well, unsettling. From world events, to the private battles each of us fight, even day to day existence can be a challenge.

One of the great, I want to say super, powers of writing is the ability it has of taking us to a different time and place. As Uncle Stevie tells us "books are a portable magic." They allow us to imagine a life of a daredevil British secret agent, or a queen in the middle ages, all without leaving our seat in a doctor's waiting room.

It can also let us examine the issue we deal with on a day to day basis. Literature allows us to look at conflict at a distance. Because it is happening to a made up character in a made up scenario, we can examine events more objectively. In doing so, we can work through them.

What books let you get away from it all? What helps you pull yourself together? Let me know in the comments.


Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Joyous Holidays!

Please join me in 2017. In the meantime, I hope your holiday season is filled with love, laughter, and peace.


Want the latest news on +TwoSentence Horrors+N. M. Scuri, and +byron rempel? Sign up for your weekly newsletter here or subscribe to N. M. Scuri's weekly newsletter for all things writing and editing, including upcoming live workshops and editing consultations here.
N. M. Scuri